labels: automotive components, sundaram brake linings, quality
SBL to chug fast on rail track news
27 November 2004
29 November 2004

K MaheshChennai: The city-based Sundaram Brake Linings Limited (SBL) is looking at the non-automotive sectors as a part of its client diversification programme. The Rs120-crore- turnover-company has entered the railway composite brake block business.

The company has supplied 1,800 pieces of brake linings to the Indian Railways and is confident of getting around Rs9 crore business in three years time.

"The directed objective is to be a cost-effective supplier of quality products to one of the largest public transportation service in the world," says K Mahesh, chairman and managing director, SBL.

SBL is also gearing up to meet the challenge of extensive introduction of commercial vehicle disc brake pads in European Union countries.

With continuous growth in passenger vehicles and utility vehicles (multi and sports) the need for disc brake pads is expected to increase substantially. SBL intends to emerge a major supplier in this segment of the expanding global market.

About the changes ushered in to the company's quality systems post-Deming, he says, "We have initiated processes like lean manufacturing in addition to total quality management (TQM) to achieve a synchronous, smooth flow from our suppliers to customers."

He also adds happily, "Sales increased from Rs81.4 crore in 2000-01 to Rs120.8 crore in 2003-04, a growth of 42 per cent. Profit before tax improved from seven per cent in 2000-01 to 11 per cent in 2003-04."

Equating the practice of TQM and winning the prestigious Deming medal in 2001 akin to catching a tiger by its tail, Mahesh talks about the post-Deming activities in the company's three plants - one at Chennai and two in Madurai. Excerpts from an intervew:

What does the tag, a Deming company, mean in the domestic or overseas markets?
The Deming application prize is a coveted recognition in India. The award certainly puts the company on a higher pedestal straightaway. Though many companies outside India are not familiar with the Deming, they are aware that it is one of the highest TQM benchmarks. Thus, the company has the advantage of a fair evaluation by prospective customers about its product quality.

What post-Deming suggestions did JUSE offer and what benefits have they yielded?
The JUSE auditors provided substantive audit points and exhaustive comments for ongoing improvements, which SBL is currently implementing. In a nutshell, they are:

Observations by Deming examiners

Actions implemented

Results obtained

1) Strategies for achieving vision
1. Strategies to achieve vision not found consistent

2. Data to be collected for ongoing measurement.

3. Strategies for achieving each vision should be defined and deployed.

4. Competitive strategy against competitors has to be defined

* Strategies to achieve vision have been evolved, documented and communicated.

* Progress against vision is monitored on a continuing basis.

  • Developed asbestos-free composite brake blocks for Indian Railways.
  • Established separate production facility for two wheeler bonded brake shoes and pads,

Passenger car linings and pads

* Each function, bench marked against competitors and evolved strategies to bridge the gap and achieve vision

* Sales compared to nearest competitor improved, with gap widening in favour of SBL in

automotive friction materials

* Supplied pilot batch of 1,800 pieces to Indian Railways.

Sales volume of Rs9 crore expected in the next three years

* Became single supplier for TVS Motor Company and Hyundai Motor India Company, with combined sales accounting to Rs14.6 crore and Rs6.3 crore respectively in 2003-04.
2) Management system in TQM
5. Daily management, policy deployment and X-matrix position of these activities in the overall picture of TQM has not

necessarily been straightened.

* Policy deployment process and daily management process have been documented in 'level 2' procedures.

* The responsibilities of TQM council have been documented in 'level 2' procedures.

* Adherence to plan v/s performance improvement.

* Quality policy dated 17-04-2002 included in the quality manual and deployed.

* SBL's TQM model has been used and for training all personnel

3) Philosophy and value of TQM
6. Improve company-wide customer orientation

7. Targets and measures require more analysis

8. Gap analysis should be done to find and eliminate root cause for problems

9. Improve detailed flow chart system for all functions

* A team consisting of both original equipment and after-market formed for customer service.

* Needs of customer understood by:

  • Customer satisfaction survey.
  • Meeting end users including mechanics
  • Collecting information from end users.

* Training for individual functions and PDCA - plan, do, check, act - improved in targets and measures setting

* Training provided to differentiate correction and corrective action.

* Detailed business process established for all processes and functions

* Customer complaints reduced from 350 (1999-00) to 54 (2003-04)

* New product sales increased from Rs6.3 crore (1999-00) to Rs11.5 crore (2003-04)

* Overall customer satisfaction improved.

* Target and measure setting process improved.

* Gap analysis done effectively. Gap between plan v/s performance narrowed.

* Improved system adherence.

4) Scientific methods
10. Administrative functions are not at the same level as that of operations in using PDCA

11. Root cause analysis should be done based on data.

12. Training to be imparted on

7-step problem solving techniques

13. Re-education necessary for correct use of tools and techniques

* Supervisory and managerial training for all functions, including new managers, to enhance capabilities

* Training given on 7-step problem solving approach.

* Analytical ability improved.

* Adherence to plan v/s performance improved.

5) Organisational power
14. Systematic efforts should be made for creation of core technologies

15. R&D strategy to be developed and implemented for investment in equipment and human resource for developing core technologies

* Use of consultants, technology transfer from leading friction material manufacturer and in house research for core technology creation.

* Investment in product proving facilities.

* Design and development of machinery with in-house technology to suit the industry.

* Developed and approval obtained for disc brake pad

and brake lining for Hyundai Motor India

* Developed semi-metallic brake lining for American market

* Developed and expanded in situ bonded shoe products for popular two-wheelers in India

How would you quantify the benefits of implementing TQM from 1999 onwards and its contribution to bottomlines?

The effects of TQM have been:

1. Customer returns reduced from 1,450 ppm to 736 ppm
2. Incoming material rejection came down from 9 per cent to 1.5 per cent
3. Profit before tax improved from 8 per cent to 11 per cent
4. Overall inventory turn improved from 15 times to 20 times


1. Overall Sales improved from Rs.85.4 crore to Rs.120.8 crore
2. Export sales improved from Rs.42.9 crore to Rs.52.5 crore
3. OEM sales improved from Rs.16.7 crore to Rs.37.3 crore
4. After market sales improved from Rs.29.4 crore to Rs.30. crore
5. Export delivery performance improved from 98 per cent to 100 per cent
6. OEM delivery performance improved to 96 per cent
7. After-market delivery performance improved from 75 per cent to 97 per cent
8. Zero customer line stoppage achieved
9. New Product Sales improved from Rs.9.7 crore to Rs.11.5 crore

Safety & Morale:

1. Number of suggestions (total) increased from 2,500 to 4,000
2. Accident severity rate reduced from 2002 to 800
3. Air-borne asbestos level came down from 0.25 fibre / cc to 0.21 fibre / cc
4. Absenteeism reduced to less than 1 per cent
5. Asbestos free production to overall production improved from 50 per to 61 per cent

also see : Excelling through technological leadership
Resting on TQM
TVS group: smitten by Deming
Zipping in the fast lane

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SBL to chug fast on rail track