Mumbai: It's a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The Tata Group, which already runs one of the largest automotive operations in India, has launched a new initiative which will lead to closer collaboration between various group companies in the automotive engineering sector. This pooling of group resources is likely to yield big gains.
The companies that are involved in this initiative are Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata AutoComp Systems Limited (TACO) and Telco Automation Limited (TAL). Truck and car maker Tata Engineering is also involved with some of these initiatives. Then there are companies in related areas -- Tata Infotech, Tata Technologies and Tata Elxsi in IT, and Tata Honeywell, and Nelco in industrial automation.
TCS, the biggest software organisation in Asia, has a long list of clients in the automotive area: General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Bajaj Auto, Mahindra & Mahindra and Ashok Leyland at the OEM (original equipment manufacture) level, and Delphi, Visteon, Lear, and Bosch at the tier 1 or 2 levels (that is, the top rungs) of automotive component manufacture. Others include names like GE Transportation Systems.
According to Ravi Gopinath, head of TCS's manufacturing and process industry practice, the assignments cover a range of tasks, such as design and analysis, modelling, simulation, and online testing. This is not the right place to go into the technical details of work done or in process. But it covers the entire gamut, at the technical level, of design, computer-aided manufacturing, product data management and so on. Beyond that, TCS has obvious strengths in enterprise level solutions, including supply chain management (SCM).
The list of Taco's customers also reads like a who's who of the world automotive industry. They include the biggest -- DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and a wide range of major component suppliers, among them Johnson Controls, Valeo, Visteon and Yazaki. Tata Technologies too has built an enviable list of overseas and Indian customers in the short time it has been in existence.
Expect a better hit rate
Collaboration is not a completely new idea. Some of these companies have already been cooperating with one another on an ad hoc basis. For example, according to Nitin Anturkar, executive vice president at Taco, the company is collaborating with Tata Infotech in the area of embedded systems, and has already started work for a couple of customers since September 2000.
Taco's SCM strategic business group has won a prestigious award from Honeywell's British subsidiary for the supply of engine blocks in collaboration with Tata Engineering. This project, which began in March 2001, is an ongoing assignment. Says Dr Anturkar, ''We are confident we shall get much bigger orders in the future.''
The new efforts are aimed at shifting from ad hoc cooperation to more stable collaboration. That way these companies can plan their bids jointly and expect a higher success rate when they go for large contracts, especially from global leaders, which prefer to deal with turnkey suppliers to having to manage a multitude of individual component vendors.
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