Shifting Gears

ABSOLUTE BLISS would perhaps sum it up best. While the rest
of the city frets and fumes its way to work, there’s this one chap who is
humming his way to Greater Noida.

Hilal Isar Khan, the manager (IT) at Honda Siel, finds that
mornings and evening are the best part of his work day, "for that’s when
I get to zip from my residence in Dilshad Garden to the Honda factory in Greater
Noida. Part of the credit goes to Greater Noida’s wide roads, and part of it
to my wonderful Honda City".

New entrant: Big plans
But life has not always been rosy for Khan, or for his company. Even though
it came to India with a tag that acclaimed global presence and standing, Honda
has had to trudge its way up the branding ladder in the Indian market.

Siel Cars India
December 1995

Operations commenced:

450 crore

Installed capacity:
units per annum (on a two-shift basis)

Passenger cars manufactured:
City; Honda Accord

Indigenization Base:
1997 (57%), March 2001 (75%)

Honda Siel Cars India (HSCI), a joint venture between Honda
Motor Company of Japan and Shriram Industrial Enterprises, was established in
India in December 1995. Despite the hype and hoopla surrounding its initial
launch, neither the company not its flagship model, the City, managed to go into
overdrive. This was also the the time that Maruti Udyog’s domination of the
Indian car segment was almost complete. Honda started off with a greenfield
plant at Greater Noida. The two partners also agreed to change the equity
structure, with the lion’s share moving Honda’s way–today, the equity
structure reads 99:1, in favor of Honda.

The total investment envisaged in the project at that time–Rs
850 crore over the first five to seven years, of which Rs 500 crore has been
invested so far. The authorized and paid-up equity capital of the company–Rs
360 crore.

Hi-Pack: Packing a punch
So what is it that’s made this journey–from one struggling to establish
presence and marketshare to today’s confident and well-known Honda India? A
lot of it has to do with grit, planning and determination; a little has to do
with IT. Faced with the task of mapping the functional requirements of a
discreet manufacturing unit, the in-house Honda Motors IT team developed Hi-Pack
(Honda integrated package). With Honda Motors Japan holding the rights for this
product, the application is today widely used by most Honda subsidiaries around
the world. While Hi-Pack typically services Honda’s four-wheeler businesses
worldwide, its two-wheeler units are serviced by a different application,

Hi-Pack is based on an AS400 platform using DB400 as its
database and RPG400 and CL400 as its front-end programming languages. The
Hi-Pack software is divided into four main modules:

  • Factory System: Takes care of
    day-to-day production planning;

  • Sales System: Takes care of
    day-to-day car sales;

  • Spare Parts System: Takes care of
    dealer orders; and

  • Service System: Provides better
    services to the customer.

The modules are integrated in such a manner that procurement
of material for original equipment and KD is based on production plan, while the
company walks the request of quotation (ROQ) route for spares. Services provided
to the customer are directly linked to sales.


HITEC initially conducted training programs for various Service
Engineers from the dealer side to improve their skills and certify
them based on evaluation in those training programs. There were no
consolidated system to maintain those training details and
evaluation details of those training programs. As a result a lot of
manual effort was involved to maintain those details and analyze the
data. This manual system was sometimes erroneous and time consuming
due to involvement of manual effort

With the implementation of the new system a consolidated maintenance
of all training details and automatic determination of trained
manpower requirement would be possible. Evaluation and issue of
certificate would be enabled through the system reducing man-hours
and minimizing manual errors. The system would also be capable to
generate various analytical reports to determine effectiveness of
training programs

Says Khan: "IT is not a technology process alone, but a
tool for better management." Honda Siel has also implemented a new quality
improvement system service department. This has a consolidated system which
maintains data ranging from fundamental details related to HSCI employees,
details of themes, HTR, QIC and QIS. The system also automatically imports part
costs using the Hi-Pack application as the backbone and identifies themes and
frames for which QIS is already prepared. "This leads to total absence of
user interface and manual monitoring," says Khan. At the end of every
month, the system automatically generates sets of reports to communicate to
dealers and HM Japan, which in turn minimizes the time interval needed to revert
dealers with any information.

The HITEC advantage
Another unique feature of the plant is the establishment of the Honda
International Training and Education Center (HITEC) for training the Honda
Exclusive Authorized Dealership (HEAD) associates, including owners. HITEC has
been operational since November 1997, even before the start of commercial

"HITEC is used for training dealers and employees, with
the processes being similar to those followed in Japan. Dealers are given
instructions in detailed manuals on aspects such as the maximum limits for parts
inventories, maintenance and repair procedures, tracking lost customers etc. One
of the objectives behind using IT in the smallest of processes is to ensure that
dealers have the wherewithal to provide total customer care," says Khan.

The system enables dealers to map and capture information
such as tracking inventories in remote areas, arranging for a greater number of
wipers in a state like Kerala, or suspension equipment in interior India, where
the roads may not be hospitable. "The system also helps provide
functionality like sales, service and spare parts status," adds Khan.

Amit Sarkar in New Delhi

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