Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tata Nano - OEM, Supplier Relationship

(source :SupplierBusiness.com newsletter, 14th January)
Tata divided the components into two types – proprietary designs and Tata Motors design. For proprietary design components, Tata went with established suppliers such as Bosch (which supplies the engine management system and has significantly contributed to the future diesel engine). Bosch split the development between its design centres in Bangalore and Germany. Using local design capabilities was a crucial decision, as most global design centres were accustomed to designing high-end systems, employing development staff at a significantly higher wage levels.

For components and systems designed in-house, Tata Motors chose suppliers with strong process capabilities who could give valuable suggestions and improve on the designs. Nearly everything has been sourced locally and the Nano will have 97% local content from day one. Tata’s supplierswere an integral part of not only the design and development process, but also purchasing.

While Tata started work with 600 suppliers and a total of 1,800 supplier-part combinations, these were eventually narrowed down to 100 suppliers for the platform.

Hydro-forming is used for all the Nano’s tubular structures, resulting in weight reductions and simple production processes and stamping has been replaced by roll-forming process. Roll forming allows a common tooling for a number of parts, fewer operations and better productivity. Tata not only worked on its own processes but also helped its vendors innovate.

Cost saving was also achieved by using thinner materials wherever the design allowed, so the bumpers are only 2.5mm thick, against 3mm on the Tata Indica super mini.

Half of the 100 vendors for the project are co-locating with Tata in a 350-acre vendor park in SIngur next to the new Tata plant. Instead of annual contracts, Tata went with long term volume contracts with its suppliers, driving down the costs even further. The suppliers received significant volume commitments from Tata Motors, with about 75% of the components being single-source and about 90% of the total car being outsourced.

A three-shift operation and consolidated purchasing with suppliers allowed for a further reduction in costs.

While the first plant at Singur will eventually have a capacity of 350,000 units, Tata wants to set up three other plants in different parts of India to sell a million units per year eventually. With four plants in various locations, the company aims to save significantly on logistics and inter-state taxation.

Tata’s current challenge is to have all the suppliers in the vendor park up and running by the start-of-production of the plant. With the Nano, Tata is aiming for a less than 100 ppm rejection rate (better than existing Tata plants) and a ten-fold improvement in warranty costs.

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