The AMS conferences highlight many of the challenges OEMs face in building cars where the infrastructure is still under developed, local suppliers are not always able to offer the levels of support needed and the workforce lack skills and experience. Solutions are being sought and rapid progress is being made but these issues are not confined to developing markets.
The automotive industry in both Europe and the US has reported a shortage of skilled engineers. Countries such as India and China are developing their own ‘home grown’ talent to meet the demand, where as in Europe and the US this growth of skilled personnel has stalled.
One of the Indian OEMs presenting at this year’s AMS India conference explained how the company works to deliver training and education to the communities where its plants are located. This is localization of a different sort to that which we are familiar with but is non-the-less just as productive. The OEM confirmed that the majority of those trained by the company were later employed; those that weren’t taken on were given assistance to find work with another company. This not only creates a local pool of skilled worker but also builds a strong bond with the local community. Given the recent industrial unrest in the region this seems like a wise move.
But it’s not just issues with lack of skilled labour that causes problems. Poor communication and transfer of data in production plants is also an issue. And again the conference in Pune highlighted another growing trend in vehicle production, the increasing use of IT systems to control operations.
While this is nothing new, it is the level of sophistication and number of applications that has increased dramatically. The ability to control every aspect of the production workflow, adapting to changes in the line and supply of parts with little or no human intervention offer huge possibilities to boost productivity where ever the plant is located. The development of management software has the potential to improve utilization of existing technology.