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Photo By Joshua Navalkar

Premier Heavy Engineering

Homegrown Techniques,

the success potion for Premier

Premier Ltd established its Engineering Division to utilise the in-house facilities & expertise to offer machining services to major automobile industries in Pune. With clients like Tata Motors, Force Motors and Carraro Ltd among others, the division has come a long way. The management gives all credit to determined manpower, in-house advance measures and new technologies that have helped the division to expand. At present, they boast to be one of the leading wind turbine parts suppliers globally. Our recent visit to the Heavy Engineering Division in Pune only supported their leadership claim in the segment. Nishi Rath

P

remier Ltd, the makers of Premier Padmini cars that once ruled the Indian roads, is smoothly sailing through with their second inning. The company, which faced hard times earlier, has now diversified into machining and heavy engineering business. Besides, it re-entered the auto business after a gap of a decade. In 2011, Maitreya Doshi, Chairman and MD, Premier Ltd, expressed his desire to build the group into a `2,500 crore turnover company in the next six years.

The beginning…

Premier formed joint ventures (JVs) with Peugeot and Fiat in 1991, but the JVs collapsed. After a difficult period of tax litigations and indebtedness,

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Premier sold its 36 acre Mumbai property to Manohar Joshi-owned real estate company Kohinoor Planet for `120 crore in 2005. This money, along with `250 crore (in debt) and fresh equity infusion was used to expand and modernise the existing plant in Pune. In 2008, Premier entered the heavy engineering business, making generator parts for windmill and infrastructure players. It now also manufactures chassis frames for BEML’s metro train coaches and large cylinder blocks for Cummins. The 52,000 sqft plant is spread over 27 acre and now makes computer numerical control (CNC) tooling machines, mainly gear-making machines and heavy machine blocks for automotive and heavy engineering giants like Tata, Mahindra, Eaton, L&T and BHEL. Premier now boasts

of 70% market share in this business. The company’s collective turnover from its three core businesses is about `300 crore. “Our shed space is dedicated to the manufacturing of wind turbine components for power majors like Tata, Cummins and Enercon India. It has a full complement of manufacturing capabilities including fabrication, machining, blasting and painting of wind turbine; steel parts like disc rotors, stator rings, stator carriers, rotor housings and supporting structures. The division undertakes complete machining of rotor hubs, blade adaptors, axle pins and main carriers made from castings used in wind turbines,” says KG Rathi, VP – Engineering Services Division, Premier Ltd.


Premier Heavy Engineering

And the credit goes to…

Right from fabrication, which involves heavy size thick plates & forgings to the precision machining & shrink fitting of internal gear ring at -40º, the team here has been putting great efforts and has stood tall and proved their mettle. The company officials give all due credit to the dedicated employees because of whom the company has witnessed continuous development. ‘First plan your work, then work your plan!’ The employees at the Engineering Division truly believe and follow this practice. He elaborates that more than 80 continual improvement projects have been implemented in context with improvement in quality, productivity and reduction in cycle time. Some of

nearly by 40%. Packing At the Engineering Division, the ready-to-dispatch components are properly enclosed according to a packing scheme given by customers as well as some developed in-house. Considering the safety of components to avoid any damage during transit, the division has a separate expert team for packing. The safety issue is taken care of by making suitable changes in the packing scheme for safe delivery of finished components at the customer’s end. “These are some of the examples of excellent research, spontaneity and team work of our employees. It is an ongoing process to ensure improvement in quality, productivity, handling of the heavy parts and reducing the fatigue of the operatives at all levels of our operational areas starting from the procurement of raw material,” says Nagaraj MK, Asst GM – Commercial, Engineering Services Division, Premier Ltd.

machine instead of repeating the whole old procedure of clamping. This has increased the productivity up to 20%. Semi-automatic use of SAW welding machine for hub welding on rotating table Outside welding of hub with flux cored arc (CO2) welding machine on manually rotating table had many drawbacks. It was a time-consuming process, hazardous to environment, involved operative fatigue, less productive (20 hours for single hub), more defects in weld bead and poor aesthetic of welding among others. The process was developed later into a semi-automatic set up of SAW (submerged arc welding) machine with rotating table and prior calculated feed rate & speed of rotation. A study has shown tremendous improvements

Photos By Joshua Navalkar

procurement and material management Best practices

them, which the division takes pride in, are: Readily available fixture changing with prior clamping arrangements for SG Iron Rotor Hub The set up time for changing the fixture of the rotor hub on horizontal boring machines and its clamping on the table for further machining of next job used to take nearly two hours. Later, this time was reduced to 90% by making separate arrangement of clamping rotor hub on separate fixture. Now, when machining of the previous job is done, only this fixture has to be clamped on the table of the horizontal boring

such as increase in productivity by 70%, making the process environment friendly, reducing the defects in the welding to 95%, ensuring good aesthetic appearance of welding and making operator fatigue negligible. This came across as a major achievement for the employees. Patented procedure of stator carrier arms welding A system, which involves a combination of two different welding processes, was successfully tried and handed over for production. It reduced the cycle time and manpower up to 50% and increased the productivity

Nagaraj also points out that involvement of each and every employee right from the raw material procurement stage to the delivery of the job quality is one of the major reasons for the growth of the division. “We encourage our employees to implement the best practices to make this a better place to work. Here, we make sure we follow certain practices to meet our target on time,” he adds. The employees in the Engineering Division have adapted to some of the best practices in business such as: In depth analysis and forecasting of material requirements All the activities are strictly on the basis of the division’s budget & the same is planned on a quarterly, monthly and daily basis The division is taking care of in-time payment to the supplier and also educates suppliers on their basic requirements. The division also

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Premier Heavy Engineering

provides the necessary assistance to the suppliers at the time of procurement by giving them all the technical & inspection support Employees in the division observe the customer and supplier as a team and conduct 100% quality check and acceptance of material (raw and finished), efficient inbound, WIP and outbound logistics management processes followed for material handling Sometimes due to constraint of supplier & prior intimation to the management, they create a strategic inventory, ‘First In, First Out’. The division has also implemented sorting, cleanliness, standardised processes and maintains discipline along with safety & security. Both Rathi and Nagaraj claim that the quality of the work done here has brought them to where they are now. They hope to continue with the same quality.

Customers get the best quality

The Engineering Division has excelled in the field of heavy and critical components supplies of wind turbine parts with strict adherence to the quality & commitment, according to company officials. The division has a proven track record for the design & development of jigs & fixtures, with all latest technologies to produce quality goods within a stipulated time. Rathi states that world-class manufacturing techniques have been implemented to achieve international standards. Special welding, machining and in-house designed precision fixtures and jigs are used to adhere to the close tolerance required in the components. According to him, the approach and inspection facilities are keys to successful completion of the prototype job in the stipulated time. “Today, the competitive world cost plays a very important role in the whole process. We look and take care of non-productive and uncertified activities, which result into best price and satisfaction to our customer,” says

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Rathi. Considering the quantum of work involved, the company decided to have separate ISO certification for the Engineering Division. The division has a built-in Quality Management System. “We obtained separate ISO 9001:2000 certification for our division in 2008. It was upgraded to 9001:2008 in December 2010. QMS is well established & maintained by conducting internal audit once in every four months and external audit once in six months,” adds Rathi. Based on the company’s Quality Policy, the division has a set of quality objectives, which are measured & monitored against targets through Key Performance Indicator (KPI) matrix. KPI with set targets are given to each function. Some of the KPIs are: Function

KPI Customer Marketing Satisfaction Index Reduction Plan Vs. Production Actual No. of Quality QA Deviations Per Job Supplier Performance Purchase Rating Machine Break Maintenance Down Hours Apart from quality, the management also takes pride in the fact that that best practices are implemented for the safety of their employees. The employees are provided with all the basic safety equipment, including helmets and goggles, among others.

Employees’ training

The team believes that training is crucial to upgrade the personnel and it gives tangible & intangible benefits. The division, while inducting contractual workmen, imparts training that focusses on subjects like quality, safety and discipline. Orientation programme for new entrant officers are also organised apart from in-house training by internal as well as external faculties on technical training (welding process, non-destructive testing, ISO

9001:2008 awareness, Statistical Process Control, 1S-2S, Vendor Negotiation), and soft skills. Fire fighting drills also form a part in the training process.

Expansion plans

The Engineering Division has become the only approved source in India for supplying metro bogie frames. The division is also setting up an exclusive line for structural & forging parts of 2 MW capacities. “Our division with hands on experience and expertise in developing critical structural parts of wind turbines is moving towards developing higher capacity parts like nacelle hub frame for 2.5 MW wind turbine, which is the heaviest part in the nacelle assembly,” says Nagaraj. The division is now planning a few things on a large scale. “Steel tower for wind turbine manufacturer is one of the sectors that the division is looking forward to. We will set up a state-of-the-art technology plant with exclusive facilities such as bending machine, motorised trolley mounted column and boom, rotators, blasting & painting booth and flange facer, among others, for the same. At present, we have developed components for wind turbines with small capacity. We are preparing to manufacture wind turbine towers for higher capacity,” says Nagaraj. He adds that the division is going to set up an exclusive line for machining of heavy duty cylinder blocks for marine engines with CNC horizontal boring machines & SPMs. This is not all! Looking at the market demand and quality products of castings, the company is planning to set up a world-class foundry for heavy SG iron and alloy steel castings. No wonder the company has come a long way in a short time span. Today, it is among the top players in its segment. However, the company is not contended yet and promises a lot more in future. nisi.rath@infomedia18.in

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