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Old 28th September 2011, 17:49   #151
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So essentially it's not product positioning, but product visibility. Which in turn depends on advertising and making sure consumers are aware of your products.

Also when comparing with Mahindra, we must keep in mind that Mahindra only exists in a few choice segments. For e.g. they don't have their own sedan (the one they have is the rebadged Logan), no hatchbacks. So positioning a Bolero, Scorpio or Xylo is not too difficult for the company.

Part of the product positioning problem that many have identified with the Tatas probably stems from one of their strengths of creating a new product segment. With each product they launched, right from the Sierra/Estate days till the Nano, they have actually managed to create a new product category.

But then we aren't really talking about marketing or product positioning here. The discussion has generally been about the product quality itself.
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Old 28th September 2011, 18:30   #152
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Originally Posted by honeybee View Post

Part of the product positioning problem that many have identified with the Tatas probably stems from one of their strengths of creating a new product segment. With each product they launched, right from the Sierra/Estate days till the Nano, they have actually managed to create a new product category.
There you are absolutely right. Sierra, Safari, Nano, Araia- all created new segments. Even Indica/ Indigo/ CS/ Marina pioneered thier segments in India in one way.

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But then we aren't really talking about marketing or product positioning here. The discussion has generally been about the product quality itself.
Isn't the thread titled "Forster resigns from Tata Motors"?
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Old 30th September 2011, 12:11   #153
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honeybee - nice point. Had not noticed that.

But they do need to get several kinks ironed out in overall strategy. Shuffling people around is not a good thing.

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Though in my personal opinion the Aria ads suck, both of them.

That sierra ad where Anup Jalota singe is still in my mind, but not the audio. The visuals were great. Those were days of DD1 and DD2 only at my home.
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Old 30th September 2011, 12:57   #154
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On the other hand, I really liked the Nano ad where the husband remarks to his wife that he had never known she could sing so nice (implying that on a two wheeler he could never hear her properly, and the Nano has given him an opportunity to do that). That was touching.
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Old 30th September 2011, 14:36   #155
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Originally Posted by honeybee View Post
So essentially it's not product positioning, but product visibility. Which in turn depends on advertising and making sure consumers are aware of your products.

Part of the product positioning problem that many have identified with the Tatas probably stems from one of their strengths of creating a new product segment. With each product they launched, right from the Sierra/Estate days till the Nano, they have actually managed to create a new product category.

But then we aren't really talking about marketing or product positioning here. The discussion has generally been about the product quality itself.


Tatas must be given credit to create new product segments (Nano, Sierra, Aria, etc..) - no questions about that. But end of the day we have to agree that they are not able to capitalize on that.

Nano sales are already down. Now with the Eon launch, can we expect a reduction in the used-car prices of Alto/Santro so that it can get into some competition with the Nano.

Folks in various threads of the forum concur that Tatas are delaying the Merlin launch to get a niggle-free product (and maybe they wanted to know the XUV500 price range). Now that XUV500 details are out, they need to decide on the pricing soon and launch the Merlin asap so that they can concentrate on reviving the Aria. The wait-n-watch strategy will only do more harm than good (Duster is around the corner as well).

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Originally Posted by honeybee View Post
Also when comparing with Mahindra, we must keep in mind that Mahindra only exists in a few choice segments. For e.g. they don't have their own sedan (the one they have is the rebadged Logan), no hatchbacks. So positioning a Bolero, Scorpio or Xylo is not too difficult for the company.
You bet. Mahindra has got some very good sales number in Bolero, Scorpio and trying it very best tor turn around Verito/Xylo (the results are +ve if you look at the recent numbers). With regards to the XUV500, the other main thread is 148 threads on counting. Your guess is as good as mine

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Old 30th September 2011, 14:55   #156
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Originally Posted by andromeda View Post
The wait-n-watch strategy will only do more good than harm (Duster is around the corner as well).
I guess, you meant "more harm than good "?

Even though the discussion has gone way beyond the scope of the thread title, but I like the flow of information and valuable tid-bits shared by all on this thread.
Very lively discussion.
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Old 2nd October 2011, 20:13   #157
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Originally Posted by Ravindra M View Post
Dear Sir,

Very True. More than 50% of Indicabs have this problem in Bangalore. Just out of curiosity, what exactly is the problem and how does it happen ?

Regards,
Ravindra M
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Originally Posted by Amazing View Post
have you ever observed how the indicabs are driven over bad roads/ potholes as compared to indica owned by normal people / other hatchbacks ?

Agree that the suspension part may be not as good as in other cars ( which are also 20-30% costlier) , but the treatment given to these indicabs are pathetic. also note that , these sort of failures happen in these cars after 9-18 months / more , but note the km run in this period ..it will be more than 65 to 70000 in each minimum.

Pls treat a Santro/Wagon-R/ estilo/ beat etc in the same way daily and observe how the suspension behaves over the same period !
Well I do not know the exact cause of the problem. But I definitely noted that it was something that cropped up suddenly. ( & by odd coincidence around the same time that the top management changes were taking place!!).
I had noticed it with a significant number of Indicas of that period. Not all of them were taxis. I remember seeing one private owned ( & by the looks of it by an elderly gentleman who used it as a chauffeur driven car with a very safe driver) 2 month old Indica with the same problem. Most probably some compromises in gauge thickness of the material used for some critical brackets was causing the problems.
It is not very relevant that the taxi Indicas carry full passengers & luggage. That is their rated design road. Also there are a lot of private car owners, using other models, who also rack up high running comparable to the taxis. I have a couple of acquaintances who were racking up 7-10,000 kms per month. I recently met one person who had clocked 30,000 kms. in a Captivia in 2 months. So the car should perform properly over the design life. Indian roads & conditions are bad, but the basic design of the original Indica suspension was excellent. I can understand if the suspension goes out of spec at a couple of lakh kms.. But when a majority of vehicles from a particular period start showing such behavior early into their life span there is something wrong which needs to be corrected.
The newer model visa has a different suspension setup, so possibly they have identified the cause & rectified it.

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
I finally got the time to go through your earlier posts.

Anyways, it makes me wonder. See, my safari has had retro fitments of over 2-3L in MRP due to manufacturing defects.
So tata sold me a Safari for 9L ex showroom, and then have spent 2-3L in MRP to fix it as something goes bust now or then.
Is this tracked anywhere.
If a vehicle needs lakhs worth of repairs couple of months after being delivered to customer, is somebody in the QC dept pulled up?

As for their market share, I guess shareholders need not money. Indian consumer is very immature when it comes to car loyalties and expectations.

They do not understand that world has moved on. 1 in 1000 failure is also considered bad.

Thats why people keep on buying Skodas inspite of their dubious record.
But hopefully, as globalization brings more "proper cars" to our country, the consumer here will understand that just painting a dashboard in beige color does not mean its luxury. Or that its not okay if dust comes into the cabin. Or that indicator stops working after 6 months is not a niggle, its a sign of poor quality.
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so if 9 out of 10 indicas are fine, its a good thing? I think the Tata QC folks also think like that. If 9 out of 10 customers do not get problematic vehicles, their job is done?
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Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
But what exactly is warranty ? It is the confidence a company places in its product that the product will not fail in the warranty duration. So, the idea is that exercising warranty should be an exception rather than the norm. Only for the rare case when something fails. Not something to be abused/exercised multiple times for the same vehicle and by many customers.

While as a customer I would be happy if the company honours my warranty claim, won't it be better for me if that situation (of having to claim warranty due to something breaking down) never arose ? Who wants to be stranded on the road or having to shuttle to garages or having to deal with stupid SAs and their managers ? I would rather drive a car and visit them only once a year for the scheduled service. After warranty expires, I am done with that too - off to my known friendly garage.
It has a lot to do with the way the corporate structure is setup & what feedback parameters the management is looking at closely. Every organization grows till it becomes too big to govern & then collapses or fades into oblivion due to the internal issues. Only a handful successfully change & move on to the next levels on a continual basis.

Take an example - As big boss I have decided to maximize short term cash flow. Obviously I need to increase sales, say by a target of 30% additional in a financial year. This will increase free profits(here I am talking of profits before tax always) by 45% as I was covering all fixed costs in the original turnover. Now if I decide to maximize cash flow by not investing in additional short term manpower or additional tooling I may be just about able to get away with it. (though getting 1 man to do the work of 2 results in his/her making the same mistakes as 3 or more due to fatigue or overwork.!!) I decide to play around with quality levels so that my internal rejections are reduced. Some of it will get reflected in higher warranty claims. I have a budget of "X" for warranty claims. This may increase to "3X" due to my policies. But my free profits is now increasing by 55%, after considering the increase in warranty claims. So as long as "3X'" is a fraction of the increase in profits i am home & dry. If my board is not too bothered about 3X increase in warranty claims, but is happy with the 55% profit increase i am considered a hero & visionary CEO. Then there are other methods of massaging the balance sheet. But that is beyond the scope of this discussion.

The chickens always come home to roost. In 1988-89 I was working for a leading family owned white goods manufacturer. They were very quality oriented, ethical and focused on their company. They faced competition from another upcoming family group who were using all the tricks in the book to cut corners. Some bright consultant gave them the idea of stopping testing of the refrigerator compressors prior to final assembly. Any defects would be covered by warranty. Sales increase immediately as a major bottleneck in production was eliminated. However they did not strengthen their process QC. So soon the field complains increased but they were still making a net additional profit. However from the consumer's view point things were markedly different - We had purchased a fridge from my former employer's brand as the competition was extremely suspect. The compressor conked out twice over a couple of years. Even though I knew a lot of people & could pull quite a few strings getting the replacement compressor fitted was a tedious affair, where I had to physically go to their service centre & breathe down their necks. Not to mention the time spent & inconvenience to the ladies on the kitchen front. Today the brand has all but disappeared from the shelves and they are now fighting a desperate battle to regain profitability. The other company has also disappeared from the market and manges to sell only in the C towns where the main brands distribution is weak.


There is no denying that overall quality across all manufacturers has improved substantially. I remember a 1971 trip we had my Grandfather's Ambassador - Delhi to Mussorie. Single carriage road (called double lane!) with something or the other going wrong with the car. For a greater part of the journey my uncle was sitting in the boot amongst the luggage, with the gate open, hanging on with one hand & tapping the fuel pump with the other. Every 50 kms my grandfather would get down tinker with the engine & manage to keep the car going. The first trouble free car I drove was my maruti 800 in 1984. You could do 500 kms non stop without having to top up the radiator or fiddle with the Gearbox or Engine. And the Indica, when it was launched, managed to force Maruti to drop the premium prices they were charging then. But when you are running in a race you need to keep up or loose out.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Just a totally OT question.
So CMM is inline. 100% checking. What action does one take when one notices
an out of spec component?
a trend/ drift, but absolute values are within specs?

Will not resetting machines/ tools will cause a discontinuity which will lead to greater scatter.
The online CMM system is used for checking first off components & then to keep track of process variations. Once the system is properly set up it is not all that difficult. Also changing the offsets etc. on today's CNC machines is pretty straightforward. In my client's case their QC manager, at the time of implementing this system, was a BSc, Statistics graduate & so he could manage the design & implementation of the statistical control system pretty easily.


Quote:
Originally Posted by .sushilkumar View Post

problem is that people expect a Porsche At the cost of a safari and a audi at the price of a Indica.
Agreed that we expect the moon & are not even willing to pay for the bare minimum. But that is what brand positioning is all about. If Maruti can command a 6 months waiting period & 10-20% price premium there is something that they have done right. My own experience is that they had gone down the path of reckless cost cutting in the 1990's & realized their mistake. They backtracked with equal speed & have improved their quality to very high levels. However in the same period Hyundai has overtaken them in quality so they are actually fighting for market share with Hyundai. None of these 2 are really bothered about TML. Also the indian customer still uses a 4 wheeler as a status statement, which is why he is willing to pay a substantial premium for "premium names". My post http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/collec...ed-off-16.html shows this for CBU & CKD vehicles.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amitwlele View Post
My personal view is that TATA cars have come a long way from the initial start and Vista/Manza are definitely leagues ahead in terms of quality and finish. This leads me to believe that they are consiously trying to improve. As a value package its gives the consumers a decent buy. All the Japs/Koreans/Germans have a old legacy in car manufacturing and TATA has to do a catch up very fast. And i think they are trying.

I am still waiting for inputs from Sridhar about my initial query. Is the Indian Psyche or Chalta Hai Attitude behind the quality woes of Indian Auto Manufacturers?
It is definitely the attitude of individual manufacturers that matters. Mahindra is an example of how quickly a turnaround in the positive direction can take place. Follow my post http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ability-2.html (Factors Affecting Reliability) for a more detailed discussion on quality aspects.

=========
Pressure of work kept me from posting for the last 10 days. Sorry about that.
Some of the readers have commented that I am an ex-vendor venting my ire at the company. As the discussion was re the resignation of TML's CEO I commented on the possible internal issues driving the event. I can comment on the industry with which I am associated. I have not brought in my experiences with other manufacturers into the picture except to compare. So I am not talking anything about chemicals or textiles etc.. I have been as objective as possible & presented both the +ves & -ves. I know of the strengths of TML & it is more of a lament that they have not been able to improve to the extent possible.

Anyways for a more generalized discussion on quality I have joined with a write up at http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ability-2.html (Factors Affecting Reliability). Pls catch up & comment there.
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Old 10th March 2012, 15:15   #158
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Originally Posted by sridhar-v View Post

So you had 2 people competing for the post of MD. - One who was showing immediate results & another who was doing things for the long term good but increasing current pain. Guess who won??

So Forster tried to continue where Sumantran had been stopped. No way that he would have been allowed to succeed. So look forward to shabbier products & lower pricing.
Sridhar, your post brings back memories to me. Although, I was associated in a similar manner for 4 years, I fully understand your viewpoints. I must also say that I realized this quite early during my career, that helped me take a sound decision.

I understand your thrust area was on fixtures & tooling, is there any particular part you were more involved / specialized in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar-v View Post
Well some background in how the game changed over the years. I remember in 1981-82 Moolgaonkar ticking off his managers for trying some
stupid costcutting - His words were something along these lines: " The buyer pledges his wife's jewels to buy our truck. So ensure that he is not affected. I do not mind reducing our profit but I will not hurt the customer".
Once Moolgaonkar retired the "professional Managers" took over & bled the company dry - some corruption and some plain stupidity.
Today the case is that for most components TML does not even pay for economic price increases of Raw Materials, let alone other costs. So obviously people either quit supplying or cut corners. - TML has lost control of the manufacturing process.
Nowadays, the cost reduction (modelwise) is fixed at the start of a financial year in a employee's goal sheet. It is up to the employee how he achieves it. As all human beings, he / she tries to achieve the target by hook or by crook.

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Old 10th March 2012, 15:43   #159
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I have repeatedly bought Tata products, including Indicas, and found that they tend to improve with each generation. But that leaves the first batch of buyers shortchanged. So nowadays, many of my acquaintances and friends just watch till Tata get its quality and pricing right. That's a problem when a company is not comprehensive with its testing: sort of improve- and improvise on the go, I reckon

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Old 11th March 2012, 21:56   #160
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Originally Posted by SPIKE ARRESTOR View Post
Sridhar, your post brings back memories to me. Although, I was associated in a similar manner for 4 years, I fully understand your viewpoints. I must also say that I realized this quite early during my career, that helped me take a sound decision.

I understand your thrust area was on fixtures & tooling, is there any particular part you were more involved / specialized in?



Nowadays, the cost reduction (modelwise) is fixed at the start of a financial year in a employee's goal sheet. It is up to the employee how he achieves it. As all human beings, he / she tries to achieve the target by hook or by crook.

Spike
At the peak we were involved in fixtures & gauging for all cyl. blocks, heads, GB hsgs., Manifolds, Axles & minor parts. Right from casting washing to machining to final inspection.

Re. cost reductions they are going in for a low hanging fruits stratergy. Actual long term cost reduction needs patience, knowledge & business savvy. Not good if you have quarterly targets imposed by some remote head. Almost all auto companies follow this to some degree - after all the product is now a commodity.
I have seen close up when such targets are imposed on manpower right sizing - see my reply to Yeldo below.

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I have repeatedly bought Tata products, including Indicas, and found that they tend to improve with each generation. But that leaves the first batch of buyers shortchanged. So nowadays, many of my acquaintances and friends just watch till Tata get its quality and pricing right. That's a problem when a company is not comprehensive with its testing: sort of improve- and improvise on the go, I reckon
One of the reasons for this is that the proper time & resources are not alloted to development & production development. In between there was a fad of removing the Quality Function & getting parts supplied directly to the line from self certified vendors. So even sampling basis inward inspection was eliminated & the QC staff were right sized! This was based on benchmarking with global companies - not factoring in the fact that our ancillary vendors are not that well established & have rather dubious QC systems. (And also that the rock bottom rates given to them tempted them to cut corners once they realised there was no random inspection.) Now they have done a study for the Pimpri plant & realised that they are short of 400 Inspectors if they want to start even some basic inward QC. All the trained staff have been sent off & so they will need to start from scratch.

Happens in almost all companies when there is a change in top management. Only the systems in Indian companies are so ad-hoc that all problems get amplified.
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Old 11th March 2012, 22:05   #161
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At the peak we were involved in fixtures & gauging for all cyl. blocks, heads, GB hsgs., Manifolds, Axles & minor parts. Right from casting washing to machining to final inspection.
Great, that suggests you have a very good understanding of castings and their manufacturing. Would be great if you could share your learning on castings, machining, jigs & fixtures etc.

Quote:
One of the reasons for this is that the proper time & resources are not alloted to development & production development. In between there was a fad of removing the Quality Function & getting parts supplied directly to the line from self certified vendors. So even sampling basis inward inspection was eliminated & the QC staff were right sized! This was based on benchmarking with global companies - not factoring in the fact that our ancillary vendors are not that well established & have rather dubious QC systems.
+1000

Quote:
Re. cost reductions they are going in for a low hanging fruits stratergy. Actual long term cost reduction needs patience, knowledge & business savvy. Not good if you have quarterly targets imposed by some remote head.
Exactly !

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Old 11th March 2012, 22:12   #162
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Great, that suggests you have a very good understanding of castings and their manufacturing. Would be great if you could share your learning on castings, machining, jigs & fixtures etc.

Spike
Actually I had started adding articles to the thread on quality here:http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ability-2.html (Factors Affecting Reliability)

Unfortunately I have been tied down for the past few months. Will take it up again after April. There are a lot of Insights that I want to place in the public domain.
I also plan to write up a guide on Back-problems & curative methods as I find a lot of the members complaining of back problems.
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Old 12th March 2012, 00:26   #163
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Originally Posted by sridhar-v View Post

Re. cost reductions they are going in for a low hanging fruits stratergy. Actual long term cost reduction needs patience, knowledge & business savvy. Not good if you have quarterly targets imposed by some remote head. Almost all auto companies follow this to some degree - after all the product is now a commodity.
I have seen close up when such targets are imposed on manpower right sizing

I beg to differ on this. If you see the business environment and ever increasing competition, it's not only TML but all the Auto OEMs are under pressure on cost optimization. Cost optimization is one of the strategic tool used by companies to improve the bottom-line. To say that, it is equivalent to mad cost cutting, is like completely discrediting one of the important business strategic lever. As far as I know, TML has put in lot of efforts in improving quality in last few years. In fact, I am aware of a Machine Vision system installed to detect the missing component during the assembly. Don't you see the improvement in Vista/Manza/Aria viz-a-viz to earlier Indica / Indigo?

Obviously, they may put pressure on the vendors to reduce the cost. But I do not agree on the fact that they will accept sub-standard components from the vendors, who agree to reduce the cost. So any vendor cutting corners will suffer.

To say that, TML is just blindly putting too much (read non-feasible) pressure on vendors for the cost reduction, is not completely true. If that had been true - there would not have been any vendor working with TML currently and IIRC most of the TML vendors are working with them since last 10+ odd years (barring few).

However their rate of improvement is slow in comparison with that of demanded by now mature Indian market. Also, what I would like to see from TML is to imbibe the strict quality culture at all levels (not only limited to QC dept.) and for that they need to sensitize the entire assembly line staff on the importance of QC and get rid of "Chalata Hai" attitude.
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