Take on responsibility
Zero defects. Such an ambitious goal can be achieved only if someone takes responsibility for it. Just like Jayanta Nath, who works at the Vadodara plant, Schaeffler’s largest location in India, which manufactures industrial bearings to the highest standards of quality.
Making decisions. For Quality Manager Jayanta Nath, this is part of his day-to-day business. The demands regarding the manufacturing quality of components are increasing as a result of ever more efficient vehicles and industrial installations and, on top of this, they are also subject to constant change. This is also true for the bearings produced by around 2,000 employees at Schaeffler’s Vadodara location, about 400 kilometers north of Mumbai. Destined for wind turbines, machinery, aircraft, and rail vehicles, they must leave the factory in perfect condition to guarantee heavy-duty performance with minimal maintenance requirement. Demands on quality today are more stringent than ever before.
When it comes to especially challenging projects, Nath therefore sets up a “Quality War Room”, a central area where all threads converge during volume production launch. Here, an interdisciplinary team consisting of production, quality assurance, maintenance, and process engineering specialists continuously analyzes the manufacturing process and directly develops solutions for any problems that arise. For example, they decided to install a camera system to ensure that every bearing contains the correct number of rolling elements. As a result, the industrial bearings from Vadodara production are regarded as the vanguard for quality in Asia.
“There are two ways to prevent a mistake,” explains Nath, “the first is preventing it right from the outset. The second comes into play should the first method fail: If an error does occur nevertheless, it must be detected in good time.” For Nath, who has been working as an engineer at Schaeffler for around three years, this means above all that he must constantly work on optimizing the manufacturing quality and strive for improvement. Schaeffler has established this in its “Fit for Quality” initiative. Thirteen teams in Vadodara are working to improve the quality of every single process step and procedure.
They are supported by Schaeffler’s corporate quality management, with whom Nath coordinates on a monthly basis. The success of this work is evaluated, for instance, by means of key performance indicators on customer complaints and internal non-conformity costs. One result: For several years now, the defect rate in Schaeffler’s largest Indian plant has decreased by ten percent annually.
Taking on responsibility: For Nath, this means making decisions, even if it takes courage and willingness to accept a certain risk. “The biggest challenge in decision-making is by no means the danger of choosing the wrong direction,” says Nath, “but rather, it’s not making decisions at all.” And if executives can convincingly explain these decisions to their team, there’s a good chance that everyone involved will embrace them. In Nath’s opinion, this is the best prerequisite for success.