Tag Archives: Aerospace skilling

Quality awareness in Indian products

Recently, a German manufacturer refused to manufacture in India because he wasn’t convinced of Indian ability to meet his quality standards. He compared a simple switch board that was fixed crooked at an Indian public office to a German one that was perfectly in place. A UK based designer working with Indian textiles recently refused to source his products locally from Indian weavers due to lack of quality. This is in spite of the fact that bulk manufacture of Indian embroidery and textiles has a potential to woo international market. A customer at a jewellery store was disappointed with a custom-made silver plaque that was badly crafted despite initially promising good quality, and rejected the piece.

In India, you and I observe this lack of quality awareness in everyday life – be it with household equipment or a garment. In the examples quoted above, all it needed was quality awareness on the part of the electrician who fitted the switch board on the wall – he needed to not only know what was straight and what was not, but also feel the pride and confidence in his own work to ensure that he fixed it straight. The artisan creating the decorative plaque needed to feel pride in his work to ensure that he crafted a perfect piece – and the salesperson needed to know that if the piece was not good enough, he should not have even offered it to the customer as the reputation of his business was at stake.

So, what is good quality? Quality is not just a certificate (such as ISI or BIS) that can be given to products. It is an attitude that reflects the DNA of an organisation or an individual. Sadly, today the spheres of knowledge and performance do not work in synchrony. This emphasises the increasing need for quality awareness in the entire population, whether a factory worker, artisan, salesman or manager.

Holding financial constraints responsible for lack of quality is certainly not justifiable. A sense of pride in work and ownership associated with one’s work can overcome most constraints.

Craftsmen and technicians in India suffer from a lack of exposure to quality in production. The present day social environment has poor esteem for a blue-collar job in all work places across the country, and has very little respect for the dignity of labour. This acts as a demotivating factor for workmen and is hurting India in many ways. This is where China and other countries have an edge over India. Today, China maintains a work culture that is unbiased and treats as equally valuable, the contribution of every type of workforce.

Change must begin with the individual and spread across organisations. Even an average technician must be aware of good quality. He must hold a sense of pride in his work. Quality begins with design and continues through workmanship in the production process right to maintenance and customer service. China, which has a GDP five times that of India and a manufacturing sector ten times bigger, had a reputation some years ago in the international market, of producing poor quality goods. China has overcome that stigma by going on a war-footing and drastically improving quality. Here in India, if a locally produced item is shoddy and lacks basic attention to detail, we can neither aspire to ‘Make in India’ nor transform India into a global manufacturing hub.

The ‘Make in India’ initiative needs to leapfrog over the initial pitfalls of poor quality that China faced, and establish a global reputation of ‘High Quality’ for goods produced in India. This can be only achieved by a concerted parallel effort on several fronts, quality awareness being one of the foremost.

Challenges for MSMEs in HR strategy in the wake of ‘Make in India’

‘Make in India’ primarily focuses on manufacturing products in India. It is logical that this should include ‘Design in India’, ‘Innovate in India’, and ‘Support in India’. This therefore requires a holistic approach to not just managing HR, but creating HR right from schools, colleges and training institutions. Though this is a highly demanding task, there is no way we can avoid this. It is the only way that Make in India can succeed. Further, all these activities result in multiple areas of challenges as well as opportunities. The Governments (Central & State) too have their part to play in improving Industrial Relations and Labour laws, since manufacturing will certainly have to percolate to the smallest of MSMEs.

While MSMEs employ 40% of India’s workforce, contributing 45% to India’s manufacturing output, the main problem that they face is the lack of talent – most employees are non-employable for industry needs.

I foresee that soon, there is likely to be such a huge shortage of trained manpower across all levels of the manufacturing sector (operators, supervisors, managers, designers, etc.) that HRM itself can be a challenge for each organisation, especially the smaller ones. HRM will have also to build stronger bridges with educational/training institutions.

At a primary level, flaws in education system cost MSMEs a lot of their resources. Engineers, diploma holders, technicians, operators and clerks need to be given skills that train their mind to analyse and apply, before they can be productive. With this also comes the need to remain relevant at any point in the industry – therefore, the need to upgrade skills periodically. This applies equally to non-productive jobs like accounts and administration where online filing of monthly VAT returns as well as transportation documents are now mandatory in most states.

At a basic level, educational institutions are to be blamed for their flaws in skilling manpower. This, unfortunately, starts right from school. There must be a re-evaluation in the system with focus on understanding and application of skills rather than marks based on rote learning. The management in colleges remains unaware of industry needs and fails to incorporate skills that are required for industry. Thus fresh recruits from colleges lack skills to apply the knowledge gained – some even lack good foundation.

Graduating students are attracted to large MNCs which filter out the few who are capable of being employed. The Micro and Small Enterprises (MSE) are thus left with students who are not qualified for industry needs. If MSMEs employ their scant and precious resources of time and money into training their recruits, then employee retention becomes a problem. Skilling them would make them capable of meeting needs of larger organisations and MNCs. For fear of attrition, MSEs are reluctant to impart the necessary training, besides the time and cost constraints. Such a situation is clearly unhealthy.

The government has recognised the need for skilled manpower. ‘Skill India’ program was launched keeping in mind that only 2.3% of Indian workforce has undergone skill training. While these programs are viewed as being complementary to ‘Make in India’ initiative, they yet again focus merely on low-level skilling of fitters, plumbers, carpenters, technicians, etc. Skilling of graduates – especially engineers, has not been addressed. Further, the essential skills of critical and analytical thinking are not imparted, leading to a talent vacuum in the mid- and higher management levels of any organisation. This is felt most acutely in an MSME.

The growth of MSMEs is already challenged by lack of financial resources, poor infrastructure, and periodic and unfair harassment by various statutory bodies. However, the core problem to be addressed remains that of unskilled manpower.

We need to have a broader vision of Create, Innovate, Design and Make in India. To enable this vision become a reality, Industry, Academia, and Management experts need to work together to create a vibrant pool of real talent – talent that has strong basic knowledge of a domain, along with the skills for critical and analytical thinking. It is the development of these skills that will ultimately lead to the success of ‘Make in India’.

Aerospace manufacturers in Bangalore

Focus on nurturing designing skills

Make in India today is not addressing ‘Design in India’. Except for a few highly sophisticated technologies, we should by now have been able to design most products in India. Why has this not happened in spite of India boasting of the largest pool of young qualified engineers?

Let us look at the thrust sectors over the last two years — Electronics System Design & Manufacture (ESDM), aerospace and defense indigenisation. These areas involve state-of-the-art design and manufacturing capability which should result in truly Indian products and services. However, in spite of a six decade legacy of ‘licenced manufacturing’ of age-old products, we still haven’t demonstrated our capabilities of creating home-grown Indian products.

Over the past two decades, manufacturing in India has been dying a slow death due to various reasons. The most important of which has been the extraordinary growth of the information technology sector and the huge opportunities it provided for employment of graduates. This in turn attracted and encouraged the workforce, especially engineers, to focus on honing their skills in this field, while neglecting to improve their capabilities in the core engineering domains.

Contrast this picture with China where an environment was created that enabled the country to leapfrog over many advanced nations to become a manufacturing superpower. China welcomed global multinationals to set up their industries there — whether they were for fabrication of ICs or manufacturing aircraft. But they did not stop there. Through a close coordination between universities and the industry, China managed to reverse engineer these technologies to create their own design teams — from sophisticated aircraft and semiconductor fabs right down to stuffed speaking toys.

India needs skilled engineers

If the ‘Make in India’ goal has to make an impact on the Indian economy, we need to first skill our engineers in the art of products design and further to manufacture them in innovatively designed factories manned with skilled engineering manpower. This represents the core issue to our problems. We don’t have the skilled engineers to design products and drive the cogs of the manufacturing wheel, especially in the high-end technology fields.

This problem is magnified in the Aerospace and Defence sectors, where we need to build capabilities not only in design but also in robust processes, documentation and project management. Studies show that out of the 1.5 million engineering graduates emerging from universities across India every year, only 4 -7 per cent are employable in the core engineering industries (Aspiring Minds, Report 2014).

An earlier study by the World Bank (2010) shows that employers are not satisfied with the fresh graduates they recruit, providing  evidence that ‘the Engineering education institutions and the system does an inadequate job of developing analytical, evaluating and creative engineers.’

There is a lot of buzz about skilling, but again, the emphasis is only on skilling lower-level technicians. While this is important, it is imperative that we train and skill our engineers in the high value-addition areas of product and engineering design. Engineers aspiring for jobs in high technology companies in the core engineering sector, such as Aerospace, Defence or ESDM, find that they are completely out of their depth, and need to be trained for several months on the job, before they can be productive.

Skilling of engineers cannot happen overnight. This has to be part of an integrated scheme that develops interest, aptitude and aspiration to excel as a practising engineer. Design skills lie at the top of the pyramid that includes a variety of multi-disciplinary skills besides the need for being very systematic and analytical. A designer also needs to continuously keep abreast of technology and use it to innovate continuously.

A good design takes into consideration the entire product life-cycle that includes ease of use (User interface), ease of manufacture, maintenance and repair, among others. Design capability results from a closed loop process comprising Design, Analysis, Manufacture and Testing, as well as Maintenance and Support.

Such skilling cannot be done in a college environment. Universities and engineering colleges need to tie up with industries to provide the engineers hands-on exposure to live projects within the industry. This is where the limitations of the present university education system prevent a holistic exposure to practice. And this is where industry has its role to play, by giving a practical exposure to the aspiring engineers.

The need of the hour is therefore to bring all stakeholders together to the table to chalk out a holistic plan. This includes colleges, universities, industry representatives as well as the government representatives. Each one has an important role to play. To ensure the success of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, we need to think holistically. We need to ‘Create in India’, ‘Innovate in India’, ‘Design in India’ and ‘Manufacture in India’.

The original article appeared on DeccanHerald.

Aerospace skilling in bangalore

Creating a generation of Design Engineers for Make In India

Core engineering skill is what every employer in an engineering industry looks for, in a fresh engineering graduate. Most freshers applying for jobs in this sector however, falter at the very first step – the screening test. Many cannot answer even the simplest high-school level question in physics or mathematics. Those that clear this small hurdle, fall at the next – the interview. Again, simple questions stump them. Yet, when questioned about the details, they are not able to explain anything.

Finally most of them admit that the project work was just bought out from small institutions or individuals who make a business out of it. The candidate who is finally hired by the company needs extensive training for 3 to 6 months, before any useful work is produced. Till then, there is zero output from the new employee. This story is true for many engineering industries. This is the kind of talent gap that they face.

As is well-known, the root cause for this is the over-emphasis of our education system, even at the undergraduate level, on rote-learning and theory, at the expense of practical application. Ultimately, this is counterproductive, because an engineer is basically one who has to apply theoretical principles in practice.

Tweet this:“While skilling the technician is important, creating a new generation of product designers is imperative”.

So, what is the solution? The student is helpless, as he is a prisoner of the system. So too are the teachers. It is not easy to overhaul the engineering education system, but solutions have to be found, to unlock the potential of these ‘rough diamonds’ – our engineering graduates, so that our goal of self-reliance in manufacturing through ‘Make in India’ can be achieved.

‘Make in India’ is about manufacturing our own products with IPRs owned by Indian companies. It is not about just manufacturing foreign products ‘under license’. Not long ago, we had Indian companies manufacturing ‘Indian TVs’ with component kits imported from abroad. But now, you have Korean and Japanese brands selling their TVs in India, but almost completely manufactured in China. Hence, the need of the hour is for Indian companies to learn to design and manufacture our own products.

Aerospace skilling in India

So, how do we create a generation of design engineers that can produce innovative new products? Engineering students need to learn the practical application of each theoretical concept, and need inputs on multiple aspects related to the design and manufacture of even the simplest equipment. The very process of thinking, conceptualization, and designing elegant, reliable, rugged  and power efficient products, whether in embedded software or electronic hardware, how to ‘marry’ the two, and adopting a well-documented  design process, making sure that every aspect of the product life cycle is covered.

While these concepts can be explained at brief workshops, it is only through actual hands-on work on a live project that a student or fresh engineer can learn and understand the practical implications of each of them.

While skilling the technician is important, creating a new generation of product designers is imperative. Only this can ensure a sustainable and meaningful ‘Make in India’. Radel’s new venture ‘Drona School of Engineering practice’ does precisely this.

Indian Aerospace skilling

Make In India – But who will skill our Engineering Graduates?

The USD 400 billion opportunity

The catch-phrase today in Indian Industry is ‘Make in India’. The estimated domestic demand for Electronics products alone, is of the order of USD 400 billion by 2020. Every entrepreneur in the manufacturing sector is aspiring to take a slice of this pie.

The Challenges

However, if Make in India is to become a reality, there has to be a focus on the product manufacturing sector. China today, is a giant economic power, because it is a manufacturing hub for almost everything across the globe. Unless we are self-sufficient in Manufacturing, we can never hope to match, leave alone overtake, our neighbour.To achieve this, as has been highlighted by many experts, several areas need urgent attention – such as our infrastructure, labour laws and tax laws. But by far the most important initiative needed is in making our engineers employable. This is the greatest hurdle in the realisation of the goal of ‘Make in India’. Without competent engineers to drive the programme, how can the campaign even take off? How will we create our own products?

One step further – from Make in India to Design in India

In the Aerospace and Defence sector, how will India transform from being one of the largest importers of defence equipment, into being self-sufficient in defence products and then onwards to become an exporter? We need to make our engineering graduates skilled not only in Manufacturing but in Design.

Indian Aerospace skilling, grajnarayan

 

Tweet this: We need to not just Make in India, but Create in India, Design in India and Innovate in India, so as to create and own all the intellectual property ourselves.

For this, we need to skill our engineers not just as computer operators but as intelligent designers and engineers in practice.

Why do we need to skill engineers?

There has been a lot of emphasis of late, on ‘Skilling India’. Most of the initiatives under this program are focused on skilling the workforce at the technician level – electrician, machine operator, etc. There is no recognition of the crying need for our fresh engineering graduates to be made job-ready with hard-core engineering domain skills. Reports suggest that out of about 1.5 million engineers graduating from more than 3500 engineering colleges across India in 2014, only a shocking 4 to 7 % of engineers are actually fit for jobs in the core engineering sectors.

Tweet this: Studies also indicate that employers are not satisfied with the fresh graduates they recruit, and that ‘Graduates seem to lack higher-order thinking skills (analyzing, evaluating and creating)’.

There is a huge demand from the core engineering industries for practical engineers who have hands-on experience. We need to close this large gap between the existing education system and the actual industry requirement.

Today, while we find many training institutes for software, even computer hardware (assembly & troubleshooting) and networking, there are very few training schools for engineers in core engineering disciplines, especially Electronics and Aerospace Engineering Design, and none that include robust processes, documentation and project management. Industries spend several months training them on these essential skills.

In view of the need faced by Engineering students and the Indian Manufacturing Industry, Radel (a well-known name in the Aerospace and Consumer Electronics sectors) has embarked on a novel initiative – Drona, school for engineering practice, that mentors and trains graduates and fresh industry recruits in a real industrial environment with exposure to exciting live projects, to make them industry-ready.