Title: Accelerating product development in the automobile industry

Authors: Venkataramani Sumantran

Addresses: Tata Motors, Pune, 411 018, India

Abstract: Competition in consumer product space demands acceleration of product development. Not only is greater variety demanded by customers, but every model seems destined to a shorter shelf life. Beyond this, the faster pace of regulatory changes adds even greater emphasis. To achieve more rapid product development, organisations have employed many fundamental enablers including: platform concepts allowing more effective leverage of designs; doing work concurrently; reducing the time taken for each task. Major automobile manufacturers have used all these methods for reducing product development time. Tata Motors, the largest automobile firm in India, has also used many of these same levers to accelerate product development. Tata Motors developed a new Sedan Indigo in about 20 months (and subsequently a Station-wagon, Indigo Marina), leveraging the successful Indica platform and manufacturing system. This approach, supported by a formal vehicle development process, concurrent engineering, maths based simulations and a disciplined manufacturing planning activity has been deployed with considerable benefit. The cross-functional teams employed in many stages of the development activity have also promoted organisational learning apart from reducing product development cycle time. Ultimately only the marketplace success of these products, contributing to the financial turnaround of the company, can be viewed as a true measure of the success of these efforts.

Keywords: automobile industry; concurrent engineering; automotive product development; simultaneous engineering; India; simulation; manufacturing planning; organisational learning; cross-functional teams; cycle time reduction.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMTM.2004.005424

International Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management, 2004 Vol.6 No.3/4, pp.361 - 371

Available online: 01 Oct 2004 *

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