The Sriperumbudur facility of Hyundai is one of the top performing plants of the group
In 2016, Korean auto major Hyundai India’s managing director Young Key Koo envisioned repositioning the company as a modern premium brand. If the vision translates into reality, it would not only boost sales for Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) in the domestic market but also result in more “Made in India” exports. The company has identified three pillars — creativity, innovation and quality — to help transform into a modern premium brand. And as the company gears up to introduce more products, it is focusing more on quality.
But the definition of quality and customer expectation of the same is short-lived. What is perceived as high quality five years back is the standard today. “Hence, as manufacturers, we need to keep track of this changing customer expectation and ensure that our products exceed his expectation,” said Koo in an earlier interaction. HMIL’s most recent initiative is the launch of a centralised integrated quality and training centre, in Faridabad. This is the fifth such facility for Hyundai Motor Company, after one each in North America, Europe, Africa and China.
Koo had said, “With the opening of the India Quality Centre (INQC), Hyundai Motor further aims to reinforce its commitment to unmatched quality with [a] focus on zero-defect vehicles. We will continue to focus on delivering [the] top level of vehicle safety and bring innovative mobility solutions based on human-centric, eco-friendly technologies and services.”
According to Rakesh Srivastava, director (marketing and sales), HMIL, the centre will take the lead in new projects, from their pilot stage, to meet “top level safety quality” through proactive communications and customer feedback to eliminate risks. It will also monitor aspects such as vehicle durability, unexpected safety issues, system and vehicle benchmarking, and aid model development until its mass production stage. The INQC will also be partly responsible for quality assurance for all exports in the Asia-Pacific. To speed up response to problems and counter measures, the facility has around 10 vendors from Korea.
“Quality has been ingrained in HMIL’s DNA since its inception,” says S Punnaivanam, assistant vice-president, head of service, HMIL, adding that starting with its first product (Santro) Hyundai has aligned quality standards with India’s unique requirements. HMIL has constantly focused on launching competitively priced products for Indian roads as well as for exports, by emphasising on R&D. For example, with Santro, it made air-conditioning and power steering a regular feature. Hyundai also introduced a common rail diesel engine and multi-point fuel injection technology in India, mainly for compact cars. Besides, it brought a modern fluidic design philosophy into its cars.
HMIL has established an R&D centre in Hyderabad and a new car quality department (NCQD) at its plant in Sriperumbudur near Chennai. It has also structured a programme which ensures “zero defects” at every stage, from concept design to final production sign-off, where every process is evaluated and feedback is shared with the teams concerned.
Its NCQD department has a multi-pronged quality assurance process to help meet quality targets at every stage of a new car. Its vendors have also adopted these practices and are transitioning from “single count PPM” (parts per million) to “zero defect”.
HMIL says it has involved vendors, right from the design stage, which has helped it to understand the nuanced need for superior quality and change in technology with every new product. This helps understand requirements and provide technical support where necessary, and in the process get recognised for not only cutting-edge products but also high quality.
“We have a stringent evaluation process for our vendors and a suite of services to help them achieve zero defects. Every year, we evaluate their performance and award them at our annual vendor conference. The best practices are shared with other vendors who are encouraged to adopt them,” Punnaivanam says.
Recently, HMIL launched the My Place My Pride 2.0 programme, which has quality and efficiency as one of its pillars. Under this, it has appointed 155 quality marshals for maintaining quality standards in their work areas.
Besides, the Sriperumbudur plant has been benchmarked internally against competitive products and other group companies. The facility is one of the top performing plants among the 31 group companies on the quality parameter. The recent JD Power ranking, especially for its top-selling model Creta, stands testimony to its quality, claims the company. HMIL’s product quality performance has also contributed to a sign of warranty cost reduction (seven per cent average reduction since 2014).
Hyundai’s latest offering, Creta, won the SUV segment in the Indian Initial Quality Study 2016 with the lowest number of problems (68 /100 vehicles), the best in the past five years, while the segment average witnessed 115 problems/100 vehicles.
Hyundai is a customer-centric company focused on quality product and services, aver officials. In 2016, it retained the Customer Service Index rank at top three with the highest growth score of 39 points in the auto industry and also improved its Vehicle Dependability Study rank from 10th (2015) to 5th position (2016).