Toyota, Honda to Focus on HR during Lean Period

Japanese auto giants like Honda and Toyota are utilizing the forced halt in production of their models in India for training their workforce and resolving any problems in their manufacturing process. Auto manufacturers were forced to slow down after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan which put the supply chain of auto parts in a disarray.

An official for Toyota Kirloskar Motors said that the idea was to use this lean period for investing in human development, to ensure that they are in a strong position when production levels are back to normal. They are focusing more on their existing customers and workforce so that their brand and production systems are not affected.

They have however not put their investments on hold. Toyota and Honda are using this break to get their production processes working efficiently. The deputy managing director of Toyota Kirloskar Motors, Shekar Viswanathan said that they are making use of this break period for improving the productivity of their workforce in the long term, sharpening their skills and removing any weaknesses.

TKM did not opt for any pay-cuts or lay-offs; however they slashed their production output by around 70 per cent two weeks earlier. The company will review their production schedule only by June 4. TKM has not had any breaks on its investments in the Indian market. Their proposed transmission and engine plant is right on track as the company just invested Rs.500 crore in the plant.

Toyota’s competitor Honda, which also reduced production by 50%, is doing the same. The Senior VP of sales and marketing of Honda Siel, Jnaneswar Sen said that their workforce is undergoing intensive training depending on which part of the organisation they are a part of. For instance, the marketing team focuses on quality processes and systems and the production team on localisation.

Honda is also securing their production process so that it is ready to begin production of its small car, Brio when it launches in India. Sen added that their network expansion is in full swing, and they are planning to increase their outlets from the earlier 125 to 150 by the end of the fiscal year as planned.

Even though Honda’s plans for their assembly line in Rajasthan are yet to take off and won’t be ready till their Surajpur assembly is operating at full capacity, they have just completed their planned expansion site in Rajasthan. This 250 crore facility will produce cylinder heads and engine blocks for the company, according to Sen.

The twin disaster that struck Japan, however, could likely affect the small car plans of Honda Siel. While the company is still forging ahead with its Brio launch plan during this year’s festive season, there is still some uncertainty as to whether this event will take place as scheduled or not.

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