In a developing country like India, manufacturing acts like a barometer of its economic vitality and potential. It provides a path to upward mobility for the country’s youth and a source of capital investment needed to develop and optimize its resources. Considering the need for an overseeing authority to validate and standardize industrial processes, we, at The International Research Institute for Manufacturing, strive to build and maintain frameworks that help to measure new industry benchmarks, and appraise the strategic initiatives of manufacturing companies.
Our most prestigious platform for recognition is the National Awards for Manufacturing Competitiveness. The eighth and the most recent edition of the awards saw a shortlist of 110 manufacturing units vying to be one of the 79 companies to gain meritocratic recognition. As always, each shortlisted manufacturing unit was put through IRIM’s rigorous on-site assessment, guided by IRIM’s 10 indicators of manufacturing competitiveness. Needless to mention, the assessment came at a transformative time for the Indian manufacturing industry, as new post-pandemic habits and strategies became more deeply ingrained and reinforced positive trends that were apparent in our observations.
Firstly, our assessments reiterated old adages about how good organizations react to change, while better organizations anticipate and prepare for change, again brought into focus by the disruption caused by the pandemic. It was also clear from our observations that leading organizations are those which create change and give positive momentum to industrial growth. These emerging leaders, we discovered, had propelled themselves ahead with a combination of uniquely Indian qualities, displaying great ingenuity in coping with changed circumstances.
The adaptability, which was the key to survival during the pandemic, had now become a byword for innovation and flexibility. Similarly, there was a marked improvement in how the best manufacturing units utilized their resources, clearly having grasped the need to be nimble and sustainable. Their march forward has also been aided by the ease of creating and deploying new digital solutions, and an added capacity for out-of-the-box thinking. But most of all, it’s the adherence to human values and empathy that has helped build positive momentum for these companies. It has helped them retain talent and become more embedded in the communities they serve.
The most notable effect of this evolution of Indian manufacturing has been a decreased dependence on global supply chains, and increasing localization and adoption of just-in-time manufacturing. The renewed confidence has also encouraged research and development of new manufacturing capabilities, just like when disparate manufacturing units stepped in to make ventilators, sanitizers and masks, when India needed these things the most. Manufacturing companies have also become more flexible and empowered, making liberal use of automation, digitization and mechanization initiatives, as well as streamlining their core processes to become leaner and more efficient.
But it’s the companies who focussed on human values and improving the lives of their workers who have reaped the biggest dividends. Today, they are seamlessly implementing new work schedules and production patterns, supported by an engaged and grateful workforce. These are the same companies that have also extended a helping hand to the community at large, going beyond the traditional scope of their CSR activities. By protecting and nurturing human capital, these companies already had a solid foundation from which to launch their recovery efforts. And in due course, they became shining examples of how industries can survive setbacks and rise up to be stronger and more resilient than before.
About The AuthorVikram Sivalingam has been instrumental in building relationships with the Indian manufacturing sector for IRIM, with an expertise in Renewable energy. He now serves as Head of Operations, IRIM
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