On the move
In February, Otis Elevator Company (India) Limited opened its expanded factory in Bengaluru that includes a new, state-of-the-art elevator test tower. Simultaneously, the company also announced the launch of a new Gen2 Infinity product line, developed for the mid-rise residential sector. Otis, the world’s largest manufacturer and maintainer of people moving products including elevators and escalators, is a part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp.
Sebi Joseph, managing director, Otis India, said that it was a proud moment for the company to build upon its 100-year history in India by strengthening the manufacturing presence in Bengaluru. The Bengaluru factory expansion stresses Otis India’s focus on local innovation and continued investment in manufacturing and research activities.
Established 15 years ago in the Jigani industrial area, Otis India’s production facility more than tripled the size of the factory footprint and doubled its manufacturing capacity with the recent enhancements.Co-located with the factory is Otis’ R&D centre in India that has also significantly expanded its engineering capacity in recent years. The factory’s new test tower, stands at a height of 51.2 metres and has the ability to test up to six elevators at a time. The test tower also includes mechanical and electrical test labs that are equipped with high-end test equipment staffed by a strong technical team to ensure all new products are tested and qualified to stringent Otis safety, quality and reliability standards. The expanded facility will enable Otis India to produce a wider range of smart, energy-efficient products, localised for the Indian residential and commercial segments.
The test tower has two large shafts, which can be partitioned into three shafts each for three elevators. The elevators are tested for one and 1.75 metre per second. It can test as high as 3 metres per second. The elevators undergo a full system qualification. As the tallest test tower in the country, the company employs the philosophy of testing the new breed of elevators.
Vijay Jayachandran, director, system integration team (SIT), Otis India, speaking during the plant visit at the factory said, “We have invested much over the last few years. Besides tripling the length of the factory thus increasing manufacturing floor space, we have brought inside the distribution centre thus giving us end-to-end control over the supply chain. That’s how we manage the lead time and the quality.”
Otis India specifically, and UTC India in general, have a strong focus on environment, health and safety. The company has created metrics for measuring environment friendliness and safety. UTC stringently tracks material consumption, material waste and water consumption, and greenhouse gas emission. The company personnel are keen that all employees adhere to its operating system and it’s necessary for every employee to undergo training with regards to its manual. “All our performance, quality, customer feedback, inventory numbers and quality numbers are quantified and analysed and we make sure they are in the control tower,” says Jayachandran.
Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) is the UTC operating system. It focuses on the drivers of competitive excellence — the people and work processes. ACE has three elements: culture, tools and competency. The daily interaction of each element is what makes it an operating system. Results focus on perfect quality, on-time delivery, highly engaged employees working in a safe environment, and best-in-class financial returns.
Under ACE, Otis India constantly monitors and collects feedback. And each time, it faces a problem it collects data and does a root cause analysis and ensures improvements.
The core manufacturing facility is a flexible manufacturing system line. Otis India has two. Both the lines have the ability to take in sheet metal (Otis India executes mainly sheet metal manufacturing) and produce the entire elevator – the cab and the door system. The sheet metal of different sizes are automatically loaded and processed and bent into the required shapes. The entire process is totally automated, and is thus lean. At the end of the line, the sheet metal comes to the assembly station where parts are added to it for the cab assembly.
Jayachandran said, “The entire
floor is 27,000 sq-m and that includes the distribution centre. The doors for every landing are manufactured on another line. We also make the platform and the ceiling. We also have a paint line and we do make elevators in the colour of the customer’s choice. The elevator goes into the powder coating line and is then painted.”
Buying an elevator is not akin to that of buying a car. Each building has different requirements. Although the company has model platforms which it sells with the standard dimensions, Otis India customises production for its clients as well. “We provide solutions. We have a set of products available but we customise the solutions for the customer depending on whether the building is commercial or residential or high-end or low-end,” says Jayachandran.
The market for elevators is constantly evolving. In keeping with its high regard for sustainability, Otis India has adopted some initiatives. In a bid to assemble two parts together a.k.a clinching, the company prefers to join them together mechanically . This way it has eliminated welding.
The controller shop where Otis India makes its Gen2 controller assemblies is a protected environment and requires dust control, ESD control and moisture control. The company employs different lines to make the controllers. Being a lean production line and using lean principles, the entire process is efficient. The controller parts are assembled in a preparatory area and then brought inside. The operator then puts it all together. The entire process is constantly moving so as to have a one piece flow system.
With manufacturing mainly being done on the pull system, the plant personnel schedule the contracts that need to go out thus ensuring that parts for that contract are pulled onto the shop floor and manufacturing can happen in what is known as just-in-time. A tester at the end of each line tests the controllers and ensures that all the functionalities are correct so that customers can get zero-defect products.
In order to keep minimum inventory, the company has an Andon system that monitors the unique contract number of every elevator. A green light signifies whether the parts for the elevator are in the manufacturing area or not. At the distribution centre, the green signal intimates the contracts that need to be shipped out on that day. “We have a local supply chain that develops a lot of parts for the products. They also deliver on a daily basis. This way we keep our lead times and inventories very low,” says Jayachandran.
One of the complexities of putting together an elevator is that it is assembled in the building. Otis India sends out the elevators in field modules and the boxes are labled in the order of installation. This way the mechanic at the site need open only in the order of the installation.
The company also has a range of solutions and has roped in third parties who come in and help with the look and finish. It offers options in colour, finish, types of interfaces inside, and lighting.