Volvo Strongly Benchmarked to Quality

Swedish construction equipment major, Volvo strongly identifies its products based on "quality" parameters. This is both in terms of the advanced technical features of its equipment and altogether product refinements. S. A. Faridi finds out in his recent visit to Volvo's South Korea Plant at Changwon and get an insight of the production system that enables Volvo strongly benchmark its excavators with quality. The plant is dedicated to manufacture excavators for its global market.

Volvo Strongly Benchmarked to Quality
"Quality" has been the unique selling point for promoting Volvo's construction equipment products globally. This is very true to believe when one sees the induction of the "quality" features going into each excavators being churned out from the company's plant at Changwon. Each of the components manufactured at the plant ranging from undercarriage, booms, arms, or the hydraulic systems has in built quality element in it, produced under a standardized manufacturing procedure developed by Volvo.

Volvo's Changwon plant is dedicated to excavator manufacturing for catering to the company's global construction equipment market. The plant manufactures 4-70 tons of excavators. It rolled out 12,000 units of excavators during 2006-07 fiscal as compared to last year's figure of 11,000 units. The plant has 1,500 employees and the building of this manufacturing facility covers 1,36,100 Sq Meter.

The Production System

The manufacturing system of the plant is well–characterized by its highly automated machinery, driven by computerized numerical control machines. Being highly automated, assemblies and components for the excavators are welded using robotic systems. Production is undertaken by following 6-Sigma Systems.

Volvo Strongly Benchmarked to Quality
Though the volume of the Changwon plant in making the excavators may be modest but the plant has highly automated manufacturing systems, requiring minimal labor involvement to operate in all stages of production. This ranges from production of assemblies to components, both critical and minor.

Company has environmental safety as its corporate motto, in all the stages of its production as well. If it is found that there has been a compromise on the element of quality and environmental standards in any stage of manufacturing, the plant refrains from undertaking production activity at that very stage."

The plant has its own research and development centres, to carry out improvement in the product being manufactured. The plant has its own in house component manufacturing and fabrication facilities, made in accordance with the quality standard.

Every component manufactured, fitted in the excavators passes through rigorous tests, as per standards set by the factory. Well equipped service shops for testing both the equipment and machinery are integral part of production system.

The unique part of the production system of the plant is to maintain bare minimal inventory. According to production officials, the plant strictly follows "Just in Time" practices. As per this, the period from 1 to 7 days beginning from the final placement of the order to the delivery period. Adherance to just in time practice allows the plant to roll out excavators within every span of 10 minutes. The overall view is a well, precisely interpreted, fine tuned, "quality" system of production.

Product Line Weded to Quality

Volvo's advanced production systems, leading to production of "quality" component and the final "quality" excavators product line can be justified dissecting the technical features of its 70 tonne excavator i.e., EC700 BLC and this is one of the largely sold excavators manufactured by Volvo. The machine derives its USP- based on less fuel consumption and high productivity standards. Strong under carriage of the excavators enables it to provide greater productivity, countering wear and tear. It has a unique kind of hydraulic system known as automatic sensing work mode for high productivity, high digging capacity and high maneuvering precision. Besides this, the machinery has a summation system of functioning.

The other advanced features of the EC700BLC comprise its computerized tools, such as VCADS, MATRIS and Service Contronic. The ability of the excavator to analyse any operational problem and suggest solution by using troubleshooting features, is unique so as to get the excavator back in operation.

Apart from construction equipment business, Volvo is also involved in manufacturing of buses and trucks. The company foresees its future business growth to come from construction equipment led by global demand of excavators.

As per the business plan of the company, Volvo will continue to lay emphasis on setting up its production units in the growing markets.

The company is contemplating to set up a production unit in India witnessing strong growth in its construction market.
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