Gurugram-based Sandhar Technologies has indeed come a long way since it charted out its journey in 1987, kickstarting operations with sheet metal stamping. Currently, the Sandhar Group operates 35 manufacturing facilities across India, which will soon be supported with six more units. It also operates two facilities in Spain, and one in Mexico rolling out products across 21 categories. Auto Tech Review recently visited Sandhar’s Pathredi facility in Haryana to take stock of the operations that are focussed on offering cost-effective solutions, while keeping an eye on future demand.
The entry of Honda Motor Company into India in the late 90s led to Sandhar entering into a technical collaboration with Honda Locks, Japan to manufacture four-wheeler door handles and mirror assembly. With an aim to extend its arms and speed up quality manufacturing, Sandhar Technologies set up a plant at Pathredi to meet the growing demand from the car manufacturer. The company’s Pathredi plant is spread across 40,000 sq ft and is directly linked with Honda Locks, Japan to manage domestic as well as export requirements of the OEM, said Prabodh Kumar, Business Head, Sandhar Technologies Ltd, Pathredi.
The plant serves as an extension of Sandhar's Dhumaspur plant and was established to further step up the quality & design changes and also to augment its production capacities to serve Honda Car India’s plants located at Tapukara and Greater Noida. Kumar said the plant operates under Technical Collaboration (TC) and Technical Arrangement (TA) inked with the car manufacturer, and gets component drawings directly from Honda Locks, Japan to be built locally. Sandhar manages the tool requirements of its manufacturing process, with complete support of Honda Locks in setting up the lines and approval system. Pathredi is essentially a dedicated plant for four-wheeler products and manufactures key sets including ignition, trunk lock, door locks, door mirrors & outer handles.
The Pathredi facility is currently undertaking paint job for door handles and ORVM skull caps along with their respective assemblies, key machining along with car lock system assembly, door lock assembly for both automatic and manual transmission for various models of Honda cars. Kumar said the plant is fully geared up to serve 500,000 car sets annually that includes keys, door handles and mirror sets. It is currently operating on one shift to roll out 880 car sets, and can manufacture around 1,700 sets per day to cater to the high demand by having two shifts in place.
At the plant, the entire area has been divided into four sections – A, B, C and D – strategically looking at the present and future needs of Sandhar. Section A comprises all the current action at the plant, while section B gears up to meet the near future manufacturing requirements at Sandhar. Sections C and D have been assigned the responsibility to facilitate the long-term future endeavours of the company. Section A is divided into various sub-sections ranging from receiving of the material to finished products. The raw materials are also sourced from listed vendors of Honda Locks and have been kept to a minimum to ensure high quality standards, once the manufacturing initiates.
PLANT IN ACTION
The Pathredi plant has a total workforce of 310 and is segregated on the basis of experience in the machining and assembly sections. These workers are recognised through colour caps in blue, green, yellow and white – a process that helps ensure adequate skill deployment at the shopfloor. Section A houses the state-of-the-art paint shop along with machining for keys, and assembly lines for both keys and mirrors. It also manages the receiving of both in-house and imported parts to support the assembly lines.
The paint shop initiates with manual procedures for unloading the basic handle and mirror skull caps. A hanger can be stacked with up to 15 handles and only six ORVM caps find place on one hanger. Regardless of the product, the hangers undergo primer coatings to give strength to the parts. The hangers then pass through the flush-out zone for up to 10 min before the paint procedures initiate under controlled humidity and temperatures. The paint line colours are changed as per the requisition shared by Honda Cars and the paint shop robotic nozzles can switch colours in less than two min. Kumar states that this is a considerable improvement over the manual procedures, where the time required to change colour is 30 min and hanger-ready requirement is very high. In order to maintain high quality standards, the company has installed a five-stage filtration system that keeps a control on humidity and also ensures a dust-free environment. The filters undergo monthly to half yearly maintenance to ensure robust product manufacturing.
In order to get rid of the excess paint deposition on the hangers, the facility follows a pyrolysis system that uses sand at high temperature of over 250-270 °C depending on the thickness of the paint deposition. Once the deposition is converted into ash, the water is used to wash-off the ash and collected back to reduce and minimise environmental damage. The water collected is recycled by effluent treatment plant (ETP) installed at the plant and gets reused at the plant for various jobs.
The company has installed four lines for handles (divided among painted and chrome handles) and four lines for mirror assembly at the plant’s assembly section. The facility also has established one separate line for snake biting and dibbering of keys. Key manufacturing is followed by the door locks assembly in which the child parts used in the ignition main cylinder are placed according to the set numbers. Since various discs are inserted to establish a lock function that has to be unique, control check points have also been established at various positions in the lines following the Poka Yoke system to remove any manual errors. The unique codes for the keys and cylinder combination are checked and tagged to certify pairing with both the keys offered with the car. The pairing of keys and cylinder is also done with the vehicle engine to ensure the engine does not come to life with duplicate keys, Kumar noted.
The eight assembly lines also include sub-assembly lines that have also been set up to manage the assembly of child parts that find place in both handles and mirrors. This includes functions like packing, housing inspection, chord insertion, wire connection, seal base, skull cap, housing lower assembly along with the auto turn assembly. Various child parts of the handles like plastic moulding and sheet metals are developed in-house by Sandhar to maintain quality standards.
Officials from Honda Locks, Japan and Sandhar interact on a regular basis for development of new machines as well as for sourcing of materials, including critical parts that are imported from Japan, Thailand and China. Kumar said it is critical to choose the materials as per the Indian conditions, although suggestions are sought from Honda Locks to maintain the required standards.
GETTING FUTURE READY
Over the years, the company has steadily diversified its business activities across automotive mirrors, handles, plastic injection moulding parts, dies & moulds, wheel rims, handlebars, and automotive electronics and has high focus on safety and security systems across automobile segments. In FY18, Sandhar Technologies clocked a robust 20.79 % growth in revenues inch closer to the Rs 2,000 cr mark.
The year also saw the company pump in substantial investments of up to Rs 187.35 cr across joint ventures and subsidiaries. Given the changing dynamics in the Indian automotive space, the augmented use of futuristic auto electronic components is projected to constitute around 40 % of passenger vehicle costs and the company is keen to explore the electronics space.
Last year, the company had joined hands with Whetron Electronics, Taiwan for a technical collaboration, which eventually led to signing of a 50:50 joint venture in June 2018. Under the partnership, Sandhar is looking at localising rear parking sensors, tyre pressure management systems and lane departure warning systems. Additionally, Sandhar has already placed orders for a new 350 tonne magnesium die casting machine from Japan to develop casting components for the ignition parts. The plant is expected to start localising ignition parts by the end of October 2018.
Text & Photo: Anirudh Raheja