Post-pandemic, India will need to focus on fast-paced development for building Atmanirbhar Bharat
Rolls-Royce India and South Asia President Kishore Jayaraman speaks about how the company is prioritising sustainability and responding to the changing environment of doing business, the lessons that it has learned from the COVID crisis and the company’s plans for Make in India.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted Rolls-Royce India and what has the company learned from these issues to make it stronger moving forward?
The current pandemic is an unprecedented situation and therefore we are trying several new ways to overcome it. While the crisis is posing certain challenges, it is also accelerating some impending changes, which may have faced resistance earlier but are now widely becoming acceptable, like the shift to remote ways of working with increased reliance on digital tools and techniques.
Technology adoption has become essential and the future will be about developing a more digitally connected world. Businesses need to take proactive measures around new ways of working like integrating digital technology that can increase their organisation’s productivity, deepen stakeholder relationships, and emerge better prepared for the future.
Disruptions in supply chains and offline buying channels have also made it crucial for businesses to rethink accepted norms and think more out of the box, but also think more in the box.
The pandemic has kick-started a sense of urgency among many businesses to begin prioritising sustainability. How is Rolls-Royce India responding to this changing environment?
The ability of businesses to adapt with agility to a fast-changing environment is one of the fundamental pillars for existence and eventually for sustainable growth. This pandemic is testing the resilience of businesses in the present and has brought to the fore vulnerabilities in business operations. The world on the other side of this crisis will need the power to fuel quick and sustainable economic recovery and that power will need to be stronger than ever.
Companies will need to make small but effective changes like, in the short term, cash consolidation, restructuring and resizing to account for the change in revenue streams, collaboration with all the different stakeholders to ensure win-win situations. In the long-term, it would mean new business strategies, enhanced productivities, and better planning both from a balance sheet and a cash flow perspective. Adaptability with pace will help companies read the signals of change quickly, implement short-term and long-term operational changes and access opportunities faster, thus giving businesses a competitive edge.
This plays to our strengths. The strategic choices that we have made over the last few years have helped us to respond rapidly to Covid-19 and the synergies between our divisions have proven beneficial to keep us on track. We will continue to innovate and play our leading role in enabling the vital sectors where we operate.
People come first, and we remain committed to ensuring the highest standards of safety for our people as they return to the workplace. Health and safety will assume greater significance for building trust among consumers, customers as well as employees in times to come. Businesses will need to put in place processes to ensure the safety checks at production units to ensure safety of products and people.
Technology will take on a new and overpowering role and we all will need to adapt to its nuances. We have facilitated flexible ways of working for our people and improved technology infrastructure to support this. At the same time, we continue to invest in research and development in core areas of our business, to offer more enhanced product offerings that are also better for the environment.
What is the company’s current stance on Make in India and what are its present and future plans regarding a self-reliant India?
Rolls-Royce is pursuing several opportunities in India, many of which strongly aligns with the Indian government’s Make in India agenda. We have been a proponent of the Make in India vision for over 60 years, having pioneered the manufacturing partnership model for our engines to be ‘Made in India’ under license by HAL in 1956. We have been a long-term partner of the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy, and Indian Coast Guard.
Rolls-Royce has also expanded its supply chain in India through various partnerships, working to strengthen the sourcing ecosystem. One of the biggest initiatives in this area is our joint venture (JV) with HAL called International Aerospace Manufacturing Pvt Ltd. (IAMPL), to manufacture aero-engine components for the technologically advanced Trent family of civil aero engines. Today, IAMPL is a fully accredited benchmark manufacturing facility within the Rolls-Royce global supply chain, operating the latest technologies to the highest levels of aerospace compliance. The JV manufactures more than 130 different aero-engine components used across the Trent family of products.
In addition, Force MTU Power Systems is our joint venture with Force Motors Limited. As part of the joint-venture, Rolls-Royce Power Systems with Force Motors will manufacture the MTU brand of series 1600 series engines and generator sets at the Chakan facility near Pune. This project will move the entire production line for the series 1600 from Germany to India, catering to both Indian and global markets.
Rolls-Royce also sources various components from local Indian entities such as Bharat Forge, Godrej and Boyce, Tata, and others, with a further goal of sourcing complex commodities from India over the coming years. We work with our supply chain partners to build capabilities and strengthen skills to enable the aerospace sourcing ecosystem here to meet global quality standards.
In the R&D space, our team of highly qualified engineers at the Rolls-Royce Aerospace Engineering Centre in Bangalore and the Rolls-Royce Power Systems Engineering Center in Pune contribute to global aerospace and reciprocating power generation engine programmes. These include supporting new product design, development, and manufacturing as well as service and repair engineering activities for existing Rolls-Royce engine fleets. Another 1300 high-skilled engineers work exclusively for Rolls-Royce through outsourced agreements with TCS, QuEST and other engineering service providers.
Rolls-Royce is also a big consumer of services from India. We are adopting a Digital First strategy, discovering new efficiencies with IoT and accelerating data innovation. In addition, R2 Data Labs is our acceleration hub for data innovation, developing data applications that unlock design, manufacturing and operational efficiencies and creates new service propositions for customers.
Louise Donaghey, Senior Vice President, India & Southeast Asia Rolls-Royce Defence, recently confirmed at India Global Week that the UK and Indian governments are close to an agreement to co-create a new jet engine. What more can you tell us about this agreement and what will it mean for India?
India’s defence requirements are evolving, making indigenous development of modern defence hardware and technology a top priority for the government. At Rolls-Royce, we want to build on this, and we are working closely with the Ministry of Defence, DRDO, HAL and others to explore opportunities to co-create products and solutions for the Indian defence sector. We believe that joint programmes between countries will lead the way in the future.
We remain committed and keen to participate in co-development programmes with India to support indigenisation, in line with the country’s self-reliance vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. We have been manufacturing in India with Indian partners for nearly 60 years, and believe we are well-positioned to support India’s future needs.
The company recently entered into a collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. What opportunities does this partnership present?
At Rolls-Royce, we have created a Technical Higher Study Framework to facilitate higher education for our engineers keen to pursue Masters and PhD level studies. As part of this, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras for our engineers to pursue their higher education aspirations. We aim to leverage this collaboration for the up-skilling and professional development of our engineering talent. We also look forward to exploring opportunities for joint research programmes in the future.
Can you share your thoughts regarding AI in the manufacturing industry and what other technological advancements Rolls-Royce India is exploring?
Once this pandemic is over, India will need to focus on fast-paced development, wherein a robust local manufacturing sector will act as a strong lever for economic growth and ultimately for building an Atmanirbhar Bharat. In this journey, disruptive technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) will play the role of a catalyst by gathering data and insights across manufacturing operations, managing production cycles and speed with minimal scope for errors.
Our data innovation centre R2 Data Labs established in 2017 in Bengaluru utilises advanced data analytics, industrial AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning methods to generate applications, to unlock design, production and operational efficiencies within Rolls-Royce, and build new service propositions for clients.
This year in April, R2 Data Labs announced a new initiative Emer2gent, an alliance of data analytics experts challenged with finding new, faster ways of supporting businesses and governments globally, as they recover from the economic impacts of Covid-19. Tech giants including Google Cloud, IBM, the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, Truata, the Data City, and ODI Leeds joined the Emer2gent alliance, with an aim is to jumpstart the economy. Emer2gent will combine traditional economic, business, travel and retail data sets combined with behaviour and sentiment data to provide new insights into, and applications to support the global recovery.
People, businesses and governments around the world have changed the way they spend, move, communicate and travel because of Covid-19 and we can leverage that insight, along with other data, to provide the basis for identifying what new insights and trends may emerge that signify the world’s adjustment to a ‘new normal’ after the pandemic.