by Madhav Mohan

Innovative Barcoding Saves Havells Millions

Jun 11, 2015
BusinessComputer ComponentsEnergy Industry

Havells fan manufacturing unit had a curious challenge: Matching the motors to their blades. Mismatches were causing rejection rates of 3.5 percent. Until technology blew the problem away.

Do you have a Havells fan at home? Have you ever wondered about what goes into the packaging process of its motors and blades before it reaches your home? Probably not.   

Havells India has a fan manufacturing unit in Haridwar that’s spread over 10 acres and employs around 1,300 employees. Havells produces around 4.5 lakh fans a month with around 600 SKUs. The unit manufactures ceiling fans, pedestal fans, wall-hanging fans, and exhaust fans.  

It’s ceiling fans have two major components—the motor and a set of blades. Both of these components are manufactured on different production lines. It was a challenge to synchronize the motors and their blades during the packaging process. It’s a tedious job to match the size, colors and model of motors to their respective blades.

 “There are different sizes of fans: 56 inches, 48 inches, 36 inches and 24 inches. There could be where a 48-inch motor is attached to a 56-inch blade.  Another problem was when blades and motors of the same color are matched but they are different model,” says Vivek Khanna, CIO, Havells. “There’s always a risk of getting the wrong combination and we’ve seen rejection rates of around 3.5 percent on account of product mismatches.”

 One solution was to use manpower to cross check. But manually screening was problematic. “We manufacture 3 lakh fans a month, that’s 1,250 fans a day. It’s a tough task for people to physically match, and then pack,” says Khanna.

 The question on Khanna’s mind, and that of this team’s, was: What kind of technologically innovative approach could Havells implement to get around this challenge?

 To automate the manufacturing process at the factory, Havells already used barcode technology, mobile readers, which was integrated with SAP production orders and warehouse management functionalities. 

 Since the sub-assembly of ceiling fan motors and the blades move on separate production lines, “we created child barcodes for the motors and the blades for each final ceiling fan SKU; with a final item code detail acting as common link between them. These barcodes are attached on respective sub-assemblies and keep moving in their production line,” says Khanna.

 After that, when different components reach the packaging stage, SAP’s warehouse management functionality helps pickers picking related material as they need to be placed in separate areas. “This relieves the picker from having to go and search for a product,” says Khanna.

 Then, packers check the barcodes of the two components of final assembly, the motor and the blade. At the end of the packing, if they are in sync, “the barcode reader, an HHT Motorola mobile device, signals an affirmative sound,” says Khanna.

Havells began working on the project in March 2013 and went live with it in September, investing Rs 25 lakh. Maventic Innovative solutions provided barcode solutions, integrated printers and Motorola switches with SAP. “We chose them because they have exposure to integrating SAP with Motorola devices and barcode solutions,” says Khanna.  

 One of the challenges the project faced was that Motorola devices and the Zebra label printers become slow. A simple upgrade of their firmware solved the problem.

Havells have had a marvelous run after implementing the project. Barcoding technology provided numerous benefits. “We have been able to eliminate repetitive labour process prone to errors and managed to save on annual replacement costs of Rs 2.18 crore” says Khanna.

It has also improved the brand value of the company’s products by shrinking field rejections, and saving dealers from embarrassment in front of customers.