DS India PLM Summit 2010 – Breakout Session

After lunch there were breakout sessions. I picked the Automotive track, the theme of which was again “lifelike experience”. There was an hour long panel discussion, the panel consisting of eminent people from the auto industry, Indian and foreign. The Indian auto industry is going through the roof. Suppliers are not being able to supply adequate number of parts to OEM’s. One question was whether all was well under the hood and whether this astronomical growth was sustainable.The consensus among the panelists was that the growth that we are now seeing is the pent up demand showing itself. That being said, everyone expected the growth to contain although the numbers would go down to more reasonable levels as time progressed. One of the panelists from Detroit was of the opinion that India is in quite an enviable position.

Another question was whether OEM’s were looking to take back some of the engineering back in house from Tier 1 suppliers. One panelist replied in the negative saying that OEM’s were constrained by their own resources. Another panelist gave the example of Toyota and how they had very tightly integrated their suppliers into their environment and hence the need for taking back engineering was simply not there. Collaboration was the key.

A followup question was who takes the lead in innovation: the OEM or the suppliers or legislation. The moderator added asking whether the customer was involved in innovation at all. One panelist replied that the person who instigates innovation almost always was the one who is the sufferer in the situation. Another was of the opinion that the customer should trigger innovation. A third panelist said that it largely depended on the nature of the relationship between the OEM and their supplier.

A member of the audience asked the panelists about the scarcity of skilled manpower in India for product design and development. The person wondered whether the hype created by the IT industry in India was responsible for it. None of the panelists really answered that question, but one did quote a recent study suggesting that only 10% of the 400,000 engineers graduating in India are employable in product design and development. Another panelist drew a distinction between teaching a person how to use a tool and showing him how he can innovate with that tool.

Another question was, as a country, should India be the focussed on innovation only in terms of coming up with low cost products and processes. One panelist was of the opinion that low cost was normally a part of every innovative product or process. Someone in the audience who called himself an innovation consultant questioned how we could create a culture that fostered innovation. One panelist was of the opinion that availability of technology was a key factor in creating an environment that fostered innovation. Another said that the people entrusted with the job of innovation should not be constrained. Another said that the culture change needs to happen at the top before it can trickle down to the people who actually do the innovation.

Disclosure: Dassault Systemes paid for my airfare, airport transfers and hotel.

  • murray

    Do you really consider a statement that “10% of engineers blah blah blah” to be credible? Provocative, context-less idiocy. Get the panelist who stated that cost is a parameter of innovation to run your education system.

    • I would love to see that study. I mean, what does that say about our the educational system in India? It may not be the best in the world. But it is definitely not that bad. I know because I am a product of it.

      And by the way, just how exactly can someone graduate as a Mechanical Engineer and not be able to do product design and development. I am definitely missing something here.

      • murray

        Exactly. Did the guy who quoted it have any figures about what sort of useful work research analysts can do?

  • “10% of engineers blah blah blah” ‘recent study’ might be conducted 4-5 years back! Today lot has been changed, every University in India is now teaching CAD 2D/3D packages as part of syllabus. I can see 2/3 year engineering students working well on CAD packages, 50% have annual projects using CAD/CAE packages.

    Even, CBSC Schools in India now teach “CollabCAD” to VII to X standard students.

    I think more 10% are employable in CAE, CFD applications and CAD Software development. I can see many Mechanical/Automobile engineers along with CAD are efficient in C, C++, LISP, VB when looking for job in CAD Industry as fresher.

  • Sharakamani

    Deelip, I don’t know the credibility of the report and the % factor, however I must say that I tend to agree with that. I am looking it from the employer’s point of view. Ask any OEM or Tier 1/11 who want to hire designers in their respective fields/specific functions of automotive, it is easily not more than 10-15% out of those who have applied, that too with being liberal. This is from the market not from the institutes. I might be wrong here and hope I am but this is from what I have experienced, seen and heard.

    Firstly by knowing how to use a CAD tool does not make one a designer. Unfortunately many institutes, training houses do this. What they teach is different modelers. But as you indicated someone mentioned how to design innovatively using these tools is what is important. The tools offer a lot more than just do a 3D model. I still believe that an innovative design still happen in mind and paper, 3D is a collaboraive tool and brings in a lot more efficiency to my thinking if it is available and can exploit. The person should be capable of thinking engineering, manufacturability, weight, property, compliances etc.

    To some extent I credit this GAP in skill sets to IT service industry where our mechanical engineers are paid high to do some basic drafting/remodifications and 3D modeling work that is suggested by the actual designers. People don’t know the context, reason for these modifications in a nut shell not the broader picture. Just by working for a Automotive customer I don’t become automotive consultant the way IT companies project their employees.

    However making engineering graduates market is the ownership of industry too. Who train them in core domains, manufacturing processes etc so they give 100% output in couple of years. To a large extent all manufacturing houses have done this, provided the employees stick and grow their than look for an IT job.