12 Commandments at the Mercedes-Benz plant - The Noel D'cunha Sunday Column

O mehki mehki thandi hawa yeh bata, sang Kishore Kumar to the RD Burman tune in the road movie of the 70s – Bombay to Goa, in a bus with lots of funny characters, cleaving through the Sahyadri mountains on way to Goa. The movie had a plot, with lots of gags and fun weaved around it.

09 Aug 2014 | By Noel D'Cunha

As in the movie, an enthusiastic band of 44 print CEOs (four travelled in a car) from BMPA set out on a bus ride on 7 August, 2014. The plot was: to witness the best practices at the Mercedes-Benz (MBIL) plant in Chakan (near Pune). And there were lots of gags and funny pokes too. Most at the expense of others, some self-directed like the one from Jehangir Surti of Prodon Enterprises. He got into the bus at the designated stop, all huffing and puffing. “I almost missed the bus,” he said. Why? “I didn’t realise that the Samsung phone alarm does not ring when it’s kept on silent mode," he said rather innocently. But during a small interaction break at the plant, Jehangir did receive praise for the quality work he does, and the numerous awards he has deservedly won.

Coming back to the trip, it was an initiative of BMPA partnered with PrintWeek India, and support from Hormazd Sorabjee, editor of Autocar India.

Best or Nothing
When the 2014 S-Class was put on sale, Mercedes celebrated the occasion with the tagline “Best or Nothing”. The iconic words “inspire, provoke and push” the employees in the Merc plants to build the best cars in the world. 

Mercedes Benz  is synonymous with GMP and top manufacturing techniques. This best practice visit was intended to challenge and inspire the print CEOs with the opportunity to tap into the approach of not only manufacturing but the mission of the organisation and company as well.

And the learning that print CEOs gathered will help them delve into the current challenges. On my way back to Mumbai, I asked a few, what were their learnings from the visit, and I got these 12 commandments. I’ve divided them into themes.


Amit Shah, Spectrum Scan
Amit has never shied away from investing in technology. “The more complex is the final product, the better is the chance for one-upmanship,” he says. And he has always combined different technologies, screen printing, offset and digital to produce the final printed product. He says, “The MBIL visit is an eye-opener and how much can one learn from a single visit. MBIL’s emphasis is on human above machine. The best practices among others included achieving precision in all their output, which results in unbelievable finished products.”

Keshav Mittal, Raghav Print Pack
“Managing quality level at every process, HR management, proper flow of man-work with quality control, proper action should be taken within the time-frame to avoid loss and quality, and finally, products need proper promotion to become stable in the market.”


Hemant Bhotica of Shree Arun Packaging
“The plant visit to Mercedes was a good experience. We got to know more on the working, especially of the labour force and the way they conduct themselves. The most important take for me was the senior management coming on the shopfloor every two hours to see firsthand the working and problems if any, instead of sitting in their offices and taking on record. This should be the take for owners and senior staff in a printing press. To go on the shopfloor and see the workings firsthand.”

Milap Shah, Printstop
“I was expecting a lot of automation and robots and sci-fi. But I was amazed to see human capital being leveraged especially in a country like India. Everything at the Mercedes factory was done manually, but using systems and processes. The production had four levels of checking to ensure best-in-class delivery to the customer. The processes along with the checks and balances are commendable and ensure the Best or Nothing at all.”

Ranjeet Gaud, Creative Graphic Marketing
“It was great to learn from the leaders how to manage a big set-up in an absolutely organised way, the importance of an effective human resource management, policy, quality control and management. The best part was the working hours, 6.30am to 3pm, really worth adopting.”

Ruhan Hansuka of Akar
“An amazing learning experience it was, visiting a factory of another industry. Today, I realised the importance of teamwork, discipline and human resource responsibilities.”


Firoze Reshamwala, Lucid Prints
“For me the one learning was their tagline Best or Nothing . We printers too must start giving super quality to demand better prices. For me the problem is that all of us want more selling price but do little for quality enhancement, which will make our clients addicted to us.”


Jehangir Surti, Prodon Enterprise
“The trip was a nice fun day with the printing fraternity. The MBIL production floor was a delight to watch and the assembly line an education in the art of precise functioning.”


Chandresh Haria, Pragati Offset
“A rare experience. I was discussing the learnings with Amit-bhai and I fully agreed with what he shared. As a printer we have to look at perfection, planning and time management from a car manufacturer and apply it to our industry. I saw that at the MBIL.”

Nirav Gala, Shree Parshva Padmavati Prints
“Four quality testing paramaters: self-certification, supervisor certification, random batch checking, checking finished level production. There were a few good things that I could follow, like, material movement, quality checks, shopfloor camaraderie.”


Pranav Joshi, Temple Packaging
“It was great seeing how the operation to assemble cars. I was impressed by the production material systems, handling and  flow. And it was visible at almost any operation, small or big. What I also saw was the importance of having the right equipment, which is critical to everything, from speed and quality of production to bringing waste to zero.”


Hardik Savla, Mittal Print n Pack
"Three key learnings: One, the MBIL facility at Chakan is an assembly-line, where the movement of material is, and completion of a particular task, of prime importance. Movement of material – from ware-house to press to post-press to delivery has to be properly planned. Two, repetitive quality check.The third, top level management should visit shop floor and there should be two-way communication between supervisors and workers."

The plant visit culminated with an SUV experience in the field created for “one hell of an experience”. And like the delightful cameo by the adorable Kishore Kumar, Faheem Agboatwala of Hi-Tech Printing Services rounded off the visit, with this comment. “World class assembly done by a world class Indian workforce – very impressive indeed !” He added, “After doing the SUV experience I really understood the meaning of – my heart was in my mouth.”