Hyundai Motor India has become a household name with the feature rich cars and SUV’s that they make for us Indians. Their new age design further substantiates the fact that they have a vehicle for each segment in the mass market and to which Hyundai Santro is a significant name.
It all started in the year 1996, when Hyundai first put their foot on Indian soil. Back then, the Korean brand was un-heard off and took quite a while for people to understand their true potential. However with the introduction of Santro, the perception of Hyundai was in for a drastic change. It was then that the common man sat and took notice of what the brand had to offer and the rest, as they say, is history. From being a nobody to becoming the second largest automobile manufacturer, Hyundai India has achieved this feat with its state of the art manufacturing facility in Sriperumbudur, Chennai. With more than 7 lakh units produced a year, Hyundai is also the one of the largest exporters from India.
It is here at Sriperumbudur that the Hyundai Santro rolled off the production line for the very first time in the year 1998. And it continued to charm Indian hearts for more than a decade and a half. In fact the 1.85 million units of Hyundai Santro sold worldwide were produced at this very plant that goes to show its importance. Over time, Hyundai’s cuttingedge technology and feature rich models forced other manufacturers to follow suit in modernizing the compact cars produced and sold in India. Unfortunately, the Hyundai Santro that was at the fag end of its lifecycle, and with much hesitation, was discontinued back in 2014. This was despite knowing that it still sold over 30,000 units a year.
With the icon off the shelf, the process of improvisation continued at Sriperumbudur. Spread over 536 acres of land, this advanced 4.0 production facility is currently equipped with 590 generation 4 robots, quality and testing capability along with flexible engine plants. In this year alone, Hyundai is expected to increase its current capacity from 7.13 to 7.50 lakh units. By smart engineering (automation and constant quality checks carried out by humans) this plant is now running at 100 percent capacity utilization. The company plans to roll out 10 million cars by the first half of 2021. And to be able to achieve this goal, Hyundai thought of relying on its most trusted model – the Santro.
Re-introduced last year, the Santro is manufactured at Hyundai’s Chennai facility. Its production begins from the body panel workshop. This is where rolls of stainless steel are brought in and converted into individual body panels with the help of a 5400-tonne capacity press machine. The dies used in this process are prepared months in advance and are tested for a period of full three months before being used for production. Once cut, these metal parts are then put through a few other processes in the same section of the plant before finally being stacked up by plant workers on a specific side. In order to easily recognize these panels, the name Santro is replaced with the codename AH2 and a separate orange colour coding is given. To maintain quality, one in every 50 panels is checked for any defect via the use of an oilstone for deformities. If there is something wrong, then the entire lot is sent for re-examination.
Next stage involves these panels to be shifted to the body shop. This is where more than hundred robots come together to weld different parts onto the mainframe. With minimum errors, these robots are said to have 98 percent accuracy. In comparison to these machines, there are a fewer number of humans whose job mainly is to feed components and parts to be put on a rig in order to be welded together with rest of the body panels. The remaining few are skilled operators who man these machines. Once the structure is ready, it is time to send it in to paint. The paint shop is fully automated and does not have any human involvement as part of the process due to the use of hazardous chemicals. The first activity is to give the shell an anti-rust treatment after which multiple coats of paints are applied before finally giving a clear coat finish.
When dried and ready, it is time to move over to the assembly shop. It is here that there is a paradigm shift from automation to labor intensive. Different parts like the chassis and other body panels are put together. With that in place, it is time that the chassis and drivetrain come together. For that to take place, mechanized platforms carry the required engine components while the body is lowered from a conveyor to be stitched together. Speaking of conveyors, this particular part of the plant has a large number of them, that carry different car parts to be assembled manually by the workers. The assembly line is a very skilled and streamlined process where there is different sub-assembling. With a limited window of time, the cars in this section keep on moving while the operator plays a vital role in fitting the right parts before moving on to the other to repeat the same task. When fully assembled, the orange protector panels are taken off and the car is started for the very first time. It is then that the vehicle is driven over to the Holding Area where the pre-delivery inspection is carried out. Under this process, each car is thoroughly tested. All its functions and features are looked into in great detail before being sent of to dealerships and then onto the end customer.
By paying so much attention to detail, one thing is for sure that Hyundai Santro is made for India with pride, quality and perfection. It is with this dedication that a car is rolled out of the assembly line every 72 seconds and takes 21 hours to make from scratch. Hyundai Motor India definitely seem to be the force to reckon with for automobile manufacturing in the country