In the IE February issue, we presented the first part of Dr. V Krishnamurthy reminiscing his tryst with Trichy. The BHEL-Trichy experience was invaluable for his building BHEL as a significant power equipment conglomerate, Maruti Udyog that quickly became a game changer and the public sector SAIL emerging a steel giant. We present the second and concluding part of VK’s reminiscences on Trichy. – Ed IE.
BHEL-Trichy was the laboratory where I did several experiments in my philosophy of management. Planning as a way of life was made a habit; ‘Corporate Plans’ became a true engine to propel the company’s activities. I introduced a new work culture. For example, instead of the workers going to the trade unions for redressal of grievances, I visited shop floors and built direct contacts. This helped in ensuring peace in the factory. Another critical step was the measures taken for the welfare of those engaged in hazardous jobs. An Occupational Health Services Programme was introduced; it was applauded by ILO.
BHEL-Trichy earned a profit in its third year
We were the first to bring in customer orientation. A separate Quality Control Department was set up. A marketing department was put in place to coordinate between the company and the buyers who were predominantly the state electricity boards. Trichy could make a profit in the very third year of its operation, which was unheard of, in a PSU. This was possible because of the spirit of oneness among the employees, workers and executives. This stellar performance of profit-making became a second habit for several decades to come.
As I was new to the manufacturing floor, I had to put in my best efforts to understand the shop floor practices. But within four years at the helm, I was rated the best CEO of a public sector unit and was awarded Padmashri by the Government. The Madras Management Association chose me for the Business Leadership Award, soon after next only to private sector stalwarts
J R D Tata, Lala Shriram and Arvind Mafatlal.
Today, BHEL is one of the largest engineering companies of its kind in India engaged in the design, engineering, construction, testing, commissioning and servicing of a wide range of products and services with 180 plus product offerings.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Though Trichy area abounded in the aspiring student community, there were no higher educational opportunities to accommodate them. BHEL was responsible for bringing an ITI, a polytechnic and the Regional Engineering College (now the NIT) to Trichy. The freshly created pool of engineering talent was responsible for the overall industrial growth of Trichy.
The development of ancillary industries was a new idea and BHEL was able to introduce it in Trichy as a forerunner for similar ventures elsewhere in the country. There were apprehensions of quality and timely delivery from these new and untested units, but we could make them rise to the occasion. Before long, some talented engineers left the company to embark on their own industrial ventures. Since the capital investments were small, within a short time, I could see the proliferation of SSIs, catering to a large workforce from the locals, both skilled and unskilled. The success of BHEL is also due to the contribution of these ancillary industries.
Today Trichy is an active centre for steel fabrication not just for sophisticated boilers but also equipment for windmills. With an installed capacity of around 8500 MW Tamil Nadu is the largest producer of wind power in the country. Can we look for Trichy further excelling in solar power equipment soon?