A Manufacturing Excellence Programme with a focus on driving world-class quality and production practices, as well as building people skills and a robust culture is being driven across the Blue Star factories.
The Company’s focus on manufacturing excellence is born out of its core philosophy of ‘customer first’. This philosophy is visible in every aspect of its operations and is deeply embedded in the DNA of every division, process, team and member of the Blue Star family, starting with the manufacturing plants, where Blue Star’s products are first put together.
Manufacturing Excellence is achieved through a relentless focus on the four main pillars of:
Blue Star’s factories are equipped with best-in-class equipment, including high-end computer numeric control (CNC) machines such as fibre laser-cutting machines and automatic panel benders from Salvagnini, Italy; turret punching machines from Amada, Japan; and powder coating machines with iControl features from Nordson, USA; among others.The plants are also equipped with a high-tech coil manufacturing set-up using imported equipment from Burr Oak Tool that can manufacture high-efficiency plain coils as well as enhanced split fins for a superior heat transfer. Further, the brazing process is conducted on auto brazing machines from S K Brazing, Korea. Shell and tube heat exchangers used in Blue Star’s chillers are manufactured in-house using special purpose machines for precision plasma cutting of the shells along with automated welding machines for precision welding. Blue Star is one of the few AC&R manufacturers in India to have an in-house micro channel heat exchanger manufacturing line with a fin core builder that produces the condenser coil, and a matrix of fins, tubes and headers.
Manufactured components are assembled on automated and conveyorised assembly lines, which enable mass production of room air conditioners and deep freezers for meeting the growing demand. These assembly lines have a barcode-enabled interface for quick component traceability and poka-yoke, which means mistake-proofing. The assembly line manufacturing the VRF IV Plus is one-of-its-kind, equipped with an auto oil charging machine and a state-of-the-art test cabin for a 100% testing in line with international standards.
Blue Star’s plants are also equipped with the latest in IT tools to help enhance productivity, improve quality and reduce waste. Many initiatives including a dedicated quality portal help engineers with data at their fingertips to monitor daily trends and take corrective action.
While investing in manufacturing excellence, Blue Star also keeps an eye on sustainability and eco-friendliness, and on updated regulatory norms. For example, the polyurethane foam panels used in Blue Star’s cold rooms that are manufactured using cyclopentane as the blowing agent, is a cutting-edge eco-friendly technology that achieves zero ozone depletion and lower global warming potential.
All products manufactured at Blue Star’s plants are subject to intense quality assurance (QA) processes and testing to ensure their reliability and long life. QA processes at the Company’s factories cover the entire manufacturing cycle, starting from the testing of incoming raw material through stringent quality checks at every stage of the manufacturing process and pre-despatch inspection of the end product.
The Company’s chiller testing laboratory is AHRI-certified across all chillers. This guarantees the performance of the said product as per design specifications, and is a major differentiator for Blue Star’s chillers. Other test facilities include reliability testing of products for electrical safety, longevity, endurance, and environment. For example, products are tested for all possible environmental possibilities of exposure to UV, salt, humidity, temperature, and vibration. Apart from internal test facilities, Blue Star also uses external standards agencies to verify design parameters.
Blue Star’s manufacturing equipment and QA systems are supported ably by the latest manufacturing techniques and practices that ensure that the plants are always at peak efficiency. Every step of the manufacturing process follows a carefully defined system that ensures the highest efficiency, least wastage, and consistent quality. These include LEAN, MOST (Maynard Operation Sequence Technique), Kaizen and Total Productive Maintenance along with 6 Sigma processes.
LEAN manufacturing is a holistic approach that helps achieve operational excellence for perfecting the production process by identifying waste, maintaining optimal inventories, ensuring minimum operator and material movement as well as optimising operator engagement through line balancing which helps increase labour productivity.
The MOST (Maynard Operation Sequence Technique) methodology has been institutionalised at all Blue Star plants with regular training and awareness programmes, identification of projects, improvement of 5S and method studies, sequence modelling, and gap analysis, resulting in the identification and elimination of waste effectively.
Blue Star’s workforce is also trained and encouraged to practise Kaizen, the process of continuous improvement. The Company’s Kaizen journey started at the Dadra factory in 1999, and since then over 20,000 Kaizens have been implemented so far across the facilities with the involvement of operators, engineers and cross-functional teams in the areas of PQCDSM (Productivity, Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety, and Morals) for continual improvement in the processes.
A vital focus area for Blue Star is the training and re-skilling of its manufacturing force, to ensure that people manning production lines at all plants are trained in the latest techniques and processes and up-skilled to suit the latest machines and systems. Training programmes not only include technical aspects but also cover best processes such as 6 Sigma, LEAN manufacturing, and soft management skills. Such training sessions are also organised at the facilities of principals and partners around the world to ensure that Blue Star personnel keep pace with the changing pace of technology.
Employee safety is of paramount significance at Blue Star. All safety requirements and regulations are strictly complied with. Equipment that improve employee safety are invested in, including safety guards on machines on the shop floor, vacuum grips for ergonomic material handling, and aerial platforms for increased security when working at heights. All employees are inducted and trained on shop floor safety practices before deputation. General safety training on the subjects of first-aid and fire-fighting are organised at regular intervals.
To cultivate togetherness, employees are encouraged to socialise, both through morning gatherings for prayer and basic exercises before work, and vide sports and games at a dedicated recreation centre within the facilities, post working hours.