Indias first Harman manufacturing plant set up in Pune
In the interest of strengthening its presence in the country, Harman International (India) has now set up a full-fledged manufacturing plant in Chakan, Pune. Spanning over 35,000 square feet in terms of built-up area, this is the company's first production facility in India.
The automotive audio and infotainment manufacturer is currently looking to expand its presence in the Indian market. With 17 dedicated outlets (five for Harman Kardon and 12 for JBL) and two out of its 12 global R&D centres set up in the country, Harman says that India is a growing market that requires products optimised according to requirements that are specific to its customers here.
Dinesh Paliwal, CEO, president and chairman, Harman International; Timothy Leverton, president and head, Advanced and Product Engineering, Tata Motors; Michael Poznanski Eisenschmidt, VP, Technical Office Volkswagen Group India and Lakshmi Narayan, country head and MD, HARMAN International address the issues of developing European origin products for India
The plant was inaugurated by Harman International (India) CEO, Dinesh Paliwal. Representing the prime clientele of Harman were president and head, Advanced and Product Engineering, Tata Motors, Timothy Leverton and Michael Poznanski Eisenschmidt, VP, Technical Office, Volkswagen Group India. Joined by MD and country manager of Harman International (India), Lakshmi Narayan in a panel discussion, they brought to fore the differences in the features demanded by European and Indian customers. Another point highlighted was the advantage that the Pune production facility gives Harman primarily the proximity to customers, that is, automakers like VW, Tata and Fiat India, which is summarised in the philosophy, "Harman follows its customers."
Pune is also home to Harman's Acoustics Systems Engineering Centre, where carmakers can bring in their cars to get them tuned to optimise audio quality such that every point in the car is "a sweet spot."
Usually associated with high-end brands like Audi, BMW and Ferrari, Harman products are slowly making their way to more affordable cars case in point the recently launched Tata Zest. Currently, the plant will be catering to audio and entertainment requirements of Tata Motors, Fiat and Volkswagen India products. Special kits that can be installed by car owners post-purchase will also be developed at the Pune facility.
Addressing the issue of safety and automotive connectivity, Paliwal spoke of the need to incorporate mechanisms within the infotainment systems to protect against "hacking" of cars. While advanced technology like this may take some time to come to India, Harman's country manager, Lakshmi Narayan, maintained that the units produced here will conform to the brand's international standards.
The Pune plant is expected to run on full-capacity by 2015, rolling out 4 lakh car sets per annum. The highly automated facility will command a workforce of a mere 150 employees, inclusive of assembly line operators.
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