Continuous Process Improvement is one of those sacred business truths that can never be contested. It is how organisations sustain themselves, compete, and grow. Long before the discipline entered the corporate lexicon, L&T relied on process improvement to infuse agility in its operations and achieve the desired business goals. For 80 years, it has remained intrinsic to the Company’s character, apparent in all its endeavours.
With a view to showcase the best process improvement initiatives across the Group and honour the individuals and teams behind them, in 2017, the Company instituted Pi Awards, a pan-L&T competition where outstanding process improvement works were assessed on the counts of innovation, executional merit and the benefits that each resulted in. This year the competition was announced on March 14, known otherwise as Pi-day celebrated world over in recognition of “π” the mathematical constant. Running for nearly five months and comprising multiple rounds of evaluation, the competition culminated in a grand finale at Powai on August 3, 2018. With 12 teams from various corners of L&T presenting a case to be crowned the champion process innovator, it witnessed a fierce contest between the best and the brightest the company has to offer.
A number of senior L&T-ites, and highly respected guests were invited for the finale. Chief among these were Mr. J.D. Patil, Whole-time Director & Sr. Executive Vice President (Defence Business), Mr. Yogi Sriram, Sr. Vice President, Corporate HR, Dr. V. Kovaichelvan, Director, TVS Institute for Quality & Leadership, TVS Motor Company and Dr. Santosh Rane, Professor, Sardar Patel College of Engineering. Dr. Kovaichelvan and Dr. Rane also served as the jury for the finale.
The 2018 edition of the Pi-awards were bigger and better in nearly all the aspects from the previous year. For instance, this year the team awards were given in three distinct categories, viz. Projects, Products, and Services. While the 2017 edition had seen 6 finalists, the number stood at 12 in 2018. In order to get to the finale, teams had to clear two rounds of intense scrutiny i.e. a preliminary round where all the entries were screened by an internal panel of senior members chosen from different businesses followed by a regional round during which all the shortlisted teams from each category were invited to make a presentation in front of a select jury. A total 224 teams comprising 1125 L&T-ites from 23 businesses spread over seven countries took part in the competition this year. Out of this 51 made it to regional rounds hosted at Mumbai, Hazira, Chennai and Bangalore. It was from this lot that the 12 finalists (4 from each of the three categories) were shortlisted for the Mumbai event. The teams represented businesses including HE, Power, Valves, Industrial Machinery & Products, E&A, Smart World, Defence, B&F, LTHE, Metro, and Heavy Civil Infra.
Delivering the keynote address for the finale, Guest of Honour, Mr. Yogi Sriram congratulated the twelve teams that had triumphed over the competition and made it through. In his remarks he talked about value engineering and how it is central to the objective of continuous process improvement. “Value Engineering holds the key when it comes to analysing processes, projects and product designs for improving performance and quality while keeping associated costs low,” he said. Noting that it was immensely encouraging to see the high-level of competition, he urged the teams to collaborate and exchange ideas with one another on how existing processes and methodologies could be optimised and made more efficient. Mr. Sriram called on all L&T-ites, everywhere to cultivate an attitude of excellence.
The finalists, in addition to their presentations for the finale, had designed beautiful posters detailing their improvement projects. The posters were displayed outside the venue in the gallery for everyone to see.
Next, a compendium featuring the top 12 process improvement projects that had been shortlisted for the finale was released by Mr. Jiten Chouksey, Head - Corporate Learning & Development, Mr. Rajiv Sinha, Head - Business Excellence, Corporate Learning & Development, along with the jury members, Dr. Kovaichelvan and Dr. Rane.
Before the contestants could begin making their presentation to the jury, Mr. Rajiv Sinha who along with his team had put the entire event together gave the attendees a brief overview of the day’s agenda, the background of how the earlier rounds had taken place, the criteria which were employed to shortlist entries and the parameters on which the winners were to be chosen by the adjudicators.
Over the next three hours, the 12 finalists presented their case one after another. The 12 case studies presented at the finale were:
• In-situ replacement of damaged liners of High Pressure Process Plant Equipment in service (Heavy Engineering)
• Preheating of Butt Joint on Auto-TIG Using Induction Heater Machine (L&T Power)
• Improvement in High pressure small bore (Pressure Seal Design) valves delivery performance (L&T Valves)
• i – TESTING (Industrial Machinery & Products)
• e-STAR Project Management System for Scheduling & Tracking of Discrete Manufacturing Setup (Electrical & Automation)
• Project Management tool based on cloud & mobile app (Smart World & Communication)
• Digitalisation of EHSCC Processes–Connecting for Continual Improvements (L&T Power)
• Automation in Production Progress Management (L&T Defence)
• Motera Cricket Stadium Project (Building & Factories)
• Finite Element Analysis of Jacket Leg-Skirt Sleeve Assembly (L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering)
• Implementation of State of Art Telecom Technology in Hyderabad Metro Rail Project (L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited)
• Vizag Vessels Project (Heavy Civil Infrastructure)
The teams had been given 10 minutes each to try and convince the jury of the worthiness of their effort and after the presentation the two-member jury would quiz the presenting team on a number of key issues right from the uniqueness of the project and methodology used to the business impact and overall sustainability of the idea.
Before announcing the winners, jury members Dr. Kovaichelvan and Dr. Rane took to the dais to share their perspectives on the central theme of process improvement and how the Pi Awards were key to ensuring that the wheels of continuous innovation never stopped turning at L&T.
Dr. Kovaichelvan attributed L&T’s successes and leadership to its ability of problem solving and unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Underlining Pi Awards as a high impact initiative, he said that recognising and rewarding process innovation only accelerates the wheel of innovation and that only through constant innovation can organisations survive the present VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) World.
Emphasizing on the importance of adapting to emerging trends such as Industrial IoT, AI & Machine Learning, Blockchain, Dr. Rane urged the participants to explore ways of effectively utilizing technology for innovation purposes. He also stressed on the value of out-of-the-box thinking when ideating on solutions to process-related challenges.
The programme coordinators next acknowledged all the 47 jury members from across businesses for evaluation of the entries during the previous rounds. Of all, those who could make it to the finale were felicitated with special mementos.
The first set of awards were handed in the Product category and in it, Team HE was chosen as the winner while Team L&T Valves took home the runner-up prize. In the Service Category Team SWC was awarded the top prize while Team E&A took the second spot. In the Project category Team B&F emerged as the winner while Team HCI walked away with the runner-up trophy.
In all, six businesses viz., B&F, Defence, HE, MMH, Valves, and WET had participated in this award category. The winner and runner-up were shortlisted based on preliminary evaluation using EFQM RADAR approach followed by on-site assessment. The winners received their awards from Mr. Patil, Dr. Kovaichelvan and Dr. Rane amidst loud cheers from those in the audience. After felicitating the winners Mr. Patil once again took to the stage to deliver an address in which he urged everyone gathered to continue the legacy of constant research and innovation left by the L&T Founders and the generations past. “At L&T, innovation is a way of life,” he said. “That and not remaining content with what we achieve is what makes us unique. It’s important for us to not continue to do the same thing beyond a point. We must look for newer more efficient ways of tackling problems. We must not be satisfied with incremental improvement and look to leapfrog at regular intervals.”
Mr. Patil said that L&T has persevered and grown is a testament to its will to explore new business models, new products and services despite of great odds and that we ought to continue to challenge ourselves every day.
The programme ended with hosts Mr. Taresh Varshney and Mr. Shardul Toro delivering a vote of thanks to all those involved in making the second iteration of the Pi Awards a huge success.