Highway Jottings-3

Konsultramesh
4 min readMay 16, 2024

For most of us, Sunday is a day of rest, indeed. Aaraam ka din hai. It has biblical sanction. The Book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible, defines the Sabbath as a day of rest on the seventh day, commanded by God to be kept as a holy day of rest, as God rested from creation.

Well, is Sunday the seventh day? The Holy Book’s different calculation puts Saturday as the day of rest. It does not matter. What matters is when one rests after a gruelling weeklong chore of anything one performs. It is immaterial what one does the whole week: construct, sell, grow, make — including driving a vehicle, motorized or non-motorized. Moving people or goods.

Ignoring the Biblical recommendation, I rode to Dharuhera, 40km from my home in Gurugram. The destination was chosen because of the Hero factory, which makes world-class two-wheelers. I could not help recollecting that my maiden motorbike was a 100cc Hero in 1992 when I moved from Bombay to Delhi which was bought around Rs.40,000. Sleek and light. Given a choice and decent bank balance, my choice would have been Royal Enfield. Bullet. It has a classic majestic look and built. In the good old days, policemen used to drive Enfields. Before the advent of Hero.

Three more reasons: The Late Brijmohan Lall Munjal, founder of Hero, used to be my early morning walking companion at the large well-kept public park between the Moolchand Hospital and Chirag Delhi interaction and exchanged ‘namaste’ regularly (1992–2000). Of course, the proximity of Hero manufacturing plant in Gurugram, hardly 15km away from my residence that I cross at frequent intervals. Last but not least is the latest addition to my bookshelf: The Making of Hero — Four Brothers, Two Wheels and a Revolution That Shaped India by Sunil Kant Munjal, the youngest son of the patriarch.

Beyond the abovementioned “manufactured” reasonings, my desire to ride to Dharuhera was to walk around the Hero plant (2km in 27 minutes) as part of my magazine DRIVERS DUNIYA series on Factory Gates. Under this broad theme, I walk around the factories to figure out the kind of facilities big companies create for the truck drivers who bring raw materials/ components from the OEM’s vendors from near and far. When these trucks reach the factory gates, plants are usually shut (mandatory weekly off for the white-collar office staff and blue-collar factory workers). Therefore, trucks must wait for the factory gates to open on Monday, the first working day.

Imagine spending an entire day waiting to unload the cargo inside to ensure the “business sustainability” of the OEM. Remember, Indian companies, particularly Time practice. The Munjals were pioneers in JIT in India. I am not bluffing. Listen to Sunil Kant Mittal (Chapter- Hero Goes National, Page 69):

Hero’s unique production scheme — Just In Time — was the result of a peculiar set of circumstances. The Munjal brothers, irked by the artificial limits on production imposed by supply constraints, had laid the productions of robust ancillaries. … There were three outcomes. First, it created the world’s most efficient supply chain. Second, it became the trigger for the largest concentration of bicycle part manufacturers in the world. Third, it allowed Hero to create the famous Zero-inventory manufacturing system (JIT).”

That was much before the Munjals expanded beyond bicycles to the motorized bikes. When Honda tied the knot with Hero, one of the things that impressed the men from the Land of the Rising Sun during a visit to the Hero plant in India, this is what they felt, according to Munjal junior: “The Japanese were obviously profoundly impressed with Hero’s JIT manufacturing principle, which they hadn’t expected to see in India.”

The Munjals’ obsession with operational efficiency, frugal engineering, and supply chain management was crystal clear. Transport plays a crucial role in ensuring efficient JIT management. Providing adequate restroom facilities for those who reach on Saturday late evenings when unloading would be impossible. Hence, they have to wait outside the factory gates, spend their Sabbath (Sundays), and wait for Monday morning when logistics staff would resume work and enable unloading/loading.

My ride to Dharuhera on a Sunday was keeping this in mind. What did I see on the day of Sabbath?

(More to come)

--

--

Konsultramesh

An avid watcher & practitioner in the world of communication