PAC Australia: taking global manufacturing to India


If and when Indian manufacturing takes off, Nick McPhee’s name will appear in the list of industry pioneers. McPhee, Managing Director, PAC Group Australia, is a busy man, even at a time when the economy has slowed down. He spends his time travelling back and forth between Melbourne and Pune scripting project management rules to big corporates unveiling mega manufacturing projects in India. Since its launch in Pune in 2005, PAC has successfully completed the all-new Greenfield facilities for General Motors in Talegaon, India, and the project expansion shop within GM general assembly and paint shop.

Today PAC is working with clients such as L&T (Mumbai), Ford (Chennai & Sanand), Harley Davidson (Delhi), CAT (Bangalore), Polly Rub (Delhi), Borg Warner (Chennai). McPhee and his team supervise design engineering, including lean manufacturing engineering refinement, and vehicle system optimization for new/major/minor model change programs in India. McPhee recently returned from Gujarat after six weeks of managing the rollout of Ford’s program management governance system that will track and manage Ford’s future investments into the region of Gujarat. Ford plans to invest $US1 billion and create 5,000 direct jobs, and indirect employment for many more people. The Gujarat Government has allotted another 150 acres to Ford India. The company has attracted 19 world-class suppliers to date.

Project management can be a nightmare in India, according to McPhee. “A five-kilometre road in India can have two different contractors. And the two contractors may not have the right synergy to work together in completing the project. Our challenge is to ensure we have done the upfront planning correctly and put systems in place for a smooth operation of a project at the kick-off,” McPhee says.

Can you tell us how you got involved with this project?

Our own global client base brought us to India where they needed support. Companies such as L&T gave us insight to India and how things are done in each state.
As General Motors was one of our Global customers it was important for us that if we were going to be successful in India, we needed to hire local talent and then leverage our global team to support them for future success.

How did the project in Gujarat take off?

Ford had already indicated that they wanted to bring eight new vehicles to India by mid-decade, the first one being the all-new Fiesta, launched in July 2011. The Figo is being currently shipped to more than 33 countries and will eventually be exported to 50 international markets. With this in mind Ford started working with federal and local governments to determine the best region for their expansion program. Gujarat was selected and the government allocated 460 acres within Sanand for Ford to invest in an all-new vehicle assembly plant, next door to the TATA’s Nano operations.
The Ford team will begin production at the new facility in 2014 to manufacture engines and vehicles at Sanand, with a set-up target investment of $1 billion (nearly Rs 5,000 crore).
A Ford global team formalised the plan for Sanand operations under the leadership of Kel Kearns. The Ford team used the PAC Group to help set-up a robust Program Management Governance process and facilitate the rollout of this program. PAC had to bring together 20?30 new team members from around the the world to steer this project.

What were the main challenges setting up in India?

The main challenge setting up in India back in 2005 was that India was not one country but was made up of 34 different countries, from the way of life, the food people eat, the climate, and the local laws within each state and how they cross borders. Once we understood some of these things it made life a little easier as it was also important to hire locals from the local area that had the local knowledge.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Another area where The Pac Group is passionately involved is in the process of “engaging China with India, and leveraging each other’s strengths”.

Can you tell us more about this?

This is an interesting topic for PAC as we have been operating in China for more than 15 years and in India for just over seven years. Today our clients in China who are investing in India want a company that has a foot print in both countries and that can maximise the “locals for locals” where the Chinese can speak with Chinese and Indians can speak with Indians. This has been fantastic, working across borders, and it has truly built our team to be a global team.