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Tata Nano and the supply chain February 2, 2008

Posted by Ramnath Rangaswamy in Business, Emerging Markets, India, Indian Economy, Logistics, Supply Chain.

untitled.jpg As Ratan Tata unveiled the Rs 1 lakh[US$ 2500] car, I thought about the process which enabled the Tata Nano to be designed at this phenomenally low price. It was done by a relentless focus on costs and eliminating waste and redundancy.

The secret of designing the Tata Nano is a concept called Target Pricing or Target Costing.

Target Pricing process attempts to determine what features and functions the customer wants in a car. Do consumer want 2 doors or 4 doors? What should be the engine capacity? Should the windshield wipers have 2 blades or 1? What instruments should be provided?

Once the features and functions are finalized target costs are assigned to each and every component/system – transmission system, instruments, engine, body, interiors, electrical systems. The sub-teams then design the components/systems within the target cost. They look at every bolt and nut and keep driving cost out of the components/ system.

For example the Nano has a variable transmission instead of the standard gears. It has instrument clusters which do not have anti-glare coating and does not use screws for fixing.

This same concept, of relentless focus on costs and ‘scraping the barrel’ mentality can be applied to supply chains!

Cost and waste is driven out of supply chains by reducing inventory, eliminating waiting times and delays, increasing utilization of warehouse and trucks, optimizing location of warehouses and plants, drawing up the optimum transportation network, utilizing backhauls etc.

Reducing inventory reduces the working capital cost , reduces warehousing costs and obsolescence costs . To reduce inventory, demand fluctuation will have to be reduced, reliability of inventory replenishment will have to increased, Inventory Record Accuracy will have to be above ~95% and supply chain length will have to be reduced.

Reducing supply chain times reduces inventory and increases responsiveness. To eliminate waiting times and delays the complete supply chain process will have to be mapped. For this a lead time map is used. Delays like waiting for loading or unloading and waiting for documents can be minimized. Transit times can be reduced [ not by fast and rash driving ] but by using AC cabins and double-drivers. Also, backhauls are a way to reduce costs.

Truck utilization can be improved by using truck optimization softwares . Similarly, warehouse space can be utilized more efficiently by increasing storage height- by increasing the rack heights or having a mezzanine.

On a strategic level, Supply Chain Network Design – locating plants, contract manufacturers, Distribution Centres and warehouses- is important because 70% of the cost of a supply chain is fixed at the design stage.

So while Tata Nano has created a breakthrough in car manufacture by reducing the cost of a car significantly, it has led me to think about doing a Tata Nano with my supply chain.



1. Planet Apex - February 3, 2008

Yeah, that’s a very interesting car, I also blogged about it in my blog.

2. Rosalineje - March 25, 2008

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3. streamlinesupplychain - March 30, 2008


4. Aprajita Rana - September 29, 2008

I found your analysis of the supply chain aspect of Nano very interesting. Would like to know more. I am also interested in the source of your information. Can you share?

5. Arun Sharma - September 22, 2009

Hi there. Interesting observations, but most of them are just suggestions or guesses rather than actual information from some sources. Can you please elaborate a bit on the actual scenario of Tata Nano Supply Chain?

6. Ishan - October 16, 2009

i agree with arun

7. Pooja - August 3, 2011

good information but can I get an exact idea of supply chain management of Tata Nano.?

Ramnath Rangaswamy - August 27, 2011


Please let me know what specific details about the Nano supply-chain you require.




Snehal Raja - October 11, 2011

Dear Ramnath

Can you please let me know the lessons to be learnt in Supply chain management from Tata Nano.

8. SATISH KUMAR - September 5, 2011


9. Ashik - December 6, 2011

Hi there. Interesting observations, but most of them are just suggestions or guesses rather than actual information from some sources. Can you please elaborate a bit on the actual scenario of Tata Nano Supply Chain?

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27. 7 reasons why Tata Nano did not take off as Expected - LetUsPublish.com - March 18, 2016

[…] marvel gone wrong? According to an IBEF report Tata Motors were pioneers in revolutionizing the supply chain by making partners of Bosch and Delphi in the Tata Nano innovation. However, though the Tata Nano […]

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