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How Hero MotoCorp is using emerging technologies to accelerate its growth

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The country’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, Hero MotoCorp, has always been known to be a pioneer in terms of experimenting with emerging technologies. Almost nine years back, when adoption of cloud computing was in its infancy, the firm created a cloud-based dealer management system, which created a huge business impact as it gave the firm excellent insights into relevant dealer related data. Over the years, it has kept on experimenting with new technologies, while continuing to strengthen the core foundation.

“We take a lot of IT initiatives with an objective of driving business goals and objectives. At the same time, we make the organisation ready for future disruptions and demands. Initiatives taken are of two types; the first type of initiatives are systemic initiatives which are taken to make the organisation more suited to take on technology disruptions by enhancing competency and getting ahead of the industry learning curve and the second kind are those which involve leveraging specific technologies for business impact,” states Vijay Sethi, CIO and CHRO, Hero MotoCorp.

Hero MotoCorp has one of the largest network of channel partners in the country. Till recently, the firm had the primary network connected to its CRM system and all processes were being managed using this system. The company started extending the CRM system to its secondary network and more than 1000 touchpoints have already gone live. This has immensely helped the firm in reducing the turnaround time for information availability and thus, decision making basis the data that is being captured in those touchpoints. The initiative has also helped the channel partners manage their processes with ease and also helped Hero MotoCorp give a consistent experience to customers at all touchpoints.

Digital firsts
In another first, the company launched its e-Commerce platform – for selling Hero Genuine Parts, Accessories and Two Wheelers. This is a first of its kind initiative by a two wheeler OEM where customers can directly buy products online. Parts and Accessories bought using this platform are delivered to the customers’ doorstep.

To improve customer satisfaction, the firm launched a ‘Job Card Creation’ app using which Job Card at the service station can be opened through the mobile. “This has reduced job card creation time to 30-40 seconds from approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Currently 75 per cent of job cards are created using this app saving 1800+ man months of effort and support our green our green initiative by saving about 21 million paper, which translates to saving about 6000 trees per year.”

Understanding the critical importance of being visible and being discovered on search engines, Hero MotoCorp has also created digital business listings for all its dealers. This has strengthened local Search Engine Optimisation and has greatly helped the customers in finding Hero dealerships with ease, which in turn has helped the firm improve footfall for sales and service.

Hero MotoCorp has also put in place a digital Instant Redressal Feedback. Explains Vijay Sethi, “We created this system to improve the quality of service and customer delight by putting various controls in the system and capturing instant customer feedback for any grievance redressal. Once customer supplies the ‘Happy Code’ to the supervisor, then an invoice can be generated against the service. If a customer is unhappy, instant redressal of feedback by the service manager can be done.”

To improve the capabilities of its employees, Hero MotoCorp has created an Integrated Learning Management System. This has been deployed with an aim to improve learning management process of all employees of 6000 touch points. This covers entire learning management process starting from hiring, training need identification till separation. In addition, e-learning and assessments are done to enable the employees of channel partners to update their skills and do assessments online through mobile devices. “As attrition is very high at channel partners, planning and retraining is very important, dashboards and reports based on this application helps in planning training sessions based on RAT (Required –Available-Trained) analysis,” states Vijay Sethi.

Hero MotoCorp was also one of the first firms in India to experiment with Digital Twins. In 2017, the firm setup a factory in Halol, using the ‘Digital Twin’ technology concept. The entire factory was simulated, as to how would it look after it is ready for operations. This is the first time that a factory was built in India using the digital twin technology.

On the critical importance of Digital Twins, Vijay Sethi says, ”Digital Twin tool will aid management with capabilities like visualization, decision making, tracking/monitoring/control. It is providing value to businesses during product manufacturing life cycle & establishing digital replica of entire operations. With solutions to simulate 3D working of all operations of plants, this technology was first pilot tested in our manufacturing facility in Gurgaon and later virtual plant simulations and digital twin was created for our factory in Halol. Now, as we are working on our next green field facility in Chittoor (AP), where we are working on creating a replica of complete Chittoor plant in 3D format, possess the layout simulation, identify bottlenecks at critical areas, calculate resources like say the total number of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) in plant and take measures to enhance efficiency and plant design.”

Proactive service using emerging technologies
Understanding the critical importance of responding quickly to service requests, Hero MotoCorp has implemented a Remote Support Solution using smart glasses & AR technology in plants, that allows communication between technicians and support departments (Internal /External Vendor) as an expert assistance. “This has translated to improved efficiency of diagnostics, substantial reduction in downtime of repair and maintenance of equipment and facilities”, states Vijay Sethi.

An analytics platform has been deployed to strengthen the analytics capabilities of the organisation. The team has initiated projects for forecasting of two wheelers and spare parts to improve demand fulfillment. The analytics platform also helps users do self service analytics.

Strengthening the foundation
Hero MotoCorp has formed a technology evaluation and solution architecture team which does technology evaluation involving business at an early stage to check Go/No Go or Go Later also ensuring Triple A trifecta (Automation, Analytics and AI) is an integral part while evaluation.

Sharing his perspective on the emerging technologies being adopted, Vijay Sethi says, “Major solutions that have been evaluated/introduced include Industrial IOT, AI for image processing and detection of spare parts, RPA automation, Low code development platform, 3D printing for toolroom, usage of AR for remote support, Enterprise content management using ML and AI, Connected vehicles, Remote Tracking and location, Turn by turn navigation using Bluetooth (Segment first introduced by Hero) and predictive maintenance using IoT for cranes.”

Hero MotoCorp is also encouraging its employees in the IT team to do special projects in areas which are not related to their regular area of work. “The benefits that we achieve out of this activity are twofold. Firstly, it helps build and enhance the competency of our team since they get to learn new technologies and work in varied areas and secondly, it helps the organization future proof itself against technologies that might not have become mature or mainstream but the fact that we have already experimented with it makes us move far ahead in the learning curve for that technology and if need arises, we can leverage the competency that has been built for those technologies,” explains Vijay Sethi.

Embedding AI
Artificial Intelligence has now started to become an inherent part of everything that is being done at the firm. Most of its technology led initiatives such as Industrial IoT, predictive maintenance, RPA, part recognition etc today leverage AI in one form or the other.

With the availability of a large amount of data generated in the past / currently being generated by the organization and enhancement of the analytics capabilities, it has now become imperative that the initiatives that the firm takes, leverages the data and analytics combination. The firm is also leveraging AI to build chatbots, both for its employees and customers. These chatbots are meant to aid the employees and customers find the relevant information easily and also help the company understand customer requirements a little better. Hero MotoCorp is evaluating AI and ML for strengthening information security and enhancing customer delight.

As the above initiatives show, Hero MotoCorp has been constantly pushing the boundaries of technology by experimenting consistently with emerging technologies.

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