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Introduction:

Asian Paints is an Indian paint company headquartered in Mumbai, India. It is one of the largest paint corporations that operates in 17 countries and has 23 paint manufacturing facilities in the world servicing consumers in over 65 countries. Besides Asian Paints, the group operates around the world through its subsidiaries Berger International Limited, Apco Coatings, SCIB Paints and Taubmans. The company has come a long way since its small beginnings in 1942. Four friends who were willing to take on the worlds biggest, most famous paint companies operating in India at that time set it up as a partnership firm. Its started in Kapadwanj in the Kheda district in the state of Gujarat as a collection of small plants. Over the course of 25 years Asian Paints has become a corporate force and India's leading paints company. Driven by its strong consumer-focus and innovative spirit, the company has been the market leader in paints since 1968. Today it is double the size of any other paint company in India. Asian Paints manufactures a wide range of paints for Decorative and Industrial use. Forbes Global magazine USA ranked Asian Paints among the 200 Best Small Companies in the World for 2002 and 2003 and presented the 'Best under a Billion' award, to the company. Asian Paints is the only paint company in the world to receive this recognition. One of the country's leading business magazines "Business Today" in Feb 2001 ranked Asian Paints as the Ninth Best Employer. It has been recognized by "Economic Times" as well.

Quality management and improvement:


Quality considered management can to have four be main

components: quality planning, quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not only on product/service quality, but also the means to achieve it. Quality management therefore

uses quality assurance and control of processes as well as products to achieve more consistent quality. Quality improvement (QI) in an attempt to retain or regain competitiveness in order to achieve customer satisfaction in the face of increasing competition from around the world in this era of globalization. QI is an integrative philosophy of management for continuously improving the qualityof products and processes. QI functions on the premise that the quality of the products and processes is the responsibility of everyone who is involved with the creation or consumption of the products or services offered by the organization. In other words, QI capitalizes on the involvement of management, workforce, suppliers, and even customers, in order to meet or exceed customer expectations. In order to succeed, every company must keep improving in a continuous manner on quality, techniques and every possible aspect. Listed below are some of the improvements I found out on my visit to Asian Paints.

y Information technology:
Information technology (IT) plays a key role in enabling the company to grow and generate profits. Asian Paints is the only company in India to have integrated Supply Chain Management (SCM) Solution from 12 Technologies, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution from SAP. With these IT tools firmly in place and with the backing of an extensive communication platform, Asian Paints is an internally enabled enterprise. The road ahead is to integrate the stakeholders including suppliers, employees and customers and create an extended enterprise. Asian Paints has launched a supplier portal that includes an automated digital document exchange facility that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of interaction with suppliers. An employee portal has also been set up. Customer Relations Management (CRM) tools are being used in Asian Paints Helpline and Home Solutions initiatives. The successful deployment of ERP, CRM, Business Intelligence and Portal software from leading solution providers and integrated SCM systems has helped improve efficiency in the business as well as increase the transparency and accuracy of information across the company. In order to affect 24x7 availability of the IT infrastructure, Asian Paints is setting up a disaster recovery site in South India. To match the pace of growth of our international business, the company is focusing on improving transaction systems and messaging platforms. Implementing of a portal platform for improved collaboration and sharing of information across all geographies is already underway.

y Research & Development:


Research & Development has played a significant role in the growth of the organization. The company has continuously invested in R&D. The entire decorative coatings portfolio for the Indian market and for overseas ventures has been developed in-house. Technologists not only develop new products and improve upon existing formulations; but also act as a pillar of support to other functions: y Supports Manufacturing in process cycle time reduction & improves productivity by alternate / break through processes. y Provides solutions to environmental issues by minimizing waste at the time of generation and also in recycling. y Aids Marketing in providing technical tools/USPs to demonstrate and push new products. y Support Materials by providing new Raw Materials as alternate to current one to give them negotiating power and also alternate vendors for supply chain flexibility.

y Environment & Safety:


Asian Paints approaches the environment issue from the perspective of waste minimization and conservation of resources. Thus, the continued attempt is to reuse, recycle and eliminate waste, which results in less and less waste being generated. Accordingly, the material losses in manufacturing have been reduced substantially over the last few years.Installation of upgraded effluent treatment facilities and installation of reverse osmosis plants has led to zero industrial discharge and achieved zero waste status for emulsion

manufacturing facility.
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y Manufacturing Facilities:
Asian Paints along with its subsidiaries has operations in 17 countries across the world and 23 paint manufacturing facilities, servicing consumers in 65 countries. Overtime, Asian Paints has established manufacturing units all across the world and thereby minimized the cost of transportation. This has boosted the profits of the company in the long run and also made it financially sound.

y Supply Chain:
Over the years, Asian Paints has harnessed the powers of state-of-the-art supply chain system using cutting edge technology to integrate all its plants, regional distribution centers, outside processing centers and branches in India. All the company's paints plants in India, two chemical plants, 18 processing centers, 800 raw material and intermediate goods suppliers, 300 packing material vendors, 6 regional distribution centers, 72 depots are integrated. The supply chain runs through a wide spectrum of functions right from materials planning to procurement to primary distribution. It has played a pivotal role in improving operational efficiencies and creating agile procurement, production and delivery systems. It has also enhanced the flexibility of operations, lowered output time and reduced delivery costs, while improving customer-servicing levels and profitability. The Supply Chain Management is backed by IT efforts that help the company in demand forecasting, deriving optimal plant, depot and SKU (stock keeping unit) combinations, streamlining vendor relationships, reducing procurement costs and scheduling production processes for individual factories.

Continuous improvements through the concept of Kaizen:


Kaizen, Japanese for "improvement" or "change for the better", refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, supporting business processes, and management. Asian Paints believes in the theory of Kaizen and has been striving for continuous improvements in quality, management and other such aspects, some of which are listed below:

y Retail Initiatives:
Customers - the very core of all the business activities. From the beginning, Asian Paints has fostered a customer-centric approach to business. A simple but unbeatable concept of "going where the customer is" drives all the retail strategies. In the early 90s, for the first time in the paint industry Asian Paints offered the consumer over 150 shades. The concept was extended to the dealer shops through Color World in the mid-90s, where Asian Paints began offering over 1000 shades. The company entered into a new foray of prediction of color trends in India. Intensive research is carried out with interior designers, architects and the fashion community to arrive at trend movements in color each year. The study being done for the second year is termed ColorNEXT 2010, which is a collection of 15 shades predicted to be the trendiest and most happening colors in decor space in 2011. This study has helped consumers get an insight into the latest trends in color.

This exercise has also gone a long way in helping various industries decide their color combinations for a range of products ranging from furnishings, floorings to home accessories.Asian Paints efforts are continuously on to engage the consumer in the painting process and fulfill all the requirements related to the world of painting. Ever since the company came into existence, it has been dedicated towards improving its retail initiatives and providing better service to the customers. The approach has been to aim for as much interaction possible directly with the customers. One can also locate the closest dealer to ones location using the dealer locator on their official website.

y Improvement in products:
Asian Paints has a variety of products sold in the India as well as the overseas markets. The company had started with very few products and limited no. of shades but, over the years, the company has made progress with each of the product and introduced many new ones as well. These changes/ improvements have been very gradual and small in nature, but on a continuous basis. Currently there are 4 different segments of the products sold by Asian Paints namely:

y Ancillaries y Automotive paints y Decorative paints y Industrial


Each of these segments offers you with a huge variety of shades and colors as per the customers convenience. As one can see, each segment caters to a different segment of the society with different needs. This has been made
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possible by several years of market research and concentrating on the customers needs. Each type of paint, distemper, etc. is a successor of the initial products of the company, improved and changed overtime in order to satisfy the needs of the customers and also help them make a well-informed choice. In order to illustrate this let us take the example of ancillaries. There are 6 major types of paints, primers, distempers under this category.  Asian Paints Decoprime Wall Primer WT: This can be used as primer for painting of water-based wall finishes such as distempers & plastic emulsion paints. Its special features are easy brushing, excellent covering, alkali resistance, quick drying & good sealing properties. It is specially fortified with fungicides.  Asian Paints Decoprime Wall Primer ST: This is suitable for use as primer for masonry topcoats like distempers, emulsions, luster & matt wall finishes. It helps in providing a suitable surface for application of subsequent coats of putty & finish paint. It set a fast, has good sealing properties, good resistance to wall alkalinity, moisture & fungus.  Asian Paints Acrylic Wall Putty: This is water based putty. It is one of the best products of its kind available in the market. It provides a very strong durable foundation & brings out the best performance from the finish paints, both in looks & durability.

 Asian Paints Exterior Wall Putty: It is a specially designed product based on white cement, re-dispersible polymer & functional additives for application on exterior rough plasters to give a smooth finish.  Asian Paints Wood Primer: Itis specially formulated to protect wood. It has an excellent sealing & filling properties which protects wood from swelling due to absorption moisture. Wood Primer penetrates wood fiber & gives excellent adhesion to substrates & also serves as a sound base for application of undercoats & finishing coats. It also protects the finish coat from exudation of resinous matter oozing out from wood.  Asian Paints Exterior Wall Primer: Itis water-based wall coating suitable for application on exteriors as an undercoat to exterior emulsions. It has a good opacity & whiteness, which helps improve the appearance of the emulsion top coat. Exterior Wall Primers does not chalk & can be applied on freshly plastered surfaces that are adequately cured. It does not require any water curing. As one can see, there is a wide variety of products in each segment, and each such product has numerous shades to it. The customer can thus choose from such panoply of choices which meet their specifications and requirements. The quality of the paints is also supreme and one of the best in the world, due to which the company has earned many awards & rewards, even by international governments. Asian Paints truly believes in the Japanese technique of Kaizen, and always strives for improvement in products and processes for the overall betterment of the company and in customer satisfaction.

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Employees Involvement:
Asian Paints believes that people are its strongest assets, for a company can go

only as high as its people aim. It is

people who innovate and invent, and who engineerthe efficiencies make a that business

succeed. It is they who drive growth and lead to greater heights. At Asian Paints, our human resources systems are designed to create a focused, performance oriented and agile company. A talent pool of over 4700 employees employed across 23 countries brings in a unique blend of mindsets and skills. An open and interactive work culture brings out the best in our people. A sense of ownership and freedom to experiment at their workplace brings out creativity and innovation in every individual. Excellent training is provided to develop leaders and re-strengthen competencies from within the organization. Besides encouraging achievers from within the organization, the company absorbs the best talent from some of the best management and technology institutes in the country. The company has implemented this technique at the grass-root level and derived many benefits out of the same. The online designing tools such as ColorNext, Color Designer and Paint Selector are the result of such initiatives.
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Quality Circles:
A quality circle is a volunteer group composed of workers usually under the leadership of their supervisor, who are trained to identify, analyze and solve workrelated problems and present their solutions to management in order to improve the performance of the organization, and motivate and enrich the work of employees. Typical topics are improving occupational safety and health,

improving product design, and improvement in the workplace and manufacturing processes.

Asian Paints had established many such quality circles in the last decade for the purpose of concentration on quality enhancement on a continuous basis. Such teams or circles proved to be beneficial for the company in terms of both, quality improvement and process improvement. The development of plastic coated paints, weather-proof emulsions, supply chain management, etc. are a result of such quality circles.
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Technological breakthrough improvements: Star products:


Over the years, Asian paints have been successful in producing superior quality paints and also has been continuously improving in the same. Given below are some of the products of Asian paints which have proven to be technological breakthroughs for them and also helped in boosting their sales.

y Asian Paints Apex Ultima:


Asian paints Apex Ultima comes with the breakthrough Colour Stay technology making it superior compared to any other exterior coating. It has specially formulated high performance color pigments, which have excellent resistance to ultraviolet radiations. This ensures brighter, cleaner shades that will not fade. This state of the art technology consists of special additives which prevents tarnishing of the paint film; ensuring that the clean look of the shades stays as bright as new for a number of years, even in extreme weather conditions. Apex Ultima with Colour Stay comes with a comprehensive 7 year warranty, ensuring that the shade stays as good as new for a number of years.

y Asian Paints Royale Luxury Emulsion: Asian Paints Royale Luxury Emulsion comes with Teflon surface protector. Therefore it offers the following prominent features:  Enhanced durability  Smoother finish

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 Anti-fungal shield  Enhanced stain resistance


It provides protection against spilling of liquids on the wall, fungus, any kind of marks, both intentional and accidental and many other such mishaps.

y Asian Paints Tractor emulsion: This is another star product of the company. It has been designed in such a way that it can be substituted for the regular distemper. It has been specially designed to cater to the needs of the lower middle class people, which provide their homes with a plastic paint finish in the same cost as that of distemper. It is also more durable and has the following features & advantages:
 Smooth finish  Washability  Durability  Shade range  Anti-fading property  Emulsion finish  Walls stay clean and new  Lasts for years  More than 1100 shades  Shades that dont fade

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Online designing tools and support:


Asian Paints has developed several online designing tools, which are available on their official website i.e. www.asianpaints.com. All of the tools are interactive web interface which enable the customers to go through the entire process of painting without any professional help. One can actually design his/her rooms to be painted, choose the different color combinations with the help of designing tools, estimate the painting budget and also select personnel for painting. Listed below are some of the tools:  Signature walls: It is to enable you to transform the looks of your room and make it look trendy and contemporary. Each house these days has one such signature wall which completely changes the entire look of the house. Signature walls helps you to design that wall without spending much on an interior designers fees.  Color Spectra: It enables you to make an informed and good choice from over 1800 types of shades without needing to physically check out all the shades. It makes your job really easy and makes you aware with the wide variety of shades offered by the company.  ColorNext 2010: Asian Paints Color Next 2010 helps you find new meaning in that language. Born out of months of research and trend mapping by Asian Paints, Color Next presents 5 color philosophies woven out of the drama and truth of today. These are Aura, Urbanite, Gallerie, Smart Comfort, Nature Networks, each a unique expression of the world we live in. it basically helps you design your rooms on the basis of the above mentioned themes, which in turn helps in giving your house a trendy look.
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 Color Designer: ColorDesigner is an online tool for interior and exterior painting projects. One has to follow 3 basic steps.  Take a picture of the room to be painted  Virtually paint the walls online  Create your makeover into reality Color Designer has various color options available to help you decorate your house or room. You can choose from a variety of images in our online Library and try different color combinations on the image to find the ones that best suit you. Once you have done this you can also save and export your chosen combinations.There is an online provision to upload, cut and color the image you have worked on. You can also send Asian Paints an image of the house or room you wish to have colored and they will suggest color options that will suit it.  Paint Calculator: Paint calculator helps you estimate the budget for your painting. It makes it really easier for the customers as they can opt for only those products which fit into their estimated budget. It also eliminates the requirement of a professional for the same and hence the customer can save on that cost. Also, the customer can have the cost of painting well in advance which enables him to make a good decision. All of the above mentioned tools and products have given Asian Paints a unique corporate identity over the years and helped in establishing a good corporate image of the company. It has helped create brand loyalty and also provided the company with a cutting edge over its competitors.

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Conclusion:
This study developed the theoretical dimensions of product quality for the manufacturing industry and explored how technology affects these quality factors. Technology is a main enabler of Asian Paints and a major factor of its success. The effect of technology in Asian Paints is built upon standardization, integration, automation and innovation. These factors not only drive and maintain but also improve the reliability, tangible, and conformance, responsiveness and flexibility, security along the whole of process of activities. The use of standard integration interfaces, best-practice templates and configuration options enhance product quality.Technology provides the execution platform to enable benefits, like speeding up the adoption of best-practices, interfaces and new upgrades, and providing a sustainable quality level during maintenance activities. The underlying technology provides business value to both the buyers and the company. I hope to provide managerial implications to practitioners by this study.Given the boom of applications and the limitations on the research of quality theory, it is also expected to invite further study in greater depth and width. As of now, the company seems to be in a strong position and have an advantage over its competitors in terms of quality standards, customer satisfaction & trust, market share and technology. A broadly recognized quality framework for Asian Paints would be helpful to push the companys development forward.

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