Nearly 50 years ago, two enterprising brothers, RK and SK Behera, embarked on a remarkable journey, founding RSB Transmissions in the modest setting of a 46-square-meter work shed in Jamshedpur, India.
Initially named International Auto, the company had just 15 employees producing automotive components and construction materials. Now RSB Transmissions spans 14 manufacturing facilities in India alongside two units in the United States and Mexico.
“Fifty years back, we were a startup. There were times when we questioned if we were going the right way.”
Vice Chair and Managing Director SK Behera attributes this phenomenal growth to a marriage of patience and entrepreneurial spirit.
“Fifty years back, we were a startup. There were times when we questioned if we were going the right way,” Behera recalls. “But with patience and constant effort, the changes began to occur and we started progressing.”
Promise of Quality
From the beginning, quality has always been the most important parameter of product success at RSB Transmissions.
“We have always focused on quality and technology as our guiding standards,” Behera says. “We have been ISO 9000 compliant from the beginning. In 2019, we got the prestigious Total Productive Maintenance [TPM] category A award from the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance.”
RSB Transmissions has also received the coveted Deming Prize for Total Quality Management (TQM), conferred by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers.
“We have always focused on quality and technology as our guiding standards.”
“Maintaining our processes and manufacturing robustness keeps our customers happy,” Behera says. “If you have the right technology, quality and price, you will remain in the business. If you are missing any one of these three, you will not be in the market.”
He is a firm believer in keeping RSB Transmissions equipped with cutting-edge technology to protect product life and drive the company forward, which he does with the help of trusted suppliers.
“We have a collaboration with Eugen Klein in Germany for propeller shafts, EV Motors in Israel for e-motors and with Reyco Granning in the United States for suspension,” he notes.
India’s ‘green drive’ in the automobile sector has increased the demand for vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen, and compressed natural gas. Behera is all set to introduce these changes to RSB Transmissions.
“We have started adapting to the new green trend,” he says. “A lot of parts have become redundant with the transition to electric vehicles, so we’ve launched new products like the e-motor and e-axle.”
While the electric vehicles (EVs) sector requires new products, once implemented, Behera does not anticipate his product line having to change drastically to suit the similar specifications of hydrogen-driven vehicles.
“If you have the technology, quality and price, you will remain in the business.”
He is proud of the fact that RSB Transmissions has started harnessing the benefits of complete digitization in its manufacturing process, which he believes will lead to greater efficiency and a further improvement in product quality.
“Even when I’m in my office, I will be able to see if people at the factory are following the right parameters for welding or for the CNC [computer numerical control] machines,” he explains.
RSB has already made moves towards automation with the implementation of robotic applications and the adoption of Industry 4.0.
People of RSB Transmissions
While the Behera brothers form the core of the business, the family’s next generation is now taking active roles in propelling RSB Transmissions into an exciting future. As well as entrusting his own son to oversee the digitization prospects of the company, Behera is putting his faith in his nephews.
“My brother’s eldest son, Rajnikant, looks after the finance side. One nephew, Nishant, oversees the expansion in the United States and Mexico as well as the technology and design aspect of the business while the other, Nishit, takes care of business development and strategy. His niece Nirmala leads the HR vertical and his daughter-in-law, Priyanka, looks after the corporate social responsibility wing of RSB,” he says.
Behera is also passionate about maintaining high employee satisfaction at RSB Transmissions.
“We must watch out to see if our people are working comfortably and whether they are happy to be with us,” he says. “I prefer to take the direct approach when it comes to my staff. I wish to understand them.”
RSB Transmissions’ suppliers are crucial to the growth and functioning of the business, according to Behera, who highlights the long-term and collaborative nature of its supplier relationships.
“We work very closely with our suppliers. We support and develop their products and their manufacturing processes,” he says.
“We ask our suppliers to follow our TQM and TPM principles in their plants, and we send our people over to share expertise.”
“Continuously give your effort and have the patience to keep up with what you are pursuing.”
For example, he says its close ties with GRS Engineering ensure a reliable and top-notch supply of materials and services.
Behera also believes that the company’s long-standing partnerships with customers including Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Volvo Eicher, Isuzu, Mahindra & Mahindra, Renault Nissan, Daimler, Tata Hitachi, Caterpillar, Kobelco, Komatsu, JCB and John Deere are critical to its success.
After a journey of almost 50 years, which has seen him take RSB Transmissions from a startup to a market leader, Behera offers invaluable advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to emulate his success.
“Several startup businesses are coming up in India. They should know their finances, and ensure they are running their company professionally and ethically,” he says.
“It is not quick. It takes time. Continuously give your effort and have the patience to keep up with what you are pursuing.”