The Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector is one of the integral pillars of the Indian economy, with around 63.4 million units spread across the geographical expanse of the country. This sector is one of the largest job providers, providing employment to 111 million people. The sector manufactures more than 7500 products and has a contribution of approx. 48 percent of the country’s total exports.

MSMEs were the first to feel the tremors of Covid and the pandemic has left the sector extremely vulnerable. Rebuilding the Indian MSME sector is a priority for an effective revival of the Indian economy. Towards this, a host of initiatives have been taken by the Government such as redefinition of MSME, credit access, subordinate debt, preference in government tenders, etc were announced as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package of Rs 20 lakh crores in May 2020.

CII, under the aegis of the CII – Centre of Excellence for Competitiveness for SMEs, Chandigarh, is providing services for enhancing the capabilities of SMEs to achieve business excellence. The Centre helps to build competitiveness, harness manufacturing excellence, and empower clusters. It offers a range of services to MSME, including energy audit and energy management, corrosion audit and management and HR management. 

Key strategic partners of the Centre of Excellence include the Ministry of MSME; Department of Promotion of Investment and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry; Ministry of Chemicals & Petro Chemicals; Bureau of Energy Efficiency; Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Germany; Global Environment Facility (GEF)-World Bank, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL); The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) & BSI India; National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Asia Power Quality Initiative (APQI). 

The Cluster Approach 

The cluster approach for building manufacturing competitiveness is a popular concept and achieved national significance in India since 1998. CII has been implementing cluster programmes since 1991-92. The clusters bring together 10-12 organisations for learning together, which helps to lower costs.

CII started India’s first cluster on Total Quality Management and manufacturing excellence in 1998 with 10 enterprises and since then, with the support of its partners, it has completed 257 clusters, impacting over 3,100 Indian MSME. The cluster approach has helped manufacturing enterprises become lean and globally competitive. 

Lean manufacturing practices have been successfully implemented by this CoE in sectors including automobiles, heavy fabrication, light fabrication, leather & footwear, hand tools, construction equipment machines, paint and chemicals, pharmaceuticals,  plastics, electricals & electronics, white goods, furniture, home appliances, foundry, textile, FMCG, cycle parts, process industry, etc.

The manufacturing excellence practices have multifold benefits for SMEs including financial savings, space savings, reduced inventory, and reduction in customer complaints, customer rejections and in process rejections. Along with this, intangible benefits include greater employee involvement, better working environment, improved floor space utilization and safe working conditions.

With the emergence of digitization and Industry 4.0 concepts like Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning, data analytics, blockchain, business process automation and others, gaining global competitiveness has become the benchmark for the industry in order to sustain businesses. 

To address this, the centre has initiated the DigiTech Cluster movement for facilitating digital technology adoption among companies, especially SMEs, to facilitate their growth and operational excellence with respect to productivity, quality, supply chain, manufacturing cost, utilizing resources, New Product Development (NPD), building customer relations etc.

Poka Yoke

A Poka –Yoke (Human Mistake Proofing) is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator avoid mistakes. Its purpose is to eliminate product defects by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors as they occur. The centre organizes national competitions to help SMEs champion these. 

Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED)

SMED is an approach to overcome losses due to changeovers and helps in increasing competitiveness.

Indian manufacturing industry needs to upgrade its capability in order to become globally competitive. SMED is one of the vast blocks of world class manufacturing which helps in reducing changeovers. National competitions are held by the CoE to address these issues. 

Building manufacturing excellence in SMEs, creating capacity enhancements are key to making them competitive and strengthening the ecosystem. To achieve these, several training programmes, webinars, masterclasses are organized by the CoE on a regular basis on key topics including corrosion management, energy management, cost reduction via focused improvement, improving cashflow via integrated inventory management and others. 

With the range of training services from CII, MSME can build resilience and gain knowledge on surviving the pandemic.For more information on services provided by CII Centre of Competitiveness for SMEs, please visit

For more information on services provided by CII Centre of Competitiveness for SMEs, please visit

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