Jalan Transolutions explores opportunities

Article by: Desire Pereira
Jalan Transolutions looks beyond logisticsHaryana-based Jalan Transolutions India Ltd. (JTIL) has invested in a full-fledged auto service center named ‘Jalan Business Center’ at Rewari, Haryana. It marks the company’s progress from a two-wheeler transporter. The business centre at Rewari is equipped to service commercial vehicles. Trucks to be precise. The initial plan, said Rajesh Jalan, Director, JTIL, was for a company-owned service centre, devoid of any external tie-up. “Fellow fleet owners suggested that I should associate with an OEM, and after a quick revision of plans, we tied-up with Ashok Leyland for an authorised service centre catering to Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCV),” Jalan explained. Serving as the company’s corporate office, the 65,000 sq.ft. business centre caters to preventive as well as emergency maintenance. Also proving useful in maintaining JTIL’s own fleet, the centre provides services to other transporters round the clock. “As transporters we are aware that in order for our fleet to grow and thrive, our trucks need to be well maintained. After all our vehicles are the backbone of our business, and that was from where the idea of a business centre emerged,” stated Jalan. Located on National Highway 8, and in close proximity to NH71 and NH71B, the business centre has come to be appreciated for on-time delivery, good working standards and an inventory of genuine spares. It also has modern equipment including a DynaCorp automated oil management system.

Principal support

The JTIL employees who man the Business Centre are regularly monitored by Ashok Leyland, averred Jalan, “Ashok Leyland trains them, and carries our fortnightly visits to check on their skills.” In an effort to further elevate its ability to serve, for the Business Centre, JTIL tied-up with JK Tyre for its ‘Truck Wheel’ concept. This is a one-stop-solution for CV tyre maintenance and sales, and offers wheel alignment, wheel balancing, new tyre fitment, tyre rotation, tyre inflation checks, nitrogen filling, radial tyre repair and more. To address the issue of scarcity of drivers, Jalan took the decision of starting a driver training centre. The training centre helps drivers brush up on their driving skills and knowledge about the vehicle. “Most OEMs have driver training programs, yet quite often, transporters do not avail of them. We decided to make the most of the opportunity present,” said Jalan. JTIL brought OEMs on-board to educate drivers in methods of driving, night-driving, following traffic rules and maintaining the right tyre pressure. “When it comes to driver training, there is never a 100 per cent resolution to skill based issues, but even a 20 to 50 percent improvement is headway enough,” remarked Jalan.

The road travelled

JTIL started its journey in 2003 with the fabrication of two Tata LP chassis for transportation of Yamaha two-wheelers. Impressed by the level of service, Yamaha (India) asked JTIL to add two more trucks. Business grew, and JTIL came to include other two-wheeler OEMs like Hero MotorCorp, Kinetic Engineering (now Mahindra entity), Bajaj Auto, Suzuki Motorcycle India, TVS Motor, Yamaha Motor and BSA Motors. JTIL currently owns a fleet of 409 single- and multi-axle trucks, and over the last two years has been transporting 45,000 two-wheeler every month. Almost 80 per cent of JTIL’s two-wheeler carriers are of Ashok Leyland make. The rest are of Tata or VECV make. Each truck averages 5,000 km a month and has a replacement cycle of around 8-10 years. A combination of organic and inorganic growth saw JTIL expand its operations to beyond North India, to Madhya Pradesh (MP), Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh (AP), Uttar Pradesh (UP), Haryana, Uttaranchal, Karnataka and Maharashtra. “We specialise in transportation to MP, Chhattisgarh and AP. These routes are considered the most challenging routes in the industry, but we have successfully made these routes our prime area of operation,” said Jalan. Touching upon issues involving regional road transport authorities, Jalan mentioned, “Harassment for automobile carriers has risen. Its was not so in the early stages of our operations.” He opined that it has particularly risen over the past six years.

Transporting two-wheelers from over five plants in the NCR region and Dadri in UP, JTIL also transports two-wheelers from Pithampur where Mahindra has a facility. It also caters to Bajaj Auto, transporting two-wheelers from its Pune, Aurangabad and Pantnagar plants. Jalan claims that JTIL is an exclusive transporter of Bajaj Auto two-wheelers from its Pantnagar plant to MP. With 14 branches across India, JTIL has set up check points every 500 km in states like UP to eliminate to eliminate chances of damage during t ransportation. “At times during transportation fittings on two-wheelers come loose. Our drivers may not posses the technical know-how to deal with such issues. We therefore created check points, which handle these and any other technical issue that may arise during transportation,” stated Jalan. For return loads, the company has worked numerous arrangements, and quite often has return loads from OEMs located within the area itself. Drivers are hired on a project basis and are remunerated on a per Km basis. Jalan confesses that there are operational issues mainly due to handling of drivers. Getting a driver to stay on the rolls is a herculean task, expresses Jalan. “Most of our drivers come through reference, and a large number have worked with us for years. Yet, driver shortage is an issue, and it afflicts the entire industry,” said Jalan. Many drivers come from rural areas, and work for 2-3 months. Then, they go home.

The road ahead

To ensure efficient management, the entire JTIL fleet has been fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS). This was done in 2008. In 2010, JTIL invested in an Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. JTIL currently uses Trimble’s technology for GPS, and monitor’s its trucks from its Chander Nagar office at Ghaziabad. “We plan to diversify and enter into multi-modal transport business, warehousing and 3pl logistics,” said Jalan. “With these, we expects our business to grow by 20 per cent in next two years,” he concludes.

Skid-Steer is set to ensure new found versatility

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Compact and high versatile, skid-steers are set to find use in a variety of environments – urban and rural.

Versatility is at the core of a skid-steer’s functionality. A self powered machine with four wheels and a small, rigid frame, the skid steer is viewed as one of the most logical and economical pieces of equipment for landscaping and numerous other tasks. Found at landscaping and construction sites, as well as at places where space is a constraint, skid-steers perform a wide range of jobs. Capable of handling numerous attachments, they are easily transported between job sites. It is the agility of skid-steers that makes them stand out. With the ability to turn within their own length, those using these machines like landscapers are able to manoeuvre these skid-steers easily in tight areas like between homes or through gate openings. And, while their acceptance is still nascent in the Indian construction industry, these machines are carving out a place for themselves among the Goliaths of the earth moving and construction industry. Prominent players in India that are offering skid-steers include JCB, Case India, Terex, and Doosan. With stress on localisation, these manufacturers also ensure that the machines they offer, adapts to the Indian working conditions without posing any issues.

Global yet local

Like the automobile industry, the earth moving and construction equipment industry is global in nature. Like the automobile industry, the focus of the manufacturers is to go local. As is seen, they are keen to offer solutions that meet the requirements of the Indian customers in terms of productivity and price. Skid-Steers will be one of the three important product lines that will emerge from JCB’s new plant at Jaipur. Two models are currently on offer from JCB India – Robot 135 and Robot 155. Both promise 20 per cent better breakout forces, resulting in increased productivity and output. According to Amit Gossain, EVP – Sales, Marketing and Business Development, JCB India, the Robot is a highly versatile machine, which is specifically designed to work in a variety of applications. With the potential to find use in solid waste management, the Robot skid-steer, averred Gossain, is set to revolutionise the material handling process in India. Perhaps, one of the reasons why skid-steers have come to earn the nickname ‘crab machine’.

The two skid-steer models from Case India, SR 130 and SR 150, are also found in the international markets. Launched in 2012 in India, they were fully customised to suit Indian requirements. They have, according to D V Junnarkar, Head of Sales and Marketing at Case India, higher pin height, better operator comfort, spacious cab with 25 per cent more interior width and serviceability, and higher bucket heights for easy loading in Indian tipping heights. Added features of the Case skid-steers include more glass surface area for better all-round visibility.

Crab machine

Described as crab machines by few in the earth moving and construction industry, skid-steers make user-friendly machines. Employed where backhoe loader cannot go, they are also economical to use. Especially, if the volume is less, it may make economical sense to have a skid-steer instead of a backhoe-loader. They emit less since they have smaller engines. Finding use with public sector undertakings and semi government institutions like municipalities, skid-steers, with their variety of attachments like auger, fork, sweeper, backhoe, bucket grapple, breaker, pallet fork grapple, pallet fork, grader, etc., are highly versatile machines. Said Gossain, “JCB Robot comes with a vast array of attachments like Industrial Grapple, Fork, Rock Breaker, Shovel, Vibratory Rollers, etc. which makes the machine suitable for many applications such as agriculture, industry, construction, demolition, material handling and maintenance.” He added “With the mechanical quick-hitch, one can easily switch between the vast ranges of attachments and can perform array of jobs with utmost ease and comfort,” he added. The Terex Heman 175 skid-steer is made versatile by the variety of attachments it could be had with. These include the sweeper collector, backhoe, auger, industrial grapple, pallet fork and 6-in-1 combination bucket. What makes it apt to call the skid-steer a crab machine is its ability to dig trenches perhaps. Its nickname may not have much to do its appearance after all!

 

Growing demand

Over the last few years, Skid-Steer market has grown rapidly. Estimated to grow at a CAGR of 18.5 per cent, Skid-Steer market is expected to breach the 800 units mark by 2017. Gossain mentioned that the demand for Skid Steer Loader (SSL) in India, at present, is on the lower side. He added, “We are however certain that in the coming years skid-steers will see an increase in demand. He drew attention to a report by a leading research from Off-Highway Research, which has indicated that demand for skid-steer is expected to be in the region of 600 units in 2015. A good deal of growth is expected to come from urban markets where skid-steers aid in diverse industries like construction, logistics and material handling and civic maintenance. Consider the fact that more the attachments, higher the versatility of the skid-steer, and the outlook in India remains positive over the long-term. Capable of creating a niche in almost every segment, skid-steers, due to their compact dimensions, could make for good mobility in projects that include multi-level parking. It is not surprising therefore, that the number of skid-steers sold in 2018 are expected to breach the 1,000 units mark.

Smart cities and urban mobility collectively are needs of the hour

Article by: Anirudh Raheja

Held at Delhi, CONNECTKaro 2015 looked at smart cities, transport and people.

Smart cities and urban mobility are finding a place in India’s journey into the future. For a nation whose population is 1.28 billion, and counting, such infrastructural developments matter, and not just for the government but also for the people of the country. Speaking at CONNECTKaro 2015 in Delhi, minister for railways, Suresh Prabhu, stressed on the need for an integrated public transport in a way that suits the local needs rather than simply copy a system that is successful in another part of the world. The two-day event, organised by Embarq in association with World Resources Institute India, was instrumental in highlighting the fact that the government has allocated Rs.2.73 lakh crore for the development of 100 smart cities. Another 500 cities will be subjected to upgradation, including the setting up of dedicated mobility services for seamless connectivity. Vikas Gupta, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon, mentioned that they are gearing up to introduce 500 buses for improving intra city travel in the next one year. Averred Gupta, that he would like political support for public transport to grow. Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia stressed on the need to privatise Delhi Transport Corporation. Pointing at the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system in the national capital, Sisodia said, “BRT has been effective in various parts of the world, but not in Delhi. It is simply due to poor planning where the people of the city were not consulted before deploying the system.” Thinking aloud that there was a need for collective efforts to develop smart cities and converting the existing ones into smarter cities, Sisodia opined that policy paralysis has been prevailing in Delhi. “Infrastructure here has never been planned in totality. Various departments need to come forward without competing with each other to ensure that people take to public transport,” he added.

A collective opinion that a city can only be termed as a smart city if it channelises its resources towards a larger section of the society seemed to emerge at the event. Participants at the event were exposed to the fact that in the last two decades cities in India have invested in constructing wider, elevated roads, crossovers and flyovers. This has however had a negative impact on the environment in terms of rise in pollution, as well as an increase in traffic fatalities. Private vehicle population has grown exponentially. A thought process seemed to emerge that para-transit has a huge role to play in the metamorphosis and the transformation of the paradigm, ‘moving vehicles’ to ‘moving people’. Urban mobility not limiting itself to individual transportation and blocking the roads creating a chaos, but adapting to other ways like cycling, walking, BRT, shared transportation, and taxi aggregators. There is a need to adjust and help in the evolution of new trends to make sure that each and every initiative exists instead of feeding on each other expressed participants on the sidelines of the event. They were of the opinion that the Government should assess the pros and cons of inter-transit, and its influence on the climate, water supply, sanitation and thermal comfort, prior to investing in infrastructure that is ecological and sustainable.

Prasanna Patwardhan, MD, Prasanna Group, which specialises in the transportation of people, said that the government plans budgets for laying roads but fails to speak about public transport. “If they are asking people to adapt to public transportation and leaving their vehicles at home, it should start making separate schemes about such a target audience too. The only way it (public transport) can be subsidised is when the government supports it. Makes it sustainable,” he added. According to Shivanand Swamy, a BRT designer, it is difficult to acquire security in mobility without BRT. “It is impossible to cover the entire smart city with a rail system. A Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system of 700 to 800 km is required which can now be a combination of both MRT and BRTs,” he said. Deepak Trivedi, General Manager, Ahmedabad Janmarg Ltd., said that BRT is a high-quality, customer oriented transit that delivers, comfortable and low-cost urban mobility. “The busiest corridor in Janmarg has 48 buses per hour per direction in peak hour,” said Trivedi. Expanding services with limited human resource for junction management is an issue apart from the need to maintain frequency so that a negative image for other motor vehicle users is not created, he added.

The conference also paid attention on the role public spaces play in smart cities. The need to keep them clean, and to maintain them. Even streets that make a large per cent of the public spaces, and are meant to prioritise the interaction between humans. Both are instrumental in shaping the lifestyles of the people there, making them recreational and grooming areas rather than mere functional spaces. Raahgiri Day (open street day) was cited as an example by Sarika Panda of Embarq India. Drawing attention to 1,40,000 deaths every year in India due to traffic crashes, Panda advocated the need for Raahgiri to encourage higher physical activity through cycling and the use of public transport. This, she said, would also aid in improving the air quality. Stress was also laid on achieving efficiency in terms of security and time. It was debated upon at the conference that most of the services are disruptive and create different ideas and propositions from what was planned and what the outcome is. A thought process calling for the need to employ new ideas of participation, experience, methods and measures seemed to emerge. Those, that would support the fact that there was a need to insert disruptive technologies to find solutions that are pressing. The consensus at the end of the two-day event was, a smart city can’t be defined through a constrained definition, but by a willingness to discard the old and embrace the new. Decisions, it became clear, need to be m

Stuart Oliver retains the title

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar & Anirudh Raheja.

In a highly exciting race, under an over cast sky and a track that was part wet and part dry, Stuart Oliver of Team Castrol Vecton retained the Prima T1 racing championship title.

The day started with an overcast sky and a drizzle. The western disturbances finding their way into India over the Hindu Kush Mountains and the whole of Afghanistan and Pakistan made sure that it was going to be an exciting day. It was windy and chilly. Undaunted, the tempo began building up for the eight lap race preceding the final 16 lap race on March 15, 2015, at the Budh International Circuit near Delhi. A day prior, when the action actually began, the qualifying race was held under bright blue skies with no trace of dark clouds. The weather was typical of the time; not very warm, neither very cold. This race would mark the second season of Tata Prima T1 racing in India. The first race (nay, season) was held around the same time last year, presenting Tata Motors the credit of kick-starting a truck racing championship in this country. For Tata Motors to begin a truck racing initiative when the Commercial Vehicle (CV) sector was not in the best of health was indeed a brave attempt. It was successful.

The season-two championship has come at a time when the heavy commercial vehicle market is showing improvement. Sales of HCVs have been positive from November last year, while other categories are expected to come out of red soon. What better time then, to pitch 12 race derivatives of the Prima 4038.S 4×2 prime mover against each other. Tata Motors chose to treat the 12 racing trucks to a new look. A face lift to be precise. Seeing them outpace each other on the same track where a Formula 1 race was last held in 2013 would be exciting, especially since some of the best F1 drivers and their teams praised the circuit for its design.

The T1 nomenclature of the Prima racing trucks sounded similar to the F1 nomenclature associated with racing cars. The 12 (Season 2) Prima race trucks were prepared to British Racing Standards. Much like the 12 Primas that raced in 2014. Like the race last year, this race too took place under the aegis of the FIA and FMSCI. The trucks raced to glory, fructifying the efforts of the manufacturer, FMSCI, suppliers, dealers and other stake holders.

Over the 2014 event, the 2015 event will be remembered for the response it received; the excitement it ensued. Like the 2014 season, the 2015 season was also supported by suppliers and dealers among others. Cummins, Wabco, JK Tyre, Castrol and Tata Technologies were main sponsors, and Setco Automotive and Tata Motors Finance were the sponsors of Team Allied Partners.

Addressing the media a few hours before the qualifying race, on March 14, Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director – Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, described the activity as a visual spectacle, more interesting than car racing. Even though it is a Prima against a Prima. Pisharody averred that these (racing) trucks are on par with trucks in other parts of the world. Mentioning the origin of the Prima as a world truck, he said, “The racing Prima will get more powerful engines in the future. The technology for racing will find its way into civilian applications.” Describing the Season 2 as faster, bigger, and in a larger format, R Ramakrishnan, Senior Vice President – Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, touched upon the origin of truck racing in 1979, “Fleet operators are demanding more such events be held in other parts of the country.” Explaining the motive behind truck racing as an effort to make trucking appear as an aspirational profession, Ramakrishnan remarked that truck drivers do not get the respect they deserve. “It is therefore an event like this, which amounts to a romantic thing for him, in seeing excitement build among drivers and their families about his or her profession. They (drivers and their families) want to see the truck race,” he added.

Building on an advertising campaign, which went on air during the Cricket World Cup in early 2015, the qualifying race of the Season 2 on March 14 saw the twelve Prima T1 racing trucks (read February 2015 CV magazine for more info on the truck) stand out from each other. A total of seventeen race Primas were brought to the circuit. Of these twelve were divided among six teams comprising Team Castrol Vecton, Team Cummins, Team Tata Technologies Motorsports, Team Allied Partners, Team Dealer Warriors and Team Dealer Daredevils. The 2014 championship was won by Team Castrol Vecton, followed by Team Cummins. The winning drivers were Stuart Oliver, David Jenkins and Mathew (Mat) Summerfield. All three came to the 2015 race to reclaim their moment of glory. This year’s driver line up comprised of Stuart Oliver and Oly Janes for Team Castrol Vecton, Mat Summerfield and Simon Red for Team Cummins, David Jenkins and Steven Powell for Team Tata Technologies Motorsports, Steve Thomas and Chris Levett for Team Allied Partners, Richard Collet and Graham Powell for Team Dealer Warriors, and Ben Horne and Paul Alan McCumisky for Team Dealer Daredevils.

The practice race began at 1.15 pm. The qualifying race began at 4.15 pm. The practice race involved two sessions and the qualifying race was of 20 minutes. As the twelve Prima T1s, painted in attractive colours, with decals and the names of their teams and sponsors arrived at the grid, excitement began to build. Starting with the frentic activity in the pit lane as the teams got their trucks ready, girls dressed in team attire could be seen filling water in the cooling tanks while their male colleagues went about checking the temperature of the tyres. The qualifying race began with the Primas, incorporating three 10s, (10 per cent increase in speed to 135 kmph, 10 per cent more power, and 10 per cent weight reduction). Amidst the roar of the 370 hp, 8.9-litre ISLe Cummins engines, it was clear that the trucks piloted by drivers sourced through Steve Horne, like in the last season race, would leave no stone unturned, to claim their pole position. At the end of 20 minutes, Steve Thomas of Team Allied Partners rolled past the finish line, winning the qualifying round of the Season 2. Stuart Oliver of Team Castrol Vecton came second, followed by Oly Janes, also from Team Castrol Vecton. Describing it as a good day to have finished first in the qualifying round, Steve mentioned that the T1 Prima Race truck is very reliable. “All the race trucks competing today were evenly matched, making for a very competitive final race. I am delighted to be here and hope to finish on the podium in tomorrow’s main race,” he said. Richard’s 1:50.840 second lap time was the quickest lap (faster than last year) on the 2.5 km T1 loop of the 5.14 km circuit.

Not quite succeeding in dampening the spirits of the teams or the spectators, the drizzle threatened to turn into a shower on the final race day. After the grand stand was fully occupied, the adjoining stand was made available to the spectators. If the weather gods made sure that the European drivers felt at ease, race teams and Tata Motors officials did not look bothered either. By the time the trucks took their position on the grid for the super qualifier eight-lap round, the drizzle had turned into rain. Pisharody flagged off the race at a little past 3.30 pm. Steve Thomas in the Allied Partners’ grey coloured truck took off with others in quick succession, water spraying out from underneath the tyres, indicating clearly that this would be an exciting race day for those who took the trouble of coming here.

As the rain grew in intensity, questions were raised about the suitability of the tyres – if the trucks were running on slicks. Sanjay Sharma, Head-Motorsport, JK Tyre & Industries, was quick to reply that the wider grip patch and the weight of these machines would ensure that no issue arose. These were not slicks, he said, adding that the weather condition would help the tyres to stay cool.

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Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar & Anirudh Raheja.

Steve Thomas won the super qualifier by keeping Stuart Oliver at bay, by a small margin of 1.840 seconds. Simon Reid followed with a gap of 3.182 seconds. Steve’s best lap time was 1:59.734 seconds. His last lap time was 2:03.237 seconds. Expressing that it felt like he was racing in Europe, Steve said that it is exciting as well as challenging. That, the Prima trucks are good and reliable. The two races – qualifying and super qualifying, aptly made it clear that the Prima T1s were indeed reliable. They were also visibly quicker. Before the qualifying race on March 14, Vicky Chandhok, veteran rallyist and former president of FMSCI said that the 2015 season trucks were four seconds quicker with a lap time of 1:54.8 seconds over the last year’s lap time of 1:58.9 seconds.

By the time the final race began it was 5.30 pm. The rains had stopped, but the track was still wet. Anant Geete, union minister for heavy industries and public enterprises, along with Ravi Pisharody and R Ramakrishnan went to the grid to wish the drivers. Thomas started the race on pole, having finished the rainy 8-lap super qualifier almost two seconds ahead of Stuart.

Stuart grabbed the lead from Thomas at the first corner leaving him to keep the hard-charging Simon Reid of Team Cummins at bay. Reid started on the second row of the grid in third. Tailing Reid was Steven Powell, Collett, Mat Summerfield, David Jenkins and Paul McCumisky for Dealer Daredevils. McCumisky was spun into the barrier on the curve by Oly Janes and the race was prematurely red-flagged. McCumisky was able to turn around and get going again. The race restarted after a delay of 10 minutes with the original grid.

McCumisky drove into the pit for a check up and started from the pit lane. With water rolling across the track, the fearless drivers took off once again. Stuart Oliver mounted pressure on Steve Thomas from the very beginning. Serious action followed. Stuart took the lead into Turn 3 at the end of the 1.3 km back straight. It was to be a cat and mouse game from then on as the ten-time British Truck Racing Champion (Stuart) fought off a constantly prodding Steve Thomas of Team Allied Partners. While managing to keep Stuart at bay in the qualifying race and even the super qualifying race, Steve and Stuart took the fight to the finish with almost all the action centered on them. The duo went flat out, overtaking each other almost at a regular pace during the latter half of the race. The first half of the race was spent in exerting pressure on each other. Deriving much from slip streaming each
other too!

The 2011 BTRA Division 1 champion David Jenkins retired after ramming into the inside wall while exiting Turn 1 earlier (on the second lap) into the race. Mat by then had made up three places and was now in third. Reid had dropped to sixth, behind Graham Powell and Steven Powell, who had dropped a spot. A little later, Steven Powell was overtaken by Janes, who promptly received up a drive-through penalty for making his move in a yellow flag phase. Streams of water were seen emanating from the wheels, the track, not dry yet, provided a challenging environment. The trucks were holding on well, nary any signs of slowing down. Even under such challenging conditions they would run the straight at speeds well above 130 kmph. There was a time when Steve was seen almost speeding into Stuart from behind. Stuart was seen trying to ensure that Steve does not get ahead. He did, but not enough to stay there; away from the prying eyes of Oliver.

At the wheel of the Dealer Daredevils race truck, Paul Alan McCumisky retired on the sixth lap. Paul’s was the last retirement of the race. The fight continued between Steve and Stuart. It was so intense that to expect either of them to win this race would not be far from truth. The 10th and 12th laps proved to be decisive as well as the most exciting. By lap 10, Steve and Stuart were a razor-thin 0.25 seconds apart. Steven Powell was in third position with Summerfield following with a time difference of 4.67 seconds. Four laps later the gap between the leading trio and the rest was a good 11 seconds. Summerfield fell back further and was overtaken by Reid and Levett. Towards the end of the 15th lap Powell was right up behind Thomas. He had narrowed the gap to just 1.5 seconds, and attempted a overtaking manoeuvre that was skillfully tackled by Steve. A little behind, Chris had barrelled past the Cummins pair ahead of him, rising to fourth. At the end of the 16th lap, Stuart Oliver was the first to cross the finish line. The last year’s winner managed to retain the title, recording a last lap time of 2:01.258 seconds. With a gap of 0.698 seconds, Steve came second (2:01.810 seconds last lap timing).

The best lap timing for Stuart was 1:55.230 seconds in the first lap. For Steve it was 1:55.511 seconds in the same lap. Steven Powell came third with a difference of 0.607 seconds, and a last lap time of 2:100.919 seconds. His best lap time was 1:57.108 seconds in lap 1. Speaking after the race, Stuart said, “It was an amazing experience. I want to say is a big thank you to all the fans coming out all this way, all the flags, all the caps, everything, it made such a difference this weekend. I really, really do appreciate it. Steve Thomas and Steven Powell were phenomenal competitors. They did an amazing job today of keeping me on my toes, pushing me all the way up to the podium. It means even more than the first one (last year’s race). I feel so blessed.” An elated Oliver explained after the race: “When one truck is behind the other, always the second one will be quicker as there is less air resistance. Steve was quicker behind me and was catching up with me on the main straight. But when he got past me, I did the same to him, the only question was whether I could stay there because he also had the same opportunity.” Despite windy and overcast conditions that made for a challenging track, Stuart clocked 142 kmph on the straight and 132 kmph in the curve. A good 7 kmph more than what was expected from the machine in ideal conditions by Tata Motors. Stuart Oliver also helped Team Castrol Vecton win this year as well. Reason for Castrol to rejoice. It used the opportunity to introduce the RX Vecton fuel saver engine oil developed in association with Tata Motors.

Allison fully automatic transmission finds favour with front engine bus

Article by: CV

Allison’s T270R fully automatic transmission has found a place of pride on the Tata 1621 front-engine bus.

While an automatic transmission in a front-engine bus is not a common sight in India, chances are it will soon be. In fact, the Ahmedabad Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has recently acquired Tata 1621 Front Engine Diesel BS4 city buses with Allison T270R fully automatic transmissions. These buses were purchased by Ahmedabad Janmarg Ltd. (AJL) and launched on BRT roads in December, 2014. Similar buses are running in Surat BRT and Pune city. Still more cities have ordered these buses. Speaking at Delhi, Salil Gupta, Director – India Commercial Operations, Allison Transmission India, expressed that the city bus in the aforementioned cities (with Allison Automatics) are an example of addressing the specific needs of the market. He drew attention to the fact that rear-engine buses have not been able to offset the popularity and legacy that front-engine buses have come to build in India. “Such buses (front-engine with Allison Automatics) will also find their way into many more Indian cities,” he added.

Allison Transmission is the world’s largest provider of commercial duty automatic transmissions and hybrid propulsion systems. Founded in 1915 at Indianapolis, USA, Allison Transmission has manufacturing facilities in the US, Hungary and India. Its first major order in India came from Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) for 650 Tata Marcopolo low-floor city buses fitted with Allison automatic transmissions. In 2010, the company announced the opening of a USD 80 million manufacturing and transmission assembly unit at Oragadam near Chennai. The Chennai plant is an Export Oriented Unit (EOU) catering to orders for Allison 1000 and 2000 series fully automatic transmissions from various countries. The Hungarian plant makes 3000 and 4000 series units, while the US plant manufactures the complete product range including on-highway, hybrid, off-highway and energy segment transmissions. With many commercial vehicle manufacturers in India expressing interest in Automated Manual Transmissions (AMTs), Allison has its work cut out. Especially when one considers that AMTs claim to offer ease of driving and a rise in fuel efficiency. Averred Gupta,

“AMTs are not new; they are simply being looked at anew in our Indian landscape.” While AMTs are used in long haul applications as substitutes for manuals, the more intense (high shift-density) global applications, especially buses, have remained with fully-automatic models. “What has worked greatly in favour of automatic transmissions is that our technology has been specifically developed for tough applications, which allows us to provide the best combination of reliability, performance and fuel efficiency. This is indeed the calling card for Allison in front-engine city bus applications as well, despite the fact that a front-engine bus poses more packaging challenges than a rear-engine bus,” he added. Allison Automatics have gained wide acceptance in city buses around the world, and more so in Asia with most cities specifying automatics for their buses.

Sources close to Allison are of the opinion that buses equipped with their automatic transmissions provide a smoother, quieter ride; prevent the engine from overworking and help maintain constant traffic flow with responsive braking and acceleration. Gupta also drew attention to the fact that Allison Automatics substantially reduce mechanical stress on the driveline, as well as the stresses a driver experiences. “With an AMT, driver stresses may be partially eliminated, but not the mechanical stresses since the basic architecture uses a starting clutch and interrupts engine power to shift, which is the same as a manual,” he mentioned.

 

Allison global sales of automatics since inception exceed six million transmissions, from all plants. Allison’s new plant in Chennai is said to have rolled out its 10,000th transmission recently, while Allison, listed on the Nasdaq, finds new takers for its auto transmissions in India as well as other parts of the world. Turning out auto transmissions, which are made with the genes and ruggedness of a defense product, according to Gupta, yet another highlight is the long oil drain intervals. The Allison T270R on the Tata 1621 has an oil change interval of 2,40,000km, which is greatly appreciated by bus operators. Customers are operating Allison Transmission fully equipped vehicles in over 80 countries, commanding the largest global market share in commercial duty, fully automatic transmissions. In a market where front-engine buses seem to find favour over rear-engine buses, the successful application of the Allison T270R in the Tata 1621 city bus signals yet another achievement, that will further endorse Allison’s reputation for turning out robust, well-engineered auto transmissions, supported by an equally robust service and repair network.

Averred B R Subhash, General Manager – Customer Support and OEM Product Assurance, “We have invested in nine dealers in India.” Allison has also invested in a customisation centre and a parts distribution centre in India to support customer fleets. To meet the demanding needs of this market, the team in India is fully focused. The Allison Original Equipment Manufacturer Product Assurance (OEMPA) program involves working closely with OEMs to ensure the installation guidelines are met to ensure good integration and driveline build quality, to provide technical assistance as needed and to recommend alterations in design and installation in order to increase customer satisfaction and reduce warranty costs. With all these initiatives and resources deployed in India, Allison is fully committed to provide the most reliable and valued propulsion solutions in the world to enable its customers to work more efficiently.

MIRA-Caepro extends engineering expertise to Indian CVs

Article by: Rajesh Rajgor
MIRA-Caepro offers its engineering design, testing and validation to the Indian automotive market, and CVs in particular.Engineering innovations and testing solutions provider MIRA-Caepro is looking at its Indian operations with renewed interest. A joint venture (JV) between two UK-based companies, Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) Ltd. and Caepro Technologies, MIRA-Caepro offers complete vehicle engineering solutions to OEMs, which include design, development and testing for a wide range of vehicles including defence and commercial vehicles. Present in the Indian market from 2012, the company, based at Pune, has attracted the attention of many OEMs, including Ashok Leyland. The Indian arm supplied complete engineering solutions for the cabin of Ashok Leyland Captain. “In India, we have the ability to deliver projects in ride and handling, safety, durability as well as thermofluids and design. We are looking at delivering complete vehicle engineering solutions including, testing and homologation, controls and electronics, electric and hybrid vehicle engineering, intelligent transport systems, functional safety and unmanned ground vehicles,” said John Roebuck, Managing Director, MIRA-Caepro India Pvt. Ltd. “We are also providing ride and handling support to an Indian commercial vehicle OEM,” he added.

Design, testing and the works

Despite being in India for just four-years, the operations of the company according to Roebuck are well tuned to understand the needs of the Indian automotive clients. Stated Roebuck, “Despite being price sensitive, Indian customers (OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers) demand the best when it comes to performance, ride, handling and efficiency of the vehicle.” The company, understanding the price consciousness of its Indian clients, tailored the Indian operations accordingly. They have thus come to offer world class engineering at a competitive price. At the Pune headquarters, an engineering design team handles BIW (Body-in-White engineering), trim and chassis design, among others. Stating that MIRA-Caepro’s strength is its combination of technology and people, which helps the company to amalgamate software and design, Terry Spall, Vice President, International Operations and President of MIRA Shanghai said that his team in India has extensive experience in electronic systems integration of modules such as ABS (Anti-lock braking system), ECU (Electronic Control Unit), HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Cooling) units, and the use of CAN based architecture for automotive platforms. “Tuning and finding errors in complex automotive electronics systems is a challenge which MIRA-Caepro is used to solving. We are technology partners to major automotive manufacturers, as well Tier 1 suppliers,” he added. 

MIRA-Caepro’s design solutions are engineered to begin from scratch, and may take anywhere between two-to-three years to complete. The company discusses every design specification including light weighting, NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness), torque, hp and fuel efficiency, before taking up a project. “We have to work with the specifications given. While we do not design the base engine, we know what specifications will work around it and what will lead to the desired results,” averred Spall. He said that vehicle needs and applications may change, based on the demand. Their fundamental role remains the same – something that the company does not lose focus of. Citing the example of defence vehicles Spall expressed, “Although defence vehicles have specific needs, their fundamental role remains unchanged – they should be able to supply or carry weapons, and persons with appropriate ease.” With over 35 major test facilities, the JV has extensive experience in providing test and engineering services to the global defence and automotive industries. Spall does not forget to mention that the employees of the Indian operations spend an amount of time at UK where they get an opportunity to work with experienced engineers and gain knowledge about global vehicles.

Technical collaboration

As part of the services in India, MIRA-Caepro offers setting up of a technical centre. This particular proposition aims at OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, and is modelled on the lines of similar endeavours that the company has executed in Europe. While this service is yet to find takers in India, Roebuck is bullish. He reasoned that it is but natural for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to develop their own engineering capacities at some stage. However, to develop world class expertise in every domain will be costly. He added, “An OEM typically decides on its core activities and sets them up in-house. The rest he decides to outsource. Companies may not want a lot of additional engineering resource when the business cycle inevitably would swing downward. MIRA-Caepro can support OEMs to deliver projects when their own resources are stretched,” he concluded. 

Indian bus plant will propel Scania ambitions

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Scania India has commissioned its bus plant in India with the aim to offer sustainable transport solutions which are safe and long lasting.

Scania buses are not new to India. Until now, they were imported from Malaysia where Scania has a captive coach builder. They will now be built in India at the new bus plant the Swedish commercial vehicle major has commissioned at Narasapura near Bangalore. Sharing the premises with the truck plant, the bus plant has a capacity to build 1,000 units per year and will employ 300 people in its first year. Marking the expansion of Scania’s only production hub in Asia, the bus plant, inaugurated by Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari in the presence of other dignitaries, will make 675 units this year. Of these will include 55 ethanol powered city buses for Nagpur municipal corporation apart from 60 Metrolink buses for Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and 30 buses for Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). With a target of 5,000 trucks and 2,500 buses by 2020, Scania Commercial Vehicles India Pvt. Ltd. (SCVIPL) has already sold 150 buses in the country to private operators. With STUs a part of the client list, the bus plant, according to Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO, Scania CV, will also serve as an export hub for other Asian markets, the Middle East and Africa.

As production picks up pace, the current takt time of 12 hours (time taken to build one bus) will be brought down to eight hours and six hours respectively.

In what could be termed as a ‘U’-shaped assembly line, work begins with the welding together of tubular sections using custom-made fixtures. The line is fed by sub-stations that build front, rear, side and top tubular sections. Post welding of reinforcements, stiff box sections (between front and rear axle) and surface preparation, the structure is painted in an dust-free environment. It is then married to the chassis. Subsequent stations include the fitting of reinforced composite fibre front and rear, aluminium side sections, wiring harness and various other bits and pieces. While the glued aluminium side sections can be easily replaced in case of damage, enough flexibility has been engineered into the line to produce inter-city luxury coaches measuring 14.5 m (three-axle), 13.7 m (three-axle) and 12 m (two-axle) in length respectively, and 12 m-long low-floor city buses with little modification.

After a hop to the paint booth, the bus reaches the final assembly hall. Here, window panes and the front windshield are fitted. Over the next few stations, the interior trim, dashboard, seats (from Harita), etc., are fitted. The final station involves wheel alignment and shower test. Describing the initiative as Scania’s contribution to ‘Make in India’, Anders Grundstormer, Managing Director, Scania India and Senior Vice President, Scania Group, said, “We brought products like the green (ethanol) bus at Nagpur. We brought biogas and bioethanol engines to take emissions to BS5 and BS6 levels.” He said further, “We want to create livelihood for rural India by buying their waste to make bioethanol from molasses, rice straw, wheat straw, etc. We want to run a sustainable city bus in India.”

Set to propel Scania’s ambitions in India, apart from turning out buses that are 70 per cent localised (in terms of value), the bus plant, builds on the company’s three core values – customer first, respect to individual and quality. To draw Indian suppliers with an opportunity to drive its quality mantra through the various supplier ranks, the buses Scania will build at Narasapura, will employ the same system of chassis modules and modular bodywork as trucks. They will also meet all the safety standards (are already ECE R66 compliant) according to Helmut Schwartz, Director – Production (Buses & Coaches), SCVIPL. Featuring ABS and stability program, the (600-litre) twin fuel tanks and battery have been placed at the most safe position.

Stressing on quality and the ability to offer the most promising cost per km operation in India, the city bus, said Grundstormer, will last for 15 years ensuring good ROI. The driveline life is 2 million km. Averred Lundstedt, “We see this (plant) as an investment for our global production system. 97 per cent of Scania’s production is outside of Sweden.” An engine plant is next in line. Scania’s only production hub in Asia is set to grow. It is set to play a vital role in the ambitious target of 1,20,000 trucks, 50,000 buses and 20,0000 engines by 2021. Looking at digitisation; at connected vehicles, Scania, banking firmly on its systems approach, is keen to devise as well as offer sustainable transportation solutions that involve recycling waste, and reduce CO2 emissions.