Growth and alternate fuels

MikaelBenjeQ & A
Mikael Benje, Managing Director, Commercial Operations,
Scania Commercial Vehicles India Pvt. Ltd.

Interview by: Anirudh Raheja

Q. How do you look at the Indian market now that you have moved from Indonesia to India?
A. Anders Grundstormer, Ex MD may be moving back to Sweden, he has however set the stage for Scania. He has set high standards. Taking over from Anders, I will be responsible for the business unit as we call it. We will be participating in the journey of renewable fuels with more thrust on reaching different states. We already have people all across the the country. They are in dialogue with different states regarding what should they focus on; what can they introduce, and can implement to their part for the environment. We will then try to understand as a company what we could offer before implementing different projects. Once we are done with that, we would have a clear roadmap for the country with respect to demands from different states, and move forward quickly. One of our important milestones is the start of green bus in Nagpur in August 2014. Our 55 buses are already plying on the roads of Nagpur. We wanted to show that buses can run on waste which might be a household waste, agricultural waste or sludge. We have done that.

Q. How does India fare in terms of a CV market rather than just a bus or a truck market?
A. The demand for quality products in India is picking up pace. We currently hold 35 per cent market share in the premium commercial vehicle space. We have already sold close to 220 Metrolink buses in India. We aim to take the number up to 400 buses this year. Market potential therefore is not a problem. We have delivered buses in Kerela, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi NCR. We are also in talks with Lucknow, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore for such buses. I am of the opinion that incentives can also prove to be a driving force for implementation of such buses running on (different) alternative fuels. For the truck segment we are working predominantly in the mining segment. We are now seeing a growth of up to 700-750 units. We also see a lot of potential in the on road segment as well. We will be targeting this segment of roughly 100 units. So overall, we are already targeting a potential of 1100 units this year.

Q. What is the current operational capacity of Narsapura plant? And how many people are employed at the plant?
A. The installed capacity of our Narsapura (near Bangalore) plant is 1000 buses. We are currently operating at 40 per cent of our capacity. Last year we rolled out 280 buses , this year we will be rolling out 400 buses. As far as the demand is concerned, we are fully ready to address it. We will not need to put much effort even if we think of doubling the capacity from our current capacity. If we decide to produce 2500 buses and 5000 trucks annually by the year 2020. Close to 850 people are already working at our bus factory, which I think is quite a quick growth. We aim to increase this number to 1,200 employees as the demand goes up.

“The demand for quality products in India is picking up pace”

Q. Scania buses are 70 per cent localished. Scania trucks are 40 per cent localised. What are the plans to reach 100 per cent localisation?
A. I think 100 per cent localisation will never be possible in India as we are not planning to develop engines here in India and would continue to import them. We are looking at some export markets that would want to buy products from India that are localised. In such a case, we will need to reduce the costs. I think, we have an year ahead of us, to really get down and increase the localisation of different materials in Scania products developed in India. I think this can go up to 45-50 per cent for the truck segment where as for the buses, we have not done so much on the chassis. We already have 80 per cent localisation in the body, which we can take to 100 per cent. We only need to find the right suppliers to match up to the Scania’s quality standards, which is a big problem. In the truck segment we have localized rims, tyres, mirrors, panels in the cabs; we have also localised axles since these are metal things. For an engine, you can break down and localise some parts of it. The engine can be built locally. All this will however take time. In the bus segment, I really see a scope to increase localisation in the bus body.

Q. OEMs are leveraging their Indian operations to source components and products for their locations the world over. What plans does Scania have?
A. I feel that we need to work on a broader perspective. India is country where there is shortage of electricity already. Whatever electricity is produced, the major chunk of it comes from burning coal. When it comes to biofuels we have always regarded ourselves a partner to India and our endeavour is to provide sustainable transport solutions. We are the only one who already has different fuel alternatives which can be implemented in different cities to reduce the emission levels. For Scania to export out of India, the prime target markets will be Asia, the Middle East and Africa . Countries like Turkey and Indonesia. However, as indicated above, we have to sort out things in the local market first. And I don’t think 2016 will be a year for exports therefore. I think, the year 2017-18 could see Scania exporting out of India. We have to be realistic. We are already running around on different projects. My priority will be to work on them, get them sorted before newer things can be thought of.

Q. What is it that you are looking at sorting out before you think of new developments like exports?
A. I think we are doing well in terms of body but we need to work more upon localisation of the chassis. If we are able to do that, we will be able to cut down costs drastically. We should also not underestimate the cost of logistics. To take a bus from our Narsapura plant to any state will involve much cost but to send it to Turkey will undertake huge logistic charges. So we need to figure out how much its costs before we can think about exports.

Q. There is a talk of GST and BS V emissions. What do you think about the two?
A. I think it is a good move by the government to introduce BS VI earlier than the set time line. There has to be a more collaborative effort which brings together policy makers and the private sector. We are already planning to introduce more green buses that can accelerate the pace of sustainable transportation in India. In the case of GST, the overall commercial vehicle sector will benefit a lot from its implementation. It will be beneficial for us in the on road segment where localisation is still at the level of 25 per cent. We have to pay an import duty of nearly 40 per cent, which is a huge burden and takes a toll on the overall cost of the truck. India is a price sensitive market and we have to address the expectations of our customers.

Trendline
When it comes to biofuels we have always regarded ourselves a partner to India and our endeavour is to provide sustainable transport solutions.

Setco ‘casts’ all the clutch components right

SetcoA joint venture between Setco Automotive Ltd. (Setco) and Spainbased Lingotes Especiales SA, Lava Cast Pvt. Ltd. will supply world-class CV clutch parts to Setco.

Story by: Rajesh Rajgor

It is early afternoon and I have completed the tour of Lava Cast’s sprawling facility at Kalol, some 50 kms from Vadodara, Gujarat. Adjacent to Setco’s clutch manufacturing plant, the Lava Cast facility has just begun manufacturing cast parts for Setco’s consumption. As production picks up and teething issues are resolved, the facility will produce castings, machined fully, and in ready to assemble form for consumption by Setco in the manufacture of its CV clutch systems. It would have been six months after the Lava Cast facility began production. A foundry, the installed capacity of Lava Cast facility according to R.K Ghosh, the managing director, is 2000-tonnes per month. Of the 2000-tonnes, 800-tonnes will be consumed by Setco. Producing clutch components in grey iron and ductile iron like pressure plates, covers, intermediate plates, adapter rings and gear rings, the dimensions of the castings vary from 170 mm diameter to 430 mm diameter. To make raw cast parts ready for fitment, a machine shop carries out the finishing operations. “The machine shop carries out the finishing and balancing operations as per the design and drawings provided by Setco,” mentions Ghosh.

With 800-tonnes worth of cast parts pledged for Setco, the company is looking at pledging the remaining capacity to supply cast parts to other automotive customers. Ghosh avers, “We will scout for customers in the automotive industry who require quality machined castings for manufacturing various automotive components.” The state of Gujarat has some automotive OEMs and tier suppliers, which could ensure business. With the Ford plant at Sanand gaining stream, other automotive OEMs that have invested or are in the process of investing include Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and AMW. For Setco, the need to set up a foundry was necessitated by the lack of good quality and adequate quantity of machined casting. The foundry was actually set-up last year. The industry then was facing a low period. As production picks up, the talk of setting up a second foundry is already on. “We haven’t decided whether the new foundry would be similar to this, or have a vertical moulding line or a horizontal moulding line. The output of casting is always high in a vertical foundry and involves a flask, whereas a horizontal moulding line can be with or without a flask,” Ghosh informs. One thing that Ghosh is certain about is that the new foundry will be state-of-the-art too, and just like the current line. The current line is equipped with DISA machines along with the best furnaces and auto pour machines from Inductotherm.

Explains Ghosh that a typical casting process involves melting, moulding, pouring and finishing. The charge mix is usually of CRC scrap, pig iron, foundry returns (rejected pieces) and alloys. All this is poured together into the melting furnace and a sample coin is extracted and sent to Spectro lab for quality analysis. Pouring temperature, magnesium, copper and the quality of mould is measured. If cleared it is sent for moulding and finishing. Post the finished product, the casting is machined as per the description provided, and then supplied to the Setco assembly lines.

Making of a CV clutch assembly
The Setco clutch plant adjacent to the Lava Cast facility is a modern unit. The pressure plate and the cover assembly comes to the line as a ‘balanced’ entity. The cover assembly could be of either type – cast or pressed sheet metal. Pressure plates are made of cast iron, and are strong and sturdy. The clutch lever is assembled on to the pressure plate, and the assembly is mounted on a rig. Springs are mounted on the pressure plate at different locations and tested for run-out and lift according to the specs. They are subjected to balancing. If they are found to be out of balance, additional mass is removed by drilling. If there is a need to add mass, weights are added. To ensure that there is no undesired vibration, which could lead to subsequent failure or premature wear of a clutch system or a related component, a clutch assembly has to be dynamically balanced. Clutch cover is attached and the pressure plate assembly checked for balance. After balancing, the pressure plate assembly is sent for final inspection. The inspection results are entered into a log book. On the driven plate (DP) assembly line, for the manufacture of an organic clutch plate, first a disc ring is fitted and then riveted with organic facing. In the case of ceramic clutch plates, the disc plate is ‘surface’ prepared and rivetted with ceramic buttons. The returning plate is fitted, and covers the hub and has springs fitted in it. These springs carry out the task of balancing and negating the risk of ‘run-out’. The clutch plate is subjected to balancing, run-out tests among others.

Leading supplier of clutch systems for CVs
The setting up of Lava Cast adjacent to its clutch system manufacturing plant at Kalol marks a logical extension of capabilities for Setco. More so because Setco’s major manufacturing set-up is at this location despite having a fairly balanced global footprint with another manufacturing facility at Sitarganj, Uttarakhand, and at UK and USA each. At Kalol, Setco has also invested in an R&D center. While the emergence of radical change in clutch technology may not be expected anytime soon, Setco, incorporated in 1982, as a leading manufacturer of clutch systems for commercial vehicles is set to derive advantage from the arrival of new transmission technologies like the automated manual transmission many Indian commercial vehicles are coming to employ. Employing over 1200 people, the company, marketing its products under the brand name of Lipe, caters to the requirements of OEMs like Tata Motors, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, Ashok Leyland, MAN India, Mahindra, Volvo Eicher and Asia Motor Works. The processes of the company are TS 16949, ISO 14001, OSHAS 18001 and VDA 6.3 certified.

Catering to an estimated 85 per cent of M&HCV clutch demand in India, Setco has invested in a R&D center at UK too. It has also associated itself with automotive sporting events like the Tata Prima T1 racing championship. With an annual turnover of over Rs. 500 crore, the company also manufactures clutches for hydraulic products for the construction equipment industry and precision engineering components like complex and deep drawn pressings, forgings and castings that are machined and heat treated. With Lava Cast set to support Setco in the production of world-class clutch parts, it is only a matter of time before the leading clutch manufacturer strengthens its bottomline, and taps new markets as well as new segments. In Setco’s future endeavours, Lava Cast is set to play an important role.

Trans Acnr banks upon the growing bus market

ANCR_JAN2016Anticipating growth from the rising bus market, Trans Acnr is gearing up its production facility in Rajasthan.

Story by: Anirudh Raheja

Trans Acnr had a modest beginning in 2003. A team of young entrepreneurs set up the company at Delhi with a handful of orders. Over the years, the company has grown to have a turnover of Rs. 600 million. It has sold over 7500 units in the Indian market for application in commercial vehicles.

Anticipating growth from the rising bus market, Trans Acnr is ramping up the production of air-conditioners at its plant at Shahjahanpur, near Alwar in Rajasthan. “We will be starting work on two new assembly lines at our facility early next year. By July 2016, one line will roll out air conditioners for lighter commercial vehicles of capacity up to 12kW. The other line will roll out products up to 44kW to serve a major part of the CV industry,” announced Shatrughan Kumar, Managing Director, Trans Acnr. He mentioned that his company has signed an agreement with Daimler India Commercial Vehicles for its 9-metre buses to supply 24kW air conditioners. The Shahjahanpur plant, according to Kumar, is currently operating at 75 per cent of the overall capacity. The facility produces close to 300 air-con units per month. The ramping up of the facility is expected to double the number of units produced per month. Only about six to seven per cent of the buses in India are fitted with air-conditioners as of current. The demand for air-conditioned buses is on the rise. According to Kumar, vehicle manufacturers are gradually realising the value of installing an air conditioner in buses. They are also realising the value of designing a bus with an ability to include an air conditioner, Kumar pointed out. In response to a query on the use of slave engines to drive air conditioners, Kumar explained they source them from Mahindra, Avtec and Yanmar. These engines range betwee 25 kW and 40 kW according to Kumar, and support air conditioner for a diverse range of buses including staff buses, school buses and inter-city buses. Catering to the demand of the commercial vehicle air conditioner market, and prominently that of the buses, Trans Acnr rolls out three new models every year. It will be soon introducing a 25 kW air conditioner for aftermarket application. Supplies, said Kumar, have already begun from last month.

Addressing changing market requirements
Well aware of the changing requirements of the market, and the issues faced by the existing users, Trans Acnr has developed SL series of air conditioners. These employ aluminium coils and are aimed at addressing the concern about weight. The weight of air-conditioners has been growing. According to Kumar, the SL series products could reduce the weight by up to 10 per cent in an air conditioner unit that weighs 200 kg. The 10 per cent weight reduction has been achieved through structural engineering and developing an air conditioner which does not have a bottom on the condenser. Not very happy with the use of aluminium coils as it compromises on the quality of the product, Trans Acnr developed two different series of products. These are offered under Astro and SL series. The former has copper tubes and aluminium fins and the latter has aluminium coils. Both are made in India, and at the company’s Rajasthan plant. With the demand for city buses expected to rise multi-fold under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme, Trans Acnr is fully geared up to deploy other models under A & E series which are being directly imported from China. As a part of its export portfolio, Trans Acnr is already expanding its base beyond Indian markets, and has come to gain over 80 per cent market share in the Nepal AC bus market. “We are now working with Lanka Leyland for LYNKS mini bus chassis, and already have orders for 20 units for our 15 kW and 20 kW models. We will be also focusing on Gulf countries and the SAARC market,” said Kumar

Catering to varying needs through import and manufacture of ACs
In India, Trans Acnr represents Jingyi Automobile Air Conditioners of China and Hwa Sung Thermo of Korea. Jingyi air conditioners are offered to the bus market. Hwa Sung air conditioners are offered to the truck market. Commencing operations in 2003 for truck refrigeration, and in April 2004 for bus air conditioners, Trans Acnr, said Kumar, addressed its first order for a 18 kW and a 24 kW AC by sourcing them from Jingyi. More orders started finding their way to the company, and in 2010, the company touched a milestone of 1000 unit sales. At this point, it was decided by the management to enter local manufacture and customisation. A client called PKN was the source of inspiration. Trans Acnr developed 10-12 kW ACs for customised Traveller vans out of its base in IMT Manesar. The need for expansion drove the company to invest Rs 6 crore in a facility at Shahjahanpur in 2013. This would enable the company to offer a complete portfolio of air conditioners ranging from 5 kW to 44 kW.

Future ready
For special application like buses plying in North India, where temperature variation is high during the year, Trans Acnr has developed Astro 438 and Astro 543 air conditioners with heaters for 10.5 m and 12 m buses. In the case of city and school buses, heat load is an issue that needs to be addressed with care. Pointed out Kumar, that the high heat load in city and school buses due to frequent door openings calls for air conditioners of higher capacity. “The capacity for air conditioners has gone up by at least 15-20 per cent for city buses,” he added. It is such developments that are posing a need for Trans Acnr to be future ready. To anticipate the changes.

A simple strategy, according to Kumar, is to offer products that meet the expectations. “Sometimes you face unavoidable regulations like removing of the film and curtains. It is necessary to keep a capacity margin such that even without the use of sun films and curtains, the cooling capacity is good,” Kumar explained. Drawing attention to the completion of an order to supply 80 21 kW air conditioners to SML Isuzu for semi-low floor midi buses aimed at Chandigarh Transport Understaking, Kumar adds, “Trans Acnr has always been in the race, and gets preference from respective engineering departments of vehicle manufacturers. “Margins can be however tight, which coupled with stringent service norms can make projects gasp for breath,” he remarked.

Despite the challenges, Trans Acnr continues to grow. It is growing at a CAGR of 30 per cent. The company posted a revenue earning of Rs.60 crores in FY15 with a good deal of business primarily contributed by the aftermarket. The aftermarket business is expected to touch Rs.100 crore this fiscal with the sale of over 1700 units. Apart from offices at Mumbai, Hyderabad and Ranchi, Trans Acnr has five service centres. There is one at Delhi, one at Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Chennai and Cochin each. “We will add five more service centres across India in FY 2016. To expand our reach, we have resident engineers who provide service at the customer’s site in cities like Jaipur, Jalandhar, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Patna and Hyderabad,” Kumar explained. To ensure the availability of trained manpower, Trans Acnr organises training workshops twice a year at its regional offices. Aware that the acceptance of Chinese products even if they are of good quality is a big possibility, Trans Acnr is banking on transporter connectivity. “We offer them our reference lists. Word of mouth publicity also plays a crucial role,” averred Kumar.

Alma Mammoth: the premium edge

ALMA-MAMMOTHA rendezvous with the Alma Mammoth highlighted the abilities of the MG Group and the technological prowess of MAN. Further tweaks are certain to elevate the Mammoth to a new level.

Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

The Alma Mammoth grabs attention. Enough to raise a doubt if it were designed by ace Indian designer Dilip Chhabria. Built by Belgaum-based Alma Motors, the coach building arm of MG Group, the Mammoth is quite attractive. Drawing the attention of show goers at the Busworld India 2015 show held at Mumbai, the two-axle 12 m long bus puts out a premium inter-city appearance. Adding weight to the proposition is the presence of MAN logo on the body as well as on the front wheels. Announcing MAN’s entry into the bus segment, the Mammoth employs a MAN chassis that finds its way to Belgaum for a premium body to be built on it.

Set up in 2004 in response to a mandate for bus body building received from Ashok Leyland according to Anil M. Kamat, Executive Director & Partner, MG Group, Alma Motors has come to have two plants at Belgaum. The Mammoth is built at the younger plant, which will continue to be dedicated to the building of the Mammoth, according to Kamat. Supported by the MG Group’s allied business verticals like West & Deccan, MG Composite LLP and Grey Engine LLP, Alma Motors caters to the conversion demand for Ashok Leyland, Ashok Leyland Nissan JV, Volvo Eicher, Tata Motors apart from MAN and a host of bus operators like Pai Associates. Entering into conversion of automotive bodies from 1980, and progressing to serve OEMs like Mahindra and Force Motors apart from those mentioned earlier, the Mammoth marks the entry of the coach builder into the premium segment. It is logical therefore, that for a company, which has built over 90,000 buses in the last 19 years (and of which 7,500 have been exported), the Mammoth matters a lot.

The move up to Mammoth
It was at the 2011 Busworld India that a MAN (Germany) official approached the MG Group, taking note of the four models the company had displayed there. He expressed an interest in bus body building according to Kamat. The display of automotive electronics business vertical, Grey Engine LLP at the Busworld 2013 proved be a basis for a serious discussion with MAN officials. A visit to the MG Group facility followed in 2014. “MAN officials,” Kamat exclaimed, “were also talking to two other companies. Their (MAN’s) condition was to get the bus body work certified by MAN, Germany. We took up the challenge and completed the project in 10 months.” Supported by West & Deccan, which is the Group’s design arm, the company went to work. Since it was a front-engine chassis, the frontal styling was a challenge. The result turned heads at the Busworld 2015. The frontal appearance of the Mammoth turned heads even when we took it out through the city of Belgaum and on to the Belgaum-Kolhapur stretch of the Pune-Bangalore highway.

1. Sleek headlamps accentuate the modern appearance of the Mammoth.
2. Taillamps are part LED, part conventional.
3. The ladder chassis construction means the Mammoth has storage bays along the sides.
4. The Mammoth rides on 295/80 R 22.5 radial tyres.

The surprise element at the Alma plant at the start of the drive was the presence of two Mammoths, an LHD version and an RHD version. Over nine Mammoths have been built till date according to company sources. Of these, the LHD versions have found their way to Ethiopia. The RHD versions have found their way to Maldives. Once the 280 hp engine is made available, the Mammoth will find its way into the Indian market by the mid of this year. Trials with various bus operators of the current, 220 hp version are said to be underway. Claimed Kamat that the MAN chassis is fantastic, and the mileage is far superior.

With the engine at the front, the MAN chassis is of the ladder frame variety. It is however engineered especially for bus application by MAN, according to Kamat. Adorning a Alma logo at the centre, the frontal styling of the Mammoth stands out. Below the huge glass windshield is a grille that tends to skillfully accommodate sleek lamps, including the daytime running LEDs. Cleverly and thoughtfully styled along the lines of a rear engine bus rather than a front engine bus, the giveaway is the driving position. Unlike in a rear-engine bus, the driver of the Mammoth seats higher up. This is however nicely masked by the lack of a protruding engine cover inside. The driver’s door opens all the way down. Steps built into the inner surface reveal themselves as the driver’s door is opened. They help him to climb down or climb up. Get behind the wheel, and the rear view mirrors placed on either side of the large windshield give an impression of the driver sitting at almost the same level as in a rear-engine bus.

Premium looking and comfortable
The sides highlight superior levels of fit and finish. Bonded windows create a similar impression, and also does the large front windshield. Aft of the door are lockable doors that provide access to the storage compartments along the side. Transporters are known to transport small scooters in the centrally mounted box sections of their rear engine buses. They will not be able to do so in the Mammoth. The only box section available is at the end. It is clearly not big enough to transport a scooty. For safety, the fuel tank is mounted between the two ‘C’ sections of the frame, and between the two axles. Nicely designed arch surrounds painted in a contrast colour liven up the sides. They are openable for ease of service access.

Dominating the rear is a large hatch hinged at the top. It is strut mounted, and a part of an ingenious approach towards emergency exit. Called the EMSecure (Emergency Management – Secure), the emergency exit of the Mammoth, also includes a manually ejected stairway, built with assist handles to provide support while descending, allowing passengers of all age groups to evacuate the coach unharmed as the height between the last step and the pavement is less than two feet. According to Alma sources, the EM-Secure has been patented by them. In all, the Mammoth comes with eight emergency exits! One from the door on the left; two by breaking the window glass on either side in the front section; two from the front and rear roof hatch each; two by breaking the window glass on either side in the rear section, and from the EM-Secure at the rear.

The luxurious push-back seats on the bus we drove were imported. The seats have since been localised, and come from either Harita or Prakash. This was done in consideration to the travel preferences of various travellers the Mammoth will address. The hatracks continue to be imported, and have high quality of build apart from the multi-purpose consoles including AC vents built into them. Attention to detail means the driver of the Mammoth and his associates have to deal with two keys only. One for the ignition and the other for the rest of the locks. The overall fit and finish levels of the passenger compartment are of good standards, and lend a premium touch. Any rough corners are hard to identify. Besides each seat has a mobile charging point with a USB port.

The drive
Finding its way over Belgaum’s seemingly congested roads, some of which are being expanded, the Mammoth got an opportunity to stretch its legs on the four-lane highway between Belgaum and Nipani. The driving position of this bus is commanding to say the least. The large windshield provides good visibility. Also do the rear view mirrors mounted higher up and ahead. The modern engineering attributes that have gone into the making of this bus reflect through the instrument console behind the large twospoke steering wheel with MAN written at the centre. The console has two big dials, that of the engine revs and vehicle speed each. The warning lamps occupy a place in between the dials. Below the speed dial are three dials including those that indicate the fuel and air pressure. Switches on either side of the instrument console are for ride height adjustment, hazard warning, etc. To ensure that there’s no uneven load distribution, the Mammoth’s bellows can adjust the air pressure. This also improves the handling, stability and tyre life. To counter rough road conditions, the bus has a second ride height system, which raises the chassis height by 50 mm. Gathering speeds in the region of 80-100 kmph, the Mammoth gave the impression of being steady and devoid of any tendency to rock. Any pitching at the front is only under heavy braking. Retardation of speed is accomplished confidently, thanks to the dual circuit S-cam brakes and an ABS system.

If the all-round pneumatic suspension impressed with its ability to provide a comfortable ride, the Mammoth, powered by a six-cylinder 6.8-litre turbocharged diesel engine, which produces 220 hp at 2400 rpm, has been engineered to have a low centre of gravity. A quality that is clearly reflected through its impressive handling abilities on the highways at speeds. Capable of a top speed of 110 kmph, the six-speed manual transmission of the Mammoth is light to operate. The first three ratios are tall whereas the other three, and particularly the last ratio aids to do good speeds.

At speeds in the region of 60 kmph, an amount of engine noise finds its way into the driver compartment. Noise in the driver compartment is clearly not as low as in the passenger compartment. Capable of seating 36 people, the Mammoth could do with some more refinement; more noise insulation. This would also help towards a premium experience, and in the wake of its front-engine layout. Located longitudinally at the front, with the drive going to the live rear axle, the engine does feel a bit sluggish on inclines. Especially when the need to regain speed after slowing down is necessary. The 280 hp engine should help to address this issue and up the appeal of the vehicle. Apart from elevating the performance of the bus, the 280 hp engine will also provide an opportunity for MAN and Alma to truly compete with premium segment players, albeit in the front engine category of the market. According to Kamat, a rear engine configuration is also in the making. A multi-axle variant could find a way into the future.

The Mammoth edge
Premium looks of the Mammoth are well matched with MAN’s ability to engineer a bus chassis that displays high levels of stability and comfort. The effort put in by the MG Group despite the chassis’ front engine configuration is worth acknowledging. The Mammoth presents a premium feel, albeit with the need for more refinement and power. A powerful engine will arm the Mammoth with more fire power. A sleeper coach version could further define the flexibility of the platform. The rear-engine version would best epitomise the premium edge that the MG Group is looking at for the Mammoth to achieve. CV

Anil M Kamat, Executive Director, MG Group

Q. Where do you see the Mammoth as a project?
A. What we have tried to create with the Mammoth is a complete expression of our passion for bus building. With this product and the way it is gaining traction in the export market, we hope that the Mammoth will also attract similar levels of interest in the domestic market once we get the 280 hp engine.

Q. From body conversion for Mahindra at Zaheerabad to the Mammoth. How do you look at the journey?
A. We have been doing business with Mahindra for the last 40 years. Bus building opportunity came to us in 1994 on the Mahindra FJ. We produced 17,000-18,000 FJs. We developed a Mini Tourister model for Mahindra. Probably, the first true bus product of Mahindra. We began building bus bodies on 15-seater platform. Model after model, we kept developing conversions for Mahindra. In 2004, we had an opportunity from Ashok Leyland. We set up a new facility at Belgaum. The Belgaum plant came to cater to Volvo Eicher. We built the new Skyline; almost 10,000 of them. We also developed a bus body for Force Motors. We produced about 4000 buses for them. We gained the confidence of Indian OEMs. We have been able to offer OEMs with the best bus building solutions. Our solutions are cost effective and competitive. What makes us unique is our ability to work with different OEMs, including Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and others. For Ashok Leyland Nissan joint venture we have produced the Mitr buses. We are working with MAN too, and for a bus that has been certified by MAN, Germany. We should be clocking 100,000 buses by the end of this fiscal. This fiscal also happens to be our 20th year in the business.

Q. How did you survive the slowdown?
A. We come across challenges every day. We have a strong inclination towards creating something new. Not that we were not affected by the slowdown. We were hoping for the bus industry to boom, and in the process expanded our infrastructure. Lot of our projections went haywire. Since we were catering to many customers we were able to survive the slowdown. We are looking positively at this year, and expect the bus industry to take off. Especially with so many trends coming in. Also, the various activities taken by the Government. I feel that there is going to be a huge demand for mass transportation solutions. Buses will play a major role. We are building body solutions that range from USD 4,000 to USD 60,000. It would therefore depend upon the amount of flexibility we can offer to our customers. We continue to upgrade ourselves and offer the best solutions to our customers. We are taking the right steps, and we hope that our efforts get their due. We hope to get the right traction in the market.

Q. How did the Mammoth project come about?
A. We first participated in the Busworld exhibition in 2011. Since then we have put on quite a show. We displayed four models on four different chassis. We met a MAN representative from Germany. He expressed interest to enter into the Indian bus industry. At Busworld 2013, we displayed our automotive electronic product – a mock up of a bus with electronics in it. We had a serious meeting with MAN personals at this juncture. In April 2014, MAN official visited our facility, providing impetus to the coach building project. There were two other companies that they were talking to. The pre-requisite was to get the body certified by MAN, Germany. The entire design, the structures, welds, etc. We managed to build the product in 10 months; fully engineered and certified by MAN, Germany. It was an opportunity as well as a challenge. The Mammoth is our first true luxury coach. The feature constraint was the front-engine layout. Frontal styling was a major challenge.

Q. How do you look at Mammoth as a front engine premium coach over others, which are offering rear engine premium coaches?
A. The front engine chassis is a stepping stone for us. We needed a reputed partner like MAN. We will not pitch the Mammoth against the Volvo buses or Scania buses. It is going to be a notch lower. Our effort has been to create a better impression with our body solution. This product has proved to be of much interest in Germany (at MAN). The Mammoth, we feel, will give them (MAN) the confidence to introduce a multi-axle rear engine product at a later date. For that coach too, they would prefer to have the Mammoth body design is what we feel. That is the kind of product that will pitch against a Volvo bus or a Scania bus. The Mammoth will kick-start a different segment all together.

Q. Will this bus be positioned as a mid-premium offering?
A. In case of the body, there’s nothing that is less premium about it. The MAN chassis is fantastic. We conducted lot of trials. The mileage that the Mammoth delivers over all terrains is far superior than the other products available. In case of noise and vibration we are at par if not above. I think it is about the mindset that this is a chassisbased product whereupon the other products available are monocoque designs. Monocoque designs offer certain benefits like more luggage space, but then the price of the Mammoth would be lower than what it costs to buy a monocoque bus.

Q. What future do you see for the Mammoth?
A. Mammoth is attractive, and there is nothing that is lacking in terms of ‘premium’. Every person, company and fleet operator that has seen it wants to posses it. The need is to pitch it at the right price point with the right specifications (engine). As far as the export market is concerned, we got inquires even before we had the first prototype ready by seeing the pictures; the 3D rendering of the product. We received good inquires from Bangladesh, Africa, Maldives, Sri Lanka, etc. we have received export orders. We have started exporting the Mammoth. We are confident that this product will do very well in the domestic market once the 280 hp engine comes in. We expect the 280 hp engine to reach us at the start of the next financial year. The Mammoth will also offer a sleeper variant in view of satisfying the demand.

Q. Would Mammoth evolve into a broader portfolio?
A. Mammoth will continue to be a MAN chassis-based design. We are currently having a capacity to produce five Mammoths per month at Belgaum. By April 2016, we would have geared up to produce 30 buses per month. We have deployed a lean manufacturing setup.

Frost & Sullivan launch the 7th edition of Sustainability 4.0 Awards

FrostSullivanFrost & Sullivan announced the launch of Sustainability 4.0 Awards. The awards acknowledge companies for their work in sustainability requirements, across value chains. The seventh edition of the erstwhile Green Manufacturing Excellence awards will be held on May 27, 2016 at Hyatt Regency, Mumbai. This year applications for nominations are open to companies across manufacturing, logistics, hotels, IT and ITES, KPO, BPO, banking, financial services, Insurance, construction, telecommunications and healthcare in India, and the Gulf Cooperation Council, the deadline for which is December 15, 2015.The assessment framework has four major parameters -purpose, planet, partnership and people, with a total of 13 measurement criteria under each parameter. The objective is to help participating enterprises determine their standing, in comparison to other similar organisations. Expressed Nitin Kalothia, Director, Manufacturing and Process Consulting, Frost & Sullivan, “Companies are focusing on incubating novel initiatives to inculcate sustainable development for their entire value chain, beyond manufacturing and environmental sustainability.” He concluded,  adding that  Frost & Sullivan will continue to support and recognise such efforts.

To know more about Sustainability 4.0 Awards and its methodology, please log on to – http://www.frost.com/sustainability.To participate in this awards banquet or to know more about the summit, please send an e-mail to Anita C, Corporate Communications, at anitac@frost.com / or write to us at sustainability@frost.com with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website, city, state, and country. 

 

About CV Magazine

cvINTROmarch2016From a low-profile, functionality first aspect the Indian Commercial Vehicle industry has made startling progress to become the cynosure of many a global major’s eyes. However this success story has seldom received the attention it deserves. Not only does the path breaking Commercial Vehicle attempt to set the record straight, it represents a hat-trick of sorts for Next Gen’s automotive division. Joining forces with Car India and Bike, Commercial Vehicle will provide clear, in-depth and differentiated content for readers across the spectrum of the automotive industry. With its team of dedicated professionals who clearly understand what makes the industry tick, the magazine will span the entire Commercial Vehicle universe. The coverage will not be restricted to trucks, buses, utility vehicles three-wheelers and tractors. We understand that the serious player in the industry also needs to know about components, logistics, infrastructure and construction equipment. Readers will further find the road tests, interactions with key industry players, user tips and international perspectives much to their liking.

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Commercial Vehicle is a business magazine with a difference. The 360-degree value proposition of the magazine is aptly delivered with a healthy mix of business reporting and user-focused content .

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To be the voice of the Indian Commercial Vehicle industry. We will do whatever it takes to attain that position and retain it.

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Eicher Trucks and Buses strengthen their presence in the reefer truck segment.

eicherIn a bid to strengthen its presence in the cold chain logistics sector, Eicher Trucks and Buses has introduced a series of new reefer trucks in the Pro 1000 and Pro 6000 series category. The trucks include the Pro 1059XP reefer, Pro 1110XP reefer and Pro 6025 reefer. They come with an option of 14 ft., 20 ft. and 24 ft. reefer structure, and have a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of between seven tonnes and 25-tonnes. Claimed to offer optimal fuel efficiency, the reefer truck range is claimed to have been equipped with a new refrigeration unit, which operates in a temperature range of (-) 25 degree Celsius to (+) 25 degree Celsius under ambient conditions of 50 degree Celsius.