Milk for India’s food bowl

Verka employs an intensive logistics setup of trucks to feed milk to India’s food bowl, Punjab.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

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Verka is a household brand in Punjab, and regarded for the nutrition it provides. Named after a Village in Punjab on the outskirts of Amritsar where the first milk plant of its kind in the whole of North India was established in 1959, Verka has consolidated its brand strength by retaining the high quality of its existing products, and by launching new, high quality products. A brand of the Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited (MILKFED), which came into existence in 1973 to improve dairy farming in the state of Punjab, Verka has come to offer not just pasteurised packaged milk, but also ghee, table butter, skimmed milk powder, whole milk powder, cheese, sweetened flavoured milk, ice cream, indigenous sweets, and fresh products such as Lassi, Paneer, Dahi, Kheer, and tetra pack products like fruit beverages.

Under MILKFED, Verka’s network encompasses eleven milk unions that undertake operations at nine milk plants. The plant at Verka (after which the brand is named) began with a processing capacity of 60,000 litres per day, combining together 10,000 litres of liquid milk and drying capacity of five million tonnes per day in 1964. In 1966, the control of the plant at Verka was transferred to the Punjab Dairy Development Corporation, and subsequently to MILKFED. Today, the total milk handling capacity at Amritsar is 160000 litres per day. MILKFED’s nine plants across the state have a combined capacity to handle 19.75 lakh litres of milk sourced from all over Punjab. The Verka sourcing network procures milk from over four lakh registered members with close to seven thousand village milk producers’ cooperative societies throughout the state. The biggest plants of Verka are Ludhiana and Mohali, with respective supplies of six-lakh litres and over five-lakh litres per day. Packaged milk and milk products are supplied across Punjab, and to Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Jammu and Kashmir. Verka also exports its products – especially Ghee, to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia and the Middle East. At the core of such a market reach is an intensive logistics setup of the brand. It is this setup, made up of trucks, that helps MILKFED to successfully cater to a diverse audience, including its home audience of Punjab, which is fondly described as the food bowl of India.

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Logistics, a pillar of strength

The prime business commodity at Verka is milk. It is collected from milk producing members at the village level through Milk Producing Cooperative Societies (MPCS). Each MPCS has at least 21 members. These are registered under Cooperative Societies Act, and deliver milk to the MPCS. From there, it is sourced by MILKFED logistics network. Throughout the state of Punjab, there are up to 7000 MPCS. Milk from these MPCS is transported to over 49 Milk Chilling Centres (MCC) or milk plants with a handling capacity of 7.2 lakh litres depending on which of these is near. Considering the perishable nature of milk, there is a need to instantly chill the milk or process it. Over 616 Bulk Milk Coolers (BMCs) with 13 lakh litre capacity have been installed at village societies to instantly cool the milk. “Depending on the collection and area, tankers of 6000 to 10,000 litre capacity arrive at the plants daily with utilisation levels of between 80-90 per cent,” avers Amarjit Singh Sidhu, Chairman, MILKFED. These stainless steel tankers, he adds, are insulated with the help of Polyurethane Foam (PuF) and thermocol that help in keeping the milk chilled until it reaches the main dairy. Such level of insulation, claims Sidhu, allows milk temperature to rise at the most by two degree Celsius in a 24-hour time frame. Milk is pumped into the tankers using sanitary pumps.

Stress on standard procedures is laid right from the beginning. Raw milk collected at village societies is transported to village centres using cans stacked in covered tempos. Sub standard milk is rejected at the village level itself. This is done through adulteration testing kits. Milk, from the village centres, is transported twice a day to the main dairy. In the morning, and in the evening. “The mandate is for the milk to reach the plant within three hours after it has been collected at the village society to maintain its microbiological quality,” mentions Sidhu. Milk, at the chilling centres, is cooled to a temperature level of four-to-six degree centigrade. Trucks with insulated stainless steel tanks of 12,000-15,000 litre capacity are deployed. To maintain system consistency, Verka entrusts the transportation of milk to its own as well as third party transporters. Between 190 to 225 trucks are deployed for the transportation of processed products. States Sidhu, that the number of milk tankers hired by Verka varies with the quantity of milk procured in different seasons. There’s a definitive influence on costs in terms of lean, transitory and flush season according to Sidhu.

To ensure timely delivery, the movement of trucks is managed by Verka’s marketing team, which diligently supervises and manages them. Implementation of new technologies is being considered, says Sidhu. He adds, “For efficient movement we are working towards implementing SAP. SAP is under process, and once in place, should help us to streamline the incoming tankers as well as delivery vans. This monitoring will help us to optimise their utilisation. Our transportation costs will come down.” The loading and unloading of insulated vans is done manually at Verka. Approximately 10 lakh litre per day of packaged milk is sold. The milk packets are stacked in standard milk crates and supplied to the distributors appointed in the respective areas for timely delivery through insulated vans that are hired. There’s also a mechanism in place for further distribution of Verka milk and milk products to the market.

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Expansion on the cards

MILKFED follows a three tier system. The MPCS at the village level form the first tier. The milk unions at the district level and the (apex) federation form the second and the third tier. To increase profitability, MILKFED has been working to bring about a change by introducing quality programmes without changing the three tier system it follows. Quality programmes like Kaizen have been introduced. Special training programmes are held for improving manpower efficiency and improvement of the work practices. Over the last five years, MILKFED has grown at a CAGR of 14.87 per cent according to Sidhu. Plans are to maintain the momentum in the future mention Sidhu. Registering over 12.7 per cent growth in sales during FY15, at Rs.2183.28 crore when compared to Rs.1935.96 crore worth of sales revenue in FY14, the Verka brand is expected to get further boost once the expansion is over. A capex of Rs.100 crore will largely be funded through internal accruals, term loans and central government support, says Sidhu. These measures have been planned for FY17 to increase the efficiency of the operation. While the expansion activity is also expected to up the value chain efficiency, MILKFED has set up two cattle field plants at Batala and Khanna in Punjab. Explains Sidhu, that most farmers feed their cattle with home grown fodder. This reduces their ability to produce milk. To minimise any loss, two cattle field fodder plants have been setup. These plants are helping to increase the reproductive efficiency of the cattle. They are also said to be necessitating a suitable logistics arrangement.

Working on a robust strategy to carve out a greater share of the market pie, two new plants under MILKFED, at Bhatinda and Bassi Pathana in Fategarh Sahib, are already in the pipeline. To increase control over the involvement of third party logistics, driver training programmes are being actively considered, states Sidhu. As of current, MILKFED is working with about 3,000 retailers and has plans to further increase their number before the end of this year. Aiming to strengthen its network and ensure a timely supply, Verka, dealing with large quantities of milk and milk products is also faced by the challenge of counterfeiting. This is being tackled by using a unique labelling and packaging technology. The design of the packaging material at Verka is being revised. The revision will continue from time to time. “This would avoid imitation and any possibility of adulteration that may arise in the market,” concludes Sidhu.

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ñ Special steel tankers insulated using PuF and thermocol keep the milk chilled until it reaches the main dairy.

ñ Stringent quality tests are undertaken before processing and packing products at Verka.

Maruti Super Carry goes on sale

Maruti Suzuki’s first mini-truck in the country has gone on sale, and offers a payload capacity of 740 kg.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

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Maruti Suzuki Super Carry went on sale in the state of Gujarat from September 01, 2016. The first mini-truck of the company – such trucks are termed as Small Commercial Vehicles (SCVs) in India, was commercially made available at an event at Ahmedabad in the presence of RS Kalsi, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki India, T Hashimoto, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki India, and CV Raman, Executive Director (Engineering), Maruti Suzuki India. RS Kalsi, at the launch, expressed that the company is targeting to fulfill the business needs of its customers. “Super Carry is a robust load carrying vehicle that offers high fuel efficiency,” he mentioned. Selling petrol engine commercial vehicles in the form of Omni Cargo, and later the Eeco Cargo in the sub-one tonne category, Maruti Suzuki has not been able to draw a crowd. The crowd puller was the Tata Ace, which in the form of a mini-truck kick started a new category of such vehicles in India in 2005. Much water has flown under the bridge since then, and the Tata Ace has grown to spring up many variants including a smaller 500-600 kg, 11.3 hp Ace Zip, and a bigger 1250 kg, 70 hp SuperAce Mint with a four-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel engine. Mahindra overtime has responded with a slew of launches, the most recent being the Supro. The first SCV that Mahindra launched – the 850 kg Maxximo with a 25 hp common-rail turbo-diesel engine aimed squarely at the Ace. It claimed to boast of superior features; the products that followed, the Gio, Jeeto and the Supro, firmly embedded the Indian auto major in the SCV market.

For Maruti Suzuki, to find a place among such competitors may not be easy. It has not been easy for global players like Piaggio either, claim industry sources. For Maruti Suzuki, it may involve a lot of cash burn, they add. The 740 kg Super Carry, developing 75 Nm of peak torque at 2000rpm (hp figure not provided) from a 793 cc common-rail turbo-diesel engine, which is claimed to have been borrowed from the Celerio diesel and suitably tweaked, it is clear, is aiming squarely at the Tata Ace and the Mahindra Maxximo. It is priced at rupees-four lakh approximately, and will be available in multiple variants ranging from Rs. 2.28 lakh to rupees-five lakh according to company sources. The Super Carry platform is claimed to have been developed for India, Africa and other Asean countries. The SCV may have the advantage of using parts that are already employed in other models of the company, the fact is, the way a commercial vehicle operator may use his or her vehicle is a far cry from how a passenger vehicle is used. In a market where over 3.8 lakh LCVs were sold in FY2015-016, growth is expected to be in the range of 11 to 13 per cent. The Tata Ace continues to lead even as players like LML are said to be working towards foraying into the SCV market. The high level of indigenisation the Super Carry is claimed to posses will definitely help Maruti Suzuki, claim industry experts. They also point at the company’s deep pockets, and the ability to export. In India, they add, it may be a uphill journey despite the company boasting of a network of 3200 service centres. Sources close to the company are known to have said that the Super Carry waill be sold through an independent channel like it is selling its premium passenger vehicles through the Nexa channel. A separate channel will help to establish a CV product portfolio, and especially if Maruti Suzuki were to pursue a goal of introducing more models in the future.

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Maruti Suzuki sources are not off the mark when they speak about targeting the last mile connectivity needs of businesses like ecommerce, and delivery of diverse nature of goods including medicines, vegetables, fruits, etc. It is certain that Maruti Suzuki has done its calculations diligently. The fact is, there is so much to learn in a complex market like India where it is not just about uptime, but also the ability to offer a product that assures superior levels of functionality at super low prices. The plan to introduce the Super Carry, which is sold in the African markets with a 1.2-litre petrol engine borrowed from the Eeco, in three cities (Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Ludhiana) is already being executed. The passenger car leader in the country will soon have a presence in three states that it is launching the Super Carry in. On the anvil next, is a plan to increase the reach to five states, and go pan-India by the end of 2017. On the cautious side, Kalsi is known to express that they would like to first understand customer expectations and then consider any addition to the product portfolio. He is also known to have expressed that they are focussing on good load carrying capacity. It is likely that he is pointing at overloading. In the urban context of use, SCVs may be subjected to overloading. They may be also amounted to rough use. The market, as Mahindra’s new offerings have indicated, is ready to look at new products. Influencing a migration is however a long drawn process, the success of which will be evident only over a period of time. CV’s request for a drive and ‘feel’ of the Super Carry is yet to find favour with the company.

IMI and IEBCI make key changes

Isuzu Motors India Private Limited (IMI) and Isuzu Engineering Business Centre India Private Limited (IEBCI) have announced key management changes and appointments. Hiroshi Nakagawa has taken over as the chairman of IMI and director of IEBCI with immediate effect. Hiroyasu Miura, the erstwhile chairman of IMI will take over as the chairman and managing director of IEBCI with immediate effect. Other key management changes include Haruyasu Tanishige’s appointment as director at IMI and Satoshi Yamaguchi and Ichiro Murato, the former directors at IMI will take up new roles at Isuzu Motors Limited, Japan. IMI and IEBCI are wholly owned subsidiaries of Isuzu Motors Limited, Japan. IMI specialises in the manufacture of light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles, utility vehicles and diesel engines. IEBCI is responsible for Research and Development (R&D) and sourcing related activities in India. It is also serving as a sourcing hub for Isuzu’s global operations.

Future of truck & bus radials

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Truck and bus radialisation is on the rise, and the future looks bright.

Story by:

Satiish K

It was in 1977, that JK Tyres introduced radial tyre technology in India. It was way ahead of the time, and the tyres failed to strike a cord with the operators. Post the re-introduction of radial tyre in 1999, the going was slow. Truck and Bus Radials (TBRs) were introduced in 1999. During 2005-06, the market share of TBR remained a merge 3-5 per cent of the total Truck & Bus (TB) tyre market. A development that would provide impetus to the growth of TBRs took place in 2005. The Supreme Court passed a judgement which put in place strict guidelines against overloading. At around the same time, tyre companies began aggressively promoting the benefits of TBRs over bias-ply tyres. In over a decade, TBRs have found a calling in the bus industry in a big way. The trucking industry is also embracing radial tyres. With over 65 per cent of the transportation in India taking place by the means of trucks, rising radialisation bids well for the economic growth of the country among other factors like tightening emission norms and rising fuel prices.

Higher operating efficiency

Compared to China, India continues to lack in the proliferation of TBRs. It has taken longer in India for creation of awareness towards TBRs. The proliferation of TBRs could be also linked to rising road infrastructure in the country. This is quite similar to what happened in China. TBR proliferation in China took place on the basis of better road transport infrastructure and the need to attain higher operating efficiency. The need to attain higher operating efficiency is increasingly felt in India too. So, what better way to achieve it than to move to TBRs. Challenges remain, and mainly in the form of a lack of awareness in terms of carrying capacity and cost versus durability. Other two prominent challenges include road conditions and corrupt practices. Considering India’s mission for economic development with a target to increase per capita income by three-four folds by 3032, TBRs are set to contribute a good deal. Radialisation in CVs, it is clear, is unstoppable.

Advantage TBR

Over a bias-ply tyre, a TBR makes better use of the tread portion and side wall structure. The amount to which the sidewall of a TBR can flex is more than that of a bias-ply tyre. This leads to a TBR having better tread patch reach. A TBR shows lesser transverse slip, and is able to transfer more power to the ground over a bias-ply tyre. The flexibility and strength of a TBR, in addition to its advanced construction and compounds, makes for superior shock absorption. The result is an improvement in steering feel and control. TBR presents a better driving experience. The lower rolling resistance of TBR results in better fuel efficiency and lower emissions. If a TBR promises better sustainability, it offers a bigger contact patch with every turn of the tyre. As the tyre turns, there is a certain portion of it that forms the contact patch with the road surface under it. This leads to a certain tendency of the tyre to deform enough. The forces required for acceleration, braking and cornering are transmitted through this ‘contact patch’. The tendency to deform at the point of contact with the road surface leads to the tyre heating up. Some of the energy transmitted by the engine to the wheels also transforms into heat, which has a definitive effect on the life of the tyre as well as its safe operation.

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Operating costs

The purchasing cost of a TBR is 18 to 20 per cent higher than that of a bias-ply truck or bus tyre. This is perhaps the most important reason why many truck and bus operators are reluctant to invest in a TBR. What they need to do however is to consider the performance enhancement in terms of wear, rolling resistance, durability and comfort. TBRs offer a significant advantage in terms of the overall operating cost. The retread-ability of TBRs is higher than bias-ply tyres. It is three times that of a bias-ply tyre, and results in a life that is two times more than that of a bias-ply tyre. The consumption of tread rubber in a bias-ply tyre is more than that of a TBR. This often leads to a situation where bias-ply tyres need retreading faster than a TBR would. The fuel cost as well as the running cost per km of a TBR is 5 per cent lower than that of a bias-ply tyre.

Safety

TBRs offer certain safety advantages over bias-ply tyres. They are structurally stronger than bias-ply tyres. As mentioned earlier, they offer better structural strength, more cornering force for better control while cornering and manoeuvring, and less stopping distance because of the larger foot print area (tread contact patch). It may be important to note that TBRs are helping to reduce the burden and cost of accidents and the resulting fatalities.

Rising radialisation

Radialisation in commercial vehicles is on the rise. Both, of the tube type and tubeless type radials. As compared to the level of radialisation in FY2005-06, at 5 per cent, the level of radialisation in FY2014-15 was 25 per cent. As compared to passenger vehicles or cars and SUVs, the rate of radialisation in commercial vehicles may be slow, it is however on the rise. Industry experts estimate that radialisation in CVs will reach 40-50 per cent by 2020. It is catching up with the global pace, they claim. They point at a growing preference of fleets for radials. Fleet operators, the experts explain, are coming to acknowledge the better performance and a distinct cost advantage offered by TBRs. OEMs are also taking to TBRs in a big way as OE fitments. Considering the pickup in demand for TBRs it is but natural for tyre companies to increase TBR capacities.

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To help TBRs to penetrate the market further, there is a need to create awareness among commercial vehicle operators. Against the availability of cheaper Chinese imports there is also a need to formulate a policy that would make the domestic players more competitive. Rising access to internet makes it essential that tyre manufacturers tie up with ecommerce sites to offer TBRs at a good price rather than limit their exposure to brick and mortar stores only. This would call for a fundamental change in the way claims are handled, and with a positive view that greater transparency is set in place. TBRs make costly investments, and their take up would help the manufacturers to reduce initial investment costs involved with radial technology plants. Unlike passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles – especially trucks, are prone to overloading. After the apex court banned overloading, instances of overloading have come down. Toll contractors are also ensuring that they do not incur higher maintenance due to overloaded trucks. However, there is a need for a consistent and coordinated effort to ensure that transporters refrain from overloading. They need to be educated about how overloading hampers safety and reliability.

Engineering radials

The lower rolling resistance that radials offer also makes it challenging to engineer them with respect to their performance in other areas like grip and the rate of wear. It is at this juncture that the issue of tyre development and testing is brought to the fore. There is a need for better tyre testing facilities that would help to speed up new product development. The industry, at present, is dependant on Indian test labs with limited facilities, or on European test labs, or on testing with actual customer vehicles, which is both, cost as well as time consuming.

Tyre development & testing

Investments to manufacture radial tyres are rising. There’s however a need to focus on R&D and testing so that the tyres made in India supersede the quality of tyres that are available in other markets. This has to be done at an Indian cost. And, to be more precise, efforts for frugal engineering of tyres are essential. This will be made possible by investing in tyre testing facilities. In India, professional tyre testing facilities are lacking. They are not up to the mark.

The domestic tyre makers have invested significant amounts in new capacities in TBRS over the last several years. As a result, between FY2010 and FY2016, the industry witnessed the completion of investments worth over Rs. 200 billion. The risk of raw material prices moving up remains. There also remains the challenge of combating Chinese imports apart from investing in development and testing facilities. Seeing Rs. 350 billion worth of capacities over the last five to six years, the future of TBR looks bright.

Eicher Trucks and Buses appoints new dealer

Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV) launched a new 3S (Sales, Service and Spares) facility at Hubli. Set-up in association with PSN Automotive Marketing Limited, the company claims the facility will offer world class services to VECV customers. The facility will cater to sales and aftermarket support of both the Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) as well as the Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCVs) range of Eicher. Vinod Aggarwal, Chief Executive Officer, VE Commercial Vehicles Limited said, “Hubli has always been a key market for the sale of all our light, medium and heavy duty trucks and buses. With the introduction of our new facility, we will be able to offer advanced aftermarket services to all our customers in this region.” The facility, claimed sources, is expected to boost the company’s presence in north Karnataka; at locations like Belgaum, Hospet, Bijapur and Gulbarga.

JCB showcases material handling equipment

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Known for producing some of the finest construction equipment, JCB showcased a range of material handling equipment.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

JCB is emphasising on material handling equipment. It believes that the market could soon experience strong growth due to a rise in infrastructure. Understandably, the company showcased a range of material handling solutions at Delhi recently. These make cost-effective solutions that have been developed in India, and include telehandlers, skid steer loaders and super loaders. Replicating its global practices of offering safe and versatile machinery for material handling industry, the trio expands the JCB product portfolio to 48, across eight categories. “Regardless of B2B or B2C, various industries are picking up pace in India. This is certain to increase the demand for better infrastructure. The (material handling) machines that we have showcased will serve the growing need for technologically advanced and intelligent product solutions across verticals,” expressed Vipin Sondhi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, JCB India. He touched upon the industry best period of 2011, and how the industry came to face turbulent times thereafter. From 2012 to 2015, the off-highway equipment industry experienced a sharp decline. The numbers till December 2015 were nothing to cheer home about.

Green shoots were visible in early 2016; they were a reflection of the industry’s recovery. The pace of recovery has attained good speed now, and is adding to the confidence of manufacturers like JCB to showcase new, game changing equipment. Averred Sondhi, “In the first half of 2016, the industry grew by 40 per cent. Where irrigation sector to some extent is starting to move, other sectors like the railways are also showing signs of moving.” “It is the road and highways that is really driving our industry for now,” he added. The products that JCB showcased may not find their way into the road construction industry, they are however certain to find their way into other industries experiencing growth. Opined Sondhi, that the products will offer paradigm shift in India as each of them can offer flexibility, enhanced productivity, and better performance.

JCB Loadall

Known for its backhoe loaders, JCB has also been pioneering the development of telehandlers for close to four decades now. The intention is to have an equipment that would help with the loading, unloading, and palletisation of load at various heights and reach levels. Made entirely locally from components procured locally, the Loadall that JCB is offering, is powered by a 76 hp four-cylinder naturally aspirated JCB 448 engine, which produces a peak torque of 310 Nm@1100 rpm. Coupled to a four-wheel drive synchro-shuttle fully synchromesh transmission with an integral torque converter and an electrically operated forward-reverse shuttle to maintain traction and performance, the Loadall has its front live axle rigidly mounted. Connecting the front live axle with the transmission is a propeller shaft through a max-track torque proportioning differential. The live rear axle is centrally pivoted with an oscillation angle of 16-degree.

For easy manoeuvrability, the Loadall comes with a rear wheel hydro-static power steering with manual capability in case of an engine or hydraulic failure. The steering angle is (plus or minus) 48-degrees. The cabin of Loadall conforms to Rolling Object Protection System (ROPS) and Falling Object Protection System (FOPS) norms for operator safety and the angle roof boards offer optimal visibility. Ergonomically positioned controls find place next to a fully adjustable driver seat. For safety, JCB has also fitted a Lateral Load Moment Indicator (LLMI), which sounds an alarm in case the machine exceeds its loading limitations. The Loadall is also fitted with an Inclinometer to ensure stability. To minimise stress on the machine, especially the joints, the Loadall is fitted with a ‘U’-shaped boom with single closing plate welds apart from single side plates that ensure higher strength for the machine. Available in two different models, 530-70 and 530-110, the Loadall comes with a stacking and dumping capacity of 7 m and 11 m along with a forward reach of 12 ft and 23 ft respectively. In order to bring the machine to a stop, JCB has fitted the Loadall with hydraulically actuated, dual line compensated oil immersed multi-disc brake on the front axle and the rear axle, which can be operated through independent pedals.

JCB Robot

JCB Robot is a skid steer loader, and available in two models – Robot 135 and Robot 155. Either model has been designed with a single loader arm with internal baffle plates for longer life. The arm has 20 per cent more tensile strength and makes for a stronger, lighter construction. The hydraulic hoses are routed within the main boom structure giving maximum protection to both, the driver as well as the machine. This boosts all round visibility and makes it easier for the operator to enter and exit through the side door. Certified with ROPS and FOPS level-one standards, the tilting cabin ensures easy access to vital components of the machine. The cabin is claimed to offer 46 per cent higher space as compared to the competition. A mechanical quick hitch comes as standard for faster change of attachments in various applications. The Robot can rotate a full 360 degree to perform better even in confined areas. Flaunting 50 per cent local content. JCB Robot has got a 98-litre fuel tank for longer working hours. An advanced fuel filtration system helps the machine to withstand poor quality of fuel. JCB has fitted the Robot with a naturally aspirated 46 hp Perkins 404 D-22 engine on Robot 135. The Robot 155 is powered by a 57 hp turbocharged version of the engine. A full servo controlled hydro-static transmission ensures good availability of engine power to ensure maximum performance.

JCB Super Loader

A dedicated loader for loading applications at various heights, the JCB 2DXL Super Loader is available in two different models 2DXL-31 and 2DXL-40. The 2DXL-31 and 2DXL-40 have a dumping height of 3.1 m and 4 m respectively. Powered by a 50 hp Kirloskar 4R810 four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine, the super loader is fitted with JCB’s SS700 synchro-shuttle four-speed fully synchromesh gearbox with an integral torque converter. The 2465 psi hydraulic system pressure enables the machine with higher breakout force to tackle tough working conditions. The two-wheel drive front axle is steerable and centrally pivoted with an oscillation angle of 16-degrees. The rear drive axle incorporates max-torque proportioning differential. Locally produced with 100 per cent local content, the Super Loader complies with CMVR BS III emission norms. It is offered with 10 optional attachments for increased versatility and performance.

Domestic stability to drive growth

It was at the Excon fair for construction equipment late last year that JCB announced a thrust on telematics. Sondhi spoke about turning machine operators into entrepreneurs by helping them to own a machine, operate it and provide employment to others. Sondhi’s comment that India is at the cusp of a change, and material handling is one of the most promising sectors as of current is reflective of the course the company is taking for growth. Stress is on reaching out to the customer and make him understand the product better. A pioneering concept it is, the move to explain why and how beneficial it is for their business and to generate better returns. JCB is working with 20 NBFCs in India to provide easy finance options for its products that may find application in construction, agri-logistics, material handling, ceramics, bottling, sugar, cement, cotton, and processing industries. Stressing upon the fact that one sector alone cannot drive growth, Sondhi expressed that two or three sectors need to move forward and start participating in infrastructural growth. With a strong supply chain that includes 380 suppliers and 60 dealers, JCB is looking at various ways of growth. The company is keen to develop a strong base domestically for their battery of material handling equipment for certain.

Gold rush

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DC Design has developed India’s first mobile jewellery showroom to help Thrissur-based Chemmanur Group to expand its market reach.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

Photographs: DC Design

Gold rush in the state of Kerala is well known. The New York Times in 2012 published a story on Kerala’s obsession for gold. It stated that Kerala values nothing more than gold. It stated that it is comforting for the people of the state to know that their erstwhile rulers too had a fascination for the yellow metal, which they stored in the temple as an offering and as an insurance against famine. The story mentioned that Kerala is gold’s own country. Claimed to gobble 20 per cent of the country’s gold consumption despite having just three per cent of the population, Kerala has over 5000 retailers of the noble metal. Contributing to India’s reputation as the largest consumer of gold in the world – India consumes 30 per cent of the world’s gold, the sky-rocketing prices have failed to deter the people of Kerala from buying gold. To them, gold simply does not cease to amaze. The village of Koduvally near Kozhikode for example, has nearly forgotten its tradition of pottery-making for gold. It boasts of over 100 jewellery shops. Clients include families who have relatives working in Gulf countries. Apart from exposure to foreign countries, the state’s obsessed for gold is claimed to date back to the Roman era. Kerala then, and in particular Kochi (Cochin), was a key port among the channels of trade and frequented not only by Roman ships but also by Greeks, Jews, Arabs and Chinese. The foreign merchants and their customers were so besotted with Indian pepper, cardamom and cinnamon that they were quite happy to part with increasing amounts of gold in exchange.

If the growing remittances by 20 lakh (and rising) non-residents and a steep increase in the price of rubber is claimed to fuel the state’s gold rush, for India’s savings-conscious society gold has always found a way of translating into an insurance against cloudy days. It is similar to how governments buy gold for the amount of currency they print, to ensure that their currency is valued and respected. Worn during family functions, the obsession for gold in Kerala has been greatly complementing India’s consumption at 746-tonne every year according to the World Gold Council. Attracting film stars and sportsmen of repute as goodwill ambassadors, the obsession for gold has ensured that the industry, which employs over two hundred thousand people, finds new ways to reach out to the buyers. In what could be termed as the most striking way of reaching out to buyers thus far, Mumbai-based DC Design has delivered India’s first mobile jewellery showroom to Thrissur-based Chemmanur Group. It is based on a semi-trailer (truck), and painted in a striking colour of yellow and matt gray. A head turner, the tractor-trailer combination, according to Dilip Chhabria, Chairman and Managing Director, DC Design, was developed with an intention to transport gold to places where people are short of time; to make it convenient for people to buy gold, and to also facilitate impulsive buying.

Stunning looking

To power their mobile jewellery showroom, the Chemmanur Group chose a 410 hp Scania G410 6×4 tractor. The mobile showroom is built on the trailer. It took a good five months for DC Design to execute the project. The semi-trailer measures 40 ft. With the earlier creations of DC Design based on a rigid inter-city bus chassis measuring upto 14.8 ft, the use of a Scania tractor-trailer combination comes as a surprise. So, what prompted DC Design to use a Scania truck for the job? According to Chhabria, the decision to use a Scania truck as the basis for a mobile jewellery showroom was entirely of the client, the Chemmanur Group. “Cost was not an issue with the client. What he wanted was the best and the most striking,” he added. One look at the rig, and it is clear that a lot of effort has gone into the making of it. The shade of yellow with a streak of gray running throughout the length of the whole vehicle makes the Scania semi-trailer looks like it has come from Mars almost! The colour scheme was dictated by the client according to Chhabria. A bright colour along with the highly voluptuous shape helped to achieve a stunning look. Stunning looking the mobile jewellery showroom is. If the Scania G410 6×4 prime mover attracts attention, the semi-trailer simply commands attention.

Averred Chhabria, that the brief was to create a standout mobile retail outlet; the one that does not look like a plain Jane fabricated box on wheels, but is designed through the exacting automotive development process, which includes concept sketches, a 1:5 scale model, computer aided design and engineering, analysis, milling the plugs and generating composites including carbon substrates. “The process allowed for extreme contouring on all the axes, an important factor to help differentiate and create a distinct unique style that was more spaceship than vehicle,” he stated. The structural challenge was the manufacture of a highly curvaceous and complex outer skin. It did not allow for the usual tubular superstructure route. DC Design had to create skin panels like cars and reinforce them at vantage points with structural members. Revealed Chhabria while touching upon his earlier projects, that this is the first time where the exterior design of the vehicle is of greater prominence than the interior.

Interior

Acting as a substitute to a brick and mortar showroom, the interior of the mobile jewellery showroom is well crafted and imposing to say the least. Away from the exterior design brief, which called for jaw dropping style coupled with the rather huge dimensions of the semi-trailer combination, the interior involves a two-level showroom. If the trailer facilitated a large bed size, the interior includes a hydraulic expanding side section with hydraulic opening stairways akin to private jets. Divided into two sections – diamond and gold, the showroom also includes a billing section, a conference room and a rest room. Expressed Chhabria, “In the case of the interior, the challenge was to balance aesthetics with various functions. There was also the need to manage the expansive sizes of substrates, the combination of disparate materials like aluminium, steel, carbon, glass, plastics, fabrics, leather, etc.” To create the right ambiance, stress was laid on lighting. Considering the nature of activity, stress was also laid on tighter tolerances. The standards of fit and finish are high therefore. Interestingly, the hydraulically opening stairways, when closed, form the outer skin. They have their own hand rails which fold open. They have their own fail safe devises to ensure safety. Heavily fortified with security contraptions, the mobile jewellery showroom has the best vehicle security that can be had. There’s high resolution cameras that have remotely actuated swivel and night vision. Also fitted are proximity sensors and more. The vehicle, measuring 2.6 m in width, can be remotely immobilised, its door and racks can be remotely secured.

On the move

Expected to be a fitting alternative to brick and mortar showrooms that may not always turn out to be viable in the wake of competition, the mobile jewellery showroom is claimed to be the first of the three such vehicles planned. The other two would find their way to Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Considering the length of the tractor trailer, it may be logical to think if it will travel over the ever winding roads of Kerala. Explained Chhabria, that much to their surprise they found the vehicle to be capable of manoeuvring through narrow and tight spaces where a bus or a rigid truck would find it difficult. “The articulated nature of the vehicle makes it possible,“ he added. At DC Design operations in Pune, it was surprisingly easy to manoeuvre the Scania semi-trailer as compared to several 14.8 m coaches that the company has worked upon. Trucks are about business, and the Chemmanur Group’s mobile jewellery showroom is no exception. A head turner, the vehicle could do away with the need for a brick and mortar showroom, which in the face of the competition has the risk of becoming a white elephant. A unique and stunning visual provides an excellent advertising real estate that is also dynamic. Certain to offer the Chemmanur Group a front runner advantage, the Scania-based mobile jewellery showroom has a white dome on the top of the cabin. It denotes a football according to Chhabria. Perhaps hinting at the Chemmanur Group’s association with legendary football star Diego Maradona, the football also speaks about Kerala’s love for the game. There’s little doubt, that the Chemmanur mobile jewellery showroom is set to be a

game changer in gold’s own country.