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

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.

V-Trans India guns for transport excellence

Article by: Rajesh Rajgor

Prudent practices and an eye for excellent service has elevated V-Trans India to the position of one of the most admired transport companies in the country.

V-Trans India bagged the Apollo CV Award in the ‘Large Truck Fleet Operator’ category in 2015. The award was conferred after much competitive evaluation and scrutiny. This is not the first award that the company has won. They won the National Award for excellence in personnel management and an award for environmental conservation in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The series of awards and accolades the company has received in the last five years is testimony to its quest for excellence in service and prudent practices. Starting the journey with a single truck in 1958, as Vijay Transport, the company has come to be one of the most appreciated fleet operators in the country. Mahendra K Shah, MD, V-Trans India Ltd. said, that it was his company’s foresight and the ability to adapt to changes, which has made this possible. “We invested in a corporate makeover in 2001. Vijay Transport became V-Trans India. Two new divisions were added – V-Xpress (an express division) and V-Logis (a logistics division).” An independent entity, V-Trans provides hard freight transportation. V-Xpress offers express cargo (both surface and air) service, and V-Logis extends customised services including warehousing and inventory management solutions.

We wanted to be a single window solution provider to our customers for their entire logistics needs. We are happy that we were able to provide that,” asserted Shah. The corporate makeover was followed by a decision to expand the company’s operations. In terms of fleet management and reach, V-Trans India is present at over 400 locations across India. It is continuing to expand; make its services available to more and more people in the country. “We are capable of moving goods weighing over 12 lakh tonnes; worth Rs. 20,000 crore of over one-lakh customers per annum. This is possible because of our well-knit operation,” averred Shah. He added, “Close to 1,200 trucks are loaded everyday across India.” If this reflects on the business expanse of V-Trans India, efficiency is kept high despite more than 50 per cent of the company’s truck fleet being hired. Though owned by associates, these trucks operate as per the V-Trans India guidelines and follow the same ethics and brand value said Shah. The company’s own fleet consists of 160 trucks. These include Full Truck Load (FTL) and container load. The trucks are of Tata, Volvo Eicher, Ashok Leyland and BharatBenz make.

Banking on infra
Infrastructure is one of V-Trans India’s biggest asset. According to Shah, it is V-Tran’s strategic investments and tie-ups which help it to deliver high quality services. With stress on a modern infrastructure, V-Trans India has come to have spacious godowns and parking facilities across the length and breadth of the country. The company, for example, has a 35,000 sq. ft. warehouse with 30 loading bays and a parking space for atleast 70 trucks at Bengaluru. At Chennai, the company has a 28,000 sq. ft. premises with 24 loading bays. At Hyderabad, it has a 30,000 sq. ft. warehouse. At Aslali near Ahmedabad, V-Trans India has a hub of around 70,000 sq. ft. At Rudanagar near Rajkot, the company has a 7,500 sq. ft. warehouse. At Talegaon near Pune, the company has invested in a 22,000 sq. ft. premises. “We also have modern warehouses in north India at places like Jammu, Baddi, Ludhiana, Deharadun, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur and Lucknow measuring over 70,000 sq. ft.,” revealed Shah. The one at Vapi is a super hub according to him. Built on a large piece of land, this hub has platform level godowns with 24 loading bays. Its design and construction ensures dust free operation and smooth movement of vehicles. 

Article by: Rajesh Rajgor

We call it a super hub since the facility is capable of taking good care of the drivers and labourers. They can rest, and have good sanitation and eating facilities at their disposal,” remarked Shah. Hard freight surface transport is V-Trans India’s core strength. It is backed by the extensive network the company has come to invest in. The network is also quite resourceful, and supports the movement of small and sundry parcels, full and part trucks loads, ODC (Over Dimensional Cargo) and project transport. Over the years, the company, through V- Logis, has come to offer integrated 3PL solutions that adhere to the advanced TAPA (Transported Asset Protection Association) standards. Customised warehouse management systems (WMS) enables customers to manage and control their inventory online (on a real time basis). This could be also looked upon as a way to make the most out of the space the company has invested in. Stress is clearly on integration and a single window system to satisfy the needs of the clients. An example of this is the custom clearance facility V-Trans India offered to one of its client executing a solar power project in Gujarat for their imports, primary and secondary, including inland distribution of goods through trailers and containers, to various warehouses.

Adding value

Claims and disputes arising out of incidences like accidents are settled at once. Shah claimed that his is the only company that offers a multi-transit insurance policy for the goods that they ferry. This move, Shah reckoned, was employed at a time when insurance companies were wary of insuring goods through a transporter. However, acknowledging V-Trans India’s track record and standing in the market, National Insurance Company acceded to the request. Understanding the need for customers to track their goods online, Shah decided to engineer better value in the services his company offered. It was decided to launch a web-based program ‘e-cargo’. This software displays all the reports related to V-Trans’ clients. It also provides real-time information, about the location of the consignment to both the company as well as its clients. A dedicated team at the company’s corporate office in Mumbai, looks into the grievances of the clients. Complaints are addressed within 24 hours of being lodged. “We lay emphasis on the human aspect of our service. We ensure that our clients get more than what they expect,” said Shah. This policy applies to the employees of the company as well. They are given ample opportunities to grow and keep abreast with changing market dynamics, “We have created our own training and development centre, called ‘Pathshala’ at Ahmedabad. Where our employees are trained to develop and enhance their skills,” remarked Shah. The centre holds a four-days induction program every month and is equipped with two training rooms, a computer lab and a conference room. It also houses air-conditioned lodging and boarding facilities for 25 persons at a time.

Family driven

V-Trans India is a family owned company. It was founded by brothers K K Shah, J K Shah and V K Shah. The second generation is at the helm now, and includes Ashok K Shah, the chairman of the company; Mahendra K Shah, the Managing Director, and Hasmukh K Shah, the Executive Director and cousins. Drivers, are a critical part of the company’s operations, and as per Hasmukh Shah, they are an extension of the family in many ways. Not surprisingly, V-Trans has many second generation drivers. It is the respect the company gives to its drivers, apart from trust and good facilities, they seldom leave us, Shah stated. “We provide training to enhance their skills and make them aware about their health and personal care. We also ensure that before embarking on the trip they are briefed in detail about goods and the relevant documents, routes and check post formalities to avoid unnecessary delays and damages.” he added. There is no dearth of drivers at V-Trans India at a time when many others in the transportation industry are finding their growth models hampered by the scarcity of drivers. A look at V-Trans India’s operations, and it is clear, that it is all in the family! 

BorgWarner bets big on India

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Article by: Anirudh Raheja
Bullish about the Indian market, BorgWarner has been steadily expanding its reach in this market. The plan is to stay focused on drivetrain and engine products.BorgWarner’s manufacturing plant at Manesar near Delhi received the 2014 Supplier Quality Excellence Award from GM India in January 2015. The plant makes exhaust gas recirculation coolers for GM Thailand and Brazil. In India, the US-based BorgWarner operates through Joint Ventures (JVs) and wholly owned subsidiaries. Having brought out JVs like the one it has with the Murrugappa Group, BorgWarner has been steadily expanding its reach in the Indian market. This is in-line with the company’s goal to become a USD 15 billion company by 2020. This implies roughly doubling the company in a period of seven years from year 2013 to 2020, and with a growth rate of 10 per cent. According to James Verrier, Global CEO and President, the plan is to stay focused as a powertrain leader; to stay focused on drivetrain and engine products. “All of the products that we have (or will have) will enable the automakers to achieve fuel efficiency, emission standards and the driving performance they require,” said Verrier. In the last few years BorgWarner has spread its reach. Half of its business comes from Europe, while the other half is split equally between America and Asia. This equation is set to change in the next few years, with around 40 per cent coming from Europe and the rest coming equally from America and Asia.

Rising focus on Asia

Growth in Europe is slowing down, which has led to America and Asia emerging as two big growth markers. Asia, for BorgWarner, means China and India primarily. If this should explain why BorgWarner is keen to invest more in India, in new facilities, only time will tell. But the fact is, BorgWarner is looking at investing in capital equipments to support the products and programs it has been awarded. “You will see continued investments around technical infrastructure capabilities and production equipment to support growth and new launches, also in terms of new buildings. We will keep investing in India,” said Verrier. He added, “BorgWarner has always grown much faster than the market because of the adoption of products. We have done this for many years and Europe has been a large part of this growth. A lot of the adoption of our products is much more mainstream in Europe.” Similar to the diesel vehicles in the passenger car segment, a high percentage of gasoline vehicles in Europe have turbochargers. With tighter emission and fuel economy standards in Europe, BorgWarner products have been adopted and applied in European products. “Growth will continue to come from Europe, but at a slower pace. Technologies that have been successfully applied in Europe will find their way to Asia (India and China) and prove beneficial to the markets there,” said Verrier.

Technology & innovation

Producing technology for 6-speed, 9-speed and 10-speed transmissions, BorgWarner is keen to drive products to the next level. “A long time ago there were engines with only one turbo. Now there are engines with three or maybe four turbos. In the last year or two, we launched a product in the US market, to work with the transmission. It is used in stop-start technology for automatic transmission, and is termed as stop-start accumulator or a launch solenoid. It helps the transmission function smoothly and benefits the driver when in the stop-start mode,” said Verrier. Also, adding to the Borgwarner line will be products from acquisitions. The company recently acquired Gustav Wahler, which makes thermostats. These will be made in India according to Verrier. “Its going to be around the powertrain – things like thermo-management products, valve train products, air management products, etc. This is also the reason why we spend a lot on R&D,” he added.

Local engineering & sourcing

BorgWarner buys a lot of components from India and sends them to Europe and North America. From a component supply point of view, this will continue. Verrier said that BorgWarner may source housings for its turbochargers from India. He added, “One of the things that help us a lot is because we have a strong team on the ground in India. They develop local suppliers, to whom we will serve an opportunity to supply parts around the world.” Stressing on local production for local consumption, Verrier mentioned that, for India he would want to do engineering of products, make them locally to serve the Indian market. Derivatives of products in Europe, the products that BorgWarner will launch in India during the next couple of years will see application, engineering, designing, testing and validation at the local level. According to Verrier, conducting core R&D in India is the next step. “We want to walk before we run, but yes over the long haul I think the engineering is outstanding,” he remarked.

Mentioning that they work on everything – from 660 cc engine to 18-litre engines found in heavy commercial vehicles, Verrier stated that they see a strong trend to downsize engines by boosting them. “It is not just turbochargers, we do pretty small engine coolers. We also provide timing drive product for 660 cc engines in Japan,” he said. Interestingly, on a local or a global level, BorgWarner is very clear about offering ideas rather than defining what the engine configuration should be like. The engineers at the local level will be expected to offer optimisation technologies and products. Solutions like variable cam timing, EGR cooler, EGR valve, etc. Said Sudhir Chawla, COO, BorgWarner Emissions Systems India, “Gasoline engine emissions are still far off. The effect of which will be seen few years down the line. When the downsizing of gasoline engine is done. It is at this juncture that turbocharging and EGR cooler will be needed. Borgwarner is ready with products for 2021, and beyond. Especially knowing that BS 5 will come to India in 2021.”

Right technology at the right time

Attention will be on OEMs seeking a certain technology at a certain time. With emission norms becoming stricter and tighter, BorgWarner sees big opportunity. Irrespective of whether it emerges at the passenger car level or at the level of commercial vehicles. Weather it is the off-road segment or the gensets segment, Verrier says that BorgWarner sees a huge potential. Chawla opined that OEMs are setting up a base in India for exports; they will also buy locally developed parts. “It is not only the domestic demand, which is going to bring growth, but also come from OEMs supplying engines, powertrain and vehicles,” he added. A push is also expected at the fuel efficiency level. Demand from end customer for fuel economy will invite regulations according to Verrier. “The game will always be around improving fuel economy without increasing costs. You do get good fuel economy from hybrids, but it is expensive. A variable cam timing phaser or an EGR valve, or a turbocharger, gets one to two per cent better fuel economy, which is huge. The trade-off becomes very interesting and attractive.” Another trend in the merging markets is that once the customer really appreciates a technology to achieve fuel economy benefits, reliance on the supplier goes up. “We are not expected to design their engine completely, but OEMs certainly want us to understand their whole air management system and provide a solution accordingly,” said Verrier.

Growth

Growth at BorgWarner will be largely organic in nature. Products in its portfolio will drive the growth that the company expects said Verrier. He added, “There will be some acquisitions along the way, but they will be governed by technology.” Though BorgWarner has been adding plants in Mexico and Eastern Europe, the most growth is expected to come from India and China. Said Verrier, “China is important as it is one of the biggest markets in the world. It is important for us to support our global customers. They need us in China just as they need us in Europe. The growth rate in India is very strong and it will be among the top three markets in the world in next 10 years.” Expecting growth to emerge from passenger vehicles as well as commercial vehicles, Verrier said that manual transmission will account for half the transmission market, the other half will consist of the quick growing dual clutch transmission. Automatics, said Verrier, will move towards more ratios apart from breaking into Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). “India has an opportunity to move to dual clutch technology. It was a good step for India to move to the first level of automated manuals. We will see a long term shift away from conventional manual to some form of automatics,” he concluded.