Giant pull

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Volvo’s flagship FH marks a big change, and is designed to exert a giant pull.

The FH product-line has been the flagship of Volvo Trucks for a long, long time. Powered by engines as big as 16-litres, it is the FH that qualifies for the name of Globetrotter among the various other commercial vehicles by Volvo. With the ‘H’ in the model name denoting high deck, the driver of the FH truck sits roughly at a height of one-and-a-half storey. If he or she would stand besides the truck, the door handle would be still above. So, when the opportunity to drive the behemoth presented itself, it was not to be taken lightly. Especially when the new FH presents itself as advanced, driver-friendly and conducive to business. Climb up and settle down behind the wheel. The view ahead is panoramic. The new design has upright and slimmer A-pillars. This ensures a better view of the surroundings. The elephant ear-like rear view mirrors are also slimmer than that of the earlier FH. Rather than just the mirror glass, it is the complete unit of the new FH that moves. In a way, they reflect the thoughts of the Volvo Trucks design director Rikard Orell, that it is the design that ties everything together. According to Orell, the slimmer rear view mirrors ensure better visibility.

Orell and Asok George, responsible for the exterior design of the truck, ensured that the familiarity of the FH truck was not lost. Neither did the new FH lose the Volvo flavour. Thus, the A-pillars may offer more room inside, they are also a part of a stance that is more dynamic and presents a sense of speed even when standing still. The new FH, according to Orell, is a ‘race car of a truck.’ The pillars also reduce wind resistance. Drawing upon five criteria – safety, driver appeal, uptime, fuel efficiency and productivity, the new FH, according to Siddharth Kirtane, Head-Marketing, Volvo Trucks (India), is the first truck in India to be equipped with 24-inch diameter wheels (and 12R24 tyres). “These reduce tractive effort on the tyres and increase road grip,” he said. Volvo worked with Michelin to develop the 24-inch diameter tyres. Michelin is indigenising them.

Aimed at operators like J H Parabia, JCC and others that are a part of the Hydraulic Trailer Operators Association (HTOA) and specialise in transporting Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC) with the use of special (multi-axle modular) trailers manufactured by companies like Goldhofer, Tritec and Cometto, the new FH’ premium look makes a lasting impression. Displaying fit and finish levels that are comparable to luxury cars, the new heavy haulage truck (puller), has a 200-tonne GCW (Coupled to suitable hydraulic axle trailers and subject to special approval from MoRTH) over the earlier model’s 150-tonne GCW. The FH 520 puller thus comes with a strengthened chassis, and a front axle that is rated at 10-tonne over the earlier model’s 9-tonne front axle. The rear tandem axle (with reinforced bogie suspension) is rated at 33-tonne over the earlier FH’s 32-tonne rating. New to the enhanced cooling system is the transmission intercooler.

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Under run protection comes with an ability to absorb 60 per cent energy. More than that of the earlier FH. Equipped with N4 hub reduction mechanism (four planetary gears) over the three planetary gear mechanism of the earlier generation FH, the new truck evolved from five million hours of engineering and design. A part of a highly sensitive business area where cargo damage can delay projects worth thousands of crores and lead to costly repercussions, the new FH was subjected to 5,00,000 hours of testing and simulation. If the tall exhaust pipe stands out, it was done to ensure that it is not subjected to damage while traveling over unforgiving terrain.

The first three ratios of the 14-speed manual transmission are tall. A piano switch on the gear shifter enables the selection of higher or lower ratio in each of the seven gears including the crawler gear. A toggle switch on the gear shifter facilitates travel into the ‘upper’ (4th, 5th and 6th) gear range and back. Exhaust (engine) brake lever with three positions is stalk mounted on the steering column besides the wiper stalk. In ‘E’, it automatically engages every time the brake is applied. Cruise control switches are on the steering wheel. There are also switches for Bluetooth telephone pairing! Seat belts are in red. Out on the old Bangalore-Madras Highway, it was clear that the first three ratios (not counting the crawler) are designed to provide raw tractive force. Imagine hauling 200-tonne ODC over a variety of surfaces, even across river beds. Quite often, bridges are unable to support such high loads. The higher set of gears is a mix of traction and speed. A green band on the tacho (1050-1600 rpm) marks the area where most fuel efficiency could be derived.

The day-time running lights, a part of the vertical head lamp cluster of the new FH, draw the attention of other road users. Cars and SUVs going past look tiny in comparison. The FH 520 puller stands out. The 13-litre Volvo D13A520 six-cylinder engine, an example of brute power. Producing 2500 Nm of torque in the range of 1050 and 1450 rpm, the engine ironically does not come across as raw or edgy. The level of noise which filters into the cabin is negligible, almost akin to a car, making it easy to converse. The truck felt refined and easy to pilot throughout the drive. For the kind of speeds that this monster can attain, the power steering offers good feedback. Making for an comfortable driving experience, the FH reflected on Orell’s comment that it is the design that ties everything together. Executing the tough task of transporting ODC of companies like ONGC and BHEL, Kirtane opined that the Indian ODC operators are quite scientific in their work.

Reconnaissance is done. The route is ascertained after a detailed survey. Prior permissions are obtained. Attributing the lack of clearly defined rules or practices where operators couple two or three lower capacity pullers to transport an ODC, Kirtane expressed that 1,200 to 1,300 pullers would have been sold untill now in India. He added, “The market peaked in 2010 at 250 numbers. 100 units more than the average numbers sold.” He added,“Last year was bad, and we sold 20 units. This year, in the first quarter, we have already sold 10 units.” According to Kirtane, the 280 hp puller market is an estimated 300 to 400 units. The higher hp market is in the region of 200 to 300 numbers.


In a market that is smaller and tougher than the lower hp pullers, Volvo is working on the introduction of their Dynafleet telematic solutions platform. If the company’s strong presence in the deep mining areas has helped it to engineer a strong aftermarket (service support) network, the Dynafleet platform is expected to enable Volvo Trucks India to help its clients to achieve higher productivity gains. Dynafleet is currently being applied on a pilot basis to iron out any teething issues that may arise. It is driven by the premise that even a small increase in fuel efficiency can lead to large savings. Untill the Dynafleet finds its way to the FH 520, it may be safe to say that this behemoth is advanced, driver friendly and makes a strong business case for itself.

ABS & Bus Code promotes safety

Article by: Team CV

The enforcement of ABS and revised Bus Code in commercial vehicles will enhance safety. It will also lead to challenges like price increase.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has amended the Motor Vehicle Act to make Anti-Blokier system (ABS) – anti-lock braking system in English, mandatory. ABS prevents the brake from locking when applied. The amount of pressure applied on each wheel is electronically modulated, and prevents them from locking. If they would lock, the result would be loss of control and an accident. As per MoRTH’s amendment of the Motor Vehicle Act, ABS is mandatory for trucks classified in the N3 (above 12-tonnes GVW) category and buses in the M3 category (above 5-tonnes GVW and carrying nine passengers). It means the new trucks and buses will have to be compulsorily fitted with ABS at the time of manufacturing. The proposed amendment has been implemented from April 1, 2015. Vehicles already plying on the road have to be fitted with ABS by October end. The law in itself is not entirely new. Since 2006, ABS was made mandatory in vehicles carrying petroleum and explosive items, including trailers in the 40- and 49-tonne range. Most CV OEMs have offered ABS as an optional feature in India ever since. It was easy for us to apply ABS to articulated vehicles and hazardous goods carrying vehicles because a rule was already in place since 2006 mentioned Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) spokesperson.

To purchase a commercial vehicle fitted with an ABS system at the factory should not pose an issue. The issue lies with the fitment of ABS on commercial vehicles that are already on the road by the end of October 2015. A clarity on this is necessary, and if the fitment will be done at the dealer level, or at a level where a braking system manufacturer will train a well equipped private workshop to install ABS. The issue of certification will need to be answered, and until then, there will be some chaos. DICV spokesperson clarified that ABS is already present in their heavy duty range of trucks, and to implement it in their other vehicles is therefore an easy task. Of the opinion that the mandatory fitment of ABS is an important step towards increasing safety on Indian roads, the spokesperson stated that their customers will find the 4S/3M as well as the 4S/4M configuration of sensors and modulators from Wabco fitted. In India, the mention of commercial vehicle braking systems bring to the fore two tier suppliers – Wabco and Knorr Bremse. Both have ABS technology with them, and an ability to deliver them to a level where it will suit the needs and wants of the Indian market. Said P Kaniappan, Managing Director of Wabco India, “The decision to make ABS mandatory was long overdue. ABS as a technology has proved that it helps to avoid accidents by reducing the possibility of skidding under panic braking situations. It also reduces the stopping distance significantly.” Drawing attention to the fact that eight per cent of the world’s fatalities occur in India even though India has one per cent of the total commercial vehicles in the world, Jacques Esculier, Chairman & CEO, Wabco Holdings Inc., averred, “ABS is a major cornerstone to enhance safety. It is exactly the reason why it has been featuring on the trucks today.”

ABS is already a standard fitment

ABS is already a standard fitment of Volvo trucks. Expressed Siddharth Kirtane, Head-Marketing, Volvo Trucks (India), that it is actually difficult to remove an aggregate (component) that has gone into the vehicle right at the design stage. “Our trucks are fitted with ABS as standard,” he added. Echoing Kirtane, the spokesperson of Volvo Buses India also said that their buses come with ABS as standard since 2005. All 4×2 Volvo buses are thus equipped with 4S/3M (4 sensors and 3 modulators) configuration. All 6×2 buses are equipped with 6S/3M (6 sensors and 3 modulators) configuration. The mandate, the spokesperson explained, in case of buses is limited to those that are delivered after April 1, 2015. It does not apply to buses that are already plying in the road. ABS will undoubtedly bolster safety in trucks and buses. It will reduce accidents due to loss of control, and pave way for related technologies like ESP and ACC. Mandatory fitment of ABS will add to the cost of the vehicle. Even at the trailer level, manufacturers from the organised sector have began recommending their customers to go for ABS-enabled trailers. This, they claim could drive costs up by 22 to 25 per cent. Most trailers are fitted with ABS kits from by tier 1 suppliers like Wabco. The fitment of these on trailers however requires an amount of skill and calibration. With ABS made mandatory on trucks, the need for ABS-enabled trailers is only expected to go up. It is quite possible that the locked wheels of a trailer under braking could lead to a loss of control even though the truck is equipped with ABS. With buses it is easier due to their construction claimed an industry expert.

Article by: Team CV

Not fully convinced yet

Transporters don’t seem to be as convinced yet, and even though they agree that ABS will improve safety. Inder Bir Singh, Director, ABC Transport Corporation said that knowledge of the ground reality is paramount while working towards improving safety on Indian roads. “ABS is a good feature but there are other more important areas which the industry is terribly lacking in, and which needs to be addressed. Take driver training for instance. With a negligible amount of driving training schools for HCVs in this country, people who are new to the industry join as drivers and helpers and they take their lessons on highways, which is very dangerous,” Singh explained. He stressed on the need for more driving schools that impart quality training and knowledge. Singh, like many fellow fleet operators will have to go to the nearest dealer to get ABS fitted on his vehicle by the end of October. Admittedly, there will be cost incurred, and the same will be passed on to the end customer.


J T Rajashekhara, CEO, SRS Travels, opined that the law is going against the transporters who continue to face numerous hurdles. He said, “Before making any changes, amendments and passing ordinances, authorities need to take into consideration not only body builders and manufacturers but also the end-users who can make them aware of the ground realities. Apart from being a business we are also representatives of the traveling public.” Bangalore-based SRS Travels has close to 5,500 vehicles. Of these, 2,000 are buses. Pointing at the need to maintain ABS, and cater to its tear and wear, Rajashekhara added, “The longevity of ABS can only be determined over the next year or so. Even it’s efficiency, or whether it will need any technology upgradation, etc.” Like Inder Bir Singh, Rajashekhara also mentioned that ABS will not solve the issue of safety alone. Driver training should be conducted with equal zest.

Revised Bus Code

The implementation of Bus Code will mean that bus builders will have to obtain an accreditation certificate that will serve as a proof of their capabilities to adhere with safety norms before building a bus. The implementation of the national bus body building code is to ensure that buses are built in accordance with the stipulated standards of safety, design and comfort. Confirmed a senior official from the transport department, that the new code referred to as AIS: 052 (Revision I)-2008 is mandatory for all companies and owners involved in bus body building of vehicles having seating capacity of 13 and more passengers, with all bus types being covered under it. Until now the practice has been to build a body and then approach the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) for approval. Under the new code, the manufacturer will have to first submit the design of the body to ARAI. Only after getting an approval will he be able to build it. “The new bus code will restructure all the independent coach builders and they will now be evaluated both on production capacity as well as capability,” averred Jain.

For G V Redkar, Head Marketing, Antony Garages Pvt. Ltd. (AGPL), the new bus code is a welcome change. “It will bring about standardisation in the market. Buses are being run in a haphazard way. Over 35 to 40 passengers travel in one bus with no safety measures in place. Somewhere we have to draw the line and focus on safety,” he expressed. He added, “We are taking this as a challenge. For those having the requisite infrastructure and technical requirements, like us, I don’t think it is a difficult task. However yes, players in the unorganised market who do not meet the infrastructure requirements will be affected.”Antony Garages builds between 120 and 150 bus bodies every month. Over the last year-and-half, the company has been following all bus code rules. “With all our systems in place, what we need to do is get certification from ARAI, which is not a difficult task,” mentioned Redkar.

Bus Code will help streamline the supply chain

While some laud the code, there are those who are of the opinion that the implementation of Bus code will increase the coach building time. It will be anywhere between 2-3 months as the new design will have to be approved. This will involve tests like the roll-over test. However, once the bus design with aggregate or components is homologated, the next time, if an aggregate or a component differs from the one before (different make or design of seats for example), only those aggregates or components will have to be sent to the authority for approval. This could take anywhere between 15 to 20 days. Chances are also that this time will be saved of the coach builder who buys out aggregates or components from vendors that have received ARAI certification for their products. Said one coach builder, “Those materials that I use in my bus, and have been sourced from vendors that have been already approved by ARAI, will not need to be put to a test again. My vendor list will be thus curtailed, and instead of 100 I will now have 60 vendors that will supply approved materials.” Piyush Uniyal, GM – Business Development, RMG Polyvinyl India (Wonderfloor) said, “The Bus Code will help smaller coach builders grow. It will also help us to grow since coach builders will have to buy approved products.
Opined Kulwant Singh Wilkhu, Director, Sutlej Motors Ltd. (SML), “The new bus code is a challenge for all bus body builders in India. However it will be easy to follow and join the change, than oppose and kill the business.”
Manufacturers of buses like Volvo, DICV, Scania, Marcopolo, and others from the organised sector may not have much to worry about. The spokesperson of Volvo Buses India confidently replied that they have been adhering to the bus body code much before it was introduced. Even Krister Thulin, Presales and Marketing Director, Scania Commercial Vehicles India, had the same sentiment to share. He said that his company has been adhering to the bus code. Scania began local manufacture of buses at its plant near Bangalore last month. K Srinivas Reddy, MD, Veera Vahana Udyog, “All our buses are Bus Code compliant except the sleeper coach range.” Reddy drew attention to the fact that regional coach builders like Karur have taken a lead in complying with the bus code. Reddy claimed that Karur has been instrumental in bringing together other coach builders to form an association and get their products to comply with the bus code regulation.

For an estimated 2,000 players from the unorganised market, the going will be tough at least for some time. They will have to stream line their vendor base, bring about a big change in the materials they use. The bus code clearly mentions the use of flame retardant materials. Investing in new ways of working will very likely drive the cost of coach building up. Interestingly, apart from the Bus Code, MoRTH has also amended the form 22A to be issued by the fabricator. Earlier the form used to have only information like brand name of the vehicle, chassis number and engine number. It will now have brand name, chassis number, engine number, bus body builder accreditation certificate number (with date of validity) and bus body type approval certificate number, which will ensure strict adherence to the new code.

The enforcement of ABS and revised Bus Code in commercial vehicles will enhance safety no doubt. It will also give rise to new challenges, at least for some time to come. It will also take some time to understand how the end customer (the company whose goods are ferried, and the person who travels on the bus) profits from the change. In the short term, he is likely to face the burden of the cost increase incurred by the CV buyer.

Jalan Transolutions explores opportunities

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

Principal support

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

The road travelled

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

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

The road ahead

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

Skid-Steer is set to ensure new found versatility

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

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

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

Global yet local

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

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

Crab machine

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


Growing demand

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

Smart cities and urban mobility collectively are needs of the hour

Article by: Anirudh Raheja

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

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

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

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

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

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.