Future of truck & bus radials


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

Story by:

Satiish K

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

Higher operating efficiency

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

Advantage TBR

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

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Operating costs

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


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

Rising radialisation

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

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

Engineering radials

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

Tyre development & testing

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

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

Eicher Trucks and Buses appoints new dealer

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

JCB showcases material handling equipment

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

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

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

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

JCB Loadall

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

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

JCB Robot

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

JCB Super Loader

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

Domestic stability to drive growth

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

Gold rush

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

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

Photographs: DC Design

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

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

Stunning looking

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

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


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

On the move

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

game changer in gold’s own country.

Continental launches high-tread mileage tyres

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In a bid to further strengthen its position in the TBR segment, Continental India has launched high-tread mileage tyres.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

Designed specifically for high tread mileage (within the recommended GVWs), Continental India has launched two new commercial vehicle tyres for highway application. Called the HSR2 α and HDR2 α (10.00R 20), the tyres are expected to help the company to further increase its reach and strengthen its position in the Truck and Bus Radial (TBR) segment. The tyres have been armed with cooler running compound and robust tread design structure to suit the needs of fleet operators. They have been engineered to enable the fleet operators to optimise their operations by achieving lower driving costs. Entering the Indian market in 2011 with the acquisition of Modi Tyres for Euro 18.5 million, Continental India has been producing and distributing bias and radial ply truck and bus tyres as well as radial passenger car tyres out of its facilities at Modipuram and Partapur. Like many other tyre manufacturers in India, Continental has made significant investment in manufacturing.

The pick up in rural expenditure because of a good monsoon and a strong replacement driven sales coupled with rising maturation levels is expected to help Continental to increase its market reach. To expand its reach, Continental has been appointing new dealers and commissioning new showrooms. It recently commissioned its first commercial vehicle tyre showroom at Rudrapur in Uttarakhand. Said Mallika Rawal, National Marketing Manager, that Rudrapur is a vital transportation and industrial hub.

New Tellus hydraulic lubes from Shell

L to R Akhil Jha, Vice President Technical, Shell Lubricants India and Hans Gerdes, Shell Tellus Brand Manager unveiling the Shell Tellus S2 MX and Shell Tellus S2 VX copy

The two hydraulic oils, Tellus S2 MX and Tellus S2 VX, that Shell has introduced, claim to deliver optimum value to the users.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

Shell Lubricants has launched Shell Tellus S2 MX and Tellus S2 VX hydraulic oils in India. India marks the first market where these two hydraulic oils have been launched. Expected to be introduced in markets like Singapore, Thailand, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Germany, Australia and France progressively, the two hydraulic oils add to the long legacy of Tellus brand which traces its origin to 1947, the year India became Independent. Marking a successful journey of 67 years, Tellus has sprang a family of hydraulic oils over time. The oils find use in a diverse range of industrial applications including the tipping mechanism of tippers, in construction and mining equipment, and in machines used to make automotive parts. Revealed Hans Gerdes, Global Brand Manager B2B Lubricants, “50 per cent of the industrial oil demand includes hydraulic oils.” “Over 3.8 billion litres of hydraulic oil is consumed every year the world over,” he added. India was chosen for the world premiere of the two oils – S2 MX is aimed at stationary applications and S2 VX is aimed at mobile applications, since India and China are the growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s hydraulic oil consumption. Of the 40 per cent consumed, India accounts for 4 per cent. Expected to post a strong growth at a time China is moderating according to Hans, the oils have been developed to enable equipment operators to select the one that will help to arrive at an optimum value.

Optimum Value

The two Tellus oils mark the upgradation of the existing range to keep up with the change the industry is experiencing. Engine sizes are shrinking, reservoir sizes are shrinking, density is growing, operating temperatures are rising, and there’s less time for oils to shed the impurities and air that they have picked up during operation. Averred Akhil Jha, Vice President Technical, Shell Lubricants India, that the oils support higher energy efficiency. Claiming that Tellus stood the most stressful Bosch Rexroth CRDI 90245 test, Jha said, “The oils offer improved wear protection, longer oil life, and greater efficiency. Offer CFZG performance, and helps the pump to last longer.” Stressing on the fact that it is the pump in a hydraulic system that incurs the most maintenance cost, Jha mentioned that their concept was about TCO. Claimed to offer four times faster air release in comparison to other hydraulic oils, Shell Tellus S2 MX and Shell Tellus S2 VX are upgraded formulations of Tellus S2 M and S2 V respectively. Mentioned Hans, “Tellus S2 hydraulic oils have set industry benchmark for dependable lubricants. Changes to equipment technology and operating conditions in recent years have placed increasing demands on the hydraulic oil. It is because of this that we have developed two upgraded formulations of Shell Tellus S2 hydraulic oils to deliver dramatically improved performance.” In India, the company caters to OEMs like Eaton, ABB, Alfa Laval, Toshiba, Danielli, Fives, Windsor, Rexroth and others. The company also caters to most construction and mining equipment manufacturers.

For mining equipment

The S2 VX multigrade hydraulic oil is aimed at construction and mining equipment with attention to their changing nature. Said Jha, that the new hydraulic oils are fully compatible with previous generation Shell Tellus S2 hydraulic oil and most other mineral oil based fluids in the market. It will be easy for customers to introduce the new formulation to their equipment.” He drew attention to the Tellus range playing a role of successful lubricant partner in some of the world’s largest projects; from construction of massive tunnels for the Beijing metro to helping one of the largest diggers in the world like Komatsu. “Shell Tellus range of Hydraulic Oils have also been used in aiding two robotic arms – ‘Romeo’ and ‘Juliet’; to carry out complicated processes on the Ferrari’s engine production line, among others,” averred Akhil. Hans, stressing upon India as the world’s fourth mining intensive country, said that the use of Tellus in equipment would help to improve efficiency and reduce downtime. “At Shell, we are looking at playing a role in safety,” said Akhil. Apart from helping to address the instances of rising oxidation in equipment due to their rising working hours and adverse operating conditions, the S2 VX promises to help maintain thermal stability.

Claimed to deliver TOST (Turbine Oil Stability Test) life of over 5’000 hours, three times that of typical industry and OEM limits, and double that of the previous generation of Shell Tellus S2 (2’500 hours), the Tellus S2 MX and S2 VX, with excellent filterability, consistent water separation and improved air release, promise to help equipment meet or exceed its design capabilities and enhance equipment productivity, thereby increasing the time between maintenance cycles. They will be available in pack sizes of 209 litres and 20 litres.

Optimising transport efficiency

Loading in MLL Trucks copy  Trucks with MLL Logo - 1 copyMr. Sushil Rathi copy

From being yet another business vertical of the Mahindra Group, Mahindra Logistics has come to gather a name for itself.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

Mahindra Logistics Limited (MLL) debuted in the year 2000. The plan behind its establishment was to eradicate inefficiencies in the logistics sector. What began as yet another business vertical of the Mahindra Group has come to gather a name for itself as a full-fledged 3PL service provider, that currently stands at revenues of Rs.2000 crore plus. Targeting a revenue of Rs.6000 crore by the year 2020, the company, in less than a decade and a half, has come to have a network of 1500 business associates that are currently sourcing 25,000 trucks per month, each of them designed as per the CMVR guidelines. As a full fledged, integrated third party logistics services and people transport solution provider, MLL is operating on the basis of an asset light model. The company in primarily into 3PL business managed majorly by IT-based solutions. “Owning trucks directly limits a company’s scope of serving a diversified set of clients. The 3PL business model offers flexibility and scalability to us. We can offer customised solutions to the clients,” reveals Sushil Rathi, Chief Operating Officer, Mahindra Logistics Limited. It is such an approach to offer solutions as per the customer needs that has enabled the company to maintain long-term relationships in a competitive market place.

Understanding the needs

With a whopping 95 per cent of the cargo in India transported by road, the spending on logistics business is claimed to be as high as 7.1 per cent of the national GDP. Rathi is of the opinion that rather than forwarding their own selling point, they understand the needs of the customers, and their areas of concern. Under the existing business model, MLL works as an aggregator with third party suppliers. Third party suppliers are addressed as ‘business associates’, and are the direct asset owners. The ‘business associates’ may work with the company on a dedicated basis or a needful basis. For a precise focus in offering customised solutions, MLL’s business model is divided into two tiers – supply chain management and transport solutions. Under supply chain management, the company, till date, has served over 200 clients ranging across five verticals including auto and engineering, auto outbound, ecommerce, pharma and consumer, and bulk. Working closely with leading ecommerce players like Flipkart, Myntra, Amazon and Snapdeal, MLL has also come to associate itself with auto majors and suppliers under its auto and engineering, and auto outbound vertical. Adds Rathi, that MLL in the next 12 months will be looking to expand its reach in areas like coastal shipping and cold chain.

Transporting autos

In order to expand horizons, MLL has joined hands with Mumbai-based vehicle carrier solution provider, Indian Vehicle Carriers Pvt. Ltd. The two inked a joint venture in 2014 called 2×2 Logistics. The JV has been catering to the transportation needs of automobile manufacturers in India. As part of the JV, MLL owns over 125 trucks that have been specially customised to facilitate vehicle movement. “Simpler solutions might work but not everywhere. It is therefore important not only important to bridge the gap between demand and supply, allowing assets to freely operate while we also continue to evolve with the customers” states Rathi. With Mahindra, Hyundai, Renault, Nissan, Toyota, General Motors in the four wheeler space as MLL’s prime customers, and Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India, Hero Group, Yamaha and Bajaj in the two wheeler space as the prime customers of the joint venture company, MLL has come to look upon the business as the one that continues to evolve. With the need for specialised services felt, MLL has been able to execute orders that are complex in nature. One such order executed was the movement of vehicle body shells for Mahindra from Nashik to Haridwar in customised truck carriers. Avers Rathi, that for the job, the truck carriers were customised to be able to carry 10 body shells per vehicle over the earlier eight. This resulted in a saving of 25 per cent for the automaker. “To maintain a healthier relationship with our business associates, it is important to utilise, and efficiently, customised trucks,” quips Rathi. MLL has also introduced a fleet of CNG powered trucks on the Nashik-Mumbai route in order to carry high volume low weight cargo for M&M. This has enabled significant savings on freight cost for customers while reducing its carbon footprint.

Making IT work in logistics

With IT solutions turning out be an integral part of many business models, MLL has come to setup a centralised control tower at Mumbai to manage its logistics operations across the country. It is among the most recent initiatives taken by the company. Stresses Rathi, that it has enabled them to provide end-to-end visibility to customers; from the manufacturing stage, supply chain stage to the last mile. “Since all vehicles in India are still not completely GPS enabled, under control tower operations, we do 24×7 tracking of all vehicle movement. Whether GPS enabled or manually controlled, to track every consignment and vehicle movement across India is a task in itself.” If there would be a delay, and caused by a road challenge, the data for the same is collected and the customer is updated through SMS or email in real time. This is done to maintain transparency and visibility of the operation. The Mahindra Integrated Logistics Execution System (MILES) that the company has introduced is like an ERP. It is tailored to meet the needs and address the challenges faced during transportation. “MILES has the capacity to plan the load, route and do the entire tracking and invoicing; to provide updates directly to the customer,” Rathi informs. The system also shows the position of the consignment in real time. The same can be checked by the customer online. “If there is any change in the estimated time of arrival of the consignment, an update is sent to the customer in real time” he adds. MLL has also developed a mobile app. through which real time updates can be given to customers. Riding on its IT-based solutions, MLL is also undertaking transport depth management programs. Under this, the entire transportation for a particular plant of the company is carried out on an ongoing basis by deploying IT services. Such services have led to decent savings for JSW Steel at their Dolvi plant and for Dr. Reddy’s Lab for few of their plants according to Rathi.

Warehousing, Value Added Services and more

As a 3PL service provider, MLL manages five million sq.ft worth of warehouse space in the country. The warehouses are spread across different locations in India, and are dedicated or of the multi-user and built-to-suit type. They not only help to achieve optimal efficiencies, they also enable MLL to offer value added service for its clients. “We have been offering services like kitting and bundling of various promotional items . We also do kitting and sequencing of components before feeding it into the line for auto companies. Along side, we do tube and tyre fitment and also bundle them into a kit for a leading tyre manufacturer,” explains Rathi. Aspiring to expand its reach in the international markets, MLL acquired a major stake in Lords Freight India Pvt. Ltd. in 2014. This has enabled it to enhance its capacities in international freight forwarding space for both ocean and airways, and for imports as well as exports. MLL has also come to offer services like ocean freight and airfreight. These and many other services like project cargo services add value to the company’s portfolio.

Uplifting drivers; business associates

Upliftment of drivers and business associates is an important part of MLL’s business strategy. Opines Rathi, that if the drivers are not efficient and well taken care of, the importance of providing various solutions is lost. Emphasis is on paying the drivers salaries that are on par with the industry standards. PF and ESIC services are also offered. Regular driver training is imparted by conducting such programs regularly. “Almost everything – from safe driving habits, cultural issues and health check ups, are undertaken as this can help to change the behavioural pattern of not just of the drivers, but also of those that are involved in the business, states Rathi. MLL is also offering scholarships to the children of the drivers; it is also supporting them in case of a financial difficulty. Adds Rathi, “Every fortnight, MLL asks its managers to hold driver meets and understand the challenges and problems they face. Efforts to address them are immediately undertaken.” Working closely with associates, MLL has been encouraging them to enhance their quality of services. Says Rathi, that they also conduct programs like Mahindra MPower with Mahindra Truck and Bus division, and invest in their training at IIM Ahmedabad. This, he adds, uplifts their capabilities of doing business with us. Touching upon GST, and how it would affect a company like theirs, Rathi expresses that warehousing will transform into smaller and bigger ones over the need for many warehouses across the country. “It would also allow the hub and spoke model to gain momentum, reducing considerably the overall distribution cost, and in turn facilitating a reduction in the turnaround time,” he adds. With GST, Rathi opines that the amount of inventory that needs to be managed will reduce. A lot of hub to hub movement will take place through multi-axle trucks. Truck movement across India will also be smoother. The transformation of the CV sector that the government is planning, including the implementation of tighter emission norms will further elevate the efficiency of the industry, Rathi states. He concludes, “In the long run, safety will increase.”