Cummins banks on advanced powertrain technologies

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0051.JPG

Looking at India as an important market, Cummins Inc. is banking on advanced powertrain technologies to be a provider of choice.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Cummins Inc. announced an investment of Rs.300 crore towards the development of BSVI technologies and expansion of manufacturing facilities at Phaltan. The company also announced an investment of Rs.1000 crore to Rs.1500 crore towards the setting up of a technology centre at Pune. Claimed to be the biggest among the technology centres the company has, the one at Pune will go on stream by the end of this calender year, or by early next year. Hinting at a transformation that is taking place at Cummins India, and in-line with the global growth strategy of the parent, a conscious alignment of product portfolio is on to make it ‘fit-for-market’. With an eye on the future, the company is keen to provide a host of integrated solutions, with an objective to be the ‘powertrain provider of choice’. Cummins, according to Srikanth Padmanabhan, President, Cummins Engine Business, is concentrating on R&D and electrification of powertrains for commercial vehicles. Describing India as a key market for the company, Padmanabhan mentioned that focus will be on energy diversity, connectivity and automation. He drew attention to disruptive market drivers that have stemmed from a spate of regulatory compulsions. These are compelling enough to lower the carbon footprint, and apply relevant technology, he stated.

1st Image_03.Photograph Srikanth Padmanabhan copy

Srikanth Padmanabhan, President, Cummins Engine Business, stressed on R&D and electrification of commercial vehicle powertrains.

Advanced powertrain technologies

Leveraging its global know-how and the capabilities it has built in India, Cummins will offer advanced powertrain technologies by tapping new opportunities in the area of engines and components. With the advantage of scale, the company is looking at working closely with its clients to help them to successful tide over new regulations. Also in the manufacture of turbo and aftertreatment systems, Cummins wants to pass the benefits to its customers by leveraging its capabilities. Said Padmanabhan, “We will continue to focus on BSVI and alternate propulsion for reasons of fuel efficiency and total cost of ownership.” He touched upon the SuperTruck I and SuperTruck II, and explained that additional work on the simulation of the engine would be done.

2nd Image_X15 copy

Cummins will offer advanced powertrain technologies by tapping new opportunities in the area of engines and components.

In 2010, the US Department of Energy (DoE) initiated the SuperTruck programme to improve long-haul Class 8 vehicle freight efficiency, a metric that uses payload, weight and fuel efficiency. The two are defined as tonne-miles per gallon. Three projects under the SuperTruck programme are underway. One is a Cummins-Peterbilt project. The other two involve Daimler Trucks North America and Navistar Inc. Of these, the SuperTruck II project is the five-year USD 160 million program that will see four teams participate. They are the same, which participated in the SuperTruck I project. The teams will work to exceed the results achieved in the SuperTruck I project. The participants spent USD 78.4 million, a combination of federal funding and their own money on the SuperTruck I project, and achieved higher freight efficiency, mile per gallon, thermal efficiency including waste heat recovery, weight reduction and aerodynamic drag co-efficient reduction. SuperTruck II is looking for a 100 per cent increase in freight-hauling efficiency and a new engine-efficiency standard of 55 per cent, a 31 per cent increase from a 2009 baseline measurement. While freight efficiency is the amount of freight carried and miles traveled for each gallon of fuel consumed, engine efficiency, known as Brake Thermal Efficiency (BTE), is the ratio of fuel energy converted to power output at the engine’s crankshaft. The industry average BTE for a 2009 Class 8 engine was 42 per cent.

IMG_6616 copy

To be a powertrain provider of choice, Cummins is expanding its business and capabilities in India.

Success

Applying the technological success of SuperTruck projects to real world CVs, Cummins released X15 engine series, a new diesel engine piston design and turbocharging system for Volvo Trucks North America. A redesigned 13-litre N13 engine is claimed to use several improvements derived from the SuperTruck project. These include new control logic and a high-efficiency combustion system. Mentioned Padmanabhan, “The focus is to leverage electronics in the interest of connected technologies and intelligence.” In the realm of powertrain integration, the company is looking to integrate the engine, transmission, axles, and brakes. The effort is to offer higher value. Connected software, over the air calibrations, diagnostics and prognostics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics (DA) are also the key focus areas of the company. Stressing upon the influence of changing emission norms on powertrain developments, Brett Merritt, General Manager, Global On-Highway Engine Business, said, “We want to be application driven in niche markets.” Continuing to invest in engines (of over 13-litre displacement) for leading markets, Merritt averred that the B-Series engines are selling the most. “It (B-Series engine) has a large marketshare in South America, North America, India and China,” he informed. Modifying the B-Series engine to accommodate a four-cylinder version for light-duty cycles, Cummins is keen to offer tailored solutions. In China, the company builds a 12-litre engine as the power and torque does not justify the use of a 15-litre engine. With the evolution of engines increasingly linked with emissions, technology and utilisation are taking precedence over costs. “There is a need to set aside future technologies as they will start to play out in the next five years,” Merritt mentioned.

Jennifer Rumsey, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Cummins Inc.,”The Eaton JV will help address the demand for carbon footprint reduction and fuel efficiency rise.

Electrification

Working on fully-electric powertrains with an intention to offer them by 2019, Cummins will introduce range extended engines next year. These, according to Padmanabhan, will be for buses, pick-ups and delivery vans. Looking at both, a battery-electric and a range extender, the company, as far as components are concerned, is focusing on aligning materials. To attain the vision of a fully-electric powertrain, it is concentrating on battery pack management. With attention on power electronics from a thermal management point of view, the ultimate objective, said Padmanabhan, is to have a reliable and high quality solution. Hybrid powertrains, he stated, would be applied in heavy-duty applications initially. “Electrification of the auxiliaries is the need of the hour. By 2019, a cost effective start-up solution with specific duty cycles will find its way to the Indian market,” mentioned Merritt. Touching upon the joint venture between Cummins and Eaton for M&HCVs formed in April 2017 to offer an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) product portfolio in the US, Merritt explained that a strong brand and service presence, in addition to a significant market share on the heavy duty side will be achieved. Cummins will bring its engine expertise and a strong presence to the table. In the interest of a sustainable product plan for five years the JV will focus on the development of advanced AMTs and integrated powertrains. It will also look at the development of a service network, and design and assembly of future M&HCV automated transmissions. Expected to expand its presence to other markets in the world, including India, the demand for reduction in carbon footprint and increase in fuel efficiency according to Jennifer Rumsey, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Cummins Inc., will be a significant calling factor as far as technology is concerned.

Sherry Aaholm,Vice President and Chief Information Officer, pointed at the digital accelerator initiative.

The future

To continue to play a significant role in some of the markets that Cummins is present in for a long time, diesel, if the trend for the future is anything to go by, is likely to throw up a contrasting picture. It will likely point at a move away from diesel. “We will continue to evolve,” said Rumsey. “We will provide a super power solution for CVs for transportation, off-highway, and stationary applications,” she informed. To include a continued focus on the internal combustion engine and its key components, the Super power solution, in India, will build on the ability to be frugal. Working towards meeting the BSVI challenge, Cummins is pursuing a ‘fit for market’ strategy in India. The company is addressing the need for a unique design and build methodology. This, it is confident, will increase its speed of development as well as output. Opined Rumsey, “Now is a critical period as far as the Indian market is concerned. With the NOx levels on the highways expected to go down by 30 per cent this year, and by 90 per cent when BSVI emission norms are enforced, Cummins is looking at a flurry of activities. According to Sherry Aaholm, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, new business concepts from the idea stage to commercial stage are being driven by leveraging resources from business units and functions under the ‘digital accelerator’ initiative. One such venture, said Aoholm, is Zed Connect. Zed Connect offers a smart phone app. called ‘Eld’. It was designed to electronically log hours for truck drivers and provide other key features for drivers and fleets. Such technologies may take time to come to India, the less advanced, and more relevant will not however.

3rd Image_PB-10a1 copy

New pedestal crane from Demag

Demag PC 3800-1 copy

A Terex brand, Demag offers PC 3800-1 pedestal crane with extended lifting performance possibilities at job sites that were previously hard to reach.

Team CV

Terex has introduced a new Demag pedestal crane called the PC 3800-1. It offers extended lifting performance possibilities, and provides access to job sites previously not reachable with a standard crawler model. Boasting strong load charts, especially with main boom only configurations, the PC 3800-1 helps to reduce ground preparation. Easy to transport, the crane significantly reduces the amount of time needed to prepare a jobsite for an operation. Typically crawler cranes require an adequately levelled supporting ground (slope of 0 degree to 0.3 degree) over a large area to achieve the nominal lifting capacity. This calls for extensive ground preparation prior to the lift job. The PC 3800-1, in contrast, needs four spots to be prepared for the outrigger supports. The outrigger supports do not need to be perfectly levelled as the outrigger cylinders can compensate tolerance on the ground’s flatness by up to 2.1 degree with a 12 x 12 m (39.4 x 39.4 ft.) outrigger base.

With the possibility of using existing pile foundations on the top of the outrigger base as outrigger supports for the PC 3800-1 to provide sufficient stability, the versatility of the Demag pedestal crane makes it beneficial in terms of usage and ground preparation. Beneficial on jobsites where ground layout and structure are already existing, which is often the case on harbour quays and refineries, as well as when installing bridges from river banks, the PC 3800-1 pedestal, with its hydraulic extendable and foldable outriggers, that can be positioned at 12 x 12 m (39.4 x 39.4 ft), and 14 x 14 m (46 x 46 ft) with all configurations including Superlift and 16 x 16 m (62.5 x 62.5ft) without super lift.

Making for additional long-reach possibilities where the lifting capacity of a crawler crane would normally be limited, the PC 3800-1 pedestal crane also provides increased lifting performance in several configurations. It requires less counterweight for the same or slightly higher lifting capacities. Less counterweight means fewer trucks, translating into significantly reduced transportation costs. For additional versatility, Demag has also developed an adapter to connect the carbody (center pot) of the crane to a self-propelled modular trailer or axle lines. Axle lines are commonly found on jobs involving lifting bridge sections, gantries or wind turbine assemblies, which means that the crane can be easily relocated on a jobsite partially rigged, while leveraging the use of axle lines. Depending on road regulations, the Demag PC 3800-1 equipped with axle lines can be adapted easily to match a 12-tonne load per axle, or to have a cross vehicle weight below 100-tonne. This can be done with many axle lines from multiple manufacturers.

Demag PC 3800-1-1 copy

Tractor-trailers support efficient operations

Tata DLT copy

Influenced by GST, transporters are looking at tractor-trailers for efficient and faster operations

Story by: Anirudh Raheja

The roll-out of GST has set the ball rolling. The transport sector is up for a big change. Only those that are efficient, and have efficient solutions to back them, are likely to most succeed. The abolition of border checks is getting transporters to clock more kilometers, and realise faster turnaround times. Influencing a change in the hub and spoke transportation model. GST is also claimed to have begun a shift to higher tonnage trucks. While the absolute number of trucks may decrease over time, the demand for tractor trailers has begun to rise. Drawing attention to the State of Rajasthan, which accounts for the largest number of tractor-trailers in India, an industry expert stated that trailers are being increasingly looked upon as a part of the truck that has technology associated with it. The trend where trailers were looked upon as mere skeletons of steel with axles attached to them is fast fading. Trailers he mentioned, are being increasingly looked upon as a piece of technology crucial to efficient transport operations. Looked upon as a new way to transport safely, efficiently, and profitably, trailers are subject to stricter scrutiny as average speeds rise. The market for trailers in India is estimated to be 20,000 units per annum. Accounting for no more than 12 per cent of the total CV market according to Neha Tayal, Research Manager – Automotive Division of TechSci Research, the trailer market is set to grow faster. As transporters seek efficient trucks, tractor-trailers offer a distinct advantage of lower cost of operations. Opined an expert that a tractor-trailer combination offers lower cost of transportation in comparison to a rigid truck simply because it can carry more, and consume less; have smaller carbon footprint. This, he mentions, is beneficial to the society at large.

Coding trailers

With the demand for tractor trailers set to rise, the call for the implementation of trailer code is growing in strength. There is a safety angle attached to it, mentioned an industry source. He stated that the truck market in India is not yet fully-organised. A strictly cost driven market, the quality and technology that goes into a trailer has to be clearly defined therefore, he mentioned. Another industry opined that the implementation of trailer code could help address the issue of safety associated with trailers, and help the trailer industry to better organise itself. Not only would the trailer code ensure safety for those travelling on the road, it would also increase reliability. It would also ensure a transition of the trailer market towards a sector that is well defined, opined an expert. Close to 80 per cent of the trailer market in India is estimated to be unorganised. The remaining 20 per cent (organised market) is made up of players like Tata DLT, Hvya, Satrac and VMT. The organised players are pushing hard to transform the industry.

Manufacturing a trailer is a complex task, and it is here that the organised players are required to custom alter trailer components in accordance with the demand for niche applications. Unlike the European safety norms, the Indian trailer industry is known to operate with mechanical suspensions and mainly sturdy material citing their robust make. Special application trailers like curtain trailers, tip trailers, running gears are also known to be in demand among niche operators. Experts expect lighter trailers at similar strengths to these, that result in lower total cost of ownership, to witness a higher demand. While the industry looks to graduate to quality components and more efficient transport system overall, applications like container movement have been identified among potential growth trailer segments. Also tip trailers, which could do with a robust design and strong hydraulics.

IMG_20150425_153709473_canpoy trailers copy

The implementation of trailer code could help address the issue of safety associated with trailers , and help the trailer industry to better organise itself.

Outlook

India is currently focusing on the development of its infrastructure, where approximately 65 per cent of the total freight is transported by road, with an average speed of 30 to 40 kmph. Such developments are expected to boost the demand for heavy commercial vehicles and freight transport, boosting the overall potential of growth in the trailer segment. The flat bed and well bed trailer applications serve steel industry needs. Coil movement constitutes 45 per cent of the overall trailer market today. At 35 per cent, cement based applications are served by sidewall trailers and bulkers. Tank trailers and tip trailers that cater to infrastructure sector needs constitute the rest of the segment. Common concerns albeit across these different trailer applications are issues like shortage of skilled drivers, over speeding and overloading. These need to be addressed.With GST expected to bring down logistics costs and enhance overall efficiency levels, India is expected to lead the global trailer market in growth. The global trailer market is expected to grow at a CAGR of three to four per cent over the next five years. Good growth is expected from countries other than the USA, EU and Japan. Apart from India, the ASEAN and East European countries are expected to emerge as the major growth driver. Homegrown players are expected to contribute a good deal. They are expected to invest in technology and tap export opportunities.

MAN India as Asia hub looks up

Start image copy

MAN Trucks India has reiterated its position as the Asia hub for its principal, the MAN Group.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Reiterating its position as the Asia hub for the MAN Group, MAN Trucks India is looking to contribute 10 per cent of MAN’s total factory output over the next three-to-four years. The strategy seems to be not so much about achieving higher sales as much as it is about achieving higher production numbers. The manufacturing facility of MAN Trucks India at Pithampur has the capacity to manufacture 9,000 to 10,000 Cargo Line Asia (CLA) range of trucks in the 16- to 49-tonne segments, and front engine bus chassis measuring 12 m in length. Though the name CLA may suggest flaunting this that the trucks – are about Asia, they are in fact, exported as CKD kits to a MAN joint venture in Uzbekistan; to South Africa, and to the neighbouring countries. To achieve the 10 per cent target, the company is looking at invading new African markets, the Middle East, and East Asian countries like Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia. Expressed Jeorg Mommertz, Chairman and Managing Director, MAN Trucks India, “The target to contribute 10 per cent of MAN’s total factory output over the next three-to-four years will be inclusive of the 50 per cent export volumes we wish to attain from India.” Poised to play a pivotal role in MAN’s global growth strategy, the only market the company is not looking at is Russia, which requires a operating guarantee under extreme climatic conditions like temperature as low as (-) 51 degree centigrade.

CLA for Asia and beyond

Third image copy

Planning to widen the scope of Cargo Line Asia (CLA) trucks, which were initially conceived for Asia, MAN Trucks India is eyeing the premium segment too. While the mid-premium segment, the premium segment could be invaded with global models like the TGE, TGL and the new Lion.According to Mommertz, MAN Trucks India is looking at the 300 hp market to deliver a certain payload and fuel efficiency. “We want to attain the highest possible payload and best-in-class fuel economy. It will help us to convince our customers in India of a value for money proposition,” he mentioned. Aware of GST influencing a market shift to higher tonnage CVs, Mommertz is keen to carve out a greater pie of the Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicle (M&HCV) segments. Both, at the mid-premium and premium level. Stress is upon leveraging the high level of localisation (of up to 82 per cent) the CVs made in India have come to have. At 2015 Excon, the company announced the launch of the Evo range of CVs. They mark a CLA face-lift, and are powered by the D08 engine family. Confident of the Indian products reflecting core MAN values of, the MAN Trucks India is updating the (CLA) range to better address the market need.

A large chunk of MAN trucks in India is tippers as of current. The higher hp engine helps. What is however seeming to limit the company’s ability to set the sales charts on fire is the higher price positioning. If the higher price positioning is claimed to limit the play-ability, the thrust of the government to boost infrastructure in India may result MAN Trucks India to invade long-haul segments. In India, MAN also operates in the ODC segment, and special application segments like fire tenders, garbage compactors, concrete mixers, boom pumps, tip-trailers and bulkers. Last year the company supplied a fair number of fire tenders and special application trucks to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The R&D centre at Pune is said to help the company to address such needs. Selling over 25000 trucks till date, MAN Trucks India has come to operate through a network of 64 dealers in India, and a dealer each in Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. According to Mommertz, there is a need to attain high quality at competitive costs. Describing MAN trucks as high-endurance machines, Mommertz stated, “Trucks sold in 2006 are still in operation in Kochi. They are a testimony to the reliability of a MAN truck.” We have also had our trucks operate in sub zero degree temperatures in India, he mentioned.

Joerg Mommertz 32 copy

New technologies to increase market share

Of what is produced at Pithampur, 40 per cent is exported. This may translate into 35 per cent plant utilisation Year-To-Date (YTD). The target is to achieve an output of 50,000 units per annum through a gradual ramp up of 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent per year. Tractor trailers currently constitute 60 per cent of the overall business volume. Their share is expected to rise. Said Mommertz, that the regime will materialise demand for long-haul trucks, which translates into a 20 hour duty cycle, and 40 per cent higher round-trip efficiency.

If the higher horse power and tougher build will make a strong business case for MAN Trucks India, the talks with suppliers are proceeding as expected according to Mommertz. They are expected to result in the company offering new technologies like AMT to its customers to achieve higher level of business efficiency. The company, said Mommertz, is looking at localising the CLA fire tenders. Having supplied them to Mumbai, the company is confident of a good play.

fourth image copy

Employing SCR technology to meet BSIV emission norms, MAN Trucks India, following the Product Cost Optimisation (PKO) process it has inherited from its principal, is keen to meet the 10 per cent production contribution target sooner than later. Holding a key position in MAN Group’s global growth endeavour, MAN Trucks India, claimed industry sources, will create awareness about its products. It can no longer be satisfied with the amount of market share – domestic and export, that it has. Stressing upon performance, productivity and profitability, Mommertz said that the products the company will offer will guarantee low total cost of ownership. Up-time improvements are being worked upon by restructuring the support network, he explained. Of the opinion that hardware investments and the life of a truck are a petty 15 per cent of the overall operational costs, Mommertz said, “Transport business in India is highly competitive. While the short-to-medium focus areas continue to be truck-tractor and haulage, our long-term strategy entails a look at the sub-16 tonne segment.” There is some time before MAN Trucks India formulates a strategy for this, it seems. If the strategy will strike a synergy with Volkswagen of which it is a part, or with Scania, which is also a Volkswagen Group company, will be too early to be delved upon. Processes like common sourcing are already in place, and are expected to profit MAN Trucks India as it buckles up to play a more decisive role in the scheme of things at MAN Group.

POSTER9

Slipper suspension from Meritor India

5-70352_light_blue copy

Meritor India is banking on slipper suspension to compliment its existing product portfolio and tap growth.

Story by: Bhargav TS

Driver shortage in the CV industry is forcing a change. One of the factors is the rising preference for comfort. The trend could trace its roots to Europe where the emphasis on comfort is high. With rise in infrastructure, and implementation of GST, operating speeds are expected to increase. A CV that clocked 80,000 to 100,000 kms a year is expected to clock 150,000 to 175,000 kms a year. If this will call for higher efficiency, reliability and comfort, the slipper suspension from Meritor could address the need just right. Offering a weight advantage and low ownership cost, the slipper suspension that Meritor has introduced is the result of an extensive market study. Into the manufacture of CV axles and brakes, suspension systems make a logical extension for the company. It also offers the company an opportunity to grow faster.

Currently found in Brazil whose infrastructure and loading conditions are similar to that of India, the slipper suspension, according to Thimmaiah NP, Managing Director & CEO, Meritor India, has an advantage over the Bellcrank suspension Indian CVs are fitted with. States Thimmaiah, that India is the only market, which offers Bellcrank suspension. “There are over 20 joints with bushes and screws, which require lubrication in a Bellcrank suspension. For efficient functioning, they need regular lubrication. In the case of slipper suspension, there are only two links. These are easily operated and maintained,” he explains. Confident of the acceptance of slipper suspension, Meritor is planning to launch the same in the next three to four months. It will be manufactured at the company’s facility at Mysore.

Aimed at M&HCVs, the slipper suspension is being pitched by the company to CV OEMs. It was not easy initially, mentions Thimmaiah. OEMs were not showing much interest. A change in approach accompanied by the highlighting of the pain points associated with Bellcrank suspension drew attention to slipper suspension. A study done by fitting the suspension in customer vehicles revealed maintenace cost reduction from 15 to 20 paise per km to three to five paise per km. “With the slipper suspension, even after 60,000 km, tyre wear was found to be only 30 per cent. No parts were replaced,” explains Thimmaiah. “In the case of Bellcrank suspension, tyre replacement after 40,000 km was necessary,” he quips. Weighing 80 to 100 kg less than a Bellcrank suspension, the slipper suspension, which is just another type of leaf spring suspension, not only enhances the load carrying capacity of a truck, but also reduces downtime, maintenance, and parts replacement needs.

NPT Pic for CV_4 copy

The first company to warm up to the slipper suspension is Ashok Leyland says Thimmaiah. VRL Logistics has also shown interest, he adds. With a constant change in the stiffness of the spring, which elevates driving comfort and avoids uneven load distribution, slipper suspension promises 180,000 km of tyre life. Opines Thimmaiah, that the vertical load is transferred to the springs. Braking and acceleration are taken care of by the torque rod. Signaling an advantage with greasing points reduced from 20 to two, the slipper suspension is completely localised. It will cost 10 per cent more than the Bellcrank suspension. The chassis and internal packaging will be different across fleet, and across OEMs. A need to match it with each OEM specification will be necessary.

Improving the maneouvrability of CVs, the slipper suspension has its leaves asymmetrically arranged according to Kishan Kumar Udupi, Senior Manager, Engineering. The asymmetrical arrangement helps to achieve optimal spacing between the axles. Laden and unladen ride comfort improves. “We have designed the drive axle spring with 10 per cent higher stiffness to ensure better traction and starting-ability. Having a provision to lift the tag axle with a unique central lifting device, that reduces wear and tear of parts, and increases fuel efficiency, the slipper suspension is packaged within the chassis frame. It provides an opportunity to lower the centre of gravity and improve vehicle dynamics,” explains Kishan Kumar.

Comparison copy

Working on new platforms, Meritor, according to Thimmaiah, is closely following the changes the CV industry is going through. Carrying out activities and developments with the support of its R&D center, the company is also working with OEMs to increase the efficiency of the axles it offers. This should help them to meet the stringent regulations.

Quiet Ride gearing

As part of its endeavour to offer products that are light in weight and enhance the performance, Meritor CVS will also introduce ‘Quiet Ride’ gearing soon. Enjoying good acceptance in global markets, Quiet Ride gearing is applied to buses. Featuring an innovative gear tooth design, which ensures both the drive and coast side of the tooth are quiet, Quiet Ride gearing, made with advanced CNC gear cutting equipment with attention to precise cutting and excellent repeatability, promises low noise signature. Developed in India and supplied the world over, Quiet Ride gearing, mentions Thimmaiah, increases the cost by just one-per cent.

Exporting axles to Brazil, China, Europe and the US, and Quiet Ride gearing to Europe, China and the US, the company is encountering a change in CVs through gear ratios. Reveals Thimmaiah, that the gear ratio of BSVI CVs is different. “Engine speed is decreasing, and is shifting to the axle level,” he adds. Coming out with solutions where the gear ring is laser welded to eliminate churning noises, Meritor CVS, Thimmaiah expresses, is also focusing on off-highway and military applications. The company will soon unveil a backhoe loader axle as part of its strategy to participate in the backhoe and motor grader segments. In-line with the move, plans are being chalked out to localise certain designs. To support such endeavours, Meritor is upgrading its systems and processes. “We are progressing to Industry 4.0, and connected machines. We are upgrading our systems and processes. We are investing Rs.70 crore every year,” explains Thimmaiah.

Aftermarket

Present in the aftermarket, Meritor is looking at good growth. Looking to profit from the decision of many operators to retain, and maintain the same truck and bus rather than replace it perhaps, the company is looking at increasing its aftermarket revenue. Close to 10 per cent revenue comes from the aftermarket. The axles and brakes that it manufactures find their way into the aftermarket. The supply of clutch and transmission has also begun. There are 120 retailers pan-India. Another 20 will be added at the end of this year. In the next five years, the company is planning to extend its suspension portfolio to the bus segment. Driving such endeavours is a quest for strong bottomline. Revenue, according to Thimmaiah, has doubled since 2012. “We expect the trend to continue for the next five years,” he concludes.

Wabco banks on air disc brakes

Pan 22 Air Disc Brakes copy

Leading commercial vehicle supplier, Wabco, is betting big on air disc brakes in India.

Story by: Bhargav TS

The 2017 season of Tata Prima T1 Truck Racing Championship saw Wabco feature its air disc brake technology in India for the first time. The news leaked out slowly, and through sources reliable enough to signal the arrival of yet another, new and significant technology for Indian Commercial Vehicles (CVs). The company, instrumental in the introduction of Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), was at work once again. Bullish about air disc brakes, and the potential it holds, Wabco in India, is pushing air disc brakes on the count of safety, and ease of service.

Offering numerous advantages, including the lack of exaggeration of friction coefficient differences, reduced fade, high thermal load, minimal and consistent hysteresis and ease of servicing, air disc brakes enable easy replacement of brake pads compared to that of the brake shoes in drum brakes. If the initial cost of air disc brakes is high, the advantage it offers is claimed to be an improvement in vehicle braking performance. A factor that is vital to CVs. Available in Europe, China and the US with a penetration level of 85 per cent, eight per cent and 15 per cent respectively, air disc brakes, according to Sven Horak, Vice President, Business Unit Leader, Wheel End Solutions, Wabco, are reliable, robust and easily applicable across vehicle segments. Penetration in India is said to be under one per cent as of current. Given the rate at which the Indian CV market is maturing however, Horak is confident that air disc brakes will soon become a part of new technologies Indian CVs will possess.

For a CV operator with focus on total operating costs, air disc brakes beckon a new way to save costs. Not only is the technology reliable, robust and easily applicable across segments, it is also high on performance. Said Horak, “The stopping performance of air disc brakes is high. They provide a 30 per cent increase in performance at the least. They also extend the service interval of brakes, and are corrosion resistant.”

Pan 17 (1) Air Disc Brakes copy

Helping to achieve better control and stability, air disc brakes are made attractive by their ability to cut down on vehicle weight. Wabco pioneers single piston air disc brake technology informed Horak. “With this technology the manufacturer can claim to deliver upto 30,000 Nm braking torque, making it one-of-its-kind in the market. Weight reduction of at least 40 per cent is achieved by employing this technology.” Having delivered several million brakes the world over, Wabco is discussing with Indian OEMs. It plans to localise air disc brakes quickly. This will be however dictated by pick-up in demand. The current crop of air disc brakes is being sourced from Germany and China. With drum manufacture captive to many CV OEMs in India, the move to air disc brakes is expected to be met with an amount of resistance. That is however until the distinct advantages of air disc brakes are looked at. The single piston air disc brakes need a lot of technical proficiency mentioned Horak. “We have achieved that proficiency to become a leading player,” he said.

Optimistic about OEM supply tie-ups happening sooner than later, Wabco is looking at sharing the technology with the manufacturers as a retrofitment. Retrofitment of air disc brakes is possible, averred P Kaniappan, Managing Director, Wabco India. He said, “Customers looking for total cost of ownership will get a payback through weight reduction as a major attribute. In heavy vehicles, air disc brakes can help to achieve up to 30 per cent weight reduction. This will have a drastic effect on fuel efficiency.” Regarding homologation under JNNURM guidelines, Kaniappan stated that the discretion lies with the state governments to implement. “The government is recognising this technology, and we are confident that it will be soon explored,” he quipped.

Aimed at HGVs and heavier buses, air disc brakes will elevate driver comfort. This will improve safety and the driver’s ability to drive for long distances without experiencing fatique. “There are testimonies which we could share,” said Horak. Field validation is underway, and the technology is expected to take time to proliferate. Field test on a bus for over a million kilometres was completed recently. Designed to be fitted on the front axle, the air disc brakes, according to Wabco sources, are in-line with a cost pay back period of six months. With less number of parts compared to drum brakes, air disc brakes, stated a source, are ‘plug and play’. He stressed upon their ability to self adjust. Assuring better performance at higher temperatures, air disc brakes are said to contain a clutch in the adjuster mechanism which works in both the directions and ensures a longer life.

Mr. Sven Horak and Mr. P. Kaniappan at the media round table on the Air Disc Brake (ADB) technology by WABCO (2) copy

Saving the trouble of synchronising two pistons, the single piston technology of air disc brakes has been patented by Wabco. Promising 10 per cent longer life of brake pads because of uniform force distribution, the system, encapsulated or sealed with grease is claimed to offer superior corrosion resistance too. With brake indicator to indicate the wear of brake pads, air disc brakes are expected to assume good force by 2019. Employing a modular approach where 90 per cent of the components are optimised and adjusted as per the application needs and specifications, the single piston air disc brakes for CVs are expected to begin manufacture at Wabco’s Indian facilities soon. The company has four manufacturing locations in India. Across four continents, Wabco has five manufacturing locations according to Horak. “We not only have air disc brakes, we also have actuators, brake chambers among others. By 2018, we will have a local assembly for air disc brakes in place”, he said.

Commercial vehicle safety

start image safety copy

Technology is elevating safety in commercial vehicles.

Team CV

The purchase of trucks and buses with fully built bodies is increasing. However, there still exists a market for those who build bodies on rolling truck and bus chassis in India. The implementation of Bus Code has defined the safety inclusions in bus bodies built by an OEM captive unit or by an independent bus body builder. In the case of trucks, the truck code is in the making. A sense of urgency prevails regarding the implementation of the truck code, but a time period for its implementation is yet to be defined. There is a talk of incorporating the learning of the Bus Code to ensure that it is effective, and serves the purpose. In the absence of a truck code, road side truck body builders exist in many parts of the country. They make use of wood, a commodity that is fast depleting, apart from iron and aluminium among others. Plastics hasn’t found a calling in the construction of truck bodies as yet. Its use, at best, is limited to purely cosmetic functions. Sensitive to fuel efficiency, the bus industry has been employing a good deal of plastics in the building of bus bodies at the other end. Their bearing on safety is a matter of debate, and much like the use of wood is in the building of truck bodies.

IMG_5740 copy IMG_5766 copy rear view mirror replacement - fifth image copy

With companies like Daimler India Commercial Vehicles resorting to selling full-built trucks and buses only, the purchase of trucks with fully-built bodies is on the rise. Operators are coming to acknowledge the safety advantages of a fully-built truck body. The higher level of safety it offers in an unfortunate incident, like collision. However, cost advantages continues to lure them towards aftermarket truck body builders. A small percentage of the aftermarket truck body builders cater to the special application market. They build trucks that serve as chemical, oil and milk tankers; as flat bed car carriers; as airport application trucks; as municipal application trucks, and more. Safety in the case of each of these special application trucks differs, and is quite comprehensive. If safety is lacking, it is in the case of trucks with aftermarket cab and load body – especially the wooden bodies. In an unfortunate event of a collision or crash, the wooden cab or load body hardly serves to protect the occupants. It is a similar case with buses having aftermarket bodies built. With cost taking precedence, aftermarket bus bodies until the Bus Code came into play did not give much importance to safety, or the use of flame retardant material. Fire suppression systems in the engine compartment, and the provision for scientifically designed emergency exits are some of the provisions that the Bus Code has rightly ensured.

With the rule to equip trucks and buses above certain capacities, and of certain types with ABS is showing results. To curtail accidents caused by over speeding, state governments are claimed to ensure the fitment of speed governors. If the arrival of sleeper coach code and the airport tarmac coach has also contributed to elevate the safety of CVs, albeit buses, a big step ahead in elevating safety in the trucks and buses that ply in India is going to be a series of gadgets that will make the life of a driver easier and more productive. Wabco, which was at the fore front of arming Indian trucks and buses with ABS, is driving safety by piloting lane departure warning system. Expressed Jacques Esculier, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Wabco Inc., “We are introducing technologies and capabilities around advanced driver assistance systems like Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). In India, we are piloting lane departure warning systems. The air disc brakes we have designed may not be electronically driven, they are however essential for safety.” Seating systems specialist Harita Seating unveiled an Intelliseat it has developed in association with the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. The seat, aimed at tractor and commercial vehicle drivers, is fitted with sensors that detect fatigue. When moderate fatigue is detected, a chime goes off. When the driver is close to dozing off, the seat vibrates, making a compelling reason for the driver to pull over. Volvo’s inter-city bus range for instance features a digital nose, fitted in the ceiling. It is claimed to detect any drop in oxygen level, and alerts the driver. A driver drowsiness assist feature is optional, and can detect a change in driver attention. An optional Alco-lock breath analyser prevents the bus from starting if the driver fails the breath test! On-board high-definition CCTV cameras and passenger alert systems are fast catching up.

With the arrival of electronics-based ABS, AEB, lane departure and drowsiness warning technologies to elevate safety, connected vehicles are getting closer to reality closer to reality. With telematics finding increasing number of takers in India, for tracking and tracing; for routing and re-routing; for geo fencing; for driver behaviour, and for preventive maintenance, connected trucks and buses are indeed closer to reality than many would think. Telematics is also turning into an efficient tool in commercial vehicle driver training. If it elevates safety of children travelling in a school bus, telematics is assisting truck and bus drivers in the period of difficulty to connect with their support system in case of an untoward incident, or when stranded due to some other reason. The Intelligent Transport Management System (iTraMS) from Bosch is an end-to-end Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) ecosystem, and includes an on-board unit (OBU), a strong IT backbone which comprises of web and mobile apps. hosted on enterprise cloud providing tools and processing data using advanced analytics for necessary decision making. The iTraMS web portal, mobile app. and on board unit (OBU) connect to the vehicle architecture and send back real-time alerts and reports about the vehicle health and driving behavior. Enabling seamless integration with ERP, iTraMS integrates monitoring sensors for humidity, etc., which can have an effect on the safe functioning of a truck.

Blind spots around a truck or a bus are often a reason for accident. Commercial vehicles (CVs) are longer and wider than passenger cars, making the blind spots much larger. To enhance safety and eliminate blind spots, Clarion has developed an overhead view monitor camera system that utilises image processing once the camera has been installed. Blind spot monitoring systems may take time to find their way to Indian commercial vehicles as it may prove tough to convince a fleet operator, or a truck owner to opt for one, and see value in it, the move up to BSIV has ensured that more electronics are finding their way into Indian commercial vehicles. They are opening up a world of new possibilities that elevate safety. Much to the surprise, safety technologies in commercial vehicles in India have progressed faster than in commercial vehicles in China. Said Esculier, “India has delivered on safety in trucks and buses faster.” He added, “ We have cameras that watch the driver, any time there is a safety event. This system has driven the number of events down significantly, making everyone safer.”