MAN India as Asia hub looks up

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.


Slipper suspension from Meritor India

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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.

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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.

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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.


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

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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.”

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.”

Cost-effective and ‘green’ packaging solutions from NEFAB India


NEFAB India wants to be a prominent packaging solutions provider to the auto industry.

Story by: Anusha B

The auto industry is highly price-sensitive, and in need of packaging solutions that are highly cost effective. To cater to these demands of the auto industry, NEFAB India, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEFAB AB, Sweden, is offering ‘green’ packaging solutions. This, it is confident of, will reduce the environmental impact and packaging material content. Without letting the quality of its products slip, the company is keen to popularise ‘green’ packaging solutions. This is also a part of NEFAB India’s strategy to be the most recognised industrial packaging brand by 2020. For the auto industry, the lucrative part of the ‘green’ packaging solution the company offers, expressed Prasad Mandrolli, Marketing Manager, NEFAB India, is the recycle-ability of materials. “Our business concept is all encompassive. We want to offer complete packaging solutions that reduce total cost, and environmental impact,” mentioned Prasad.

Leveraging experience to address industry needs

An ISO 14001:2004 certified company, Bangalore-based NEFAB India is looking at ‘green’ packaging solutions as a way to carve out a position for itself in a market that is dominated by unorganised players. Prasad is of the opinion, that the packaging sector is dominated by unorganised players that employ corrugated, wooden and steel fabrication materials. Only a few players like Nefab India, claimed Prasad, in the organised sector, use materials that are recyclable. Scant respect for environment, and excessive use of tropical wood, rainforest plywood, etc., is a given according to him. Neither is this sustainable, nor is it good for the environment. It is not in keeping with the strategies that the auto industry is keen to rely on, stated Mandrolli. He opined that there is a need to get the priorities right. There is a need to analyse the impact on the environment of the packaging materilas used. The cost of packaging is offset by reducing the cost of damages.

With manufacturing facilities at Manesar, Pune and Chennai, NEFAB India draws from the experience of its parent in providing packaging solutions to telecom, energy, industry, vehicles, healthcare and aerospace industries. Since 1949, the Swedish company, which clocked a turnover of SEK 3.3 billion in 2016, has grown from a product-oriented company into a market-oriented company. Specialising in complete packaging solutions that reduce their customers’ total costs while minimising environmental impact, the company is keen to create a niche for itself in India. Aware that the packaging industry in India is devoid of major entry barriers and needs low investment, NEFAB India, averred Prasad, has found out that the unorganised players often copy solutions and offer them at a lower price. This is a big challenge, he opined. Confident of carving out a place in the auto industry in India by addressing their exacting needs, NEFAB India, according to Prasad is keen to address the need for standardisation, cost an supply chain requirements. “The automotive industry is highly price-sensitive and the packaging solutions have to be cost effective. Standardisation is a need for this industry,” he explained. Prasad explained that there is a need to offer cost-effective and innovative solutions. He drew attention to services like container loading and lashing that are cost-effective and help to eliminate damages.


Weather challenges

Terming packaging needs of the auto industry as significant, Prasad pointed at factors like weather and impact. “To design a packaging solution, impact and weather change has to be factored in. In sea freight, due to condensation inside a container, a phenomenon called ‘container raining’ takes place,” he added. To absorb moisture, use of container dehumidifying agents like container desiccants are suggested. Desiccants absorb moisture present in the container and prevent ‘container raining’ to affect the packaging as well as the product. Weather challenges also apply to domestic movement. Quite often, ‘close body’ containers as packaging solutions along with container desiccants are advised. Stressing upon the basic function of packaging as a means to assist in product handling, Prasad said, “We design packaging solutions keeping in mind the supply chain and total cost of logistics. This includes multi-material engineering. Typically, the packaging design would vary for fork lift handling, sling, overhead crane and manual handling.”

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Entire supply chain has to be considered when a packaging solution is designed. This helps to optimise packaging for various modes of transport, storage and distribution. Packaging is not just a box a designer designs; not for the auto industry for certain. The complex shapes of auto industry products, aggregates, etc., and their nature calls for complex packaging needs. A packaging solution therefore has to be acceptable in a supply chain as well as confirm to the needs of the auto manufacturer. Apart from the modes of transport, storage and distribution details, there is a need to mention the product details and handling precautions.

It is often the case that not one single packaging material a manufacturer suggests to his client. It is material neutral. If there is a need, the manufacturer suggests a hybrid solution. This often comprises of two packaging materials. Typically for an expendable flow, plywood, pinewood, OSB, corrugated boxes, pallets, etc., are suggested. Also suggested is a combination of these packaging materials. For a returnable flow, more sturdy materials like steel, rugged wooden skids, plastic containers, or a combination are used to provide a solution. “All our packaging solutions are RoHS, ISPM 15, FSC and E1 compliant, and suitable for exports to various countries,” expressed Prasad. He said further, “There are several parts that go into the making of a vehicle. It is therefore difficult to have a standard questionnaire for packaging design. When designing expendable packaging solutions for automotive industry, we try to gather information regarding product logistical flows, the supply chain process and storage or shelf details.”

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Packaging info

In the case of returnable packaging, the inputs that are needed remain more or less the same as that of an expendable packaging solution. The company however has to also concentrate on gathering information on project life, to and fro flow, and transport costs. Since returnable packaging involves capital investment, it would be useful to know the payback period and the Return on Investment (RoI). Typically, a returnable packaging solution has a certain life period. Returnable flow should be economically viable as there are return freight costs involved. The auto industry accounts for 15 per cent of the company’s turnover according to Prasad. It is steadily growing. “We are not involved in direct exports as of now. A majority of our customers use our packaging solutions to export their products. As of now, a little over 50 per cent of our packaging is used for exports,” Prasad mentioned. It is here that NEFAB India is keen to offer ‘green’ packaging solutions. It is looking at it as a way to understand as well as address the exacting needs of an automotive industry customer. Something, which an organised player can perhaps do better, and attach more value to.

Nipman Fastener looks at CV industry for growth

Nipman Fastener Industries is expanding its product range to cater to the CV industry.

Story by: Bhargav TS

Nipman Fastener Industries Pvt. Ltd. was established in 1997, and specialises in the manufacture of standard and special fasteners. Catering to the needs of auto components manufacturers, the company, in its pursuit for growth, is looking at the CV industry. Keen to address the needs of the CV industry by leveraging its experience and infrastructure, the company is currently serving auto components manufacturers like Abhishek Industries, A.G.Industries, IFB India, Hema Engineering, Hero MotoCorp., Hero Motors, Krishna Maruti, Rico Auto Industries, Rockman Industries, Subros, Sunbeam Auto Components, Trelleborg Automotive, Munjal Showa, Omax Autos, Sandhar Industries, and Unitech Machines. Apart from the CV industry, Nipman Fastener Industries is also keen to address the needs of the tractor industry as well. Specialising in cold forging, the company, according to Anup Kapur, Vice President, Business Development and Marketing, is moving up the value chain. “By entering into the CV and tractor space, we will serve the entire auto industry,” he expressed. Hinting at attaining an amicable balance between the volume intensive two wheeler and passenger vehicle industries, and the tractor and CV industries, Nipman Fastener Industries is seeking growth by expanding its reach in newer areas of the auto industry, and industries that are allied to the auto industry. It was after much deliberation, said Kapur, that the decision to invade the CV and tractor industries was taken.

Manufacturing fasteners in the 4mm to 24mm diameter range, and of numerous types, Nipman Fastener Industries is well aware of the need to supply hot forged fasteners to the CV industry in particular. Producing counter sunk screws, bolt flange spherical screws, round head screws and bolts, hex head collar screws and bolts, shoulder head special bolts, flange screws and bolts, self tapping screws, socket flange screws, hex head collar screws and bolts, weld screws, socket head cap screws and bolts, engine studs, and numerous other types of studs, the company has studied the fastener requirements of the CV industry. Stated Kapur, “Commercial vehicles need 28 mm to 30 mm diameter hot forged fasteners.” “Our core strength lies in cold forging,” he said as a matter of fact. Operating with a philosophy to achieve the best, the company is investing in hot forging technology to be able to address the need of the CV industry. Nipman Fastener Industries has four manufacturing units at Ghaziabad, Manesar, Haridwar, and Bawal respectively. Of these, two plants cater to the two wheeler and passenger vehicle industries. The third plant caters to the Uttarkhand region whereas the fourth plant acts a feeder unit. The Bawal plant of the company was inaugurated recently, and produces fasteners and cold forged components.

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Nipman Fastener Industries entered into a technical collaboration with a South Korean company recently to manufacture steering system components. “The passenger vehicle steering division started commercial production from January 2017 in technical collaboration with a South Korean company that specialises in the manufacture of steering system components,” informed Kapur. He said, “This company makes steering systems for a leading South Korean Tier 1 supplier that in turn supplies to OEMs in India and the world over.” The company has developed three platforms for three different OEMs. There are about eight to nine platforms still under discussion. Forging and machining is done at the Bawal plant, and the machining, assembly and testing is carried out at the Chennai plant. Averred Kapur, “We mainly supply to Tier-1 companies. They in-turn supply to OEMs.” Confident of the steering and fastener business growing steadily, Nipman Fastener Industries, explained Kapur, is looking at contributing to vehicle light weighting with the use of different materials. “There are titanium fasteners and plastic fasteners which can aid light weighting. While titanium may not be applicable for all applications, optimising the use of fasteners will contribute to light weighting as well,” mentioned Kapur.

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The value proposition in the case of fasteners is tied to process differencies. Revealed Kapur, “There’s not much technical difference that can be achieved except process diferencies, which make a big difference.” With the manufacturing infrastructure comprising of forging and thread rolling, heat treatment, electroplating, and dacro coating, the company, which employs lean manufacturing processes, has invested in a modern and well-equipped laboratory. This lab is helping Nipman Fastener Industries to produce fasteners economically. It is also ensuring that the fasteners satisfy the QCD parameters of OEMs. Quipped Kapur, that it is the processes and equipment that differentiate fastener manufacturers at the end of the day. Aware of the demand for zero-defect fasteners, which necessitates flawless manufacture, the company is banking on its lab to support its new endeavours. Expressed Kapur, “An internal process has to be set up to identify defects and correct them at early stage of manufacture. Finished goods should enter the final inspection with a defect-free tag. If not, then the process flow and the procedures will turn out to be uneconomical.” Nipman Fastener Industries achieved a turnover of Rs.170 crore last year. This year it expects the turnover to grow by 15 per cent. The company has began exporting its products, and hopes to achieve a target of 20 per cent by 2020.

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My Eco Energy announces first EuroVI fuel



My Eco Energy Ltd. (MEE) has announced the launch of Indizel, the first EuroVI emission compliant fuel.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

With the transition to BSIV emission standards achieved, attention is now on the transition to BSVI emission standards in 2020. The announcement by Pune-based My Eco Energy Ltd. (MEE), that the Indizel fuel is BSVI emission compliant, comes as a surprise therefore. The reason is, there’s still two years for the 2020 deadline to be met. Established in 2011, MEE specialises in the manufacture of bio-diesel. It claims to have launched the first bio-diesel station at Lonikand, Pune, in 2014. It also claims that the bio-diesel it offers is made from renewable vegetable oils and feed-stock like palm stearin and palm fatty acid distillate. Called Indizel, the bio-diesel, according to Sachin Labde, Co-founder of My Eco Energy, is EuroVI emission compliant. Not exactly new, Indizel, for its manufacturer accounts for a new launch on the pretext of it being EuroVI emission compliant. The BSVI emission standard when it arrives in 2020 is expected to be quite similar to EuroVI.

Claimed to be capable of replacing conventional diesel altogether, Indizel, according to Labde, is blended from three bio-fuels available at Singapore. MEE has not applied for a patent however, said Labde. To do so, it will have to disclose the working details, which it does not want to. Claimed to drastically reduce harmful emissions that conventional diesel is criticised for, Indizel, expressed Labde, emits less carbon monoxide, particulate matter and unburned hydrocarbons. He explained, “Over conventional diesel that contains 500 ppm sulphur, Indizel contains less than 10 ppm sulphur.” Expected to help industries that consume diesel, Indizel according to Santosh Verma, the other Co-founder of My Eco Energy, will help to address pressing environmental concerns. “Not only is Indizel a better alternative to ordinary diesel, it is also economical and suitable since it can offer superior fuel efficiency.” Indizel is also claimed to offer a smoother ride due to its higher lubricity quotient. Meeting European (EN 590 Euro-6) and BIS (IS 1460) quality requirements, Indizel confirms to Petroleum diesel (HSD) EN590 standard according to Verma.

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Pitching Indizel to retail investors across the country as EuroVI emission compliant fuel, and perhaps the only one at the moment, MEE has installed five demo pumps across states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana said Labde. While interested retail investors can experience the difference, the company has invested Rs.250 crore into the venture. Targeting functional traders across industry segments to build a sustainable retail network, MEE aims to launch 50 pumps over the next three months. Claimed Labde that 600 retailers have signed-up. On offer, added Labde, are multi-functional fuel-station models. Manpower training, equipment and guidance will be the responsibility of MEE. Reminding of an asset-light business model employed by new-age cab and transport aggregators, MEE is aiming to carve out a five to 10 per cent market share of the overall diesel market in the next six-to-seven years. The company plans to open 4,000 fuel stations across India in the next four-to-five years. Explained Labde, that the fuel stations will account to different models such as ‘Urban’, ‘Semi-Urban’, ‘Highway’ and ‘Satellite’. They will be further classified as a stand alone business model, and as a shop-in-shop business model. Marketed such that the price of Indizel will make it the most favourable among the diesel varieties available as fuel, MEE, to the channel partner, will offer a storage tank (above ground and below ground), a fuel dispenser, stock (as per usage), a canopy set-up and required automation. The overall investment for a retailer is expected to be in the region of Rs.40 lakh.

MEE plans to price Indizel at two-rupees less than the price of conventional diesel. This makes it tricky to ascertain the revenue potential a retailer could look at given the fact, that the prices of diesel vary from state to state, and from time to time. Fuel pricing has been left out of the purview of GST as of current. From June 16, 2017, it has been announced that the prices of petrol and diesel will be reviewed every day. While the minister of road transport, Nitin Gadkari, has been urging people and industries to shift to greener ways of working, and use alternate fuels, Indizel as a bio-fuel could attract 18 per cent GST, making it costlier than conventional diesel. The Bio-diesel Association of India, in a statement has already made it clear that higher GST rates could adversely impact them. Having zeroed on three locations – Kolhapur, Noida and Vishakapatnam, Indizel, according to Labde, is out of the purview of the petroleum Act due to its high flash point. If the high flash point and competitive pricing will present Indizel with a strong advantage, MEE, in the face of stiff competition from the government owned mighty PSUs has a tough task of convincing motorists ad dealers to be a part, and sustain. Opportunities for MEE lie in sectors like Railways and State Transport Undertakings (STUs). They arise out of the premise that a government mandate requires conventional fuels to be blended with five to 10 per cent bio-fuels by 2018. Stated Verma, “Mandates like these could further boost the potential of our product, and increase the overall market size of bio-fuels. It would also help bio-fuels to attain a significant market share for companies like us.” MEE is looking at an early mover advantage. To take advantage, MEE should convince as well as assure its users of quality, consistency and cost.