Transforming mobility

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The Frost & Sullivan GIL India Summit 2017 recognised successful digital strategies to transform mobility.

Story by:

Ashish Bhatia

As smart phones and similar such gadgets pouring upon the humankind, bringing information to the finger tip, many organisations are leveraging different digital strategies to help their business platforms scale new heights of success. Reflecting upon such strategies, the Frost & Sullivan Growth Innovation & Leadership (GIL) India Summit 2017 saw industry leaders and senior Frost & Sullivan executives speak about mobility transformation. They emphasised upon India’s evolution as a global powerhouse in the day-long event. Marking the ninth edition of GIL India Summit, the event saw CxOs stress upon disruptive innovations as catalysts, and how they are transforming the way industries function. Announced Aroop Zutshi, Global President & Managing Partner, Frost & Sullivan, that technology is proving to be an enabler as well as a disrupter. He mentioned, “Organisations are digitally reworking their business initiatives to accomplish digital transformation, which is the need of the hour.” With technology and growth opportunities finding mention, a discussion on digital readiness of organisations proved to be of interest. Deliberation on Internet of Things (IoT) took place. It was deemed as a driving force for innovations. Said Zutshi, “There is a need to take advantage of data. With linear growth unacceptable, the need for companies is to look at top-line growth rather than focus on attaining bottom-line growth as a long term strategy.” “Digital transformation is catalysing innovation, productivity and growth,” he quipped.

Underlining key benefits of integrating disruptive technologies, the Summit 2017 saw Dr. Seshu Bhagavathula, Chief Technology Officer, Ashok Leyland, speak about transformational change. He emphasised upon the proliferation of platform-based business models and ecosystems, and how they are unlocking an immense potential for growth to gain a competitive advantage. Linking the ability to digitally re-imagine the business, Dr. Bhagavathula said, “Aggregator model will be obsolete over time. The value of their service will diminish. This will create a need for an aggregator-less mechanism.” Emphasising on an apparent shift in the ‘value chain’, Dr, Bhagavathula cited the example of people renting cars rather than buying them. “It is service that is beginning to figure at the top,” he averred. Dr. Bhagavathula opined that business models will undergo transformation, and reliance on middle men will cease. Touching upon multi-modal transportation and zero emission vehicles as agents of change, Dr. Bhagavathula announced that electric trucks with a range of 500 km to 600 km will mark the future.

Faster growth

Calling upon the need for traditional business models to collaborate, Jaspreet Bindra, Senior Vice President – Digital Transformation, Group Strategy Office, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., said that consolidation will continue to take place. “Platform-based businesses are scaling up faster than the conventional asset led businesses. The need is to sell experience over products. Customer preferences are changing. They are forcing business models to change. Companies that sell experience will flourish.” Pointing at mobile apps. as part of the core business, and not in isolation, Bindra stated that there was a need to modify strategies. He emphasised upon the digital platform developed by Mahindra for farmers, what with 35 per cent of the company’s revenues coming from rural India. Defining the rate of data transformation as exciting, Peter Gartenberg, General Manager, Enterprise Partner Group (EPG), Microsoft India, announced that the technology which Uber is using is not new. “Its success can be credited to the way the cab aggregator has integrated data on a common platform,” mentioned Gartenburg. He informed that the use of data in India is moderate, and should rise. Terming the need to engage customers, empower employees, optimise operations and transform products as the key areas an organisation should focus upon, Gartenburg said, “IoT, augmented reality, and quantum computing are the most relevant technologies. Digital transformation isn’t just catchy, it’s catching on.”

Drawing attention to a study by Frost & Sullivan, ‘Mapping Digital readiness of organisations and urging them to embrace Disruption’, Vidya S Nath, Senior Director, Digital Media, Global Innovation Centre, Frost & Sullivan, expressed, “Digital transformation to adapt technology and business models is a critical mission for Indian enterprises. The digital market transformation is valued at USD 45 billion. Close to 32 per cent of the total digital spend on manufacturing in 2016 was spent on cloud. Of the rest, 26 per cent was spent on mobility, 18 per cent was spent on analytics, one-per cent was spent on social, and the remaining 23 per cent was spent on miscellaneous activities.” On the topic of IoT leading to unanticipated innovation, Juergen Hase, Chief Executive Officer, Unlimit (A Reliance venture), averred, “IoT is driving new customer, and will lead to intelligent industry solutions. IoT is expected to drive trillions of dollars in opportunity for the IT industry.” Stating that truck and bus manufacturers will need to build intelligent ecosystems and partnerships, Dr. Bhagavathula mentioned that missing standardisation in devices will lead to challenges. Upon the challenge to integrate technologies, Benoy C.S, Director & Business Unit Head – Digital Transformation, Frost & Sullivan, said, “I expect organisations to earmark 40 to 50 per cent of their overall budgets for security going forward.”

Market push and ground realities

About the challenge of going digital, Dr. Rishi Mohan Bhatnagar, President, Aeris India, said that they were operating two trucks in Chattisgarh and Srinagar. “In both the regions, we are facing connectivity challenges, which highlights the fact that digitisation is at a nascent stage in the country.” Averred Dr. Bhagavathula, “To adopt advanced technologies calls for huge sums of money. To achieve each emission stage, manufacturers have been investing billions of dollars. To be able to do that, there has to be money. It has to come. The question however is, where will the money come from?” Hinting at companies finding it tough to invest in one technology after another with no return on investment in sight, Dr. Bhagavathula said, “India is still in the ‘import and assemble’ mode. The ambition to ‘Make in India’ is a far cry, and the utilisation of factories is far from optimal.”

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During the panel discussion on auto and transportation industry transformation, moderated by Kaushik Madhavan, Director – Mobility, Middle East, North Africa & South Asia, Frost & Sullivan, one of the two panelists, Ramashankar Pandey, Managing Director, Hella India Lighting Ltd., mentioned that it was possible to achieve complete electrification. He drew attention to the ACMA and SIAM roadmap. Pointing at the industry track record of overcoming challenges, Pandey averred, “The internal quality and regulatory standards of the Indian automobile industry are world-class.” He cited an example of the proliferation of e-rickshaws at Dwarka in Delhi due to market demand, and opined that let the market call for a change rather than change being thrust upon the market. The other panelist, Santosh Datta, Head of Automotive Systems Integration(India), Robert Bosch Engineering & Business Solutions Ltd., echoed Pandey’s sentiments about industry transformation. He mentioned, “Something like demonetisation, I hope, will not extend to internal combustion engines.” Datta cautioned about the auto industry withholding investment upon failing to achieve the minimal requirement for economies of scale. “Economies of scale are essential to make e-mobility sustainable,” he quipped. “As a supplier we are awaiting a clear push from the market,” informed Datta.

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Stressing upon the need to set up inter operability of transport data such that mobility could be offered as a service, Pandey cited the example of Google powered platforms. He remarked, “Data sharing is becoming critical. There is a need for OEMs to create an aftermarket environment on the lines of operating systems like Android and iOS to facilitate cross servicing. A need is also to bring about a cultural change; to extend support to new entrants, and for the auto industry to collaborate rather than to work in silos.” Stressing upon sections of assembly lines communicating with each other as a token of development in material sciences, Dr. Bhagavathula explained that material shape and form was changing. “Materials are becoming context sensitive,” he stated. Upon receiving an award that recognised Maharashtra as the number-one state in overall development, Shweta Shalini, advisor to the chief minister of state Devendra Fadnavis, and spokesperson for Maharashtra BJP, said that the Government in partnership with technology giants like Microsoft has succeeded in digitally transforming six villages in the state. “We have additionally partnered with companies like Cisco to attain our objective of digitising the lives of people,” averred Shalilni. She drew attention to 156 online services launched through Government’s ‘Aaple Sarkar’ (Your Government). The highlight of the event was Kumar Mangalam Birla being given the 2017 GIL Visionary Award. This was the most significant award among the 61 awards presented to companies across genres like electronics and appliances, energy and environment, digital media, industrial automation and process control, metals and minerals, mobility, tech vision, and transformational health.

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Sustainable mobility

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The 57th ACMA annual convention stressed on sustainable mobility, and a model that would best suit the Indian needs.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

Not out of the purview of the changes and disruptions that are, or have striked the Indian auto industry, the auto components industry, under the aegis of ACMA, in no uncertain terms, expressed its support for sustainable mobility. The stakeholders of the Indian auto components industry, at the 57th annual convention held at Delhi, spoke in favour of a greener tomorrow. The theme of convention, ‘Future of Mobility in India: Challenges and Opportunities for the Auto Component Industry’ aptly reflected upon the opportunities and challenges the industry is enjoying as well as facing. Calling for a need to focus on building the pace to tackle challenges, and to tap opportunities, the ACMA convention saw OEMs and government officials mark their presence two.

In his keynote address, Rattan Kapur, the outgoing president of ACMA, stressed upon the Indian auto components industry to integrate itself into a global supply chain. He mentioned that the industry cannot stay oblivious to changes, and that the need was to prepare for the transformation. “Our hands are full as we graduate from BSIV to BSVI emission norms. The move is about leapfrogging technologies in a very short span of time, and is calling for significant investment and skill development,” opined Kapur. Touching upon the subject of emobility, Kapur averred that the progression to hybrids and fully-electric vehicles will provide an opportunity to acquire technologies. Said Vishvajit Sahay, Joint Secretary, Department of Heavy Industries, Government of India, in his address that the industry needs to be not only technology-ready, it also needs to build capacity. To succeed there is a need to acquire and train people, he said.

Expressing that emobility is inevitable, and will lead to massive transformation, Dr. Abhay Firodia, the newly elected President of SIAM and Chairman, Force Motors, said that the correct way to do it is

to transition gradually.

Dr. Firodia mentioned that the industry needs clarity as both, the OEMs and auto components manufacturers, are able to ride the transformation wave. Stating that new technologies exist and are reasonably mature to be implemented in a matter of few years, Dr. Firodia expressed that the policy environment should lead to the progression, and towards a sustainable road map.

With the Indian auto industry contributing a little over seven per cent of the GDP, two-per cent comes from the auto components industry. Shobana Kamineni, President, CII, in her speech stressed upon smart manufacturing and skill development. R.C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India, drew attention to the options that lie in front of the country as it embarks on the journey and electromobility, and how they should be thoroughly evaluated. “India has its own set of challenges. The need is to work together with the government and see what impact the EV policy has on the customers,” he averred. A study conducted by McKinsey for ACMA on the ‘Future of E-mobility’ was also released. It underscores trends like connectivity, shared mobility, autonomous driving and electrification. It also highlights the need of various stakeholders to work in tandem to carve out policies that facilitate local development of technology.

Panel discussion

Jayant Dawar, Co-Chairman and MD, Sandhar Technologies set the tone for the discussion. He expressed that India was on the verge of one of the most consequential disruptions in the history of the auto industry. “There is a need to plug all the ideas, including electric vehicles, shared services, connected vehicles, green fuels, and autonomous vehicles. They should be bunched together, and a picture of how they will shape up transportation should be had,” mentioned Dawar.

Dr. Pawan Goenka, MD, Mahindra & Mahindra, denied that IC engine will die anytime soon. He said, “By 2030, we are poised to make 16 million vehicles. We will still have a market for over 10 million vehicles. There will be EVs, the penetration of which, at the level of 20 to 30 per cent, should be considered as good.” Stressing upon investment in IC engine technology continuing, Dr. Goenka opined that improvements to IC engines will lead to them giving a tough fight to EVs.

Mentioned Ashok Taneja, MD & CEO, Shriram Pistons and Rings, that India is a continent that pretends to be a country. “It is therefore important to have a India specific model, which will suit its affordability equation.” Stating that the success story in electronics hardware is zero, Taneja called upon the need to be prepared for electromobility; to search for the answers, and not panic. Thomas Flack, Chief Purchasing Officer, Tata Motors, opined that electrification may not assume a mass scale until it is adopted by the consumer. “India should not think that it is disconnected from the rest of the world. It is not just about electrification, but is also about shared services. It might take more time for the transition to electrification and cleaner fuels to happen. IC engine consumption will go down, and companies associated with them will feel the effect,” explained Flack. ACMA’s ex-president and managing director of Lucas TVS, Arvind Balaji, expressed that the intensity of consumer gains will dictate the trend. Disruptions have their own benefits and costs, he said. “It will not be good therefore to form an opinion now. The need will be to be flexible, and look at the options. We may actually move quicker than we think. It would all depend on the product portfolio. ‘Design in India’ and ‘Make in India’ are important therefore,” mentioned Balaji.

Vikram Kasbekar, Executive Director, Hero MotorCorp., said that asset utilistion will bring down costs, and drive a change. “While the move to BSVI will call for significant investments, it is difficult to imagine how things will unfold in 2030. The need therefore is to have products that can adapt, and to have equipment that can adapt as well. Manpower too will have to adapt to changes. All this will call for policy consistency. It is a prime factor that will help plan the capex,” averred Kasbekar. Jan O Roehrl, CTO and head of mobility solutions, Bosch India, called for the need to stay focused. He pointed at BSVI as a challenge, and the need to focus on it. Coming to an agreement that India requires an infrastructure that will differ from what is currently prevalent in other countries in the case of electro-mobility, the panelists underlined the need for government to play a major role and create the right supporting infrastructure. They underlined the fact that India has an advantage to adopt a system that best suits its needs. The panelists highlighted the need to adopt new technologies.

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For a cleaner and greener future

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SIAM’s annual convention stressed on a cleaner and greener future through ‘Design in India’ and ‘Make in India’.

Story by: Anirudh Raheja

With an eye on BSVI emission regulations slated to come in force from 2020, the SIAM annual convention held in Delhi recently provided a good image of where and how the Indian auto industry is moving. Apart from BSVI, the stakeholders of the industry stressed upon the need to pursue green technologies. The keynotes of the various industry leaders pointed in the direction of electric mobility as the goal. Elements like connected mobility were also spoken about. While the crude oil prices in international markets dipped to the half-way mark almost over the last three years, the prices of fuel in India have remained high. They rose significantly in the last few months after a decision was taken to link them every day to the price of crude oil in international markets. With discussion revolving around the fact that alternate fuel propulsion technologies need to be perfected as quickly as possible, SIAM stakeholders, at the 57th annual convention, called for all-round efforts to not only safeguard the future of mobility, but to also find new ways of working in the wake of new regulations.

Clear roadmap

Pointing at the disruptive phase the auto industry is currently facing, Vinod K. Dasari, the outgoing president of SIAM, and the managing director Ashok Leyland, expressed that the auto industry in India contributes to the GDP of the country, and to the needs of the defense forces for equipment. He mentioned that the auto industry generates 30 million jobs, and spends over 10 per cent of the country’s R&D. It also contributes 50 per cent of the manufacturing GDP, said Dasari. To gain more traction from the central government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, Dasari called upon the automotive industry to emphasise on ‘Design in India’. He also urged the government to create a National Automotive Board to protect the auto industry. “Despite auto industry’s apprehension on how much R&D would be required to move from BSIV to BSVI, and whether fuel will be available or not, the auto industry has agreed to jump an entire emission regulation to align with what is in the best interest of the nation,” explained Dasari.

Stating that it is strange for SC to pass an order that no BSIII vehicles can be sold, Dasari averred that thousands of crores were lost by the industry. He expressed that authorities sometimes write directly to the transport ministry to ban certain type of vehicles. Claiming that it is the auto industry that is subjected to intense scrutiny for pollution problems, Dasari called for a need to speed up work on vehicle scrappage policies. He said that the auto industry will fully support the government for a clean and green tomorrow. Requesting clarity on auto policy, and a roadmap for regulations since the industry is facing unprecedented challenges and standing at the threshold of major transformation, Dasari stressed on the need for a collaborative effort from the industry that is supported by a vital regulatory mechanism.

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, in his speech, reiterated the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. He urged the industry to look for cleaner options. Pointing at the move to electric vehicles, Gadkari asked the industry to brace up for growing global competition to meet the rising challenges. “I want the industry to research and at least kick start. Once a costly affair, I called for you to start, and batteries are now cheaper by 40 per cent. Prices will go down once mass production is undertaken,” he said. Stating that his ministry is in favour of vehicles that pollute less, Gadkari mentioned that the cabinet note on electric vehicles is ready and aims to take care of the charging infrastructure.

The union minister expressed that whether willingly or not, everyone will be dragged towards cleaner emission vehicles. Emphasising upon alternate fuel technologies as the future, he mentioned, “I want the import bill and pollution to come down. The government has decided to start 15 industries for second-generation ethanol. Ethanol can be easily produced from agro-based cotton straw, wheat straw, rice straw, bagass and bamboo. Alternative fuel is an import substitute, and is cost effective.”

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Manufacturing capability

Providing an assurance to the auto industry that the government is with them, Anant G Geete, Union Cabinet Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises, expressed in his speech that the industry should brace itself to be competitive globally. Stating that he is aware of the auto industry facing a tough time, Geete drew attention to the production of BSVI engines and vehicles by the industry even though the BSVI emission norms are still some time away. “We are capable despite the non-availability of fuel, which means capability is not an issue,” he said. He quipped, “There are disruptions, and there is a need to safeguard the local industry too.” In his speech, Amitabh Kant, CEO of the NITI Aayog said that disruptions like electromobility and connected mobility are unavoidable whether the economy likes it or not. He stressed upon a policy regime to be predictable, consistent and clear. “The government should keep the auto industry at its arm’s length for faster growth,” he mentioned. Calling upon the industry and components manufacturers to gear up and not be left behind, Kant expressed that the challenge is to think through the current situation. “I want the policy to come from the industry, rather than from the government. The industry should tell about how it can brace up. It must speak one voice, and with strategy of create early impact to achieve full electric status in the long run,” averred Kant.

In his keynote address, Guenter Butschek, Chief Executive Officer, Tata Motors, expressed that the Automotive Mission Plan and Smart cities have had positive iimpact on the industry. The transition from BSIII to BSIV norms, GST and demonetisation, he said, have however caused disruptions in the market. In order to realise the true potential of Automotive Mission Plan 2026, there is a need to eradicate the deep rooted basic challenges within the overall ecosystem, accentuated by intermittent regulatory uncertainties, opined Butschek. Stressing upon the auto industry’s understanding of the regulatory issues, and the need to be in tune, Butschek stated that the industry is looking for a platform for collaborative and participative approach from the government for a policy framework that fosters sustainable growth. Drawing attention to India lagging in emission and safety norms implementation when compared to the rest of the world, Butschek called upon the need for OEMs to commit; to leverage the emerging trends, and to work in tandem to bridge the gap by investing in future technologies.


The annual convention also included a discussion on skill development and talent. Abhay Damle, Joint Secretary, MoRTH, expressed that India is not short on talent, there is however a need to carry out new research and development activities. He shared his observation that India is not keeping pace with the emission norms prevalent in the developed nations, and is buying new technologies from the world rather than developing them locally. “For faster growth of the industry, it is important to sell technologies, rather than to buy them. If we can stay one year ahead of the world, only then can we give technology to the world rather than take it from them,” said Damle. One of the ways to enhance ‘Design in India’ averred Damle is to put our engineering capabilities to the test. Appreciating the commitment shown by the industry in adapting to regulatory policies, he said positivity prevails in the Indian auto industry. The simple reason why the government makes regulations is to bring systematic reform, and to address problems at their source.

In his address, Vinod Aggarwal, Managing Director and CEO, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles, mentioned that India has tremendous advantage in design and engineering. It can do things in a more relevant and frugal manner. Citing that the biggest advantage comes from competent engineers available at reasonable cost, Aggarwal stated that manufacturing excellence is extremely important, and should reason an investment in technology, skilled workforce, lean manufacturing, and in design and engineering to enhance asset productivity. “We need to bring automation in a balanced way; the need is to partner and develop more suppliers in India; develop world class quality to ensure process discipline,” he concluded.

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Schwing Stetter looks at transit mixer uptake

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With infra projects accelerating, Schwing Stetter is looking at a rise in demand for transit mixers.

Team CV

Schwing Stetter India is looking at a good uptake in transit mixers as infra activities accelerate. The company is looking at leveraging its decades worth of experience to support the growth in demand for transit mixers. Manufacturing the transit mixers at a world-class facility at Chennai, Schwing Stetter offers transit mixers in C, C2 and N version. They are a part of the transit mixer range the company offers the world over. Proven reliable all over the world, the transit mixers the company offers are characterised by low maintenance technology according to sources close to the company.

Claimed to be technologically advanced and modern in terms of design, the transit mixers are simple to handle and cost effective to maintain. Claim sources that the transit mixers help to reduce the time it takes to fill, discharge and clean. This helps the customers to save not just time, but also money. Available with mechanical or electronic control units, the transit mixers offer the buyers and users a choice to choose the transit mixer suiting their requirements. Offering high loading volumes with the virtue of having a high water line, the Schwing Stetter transit mixers are engineered to meet the demanding requirements of today’s users. With project demands changing in nature, and the time to complete the projects shrinking, a reliable machine is only the basic requirement. The other requirements include speed of operation, efficiency and low cost of ownership.

The Schwing Stetter transit mixers not only fulfill the demanding requirements of users in terms of operational speed, efficiency and lower cost of ownership, they also make it easier and safer to work in an environment that is no less risky. Made from reliable drive components, which guarantee smooth operation, the transit mixers, available with a nominal volume of three to 12 cubic meter with the option of a slave engine, or with power drawn through a PTO, are available in numerous models to suit the exacting needs of the operator. While the low centre of gravity of the mixers helps them to possess optimum drive characteristics, the feed hopper, discharge funnel and swivel discharge chute are designed with wear resistant plates for an optimum TCO.

Equipped with 5 mm mixing spirals in the main wear zones, and Stetter T-protect wear protection (30 x 8 mm) on the mixing spirals, the transit mixers not only last long, they also make highly efficient machines. The compact design of the transit mixer adds to their efficiency count, making them one of the most efficient transit mixers on offer according to sources close to the company. Offering high fuel efficiency due to their compact build and balanced weight distribution, the Schwing Stetter transit mixers also help to lower the maintenance cost of the truck. The overall maintenance is much lower state sources. They draw attention to the usual routine, which includes change of engine oil and washing of the drum. It is all that it takes, they explain, to keep the mixer running for years.

Backed by a strong support network, the experience of opting for a Schwing Stetter transit mixer is made positive by their ability to mount on a large variety of truck chassis. Capable of being mounted on the most sophisticated or the most modern truck chassis, the transit mixers the company offers have a large service network to look up to. The large service network of more than 300 skilled service engineers is one of the key pillars of the company that traces its roots to Germany. These engineers are highly skilled and attend to the numerous needs of the market, and the customers. They offer the best possible support according to sources close to the company, and are a force to reckon with. It is they who are contributing to the sustainability and growth of the brand add sources. This statement does not come as a surprise. The presence of Schwing truck mounted transit mixers is had from their high visibility in most parts of the country. It is a reflection of the confidence the company has in its products, and also of the customers who are happy with the prospect that their transit mixers are working efficiently, and profitably.

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Escorts raises the bar

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Escorts has unveiled an electric farm tractor in an effort to address the demands of progressive farmers.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

Clocking 33 per cent year on year (Y-o-Y) growth in net profit to Rs.63 crore for the quarter ended June 2017 (Q1FY18) as compared to a net profit of Rs.47 crore in the corresponding quarter in June 2016 (Q1FY17), Escorts Ltd. has unveiled an electric farm tractor to address the changing demands of progressive farmers. Keen to serve the growing aspirations of both domestic and global farmers, the Faridabad-based farm equipment maker is also expanding its global portfolio of tractors under the Farmtrac and Powertrac brands. Lining up tractors in the range of 22 hp to 30 hp that are tier IV emission norms compliant, and are aimed at international markets like US, Latin America, Africa, ASEAN countries and Europe, the company launched a new range of tractors under the New Escorts Tractor Series (NETS). These produce between 70 and 90 hp.

Speaking at the launch, Rajeev Nanda, Chairman, Escorts Ltd., expressed that they are keeping up with the demands of today’s progressive farmers. “For them, it is important to offer products that are of high quality with specifications that would make them competitive and attractive,” he mentioned. Anticipating a rise in demand for tractors above 75 hp, Escorts Ltd. is driving its exports portfolio to have tractors of up to 120 hp. Stress is on being a full range player. Said Nikhil Nanda, Managing Director, Escorts Ltd., that the effort is to disrupt as well as offer a new experience. The intention is to create a quality platform that will serve multiple applications at affordable costs, he mentioned. With an investment of up to Rs.30 crores, the existing Powertrac and Farmtrac tractor production facilities at Faridabad have been upgraded. The upgradation would touch three models – hydrostatic, electrical and mechanical. It will also lead to an improvement in areas like engines, transmissions, and electrical systems. To ensure high quality and tighter cost management, the company builds nearly 70 per cent of the components in-house. The Poland and Faridabad facility combined have the company rolling out one lakh units every year.

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Electric and Hydrostatic transmission

Working on electric as well as hybrid tractors to offer environment friendly solutions that are viable and sustainable, Escorts Ltd., according to Shenu Agarwal, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, customer acceptance will be the key. Agarwal averred that the entire tractor has been built around the battery, and it is necessary that it is sustainable for cost friendly operations. Opting for lithium ion batteries as they are light in weight and easy to maintain, the company, taking into consideration the limited area a tractor often operates in, has engineered it such that it can be charged by plugging into a 220-volt outlet. Keen to leverage the fact that the lithium ion batteries can hold more charge to support longer operational hours, the ability to charge using a 220-volt outlet may not be fast, it nevertheless saves the cost of setting up a 440-volt charging infrastructure. Pointed out Shailendra Agrawal, Chief Executive (Operations and R&D – EAM & ECE), Escorts Ltd., that the challenge in an electrical tractor are the initial costs. “Initial costs are high as the technology is new, and includes lithium ion batteries and control systems. Such things can nearly double the cost in comparison to a diesel-engine tractor,” he said.

Confident of the components costs dipping as volumes rise and technology gets embedded, Escorts Ltd. will continue to further invest in electric-tractor technology. It will continue to develop electric tractors. Mentioned Agarwal, ”I believe operating an electrical tractor would be less than 50 per cent of the maintenance of a diesel tractor.” As part of the continuing development of electric-tractor technology, the emphasis would be on minimising the wastage during vehicle operation. Particular attention will be paid to the software, the nature of operation, how energy is conserved, and if the same battery could be used to operate the tractor for longer hours. Touching upon the 75 hp, hydrostatic transmission equipped tractor that his company produces, Agrawal explained that the tractor is 20 to 25 per cent more fuel efficient due to the hydrostatic transmission that it flaunts. Ensuring less friction and transmission losses, the hydrostatic transmission, said Agrawal, is like the automated transmission prevalent in cars. Building tractors that are equipped with an ergonomically designed air conditioned cabin, 24×24 transmission (developed indigenously), and temperature sensors, Escorts Ltd., is looking at fast increasing its market share. The company registered a growth of 21.2 per cent in FY17 by earning a revenue of Rs. 4,167.6 crores (up from Rs. 3,438.7 crores in FY16). Registering a volume growth of 24 per cent during the same period, the company sold 63,786 tractors, against 51,455 tractors in FY16. Enjoying a market share of 10.8 per cent in FY17, the company hope to increase it by 20 basis points in the next one year. “Our exports may be small, but our range is complete. We are targeting an export of 12000 units. It may take us next four to five years to accomplish it,” said Aggarwal.

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Shenu Aggarwal, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Escorts Ltd.

Q. What are the reasons for the development and introduction of heavier tractors?

A. Tractors up to 75 hp can work in India. We may have showcased a 75 hp tractor, but we already make tractors up to 120 hp. For the

75 hp tractor to work in India, we are looking at farmers with large farm holding. It might not be a very wide spread market right now, it is however growing. The main reason is the use of bigger implements like big potato grinders. Tractors in such applications of up to 50 hp may not offer the lower cost of ownership. It will be the higher hp tractors that will offer lower cost of ownership. For tractors above 80 hp, we do not see much demand in India.

Q. How is Escorts addressing the local and global tractor markets?

A. The market outside India is in the range of 75 and 90 hp. There is no country in the world where the demand is zero for such tractors. So, each market that we go to, the tractors that we offer in the 75 to 90 hp range will play a crucial role in helping us to establish our presence. We were a bit starved of the exports volumes because we were not having the right range. Now, we have the complete range. Our export volumes are currently very small. We are targeting up to 12000 units for exports. We should bridge the target in the next four to five years. We produce the Farmtrac and Powertrac brand of tractors at our two plants (adjoining each other) at Faridabad. While we were designing our new range, we also made the necessary changes to the plants. We invested Rs.30 crores. We have also produced tractors in Poland. The Polish entity is 100 per cent owned. We have also outsourced assembly lines. If a local distributor wants to satisfy local norms and wants local value additions, they manage the same.

Q. Why did you opt for electric propulsion?

A. We are currently working on both, hybrid and electric models. The latter is a pure form of non-diesel tractor. It poses certain challenges, which may have led some companies to think of hybrids before moving to it. Much depends on how an electric tractor could be made commercially viable; the demand it will enjoy. Demand increase should be in the shortest time. We are also looking at challenges like charging the battery with the use of a 440-volt supply for fast charging. Charging with the use of a 220-volt outlet is not as fast. This calls for a suitable infrastructure. To devote 10 to 12 hours to charge the battery of an electric car is difficult. In the case of tractors, they are idle after the sun sets. An operation at night over a vast parcel of land is difficult. A tractor can thus devote up to 10 hours for charging. It could do without proper charging infrastructure as it has to work inside a confined area. It is only if you have to use the tractor day and night, that there is a challenge. The challenge to charge with a 440-volt infrastructure. A full charge at 440-volt could be achieved in six hours.

Q. What batteries have you opted for?

A. We have opted for lithium ion batteries. These are light in weight, compact in size and can store more charge. Since we are not a battery research company, we are outsourcing it. We are looking at costs, and at the task of designing tractors. We therefore took a battery and designed a product around it. The fact is, it is not the battery but the software where the trick lies. It is all about how the tractor operates, conserves energy, and makes its possible to operate for long hours. There are many leakages, which could reduce the efficiency. A tractor cannot run for seven hours non-stop. One cannot have an electric tractor that looses charge in one hour. For us, an electric tractor is work in progress.

Q. Many parts of India have experienced floods. Will this affect the sales of tractors?

A. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are some of the big agri-markets that have seen flooding. Floods are often found to affect areas that are not well irrigated, and dependent on rain water. Flooding usually gets the ground water level up. Farmers find that they are in good supply for the next two or three years. It is exactly the opposite when there is a famine. There, the water level takes three to fours years to come back to the normal levels. The problem with floods is that it destroys a standing crop. Farmers lose money.

Q. Are you seeing a demand for AC tractors? Do they not affect the efficiency?

A. An AC will need more power. Beyond that there is no major impact. In a 75 hp tractor, the AC consumes 3hp. These are four by four tractors and a ‘major’ game outside India.

Q. How many vendors are you currently working with?

A. We are currently working with almost 300 vendors. We are outsourcing various components. The bonnets, for example, are supplied by Krishna Maruti. The intellectual property rights are ours; the design is ours, and the quality level is also specified by us. It is things like the treatment of sheet metal parts that is done in-house to ensure there is no room for rust, vibration, etc. We have thus kept manufacturing of up to 70 per cent of critical components with us for in-house development. This helps us to assure quality.

Q. What are you doing to comply with the future emission norms?

A. We are currently at BS III norms for agricultural products. The next level of norms is going to be BS IV in India. It will be applicable to everything else other than tractors. The date for the same has not been decided yet. Earlier the government wanted to implement it in 2022. But now, because of the worldwide pressure, the government is said to have pre-poned the date of implementation. As far as we are concerned, we are fully prepared. The world is already at tier IV, and we can’t export anything until we can produce tractors that comply with that level of regulation. We thus have the technology, which we can apply in India as well. It is not challenging for us.

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A.A. Trailers banks on value engineering for growth

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A.A. Trailers is banking on value engineering to achieve strong growth.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

A shift to higher tonnage trucks is influencing the sale of tractor-trailers for some time. Offering the lowest cost of transportation per tonne per km, tractor-trailers are rising in volumes. The truck-trailer market in India is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5 per cent over the period from 2016 to 2020. Production is anticipated to rise to 71,249 units in 2020 from 52,468 in 2016. To grab a large share of the burgeoning truck-trailer market, Navi Mumbai-based A.A. Trailers is banking on value engineering. It wants to grow faster than the industry average. As an organised player the company is competing with a large contingent of unorganised players found in various regions of the country. As part of its value engineering strategy, A.A Trailers is sourcing not just the best grade of raw materials from established vendors, it is also investing in green manufacturing technologies and materials. Using polyurethane paint, which is free from lead and chrome for example, A.A. Trailers has to its credits many industry firsts according to Ranjan Pahadsingh, the chief executive officer. Manufacturing truck-trailers since 1997, the company has a capacity to build 160 trailers per month. Offering 82 trailer varieties including flat bed trailers, skeletal trailers, semi low bed trailers, low bed trailers, tanker trailers, hydraulic modular front axle trailers, side wall trailers, multi-axle trailers and bomb cart trailers to name a few, the company is confident of leading the truck-trailer market in India.

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Catering to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) since inception, and to aftermarket customers, A.A. Trailers, in a bid to attain rapid growth, is investing in capacity expansion. It is building two plants at Faridabad and Mumbai each. Expected to go on stream soon, the two new plants will hike the manufacturing capacity of the company to 500 trailers per month. Catering to customers all over India, the company is also planning to build a large scale manufacturing base in Orissa. Contemplating whether to build a facility at Pune or Orissa, the company, plans to begin with the manufacture of tip trailers, running gears and side wall trailers because of their demand at Orissa. Aiming at a turnover of Rs.500 crore, A.A. Trailers will float an IPO once it reaches that mark. “We will become a listed company once we reach the Rs.500 crore level,” revealed Pahadsingh. With the Faridabad facility expected to cater to clients in the North West region, and especially Rajasthan, which is India’s biggest tractor-trailer market, the company is keen to leverage the large manufacturing base at Orissa, once operational, for exports. Without losing sight of quality, A.A. Trailers with its order books full, is operating at all shifts to address demand. Mentioned Pahadsingh that the quality is getting them good orders. The polyurethane paint the company uses, costs three times more than the enamel paint used by other trailer manufacturers at Rs.350 per litre according to Pahadsingh. “It is this quality that gets us repeat orders,” he quipped.

Fabricating the beams for the main structure of the trailer in-house initially, A.A. Trailers used to also produce its own kingpins unlike the industry practice of importing them. To ensure quality, the company is sourcing the beams from companies like Jindal Steel. “We have defined a universal beam and uniform thickness for the flanges. In the last one and a half year, we have not compromised in any area of our technical process, and the technical ability. To move to the next level, what we have done is to introduce analysis methodology,” said Pahadsingh. What makes it interesting to use technology wisely is the demand. It varies wildy across regions. Averred Pahadsingh, “The demand for side wall trailers is high in Rajasthan compared to other regions.” The need to cater to demands that differ from region to region, A.A. Trailers has engineered an ability to be flexible in its manufacturing. Attributing this as one of the key qualities to achieve rapid growth, Pahadsingh opined, “In-line with the market requirements, we have to cater to a whole lot of trailer applications. It is simply not the standard trailer most of the times.” Flexible manufacturing ability is also helping the company to address the needs of customers. An interesting case, mentioned Pahadsingh, is the preference for flat bed trailers by customers who are looking to transport steel coils. “After observing the tendency of such trailers to crack under the load of steel coils, we started adding extra coil reinforcements. This is one of the reasons why we get the customer to disclose the exact application before we take an order. We also make them disclose the maximum load the trailer could be subjected to. It helps us to engineer a trailer that works under extreme conditions,” he explained.

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Introducing cold coil carrying trailers (canopy device), which were earlier imported from Italy, A.A. Trailers, with up to 38 different lengths of prime movers available, offers side wall trailers range from 23 ft to 50 ft. The heavy side wall trailers that the company makes are used to transport granite and marble. Supplying trailers where glass is stored in a wooden pallet and held against the side wall, the company sources key components like axles from well established manufacturers like York and Jost. The same is the case with the hydraulic tipping systems that finds use in a tip-trailer. Depending on the requirement of the customer, the company offers axles that are hydraulically steerable. Trailers with such axles are used to transport heavy and long structural machinery. The bomb-cart trailers that the company makes, find use in ports. Planning to manufacture axles, A.A. Trailers builds different types of air-suspension trailers. Keen to launch new variants with a minimal cost difference when compared to trailers with mechanical suspensions, the company is also gearing up to make slideable trailer platforms. Scaling up operations from 120 to 160 trailers in the last eight months, A.A. Trailers, according to Pahadsingh, should reach a turnover of Rs.500 crore by 2021 given Pahadsingh’s experience in hydraulics, the company is also looking at diversifying in other areas without losing focus on manufacturing trailers. Expected to exceed a turnover of Rs.100 crore this year, the company is busy going pan-India. Attracting clients from Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Kolkata, Tamil Nadu and many other regions, A.A. Trailers is also looking at rising opportunities in the LPG segment for growth. Signed off Pahadsingh, “The challenge is to not lose site of quality even if the volumes grow manifold. Our endeavour is to be regarded as a quality manufacturer of truck-trailers as it will help us to scale greater heights.”

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Lucas aftermarket thrust

Lucas Indian Service is looking at building product and service brand equity in the aftermarket.

Story by:

Bhargav TS

Specialising in the sale and service of Lucas TVS Auto Electricals and Delphi-TVS diesel fuel injection equipment, Lucas Indian Service is building a strong product and service brand equity. With the Indian auto aftermarket worth Rs.56,098 crore in FY2016-17 according to Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA), the application of thrust by Lucas Indian Service (LIS) to grab a larger pie of the market should not come as a surprise. The strategy to portray itself as a one-shop stop, or a total solutions provider, should put it in good stead with the market expected to grow at 10.5 per cent to reach Rs.75,705 crore by FY2019-20. In the commercial vehicle bit of the Indian auto components market, which is estimated to be Rs.19,748 crore worth, LIS has a significant presence. Offering a wide range of products that include ignition coils and solenoid switches from Lucas-TVS, and a wide range of diesel fuel injection systems components from Delphi-TVS, the company is aiming to be predominant player.

Leveraging its experience in the Indian automotive aftermarket with the ability to cater to the changing needs of vehicle buyers and operators, LIS is also looking at Internet of Things (IoT) to track market trends. It is planning to incorporate an amount of ‘intelligence’ into its ways of working (it already has SAP connectivity). Keen to build an agile and quick responding business structure to grow, LIS is looking at building intelligence. “SAP connectivity gives us an entire spectrum of manufacturing details and facilitates effective contacts with the retailers to track the inflows and outflows. We are also capable of providing training to the aftermarket mechanics. These capabilities differentiate us from other players,” expressed Muralidharan S, President, LIS. With a distinct advantage of having a strong and wide network of authorised and genuine parts retailers, which give the customers the much needed support as well as peace of mind, LIS, according to Muralidharan, is fine-tunning its strategy to be a total solutions provider. It is training mechanics and electricians.

Expanding its retailer network from 15,000 outlets to 40,000 outlets, LIS, to overcome the challenge of last mile connectivity, will soon have 40,0000 retailers. Keen to cover the grey areas sooner than later, LIS is conducting a programme called ‘Skill the Mechanics’. To overcome the challenge of spurious parts, the company is working on creating awareness. Of the opinion that critical parts are touching spurious-free zone with the automotive aftermarket becoming more quality-conscious, Muralidharan averred, “Better quality of products reduces aftermarket demand. Increasing number of vehicles on the road makes up for the loss. This should provide good elbow room for the aftermarket.” Drawing attention to the term counterfeit, Muralidharan explained, “It is often connected to spurious spares, but such spares are not necessarily spurious. They may be of a local make and come at a discounted price because of lower overhead costs. The good part is, with various campaigns, there is an increase in sensitivity. If a locally made genuine spare part is available at less cost, and ensures safety and efficiency, buyers will go for it.”

Looking at stocking parts from other OEMs, LIS is focussed on becoming a total solutions provider. It is looking at increasing the capability to source part numbers of other OEMs. Keen to penetrate into regions that do not have many showrooms, LIS, according to Muralidharan S, is looking at tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Currently located in 1260 towns, LIS is realising more sale in small towns. “The ambience we provide to discerning customers gives them a premium feel. If we give a warranty of six months on the parts, it will further increase the confidence of the customer,” announced Muralidharan. Of the opinion that the market is moving forward with click-away service styles and technology overdrives, Muralidharan opined that the segment has to keep pace with mega trends. “Even the unorganised players are forced to fall in line,” he remarked.

LIS is keen to achieve a niche in the aftermarket space by supplying multiple parts so that the customer can associate with it as a total solutions provider. Muralidharan is aware that to stock almost every part, and to keep track of it, will require technology intervention. Beyond SAP, the company is looking at reaching the customer through devices. “A customer could book a service using his smart phone and mention the issues he is facing to get an estimate. Based on the estimate he could decide whether he should say yes or look for other options,” averred Muralidharan. With the number of vehicle models and their variants rising at a fast pace, technology will help to keep track, Muralidharan expressed. Confident that by SAP linking the spares, the salesman can simply key in the order in an app., LIS is looking at the next stage of play in the Indian auto aftermarket space. To maintain an edge, it is developing a catalogue.

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