TAL Brabo is Euro compliant

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TAL’s Brabo industrial articulated robot is Euro compliant.

Story by:

Ashish Bhatia

TAL Manufacturing Solutions Ltd., showcased an industrial articulated robot Brabo at the ‘Make in India’ week in February 2016. In less than two years the company has launched the robot with Euro compliance, and a CE certification. Available in a two kilogram, and a 10 kg payload variant, the robot is priced in the range of Rupees five-to six-lakh. Built in partnership with an Italian firm, RTA Motion Control Systems, the robot aims at micro, small and medium scale enterprises. Large manufacturers looking for cost competitive automated solutions could also look at the Brabo to address their needs. Having tested the TAL Brabo successfully, the acquisition of CE certification marks a big step ahead, expressed R.S Thakur, Non-Executive Director and Chairman at TAL Manufacturing Solutions. “With ‘European Confirmity’, the Brabo robot can now be exported to European markets besides others,” he mentioned. TAL Manufacturing is also developing the all-important IP certification for the Brabo. This will ensure a degree of protection against the entry of foreign objects, especially water.

Expected to find application in the auto industry, which is constantly on the lookout for attaining a higher degree of automation and localisation, the Brabo, according to R.S Thakur, will revolutionise industrial manufacturing in India. Addressing the need for smaller and more portable robots in the auto industry, especially at the suppliers, the Brabo, said Thakur, marks an important development for his company. “With TAL Brabo, we have taken a quantum leap in revolutionising industrial manufacturing in India,” he averred. Touching upon RTA Motion Control Systems providing critical components like motors and drives, Thakur expressed, “The collaboration has not only helped to indigenise the Brabo, it has also helped us to come out with new variants.” Planning to launch new variants of the Brabo robot to cater to the needs of diverse industries, especially in the automotive field, the company designed and styled the robot in-house. Also involved in the process was another Tata Group company, Tata Elxsi, according to Thakur. Tata AutoComponents is also known to manufacture some of the most critical components of the robot. Claimed to have been tested in 50 customer work-streams already, TAL Manufacturing is looking to supply these robots to the logistics sector as well. The company is also looking at supplying the Brabo to various other industrial streams to improve quality and productivity.

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Promising to elevate productivity by 15 per cent to 30 per cent on a cast-to-case basis, the Brabo was primarily conceptualised to complement human workforce rather than to replace them. Said R.S. Thakur, “The robot will complement the human workforce and assist them in dull, dirty and dangerous tasks.” Suitable to carry out tasks that are repetitive in nature, of high volumes, and are dangerous and time consuming, the Brabo, according to Amit Bhingurde, Chief Operations Officer at TAL Manufacturing Solutions Ltd., can be used to increase efficiency spanning raw material handling to packaging of finished goods. Capable of being programmed to operate round the clock, and in all situations, the robot facilitates continuous production, and high degree of flexibility. The robot can also help to perform complex functions in a cost effective manner. Designed for diverse applications including pick and place, assembly of parts, machine and press tending, as a sealant applicator apart from finding utility in camera and vision based jobs, the Brabo extends beyond capabilities of Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA) robots that are still prevalent in the automotive industry.

The Brabo is a five-axis robot that can operate at different speeds. With varied degree of axis, the robot, capable of operating in a temperature range of zero degree to 50 degree centigrade, has a maximum reach of 600 mm as far as the 10 kg variant is concerned. The two-kg variant’s arm has a reach of 750 mm. Looking at doubling the specifications, the Brabo, on the controller side, has 16 (programmable) digitally controlled inputs and outputs. The robot requires a 230 Volt AC, single phase standard supply to operate.

Complying with European health, safety and environmental legislation, TAL Manufacturing is keen to export the Brabo to Europe to penetrate the highly evolved European market. This would helped the company to up its ante. The company is also developing IP certification to represent a degree of protection against foreign objects like water that could enter the machine and cause damage. This, according to Bhingurde, will widen the scope of Brabo’s application. A six-axis variant of the Brabo will be launched in September 2017, according to Bhingurde. He drew attention to the Brabo’s price advantage. The robot is 30 to 40 per cent cost competitive over the competition. Promising savings on life-cycle costs when compared with imported machines, buyers of Brabo stand to benefit from a 15 to 18 month payback period in monthly EMIs. The current list of Brabo customers include Mahindra and Mahindra, CPG Industries and Tata Motors.

Volvo CE crowns its Operator Champion for India

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Volvo CE’s Operator Champion contest for India saw Bheemappa K S bag the title.

Story by:

Bhargav TS

Bheemappa K S from Karnataka was judged the winner of Volvo CE’s Operator Champion contest for India. The event is an endeavour by Volvo CE to choose the best equipment operator, and highlight the importance of skill development in the construction equipment industry. Volvo has been present in India for quite some time now. It has invested in a construction and earth moving equipment manufacturing facility at Bangalore in India, Aware of the need to develop as well as have skilled manpower to operate construction and earth moving equipment, Volvo CE, as part of its focus on efficient operation of equipment has been conducting the Operator Champion contest the world over. An effort to highlight the fact that the equipment it makes feature highly ergonomic cabs and advanced and intuitive operating technology, the company, in India, held the Operator Champion contest in India for the first time, recently. The inaugural event was held at Bangalore, and played out on the belief that any machine is only as effective as the person operating it. With stress on the creation of good operating environment and systems, and higher productivity, the contest saw Narendra Singh from Rajasthan receiving the runner-up prize. Announced Dimitrov Krishnan, Vice President and Head, Volvo CE India, that the Operator Champion contest received excellent response from the industry. “We are celebrating the tremendous value equipment operators bring to the construction and mining industry. It is necessary to celebrate their role in nation-building”.

Through the Operator Champion contest, Volvo CE India, connected with numerous equipment operators in India. The company connected with their networks in India with an aim to promote, and propagate a thought that the work that they are doing is important. Said Krishnan, “Our aim with the programme has been to make the operators realise the importance of the role they play, and the need to improve their competence as well as confidence.” “In the case of winners, we hope the prize money will change their life,” he mentioned. Pointing at the challenges faced by the country in terms of infrastructure development, Krishnan expressed that it is essential to focus on skill development in order to meet the ambitious targets set. “The men and women that sit at the controls of our equipment have the power to deliver a real change. This is something that we should celebrate as a nation,” he quipped. A three day event, the Operator champion contest got the winners from nine regional beats in the country down to Bangalore for the Indian final. Marking the achievement of a milestone with work starting 18 months ago, the event at Bangalore saw a host of VIPs attend. Present among the important people in the industry was Gaurav Kapoor, Head – Industry Partnership & CSR at SCC Engagements, which is part of the National Skill Development Corporation. His presence reflected on the rising focus on skill development in the country.

On the first day of the finals the attendees were recognised for their achievements, and taken on a tour of the Volvo CE plant at Peenya and Hosakote. On the second day, two rounds of the competition were held at the Hosakote Customer Centre. Each participant was tested for speed, dexterity, logical thinking and more. Operators were subjected to carrying out operations on both, the equipment and simulators. The equipment included and excavator and a wheel loader. On the final day, the operators took part in the final round of competition. The results were announced later in the day. Attended by 100 people, including Volvo CE senior leaders, government officials, construction contractors and Volvo dealer representatives, the event saw the winner, Bheemappa K S, receive a prize money of Rupees five-lakh. The runner up received a prize money of Rupees two-lakh.

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Wabco looks at growth from new solutions

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Wabco is looking at leveraging its technological prowess, and the acquisition of Mico Incorporated to grow more than the industry average.

Story by:

Anusha B & Bhargav TS

Wabco is known as a supplier of braking systems to CV manufacturers the world over. It is one of the few companies in the world, except Knorr Bremse, which specialise in this field. Not limiting itself to braking systems, the tier 1 supplier has also come to offer AMT technology and telematics solutions that tap into artificial intelligence to offer CV operators smart monitoring solutions, business execution tools through real time information and driver assistance systems among others. In India, the company, through its wholly owned subisdiary, is looking at leveraging its telematics solutions to offer a connected future to CV operators. The company plans to integrate telematics solutions in the vehicle and supply it as an OE offering. Wabco is already offering telematics solutions in the aftermarket. There are 3000 basic systems being offered. They are designed for track and trace, and perform a few other basic functions. Aware that telematics has a lot more to offer, the company is looking at leveraging its capabilities to carve out a unique standing among other telematics solutions providers. P Kaniappan, Managing Director, Wabco India Limited, opined, “Wabco’s specialisation is in mobilising vehicle intelligence. Our telematics solutions make it possible to communicate with the sensors in the system. Add to it, the service network we have invested in the world over. Our engineering prowess in vehicle dynamics will enable us to service the vehicle anywhere in the country. This will make it easier for a fleet operator and driver to stay connected with the authorised service centre.” “Our focus is not to sell the product, but to offer solutions that empower the fleet and driver,” he added.

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The share of electronics in CVs is growing. The future, it is clear, belongs to CAN-enabled vehicles. With CAN-bus making up the backbone of all the electronic systems that are employed in a CV, it is but inevitable for CVs to head towards a connected future. A connected future where onboard diagnotics and remote monitoring are a way of life to guarantee maximum uptime. Predictive maintenance through telematics will form a crucial link in CV operators quest for maximum uptime. Wabco, through its telematics solutions, is looking at playing at role in this area, and in other areas that will signal value for fleet operators and drivers. The telematics solutions that Wabco is looking at offering as an OE fit will include collection of crucial data for analysis. Data from the engine; data for other smart aggregrates like the gearbox as well. “Large amount of data is becoming available. If the CV makers want us to incorporate the analytic bit, we are open. We can engineer it such that it provides feedback to them in the form of a dashboard. With our telematics solutions, OEs can add value to their product,” said Kaniappan. “With our engineering prowess, and the ability to provide service across the country, we can take pride in positioning ourselves above other players in the field. It is no secret that predictive maintenance helps to identify issues before hand. The telematics system sends a trigger warning to the driver. It also flashes on the screen the nearest authorised service station so that the driver can reach it. In the development of such telematics solutions, integration is the most important element. It is also the differentiating element for us over competition,” he added. By offering its telematics solutions as OE fit, Wabco, in India, is keen to highlight the fact that it is not just offering a software intensive product, it is also offering a solution that is ‘complete’ and adds value.

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The telematics solutions that Wabco is keen to offer go beyond track and trace. They include fuel efficiency, fuel monitoring and time management. Time management, it is no secret, is crucial to a fleet operator. Even if one vehicle is idle or undergoing service, effective fleet utilisation is affected. Based on the number of trucks queuing up for servicing at the service centre, a trigger can be sent to the driver. This would help him to plan his visit accordingly, and even find out the time it will take to service the vehicle.

The electronic nature of telematics solutions Wabco is looking at, aligns well with the ABS and AMT solutions it is offering. These two are mechatronic in nature. Made mandatory on a certain class of CVs in India, including those that carry hazardous goods, ABS, it is acknowledged the world over, enhances safety. In India, the costs associated with ABS have been a deterrent for CV operators. For them, it is the most essential that matters largely. Awareness for ABS however has been rising lately, and it being made mandatory on certain class of CVs is making a difference. Operators are slowly coming to understand the benefits of ABS in terms of tyre life among others. According to Kaniappan, ABS, with the addition of few features like hill hold can offer greater value. The hill hold feature, he said, optimises the compressor and engine functions. Compressor need not run when not required. With electronic stability control in ABS, the roll back effect can be drastically reduced. This feature is expected to be made mandatory soon. Wabco is tasting good success with its AMT technology in India. “Two years ago, only three per cent of the population was using AMT. Today, AMT is finding greater acceptance. With engines electronically governed, the use of AMT is only set to increase,” announced Kaniappan. “We are ready with the AMT portfolio. We are working with most Indian OEMs, and want to make global products keeping India as a base. We plan to pass on the advantage to Indian customers,” he added.

Wabco has begun supplying disc brakes to the aftermarket. They are receiving a positive feedback. The bus operators have come to appreciate them especially. Plans, claim Wabco sources, are underway to provide the same to OEMs. Product localisation is progressing, and is expected to get over in the next 18 years. Once localised, the company will add more value to it. For AMT, the company has already setup a local assembly. For ABS solutions it offers, the company has achieved a localisation of over 90 per cent. Sensors continue to be imported. They are a highly critical element of ABS. Efforts to locally produce the sensors are on. The company hopes to achieve the desired result by April. Once achieved, ABS will be 100 per cent localised. About Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Kaniappan expressed that it is too big a technology and involves a lot of modules that serve electronic needs ranging from basic to advanced. “We first need to bring the technology to India and see how it can be applied to Indian vehicles. Lowest level is autonomous braking, and is mandatory in many European countries. Whether Indian CVs need full braking is the question. Collision warning systems and autonomous braking could make for a system that is feasible in terms of costs for India. A mandate may be necessary. We are figuring out whether we can tap the mining segment to absorb this technology first,” he stated.

Wabco is contemplating if the two products – vacuum pumps and electronic suspension, it offers to passenger vehicles can be applied to ambulances in India. These two products are exported the world over. Apart from vacuum pumps and electronic suspension, the company also produces wiring harness for ABS to endorse the quality of the product. The wiring harness business could be leveraged for other applications. Wabco, said Kaniappan, has acquired Mico Incorporated. It is a global acquisition, and expected to provide Wabco access to the off-highway industry. The acquisition could increase its operational footprint. Mico Incorporated is a supplier of complete pneumatic and hydraulic brake control systems for off-hghway vehicles worldwide. In India, Wabco could leverage the relations of Mico Incorporated to enter into the hydraulics market. Wabco, according to Kaniappan, wants to grow faster than the industry average. It plans to do so by increasing its product reach. What better opportunity than to offer new, exciting solutions to CVs, passenger vehicles and off-highway equipments.

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Fasching to produce seat belts in India

Fasching Salzburg is working towards manufacturing seat belts in India to cater to the domestic and other South East Asian markets.

Story by: Bhargav TS

Fasching Salzburg GmbH was established in 1987 in the Austrian city of Salzburg as a small family business to manufacture safety belts. The period between 1987 and 1989 led the company to grow rapidly in-line with the retrofitting obligation for safety belts in Italy. This growth fuelled expansion, and Fasching in 1990 took a strategic decision to relocate its manufacturing activities to Sopron, Hungary. It is here that the company came to possess a high-quality and affordable manufacturing base for safety belts and components. Beginning to supply safety belts to OEMs in 2000 for passenger seats of buses and commercial vehicles as per the statutory regulations that dictated their use, Fasching embarked on yet another stage of expansion. This time, its strategy took it to the international markets the world over. It is for some time now that Fasching has been supplying safety belts in India.

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Local manufacture

To underline its commitment for the Indian market, the company is working towards setting up a manufacturing facility in India. The aim is to serve the domestic market as well as the other South East Asian markets like Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Specialising in the design, development and manufacture of safety belts mainly for wheel chair applications apart from commercial vehicles, the company is looking at leveraging the frugal engineering qualities associated with manufacturing in India. Fasching is expected to manufacture a wide range of safety belts in India among those that it offers globally. The product range of the company includes two-point, three-point and special belts in different versions and technologies like static, ALR, ELR and buckles. The range also includes automatic locking retractors, emergency locking retractors, two-point belt systems, three-point belt system, and special solutions like H-belts, bicycle tethers, fall protection belts, YoYo belts and five-point belt systems.

Supplying seat belts in India for the last four to five years, the company, according to Harald Pessl Ing, Sales Director and Authorised Officer, Fasching Salzburg GmbH, is looking at India as a switch to broadcast the business prospects. “Keeping India as a base, we could cover the South East Asian markets. Setting up a manufacturing base in India will open new avenues for us,” Expressed Harald. Fasching, in India, has supplied 60,000-80,000 seat belts over the last four to five years. This clearly indicates that India is one of the promising international markets for the company, which currently has just one manufacturing facility in Europe. Averred Harald, “To begin with, we would target the commercial vehicle segment, and buses especially, as this zone has huge numbers. We are planning to localise 99.9 per cent as this will give us a cost advantage. We would also be tagged as one of the local suppliers.”

Aiming for sustainable growth

Fasching, it is clear, is not hurrying into its strategy to setup a manufacturing operation in India. It is working on a sustainable growth model instead. It is keen to ensure that its seat belts do not earn a bad name for reasons that may not have to do with the belts, but with other factors involved. The design and layout of the seat for example. Planning to produce seat belts with technical inputs from the parent company and supply them to buses, mini buses and mini vans, Fasching is targetting tier-one and tier-two suppliers. Close to 80 per cent of what the company supplies, goes to tier-two suppliers. Another 15 per cent goes to tier-one suppliers. The remaining five-per cent, according to Harald, is equally balanced. “We are supplying safety products to the customers,” mentioned Harald. He said, “We will work with seat manufacturers on how to structure the seat, position the retractor and make it function flawlessly.” The function of passenger seat belts in a bus amounts to a complex operation. It goes to work in sync with various seat functions and seat designs. Any shortcoming in seat design or seat function can hamper the function of the seat belt. “Unless we get the required layout, our seat belt will not function properly. As we sell a safety product, we need to doubly verify before we proceed with order book instructions,” said Harald.

The Indian market, opined Harald, is still at a nascent stage in the adaptation of safety products as a stand-alone feature. This is despite seat belts being made mandatory for passenger cars, he added. “It would have been better if the regulation was extended to buses, especially inter-city buses, with a deadline for compliance”. Harald felt that it were the manufacturers of buses like Mercedes-Benz and Volvo among others who could direct the Indian market to set high standards in safety with the use of passenger seat belts. “We can only manufacture and supply the product. As an extended move we could explain our product needs with certain videos. The difference between two-point and three-point seat belts could be explained for example. Beyond that much depends on market awareness and regulations,” said Harald. Interestingly, the ratio of two-point seat belts and three-point seat belts was 70:30 in 2004-2005. Today it is 50:50, and mandated as per the European norms. India, opined Harald, could look at a similar structure, albeit agressively, where four years down the line, a 20:80 (two-point : three-point seat belts) ratio is achieved.

Passenger seat belt culture in Indian buses

In the near-term, the company is not expecting a drastic change in demand for commercial vehicle seat belts. It is perhaps because of this that Fasching is open to looking at the passenger car segment for growth. “Passenger car segment seat belts does not involve rocket science. We have capabilities to produce such seat belts except for the pretensioners. Pretensioners are however found only on some premium cars like BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Smaller car segments do not have them. Though car segment is not going to be our immediate priority, we are open to look at it,” informed Harald. He signed off by saying that he is hopeful of inter-city buses in India being mechanised with seat belts soon.

ZF technology centre in India

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ZF Friedrichshafen AG has commissioned a technology centre at Hyderabad to pursue progress in the digital space.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

Present in India since 1982 through joint ventures until it set up its own subsidiary at Pune in 2007, ZF Friedrichshafen AG has commissioned a technology centre at Hyderabad. Spanning 100,000 sq. ft., the technology centre will help the tier 1 automotive supplier to pursue progress in the digital space. Adding to ZF’s manufacturing footprints at Coimbatore and Pune, the technology centre highlight’s ZF’s commitment to India where it will be investing Euro 15 million over the next five years. Apart from fostering high-end innovations which will focus on bringing advanced technology to India as well as localise strategic business activities including research, design and development for global market initiatives, the centre will also look at leveraging academic research communities from India. To be dedicated to electronics, embedded software and mechanical engineering, the centre will support ZF’s global development teams, enabling the company to accelerate local product development. Built in a short span of eight months, the centre, according to Mamatha Chamarthi, Chief Digital Officer of ZF, will become a pillar of innovation for the company.

Leveraging frugal engineering qualities

Aiming to leverage the frugal engineering abilities India is known for through the technology centre, Chamarthi said that they are looking at creating a low cost model of its nine-speed transmission that is offered to commercial vehicle OEMs in India. Announcing that the technology centre at Hyderabad will play a crucial role in carrying our safe routing as part of ZF’s three main stays – see, think and act, ZF CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer, said, “The safe routing of technologies as we expect significant change in automobiles comes under the think part.” Dedicated to electronics, embedded software and mechanical engineering, the technology centre at Hydreabad will support ZF’s global development teams, enabling the tier 1 automotive supplier to accelerate local product development and support its non-automotive operations as well as customers.

Looking at harnessing the skill set present in India to develop world class technology solutions for ZF across the globe, in addition to accelerating local product development, the technology centre, said Chamarthi, would provide employment to 2500 individuals by 2020. “Our focus when it comes to digitisation is on our products. We are looking at many things; transmissions in CVs for example can be connected and monitored to help with remote diagnostics, and move forward to prognostics and maintenance,” she added. Stating that they are looking at different business models like not charging for the entire transmission at once, and charging only a quarter of it, Mamatha said, “We are looking not just at technology but also at how it can help us to come up with different business policies. Not just to support organic growth but to support new revenue models that contribute to growth.”

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Premium, and cost effective

With all five divisions of the ZF Group represented in the Indian market, and having local production companies that manufacture parts for diverse vehicle applications, it is not tough to understand and acknowledge ZF’s intention to increase its footprint in India. Said Sommer, “The motivation for the technology centre at Hyderabad came from the company’s digitisation strategy. There is a huge need in software capacity and expertise to serve the digital future of our products. With software as the main point, the centre at Hyderabad will support all our technology centres in the world. It will also help us to stay close to our customers by leveraging new software and intelligence of our think, act and see strategy.” The technology centre at Hyderabad, apart from helping ZF to set up a strong footprint in India, will help the group to support customers to achieve ambitious fuel efficiency targets the government has set. ZF has a lot of technologies to offer. These would effectively contribute to the group’s customers addressing regulatory and other market needs. The technology centre at Hyderabad, said Sommer, give us an opportunity to have the right technology from the cost and performance perspective.

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A brainchild of Mamatha who comes from the TRW side of the business, the technology centre at Hyderabad has a lot riding on it. While Mamatha is keen to replicate ‘M-city’ (University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center) at Hyderabad in association with the Telangana Government, according to Sommer, ZF is looking at being balanced and modular. Said Sommer, “ZF has traditionally been stronger in the high cost market. The TRW acquisition gives us an opportunity to push our case for cost efficient technology. TRW has excellent cost position when it comes to their products, and have premium technology and quality. We have learned a lot from TRW, and the strategy is to have market share in performance as well as cost effective areas of the business.”

ZF and auto megatrends

ZF has identified three megatrends in automobiles. It has added safety to these three megatrends to arrive at a zero accidents level. Said Sommer, “We feel that safety is an important element. Autonomous driving, as a megatrend, is a challenge. It is life spent in different ways for the end customer, for us the need is to comply with occupant safety. If autonomous driving wil bring value, we need to rethink the safety systems to be more flexible.” Interestingly, the engineers at ZF are looking at having airbags outside the vehicle to absorb impact energy and not let it reach the vehicle, and its occupants inside. Such technologies, it is clear, would call for sensors that not only let the vehicle to drive itself in traffic, but to also avoid crashes. The ‘extra safe’ technology ZF has developed is to prevent collisions. Electric gadgets are used to drive the tech, including a smart device. Vehicle position is automatically transmitted to the cloud to make a truly connected environment. With existing automobiles expected to be on the road for quite some time, to arrive at zero-accident autonomous vehicle environment, the use of smart device may make for faster progress according to Sommer. “Safety as a third megatrend has us investing in it in the form of technologies and solutions,” said Sommer.

ZF, Innovator Mamatha Chamarthi +++ indirekter Mitarbeiter

ZF is putting in place a global engineering strategy. The strategy is being aligned to the talent available. “In India, the talent is about new age technology,” said Mamatha. “The commissioning of the tech centre at Hyderabad in eight months was made possible because of innovation thereby, and agile processes,” she added. According to Mamatha, ZF is keen to leverage the problem solving mindset and the analytical nature of Indian talent to gather data and process it into intelligence that can be fed to make an actuator work. ZF, for CVs, apart from supplying axles, transmissions, etc., is offering Openmatics. It is a smart telematics platform that enables remote monitoring of truck fleets. ZF initially provided the hardware, but has now begun doing the software part too. This involves visualisation of data. It is an area that ZF is tinkering with according to Mamatha. Openmatics, she said, has grown into a Euro 100 million business.

At CES 2017, ZF showcased two specific technologies – Block chain and extra safe. Extra safe is not about every individual subscribing to it. It is about incorporating intelligence in the components of CVs that ZF builds. It would be app.-based. It would be about connecting and sharing the geo position. The cloud-based algorithm receives the data and processes it such that it can be applied to different situations. For example, to let a vehicle know that a pedestrian is walking towards the vehicle from behind another vehicle or similar such object such that the driver of the vehicle, or the vehicle itself is not able to see him. The vehicle can take action; the pedestrian can take action. Multiple such applications can be done, adding a concrete dimension to digitisation. Through the tech centre at Hyderabad, ZF is expected to look at building a predictive maintenance platform credibility. It could be made available to all the components ZF offers. ZF is partnering with GE for data monetisation by sharing best business practices according to Mamatha. ZF is keen to get into that space too. It is exploring, without getting away from its position as a mechatronics intelligence company. ZF is keen to venture into the space, and understand what Google is doing as Google ventures into the auto space and tries to understand what companies like ZF are doing. ZF is setting up a centre in Silicon Valley with Plug and Play as a partner.

Bullish about cloud-bsed logistic solutions

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Quikhop Logistic Solutions s is banking on cloud-based solutions for the logistics industry.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

India spends close to 14 per cent of its GDP on logistics. It is almost double of the world average at eight per cent. At a time when every solution is engineered to shed unnecessary weight, both in terms of its structure and the costs involved, an expenditure of close to 14 per cent of the GDP points at a wide scope to dial efficiency and stream-line processes. Considering the figure of four per cent, it does not come as a surprise that over 90 per cent of the logistics sector continues to be fragmented. Inefficiencies include a complex taxation structure, poor roads, low technology adoption, warehousing and storage problems. What makes the situation worse is that these inefficiencies span across geographies.

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In a bid to cut down inefficiencies in the logistics sector, Quikhop Logistics Solutions is tapping into cloud-based solutions. A young company that was established in 2015, Quikhop specialises in full truck load space as of now. Employing an asset-light model, Quikhop has developed SaaS-based solutions that focus on saving costs at various levels in the B2B segment. These solutions will be made available on demand, and will be contractual as well as spot based. According to Apollo Sharma, CEO, Quikhop Logistics Solutions, such solutions do not need specialised hardware. They enable cost saving for the customer right from the inception. Accessible via website, mobile app., interactive voice response system, and through a 24×7 call centre based at the company’s headquarters in Noida the company is laying stress on developing solutions that address difficult brand requirements. Explained Sharma, “Our emphasis is to develop solutions that address different brand requirements.”

Cutting down idle time

In its first year of operation, Quikhop Logistics Solutions worked towards expanding its horizons. The company entered into an association with 200 shippers, 1500 carriers and 8000 truck owners. This gave it an opportunity to specialise in return truck load. Upon careful study of the procurement rates for load transport, which account for a complex procedure and often result in over 35-40 per cent rise in costs, Quikhop Logistics Solutions decided to automate shippers even before the truck reached its destination to cut down on idle time. Upon learning that end to end project execution can result in cost excalation due to inefficiencies that can be dealt with, the company invested in the development of solutions for return truck load. “Our algorithms have integrated solutions for return trucks that are available at a cost that is cheaper than the origin city trucks for resource optimisation,” expressed Sharma.

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The operational model

A team of 15 experts at Quikhop Logistics Solutions has developed various solutions under Quikhop Transport Management System (QTM) for shippers and carriers. These comprise of real time repository of consignments available for transportation. The system matches the freight with the most suitable carrier based on the route and load capacity of trucks available with the carriers. “We maintain proof of deliveries and of any other process necessary. Carriers get recommendation for freight by utilising price clearing system for increased efficiency and transparency,” said Sharma. According to him, the company has developed a centralised order booking system, which is controlled out of its Noida office. The centralised order booking, averred Sharma, minimises delays and reduced leakage arising out of system complexities.

In order to boast efficiency, the company has invested in ten offices across India. Plans are also being drawn to double the number of offices over the next one year. This would enable the company to increase its reach in the market. Sharma, pointing at the broker-intensive nature of the logistics and transportation industry, said that it is simply impossible to remove the middle men. It is impossible to eliminate their role despite them siphoning off a major part of the trade revenues. “Brokers will always exist in the industry. With a sharp eye on reducing involvement of multiple level brokers, what is more important is to harness their capacities and arrange transport quickly,” he added. Working with 150 SMEs, Quikhop Logistics Solutions also has clients across auto and FMCG industries.

For truck drivers

Truck drivers, said Sharma, play a crucial role in the logistics industry. “They are however a link that is often looked upon with a huge trust deficit. It is wrong to mistrust them. It is they who ferry goods worth crores of rupees,” he added. Quikhop Logistics Solutions has taken upon itself to train truck drivers once every two months. The training is conducted to enable the driver to focus better on his job. Quikhop Logistics Solutions also offers scholarships to their sons and daughters. To ensure that the drivers are able to increase their productivity, the company is chalking out plans to inculcate the culture of entrepreneurship. This, according to Sharma, will encourage the drivers to perform better. Quikhop Logistics Solutions is already working with 25 drivers. It has also helped to self finance vehicles to encourage people to perform better; to reduce the stop overs. With GST due to be implemented later this year, Sharma is of the opinion that goods movement across states and geographies will be simplified. “Delays caused towards payment of interstate taxes will be avoided,” he added.

Charging ahead

Daimler Trucks Asia- IAA 2016 copy

Daimler India Commercial Vehicles charges ahead with a mix of rising domestic sales and a strong exports drive.

Story by:

Anusha B

It was in March 2012 that Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, unveiled its new range of trucks under the BharatBenz brand. The company held a special event spanning six-days at the Hyderabad International Convention Center, where the media, potential customers and brand partners including dealers and suppliers were able to see the trucks up and close. The event followed the announcement from the company that it will seek a presence in the CV segments in India ranging from 9 to 49-tonnes. Truck models to that effect – light-duty and heavy-duty, were showcased. A sale of 1000 trucks was achieved in 2012. In May 2013, the company announced its Indian strategy under its forward-looking programme, Daimler Trucks No. 1. The first outcome of the programme resulted in the launch of a new robust ‘Made in India’ truck portfolio under the Fuso brand for exports. Supported by rising domestic sales and a strong export drive, DICV, it is no secret, is pursuing growth. Expecting to break-even this year, the company, according to Marc Llistosella, President and CEO, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), and Head of Daimler Trucks Asia, has been able to offset its growth in the domestic market last year with exports. “Our path is promising, and we expect to break-even this year,” he said.

Expecting to be profitable from 2018, DICV, it is certain will continue to follow the strategy of driving exports while it increases its reach in the domestic market. Exports of DICV trucks made at the Oragadam plant ammounted to 4500 units in 2016. In 2015, 2100 units were exported. So far, 7500 trucks have been exported to over 30 markets. Exports of parts from DICV’s extensive Indian supplier base to other Daimler entities in Japan, Europe, North America and Brazil, have crossed 35 million. The domestic performance of the company may reflect from the degrowth of seven per cent, it were the exports that made a difference. A total of 13,081 trucks were sold in the domestic market by the company in 2016. In 2015, 13,997 units were sold. Until now, sources close to the company claim, 40,000 BharatBenz trucks have been put on the road. Said Llistosella, “The Indian operation is a cornerstone of our success at Daimler Trucks Asia. With the launch of a third product line for exports, we will enter the next stage in the strategic collaboration of DICV and MFTBC. DICV will start production of this new series of trucks – sub-9 tonne vehicles, shortly. These would initially be exported as Fuso brand variants.” “The first customer vehicles will roll out in the first half of the year,” he added.

According to Erich Nesselhauf, MD & CEO, DICV, the focus on profitable growth continued in 2016. “A mixed year for the Indian CV industry 2016 was. We were able to compensate the current challenges in the domestic market with our successful export story. With new products in the pipeline, we are geared up for further growth.” Clear about offering fully-built trucks and buses, the implementation of BSIV emission norms in April this year are likely to work to the advantage of the company, which announced last year that product transition to BSIV emission norms has been accomplished. “With BharatBenz, we have the best technology in the market. The CVs are based on proven solutions, and enable use to be fully ready to sell BSIV vehicles in India. Feedback from our customers for our BSIV vehicles clearly indicates that we are perfectly positioned for the transition,” expressed Nesselhauf. He mentioned, “Continuing discussions on BSIV are reflecting upon the attempt of some players in the Indian commercial vehicle industry to dilute this upcoming transition of emissions standards. It should not be diluted by commercial interests. There is no acceptable reason for any delay, as everyone in the industry has had enough time to get ready for the transition. We also believe that our BSIV vehicles are economically beneficial to our customers since they deliver more mileage (kilometer per litre) compared to BSIII versions. Superior efficiency of BSIV trucks can help to reduce the import bill of the Government of India,” explained Nesselhauf. He further stated, “We have been selling BSIV emission compliant CVs since August 2015. The feedback we received was positive.” The company has trained its dealers to cater to its new-tech trucks.

The new generation BharatBenz heavy-duty trucks launched in the coming months, will be key growth drivers, claim Daimler India sources. In Its been three years after the launch of BharatBenz CVs that the company is presenting a new range of medium-duty trucks. Upgrading the entire truck portfolio with the launch of its new generation heavy-duty trucks in the segment between 16 and 49 tonne GWV, the company rolled out the 50,000th CV recently. The roll out marked a production milestone in August 2016. Localisation levels of trucks are claimed to be as high as 92 per cent. With air conditioned cabins on offer, the new BharatBenz trucks are expected to reduce driver fatigue, a major cause for accidents in India.

Erich Nesselhauf- MD&CEO- DICV copy

With the ecanter, the third generation of the world’s first fully-electric light truck under the Fuso brand marking a leap forward, DICV, as part of Daimler’s Asia strategy, continues to look forward to a brighter future. The ecanter, based on the modular battery concept, can cover up to 100 km on a single charge.

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It takes less than an hour to charge 80 per cent of the battery. Payback time is expected to be three years. With a payload capacity of two to three-tonne, the trial run of the ecanter is said to have highlighted a saving of around Euro 1000 per 10,000 km. This vehicle will be delivered to the customers in Europe, the US and Japan.