Brijbasi fire fighters

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Brijbasi Hitech Udyog commands a good 30 per cent market share in fire fighters.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

Brijbasi Hirech Udyog was established in 1971 with an aim to redefine the fire fighting industry and supply quality products. Serving oil refineries, pharma companies, fertilizer complexes, thermal power projects, state fire brigades, municipal fire brigades, steel plants, port trust organisations, civil aviation bodies and atomic energy establishments, the company has till date delivered more than 7000 fire fighting vehicles. The count also includes vehicles that were exported. Commanding a 30 per cent market share in the domestic market, the company, according to Arun Bhatnagar, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Brijbasi Hitech Udyog Ltd (BHTUL), goes the extra mile to understand the requirements of the customer and how a certain vehicle platform will be suitable. Fetching a significant order to supply 60 crash fire trucks to the Airport Authority of India in 1975 according to Bhatnagar, the company refrains from offering what they have, and instead pay attention to what the customer requirement is. Having supplied more than 150 fire crash tenders to the Indian Air Force, BHTUL has fabricated 110 crash fire tenders for the Indian Air Force through Bharat Earth Movers (Bangalore) as well.

Meeting the standards

Serving diverse clients, BHTUL has to comply with various regulations as it builds and supplies fire tenders. The regulations include specifications set by the Bureau of Indian Standards for fire tenders (IS 960 and 6067), for foam tenders (IS 951 and 10460), for medium capacity dry chemical powder tender (IS 10993), air crash fire tenders (IS: 951/ ICAO/NFPA or International standard/Ministry of Defence) and for defense vehicles under the DRDO and DGQA. Mentions Bhatnagar that the clients that they serve as different as cheese and chalk. “The requirement of BPCL, IOCL and HPCL could be far different from the requirement of a thermal power company like NTPC, or that of an electricity board,” he says. The requirements of muncipalities for fire tenders could be far different, Bhatnagar emphasises.

Serving heavy industries like the Durgapur, Bokaro, Bhillai and Visakhapatnam steel plants, BHTUL has supplied fire tenders to the state fire services of Maharashtra, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and others. The company recently executed an order of 38 water mist systems or quick response vehicles. These were supplied to the Kerala Fire services. BHTUL recently supplied 100 medium water tenders to IOCL and BPCL refineries. Opining that the setting up of National Disaster Management Authority in 2005 has led to the elevation of safety awareness, Bhatnagar states that the demand for quality is increasing. “The demand for quality is increasing putting us in a position of advantage since we have always strived for the highest quality standards in all our endeavours,” Bhatnagar expresses. He explains, “The hazardous nature of the job demands minute attention to quality.”

Apart from the demand for quality, BHTUL has had to account for a change in vehicle chassis. Avers Bhatnagar, “Vehicle setup has been changing.” BHTUL chooses the vehicle chassis for a fire fighting job as per the class of fire it is expected to deal with. Fire tender vehicle chassis may be of the single cab type or of the double crew cab type. Their tonnage could be in the 25-tonne range. Chassis are typically sourced from Tata Motors, Mahindra, Ashok Leyland and Eicher. For high end operations, BHTUL procures chassis from Volvo, MAN and Mercedes-Benz. “The non-availability of requisite chassis from Indian OEMs for high end operations drives us to international OEMs,” reasons Bhatnagar. The variety of fire tenders that BHTUL supplies include water tenders, water bousers, foam tenders, dry chemical powder tenders, rescue tenders, hi-tech foam tenders, crash fire tenders, defence vehicles, aerial platform vehicles, and vehicles carrying water mist system informs Bhatnagar. Almost each and every fire tender is tailor-made to the specifications of the industry.


Building a fire tender

Inking an agreement with Finnish firm Bronto Skylift Oy Ab in 1984 for aerial ladders, BHTUL supplied over 100 hydraulic platforms ranging from 23 m to 112 m. The company commenced the assembly of CKD kits at its facility at Mumbai. Platforms of up to 42 m began manufacture. Platforms ranging from 42 m to 112 m continue to be imported. The ones that are assembled, follow the EN 1777 and CE standards. Patforms below 45 m are engineered at the back of the Tata or Ashok Leyland truck chassis. Platforms above 45 m are installed on a Volvo or Mercedes-Benz chassis. Avers Bhatnagar, “Power Take-Off (PTO) challenge lies in maintaing the height and water pumping capacity.” The system has to pump water at pressure to a certain height. Chassis power often proves more than enough. No change is effected to the chassis expect for some fabrication undertaken as per the customer requirement. “Anything touched on the chassis level can change the centre of gravity and compromise vehicle balance. This would lead to the rejection of the vehicle,” mentions H. B. Suresh, General Manager – Hitech Vehicles, Brijbasi Udyog.


Subject to fitness test every three years, a fire tender takes 30 days to build. Some 300 parts are required. The challenge is to source high quality components from trusted sources, according to Bhatnagar. Supported by 200 vendors, BHTUL sources aluminium from Hindalco and stainless steel material from Tata steel. “With over 60 per cent of the vehicle occupied by the tank carrying fire extinguishing material, any compromise in quality can jeopardise the whole operation,” mentions Suresh. Designed and built to fight fire over longer durations and disperse water quickly, fire tenders require high quantity fire extinguishing material. In the case of a water bowser, explains Suresh, the tank covers 80 per cent of the vehicle chassis. The impetus on quality is therefore quite high. Developing mild steel or stainless steel tanks that carry fire extinguishing material of capacities ranging from 1000 litres to 18000 litres, and as per the customer requirements, the company pays particular attention to the chassis.

Once ready, the fire tender is subjected to rigorous testing by BHTUL. This is followed by a demonstration of the vehicle at the customer. Only after the customer tests the vehicle, and is satisfied, is the final inspection certificate issued. Training the customer staff to operate the vehicle, the company also undertakes annual maintenance contract. Its executives visit the customer and conduct health checkup of the vehicle every six months to ensure optimum performance and suggest ways to overcome any challenges the customer is facing. “In case the customer wants to handle multiple jobs, we also supply tenders with two extinguishers like foam and water, or even with CO2,” informs Suresh. Water is a general fire extinguisher whereas foams are used in petrochemicals, oil spillage and petroleum fire. Dry chemical powder (DCP) is used to put off electrical fires. Expresses Suresh, that State fire brigades are well aware of their needs, and have an acute understanding of their needs. Every state follows different standards, says Bhatnagar.


BHTUL has three manufacturing facilities. Of these, two are located at Mathura, and one is at Mumbai. All combined, the facilities have a covered area of 10000 sq. yards. The infrastructure of BHTUL also includes 20 acres of open land to conduct performance test, and to park vehicles. The Mathura facilities can together roll out 100 vehicles per annum. As per the market demand, production can be scaled to 150 vehicles. The Mumbai facility is younger than the Mathura facility, and can build 50 vehicles per annum. Production could be scaled up to 100 vehicles depending on the demand. At Mathura, BHTUL has also invested in a reasearch and development facility. Close to ten per cent of the revenues, the company spends on research and development, Employing 150 people, BHTUL has setup a college at Mathura to train people in fire safety and disaster management. “Depending upon the need or the requirement, the course duration varies from six months to two years,” mentions Bhatnagar. He concludes, “We are not just building fire tenders, we are also training people

to prevent fire, protect and rescue.”

Safe and sustainable public transport

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A conference on ‘safe and sustainable public transport’ by the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) reflected upon its fifty years journey.

Story & Photos: Ashish Bhatia

Celebrating fifty years of its journey in pursuit of transport efficiency and excellence, the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) organised a conference, ‘Safe & Sustainable Public Transport’ on September 08, 2017, at its sprawling campus in Pune. Delving upon global best practices that can be implemented in India, public transport safety norms, sustainability challenges and solutions, and green fuel vehicle technology and mobility, the conference saw the stakeholders of State Transport Undertakings congregate at the CIRT campus. In his welcome address, Dr. R B Saner-Patil, Director, CIRT expressed that CIRT’s road map has always been progressive. “We have achieved excellent footprint in consultancy, training, component testing, and more, as part of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), and will continue to play a pivotal role,” he mentioned.

A joint initiative of the Ministry of Shipping & Transport, and the Association of State Road Transport Undertakings, CIRT was established in 1967. Helping the transport sector to attain high efficiency and productivity levels, CIRT has been offering technical training, consultancy and automobile component testing services to STUs, component manufacturers and automotive OEMs for the last 45 years. Instrumental in developing an automated vehicle fitness testing module and an automated driver license issuing module (called the Institute of Driving Training & Research), which could be replicated across regions and through out the country, CIRT also works as a test agency (CMVR 124 & 126) authorised by the Ministry of Road Transport (MoRTH). Accredited by the National Board of Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), and by the Bureau of Indian Standards Recognition, CIRT has come to have testing laboratories. It has gained an ability to carry out feasibility studies for public transport systems, BRTS, metro bus system, toll plazas, automated border check posts and driving test tracks.

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Focusing on public transport

Revealing in his inaugural speech that the Central Government has decided to provide a strong push to the public transport, Union Minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari said that a change in the mindset to be able to address issues like traffic, pollution and accidents is necessary. Stating that the growth of private vehicles is exerting pressure for the expansion of existing national highways by one lane every three years, which is not feasible, expressed Gadkari. He expressed, “Enhancing public transport is our foremost priority.” Stressing on a complete transition to electric and alternate fuels like ethanol, methanol and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Gadkari mentioned, “At a time when the government is moving to BSVI compliant fuel, there are those who are hesitating to shift.” Citing public transportation as a priority, Gadkari said that his ministry is focusing on the operation of buses, taxis and two-wheelers on electricity. Stating that the use of alternative fuels will provide boost to the agricultural sector, Gadkari expressed the need to transform bus depots into bus ports. Urging state governments to make land available, he spoke about a plan to constitute district-level committees under the chairmanship of the collector to monitor road security, identify black spots and suggest road security measures by submitting a report of their findings to the state and central government.

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Bus performance

Putting the blame on alternative energy sources for rising energy consumption, M Ravindra, Executive Director (Engg & IT), Telangana State Road Transport Corporation, in the first technical session of the day, expressed that greenhouse gases are responsible for the greenhouse effect, which ultimately leads to global warming. Stating that India ranks sixth globally in terms of energy demands, Ravindra averred, “Domestic crude oils are able to satisfy only a fourth of the total demand.” Advocating the use of alcohol based fuels, vegetable oil, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and bio-fuels among other alternate fuel sources, Ravindra drew attention to the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TRSTC) using 10 per cent bio-fuel blended diesel at 36 depots. “The plan is to extend its use to the remaining 60 depots,” he said.

On the use of 130 CNG buses by TSRTC, Ravindra opined that a CO2 reduction of around 2111-tonnes per annum has been achieved. Revealing that the blending of 10 per cent bio-fuel in diesel has led to a reduction of 8885-tonnes per annum CO2 emissions, Ravindra stated that the cost advantage is expected to be to the tune of Rs.15.75 crore. Touching upon the space consumed by CNG storage cylinders and the higher acquisition cost when compared to a diesel vehicle, Ravindra commented that TSRTC is looking at increasing its fleet of alternate fuel vehicles. Drawing attention to TSRTC availing a grant of Rupees-three lakh to convert existing diesel buses to CNG, Ravindra informed that the state government, in principal, has agreed to wave off MV Tax for electric vehicles.

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Electric vehicle technology

Stressing upon the need to adopt a combination of fuel and technologies to limit CO2 emissions, Sanjay Bhatia, DGM Marketing, Tata Motors, said that electric buses as a sustainable transport solution are not profitable yet. He stated that the costs could be brought down by buses with a lower operating range, Bhatia mentioned, “The opportunity to lower pollution, lower NVH levels and increase reliability are hampered by the lack of infrastructure.” Drawing attention to the 12 m electric city bus displayed by Tata Motors at the event, Bhatia said that it will be made available in the fourth quarter of this year and is aimed at BRTS operations. Bhatia also touched upon LNG as an alternate fuel. He expressed that it supports higher payload, has a superior operating range, enables faster fuel refills, and presents superior refinement. The total capacity of LNG, said Bhatia, is estimated to reach 86.5 million tonnes per annum in FY2021-22. It is currently at the 6.5 million tonnes per annum level.

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Safety and efficiency

Expressing that fares have largely remains stagnant despite the rise in input costs of STUs,

S Balachandran, Vice President (Vehicle Control Systems), Wabco, said that even a minor accident gives rise to a huge compensation burden. Stating that buses accounted for nine-per cent of the 31 per cent accidents recorded, involving trucks, buses and multi-axle vehicles, Balachandran averred that the reasons include loss of control, collision and lane departure. “This,” said Balachandran, “calls for the adoption of safety features.” We fought with OEMs for 15 years in India for the introduction of ABS, mentioned Bhatia. Citing the need to frugally engineer technologies in India, Balachandran expressed the need to incorporate technologies like ‘Tailguard’, ‘ESCsmart’, ‘OnGuard’ and ‘OnLane’. If the OEMs were willing to take the plunge, these technologies can be integrated at the cost of Rupees-one lakh per chassis opined Balachandran.

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In his keynote address, Ashu Mahajan, DGM (Marketing), Allison Transmission, mentioned that an auto transmission system does not interrupt power during shifts and eliminates issues like clutch wear and replacement, and faster wear and tear of driveline components. Offering high tractive effort spread, and the ability to use full engine torque to tackle steep gradients, Mahajan said that their auto transmissions assure higher productivity and low cost of ownership. Possible to retrofit, the transmissions Allison offers, opined Mahajan, improve safety as driver can concentrate on driving. Drawing attention to the ‘Bus Systems’ survey, which samples 24 countries, 70 authorities and operators running 68500 buses, Atulkumar Katti, Director (Product Development), Volvo Group India Pvt. Ltd., said that future trends suggest a move to hybrid vehicles followed by electric, diesel, bio-diesel and CNG. Mentioned Katti, “Hybrids have attained a majority with electric propulsion systems a distant second. Plug-ins are at number three, and followed by trolley and fuel cell.” Citing Volvo’s strategy to offer a complete system that includes buses, infrastructure and services, battery charging on kilometre basis, and a competitive life cycle cost in comparison to diesel, Katti commented, “Open interfaces form the third cornerstone of Volvo for charging infrastructure and enable buses from other suppliers and driving standardisation together with partners like Siemens & ABB.”

Touching upon the need for charging terminals that offer a charging capacity of six minutes per 300kW for a 76 kWh charge, Katti said that manufacturers are looking to offer smaller battery packs that could be charged more frequently. “Not only will this help to light weight, it would also help to attain higher efficiency,” he averred. Claiming that the two hybrid buses sold to Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport under the FAME scheme have achieved 30 per cent fuel economy, Katti opined, “The need is to look at tropical climate conditions, traffic patterns, society and economic environment, electrification, demand and scale.”

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The right chassis

Stating that the procurement of chassis is a big task for a STU, S H Ali, Scientist, CIRT, said that representatives are not even aware of wheelbase options the OEM has to offer. “A whopping 48 wheelbases are available across bus segments today,” he mentioned. Expressing disappointment over buses built on a truck chassis, Ali averred, “STU fleets use the maximum permitted (60 per cent) rear overhang without taking into account the overall length of the vehicle, which is twice that of the wheel base.” He urged STUs to look in detail at the location of the engine (forward or rear), and if the exhaust aftertreatment system is EGR or SCR based. “STUs should look at the manufacturing date of tyres, battery packs, brakes, seating and gangway layouts. A mandate for gearless automatic transmission should be passed,” said Ali. The chairman and managing director of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd. (PMPML), Tukaram Mundhe, expressed a need for STUs to outline issues affecting their performances. “STUs should change their approach. They should take into account the need to change their approach over providing buses to passengers as well as enable transportation access through public transport,” he said. Stating that STUs should use information technology as an enabler, Mundhe explained, “The need is to make the operations sustainable.”He opined, “There is the need to create a pull; to plan, to maintain and to implement.” “Apart from the need to create an effective framework, care should be taken while purchasing spares,” he remarked. Expressing that governance does not come from increasing layers, but through effective management, Mundhe called for drastic measures to stem the decline of STUs like optimal fleet utilisation, data based route rationalisation.

“There is a need to maintain breakdowns at one per cent, or less,” he averred.

S-CCI India to make DEF

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S-CCI India is keen to increase its exposure in the CV sector by manufacturing diesel exhaust fluid.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

Specialising in the manufacture of engine coolants, S-CCI India Private Limited, is getting into the manufacture of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) to increase its reach in the Indian CV market by manufacturing DEF at its Chopanki plant at Bhiwadi. The company is eyeing a pie of the market that is estimated to be 4576000 kilo litre and growing. As part of an initial investment in DEF, S-CCI will be investing Rupees five-crores in a phased manner to set up a capacity of 10,000 kilo litres. With the number of SCR equipped CVs expected to grow rapidly as BSVI emission standards are implemented in 2020, S-CCI India is looking at a rapid growth in the segment. It is keen to leverage its existing network as well as those that come in as part of the expansion it is carrying out, to achieve a higher market reach as far as DEF is concerned. Established in 1985 in technical collaboration with CCI Corporation, Japan, to manufacture engine coolants, S-CCI India is closely following the consumption pattern of DEF in India. Typically consumed at the rate of three to five per cent of the fuel quantity, one fill of AdBlue in a separate tank of 40-litre capacity is said to be sufficient for one fill of fuel tank, which is usually 800 litres in a CV. Catering to CV manufacturers like Tata Motors, Force Motors, SML Isuzu, and tractor and off-highway equipment manufacturers like TAFE, Escorts, ITL, Eicher and Komatsu, the company, according to S. K. Singh, Director, S-CCI India, is intrigued by the travel of CVs across the length and bredth of the vast country.

Confident of the growth potential of DEF, S-CCI India is also looking at increasing its reach of coolants for CVs. While both the initiatives are expected to further strengthen the company’s bottomline, S-CCI India is closely observing the changes in engine technology dictated by the tightening emission regulations. “Unlike earlier, OEMs have begun asking for coolants of specific nature. This is linked with the change in engine metallurgy and the need for CVs to spend more time on the road,” expressed Singh. Demand for coolants that best suit the job is rising. Reducing the tendency to boil over with the use of Mono Ethylene Glycol (MEG), and resist corrosion, coolants in CVs are subject to higher stress according to Singh. MEG cannot be used in its concentrated form since CVs have higher operating temperatures. Its heat transfer properties are not as good. MEG is used with 30 to 50 per cent water since it has a better heat transfer property. Changing expectations regarding coolants have reached a level where they are expected to last the lifecycle of the vehicle. Earlier, a coolant had to be changed at an interval of 10,000 km. Developing a coolant (L415) for MAN Trucks India that has a life span of five lakh kms, CCI, said Singh, has won the approval of Daimler.

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Validation and manufacture

A combination of various chemicals, including anti-corrosive elements and boosters, stress is laid on achieving a balance where the coolant is neither acidic nor alkaline in nature. It is essential to achieve validation, which could take up to two years according to Singh. “Certain lab tests can measure and prevent chemical depletion. This helps to gauge the life of the coolant,” explained Singh. He drew attention to restrictions imposed by automakers on the use of chemicals. This is claimed to be in the interest of complying with regulations. Pointing out a blanket ban for carcinogenic chemicals, mercury and cadmium, Singh revealed that automakers give coolant manufacturer the freedom to develop better products. “Competition is fierce, and it is important to be aware of what the competitors are up to,” he said.

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Working towards building a plant at Gujarat, S-CCI India is planning to invest Rs.15 to Rs.20 crore in a phased manner. Once operational, the Gujarat facility will complement the company’s two existing facilities at Chopanki and Sitarganj respectively. The Chopanki facility has a capacity to manufacture 15,000-kilo litre of coolants, and nine thousand kilo litres of brake fluid. The plant employs 125 people. The Sitarganj plant has a capacity to manufacture three thousand kilo litres of coolant, and two thousand kilo litres of brake fluid. The Chopanki plant is operating at 65 per cent capacity according to Singh. Capacity, he said, could be increased as per the demand. Pointing out that 60 per cent of the CV business moves on a small fleet size of up to two trucks, Singh averred, “The way the segment is stagnating is not very healthy. It is not a healthy sign for a growing economy.” Spending up to two per cent of its revenue on R&D activities, S-CCI India is dependent on CCI for broader technological updates. The test lab within the Chopanki plant tests for Ph value, conductivity, tendency to foam, and more. The lab is equipped with test equipment like conductivity meter, foaming tendency tester, reserve alkalinity tester, gas chromatography, melting point analyzer, brake fluid rubber swelling tester and corrosion tester for brake fluids.

New launch

S-CCI India recently launched a long life anti-freeze coolant called Extreme. It can sustain temperatures of up to -36 degree Celsius. Stated Singh, that such intense temperatures are often the case in Europe. “A litre of coolant when mixed with three litres of water leads to a mixture that performs up to -7 degree Celsius. Addition of water over a period of time reduces the change interval from three years to two years as the anti-corrosive properties of the coolant decrease,” Singh said. Stressing upon companies changing their preferences quickly, he opined, “Over co-branded products, OEMs are opting for coolants that flaunt their brand name. These are built to their specifications.” With a rise in awareness for high quality products, Singh mentioned that OEMs are demanding high life coolants. When it comes to MNCs, S-CCI India is leveraging CCI’s relations. The company is thus looking at clinching a deal with Yanmar Tractors, which is entering India, by leveraging CCI’s relation with the tractor manufacturer.

The aftermarket accounts for 15 per cent of the company’s volumes. The challenge, according to Singh, is counterfeit products. To overcome the challenge, S-CCI India has placed a sales team that regularly communicates with mechanics. The company has 150 distributors that network with 20,000 retailers across the country. Work is on to increase the presence in the North East markets according to Singh. Looking up to GST as one of the biggest reforms, Singh expressed that there is a need for an efficient redressing mechanism. “If it is efficient and fast, GST will succeed. If there is harassment, it will create unhappiness,” he mentioned.

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Fleet for quality

To ensure quality and eliminate the risk of contamination, S-CCI India has invested in its own fleet. Made up of 32 tankers and trucks, the company has at its disposal 3000 to 25,000 litre of bulk space. This space is efficiently utilised to transport brake fluid, which is hygroscopic in nature. Care is necessary therefore. Only on recommendation does the company supply through third party operators. The risk of contamination is very high, averred Singh. The tanks of bulk carriers are often not washed properly after doing a round of hydrogenated oils, fatty acids, and edible oils. S-CCI India carries out supply in two ways – bulk tankers and containers for the OEMs, and small packs for the dealers and the aftermarket. “Dealers do not buy in large packs. Companies do not allow them to buy in large quantities. At the other end, companies buy in bulk quantities and then supply them to the dealerships,” Singh mentioned. Designed specifically to address the needs of OEMs, S-CCI India has procured stainless steel tankers for brake fluids as the fluids they tend to react with painted surfaces, and can lead to blisters. Since OEMs have different storage capacities, the movement of tankers happens as per the demand. “After pouring, we seal the tank and give it a serial number. At the receiving end, the same number is matched to check the authenticity,” said Singh. In case the seal is broken, that compartment is not off loaded. A sample is taken out, tested and offloaded only after it is found to be genuine.

New products to drive growth at Tata Motors

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Tata Motors is banking on new products and technologies to drive growth.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

Tata Motors will launch four new medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles (M&HCVs) in the FY2017-18 financial year. It will also introduce five intermediate and light commercial vehicles (I&LCVs). Experiencing good sales rise in the second quarter of this fiscal, the company, to address the demand for higher payload and better TCO requirements, will introduce LPS 4923 6×4 tractor, LPK 2518 HD 6×2 tipper, LPTK 3118 8×4 tipper, Signa 3718 rigid and LPTK 2518 6×4 tipper in the M&HCV segments. In the I&LCV segments, it will introduce Ultra 1518, Ultra 1412, Ultra 1014, Ultra 710 (with 1.9 m cabin), and LPT 709 CNG. Engaging with dealers and customers according to Girish Wagh, head of commercial vehicles business, Tata Motors will invest Rs.1500 crore across haulage application categories to stay ahead; to further cement its leadership.

Targeting segments that the company was either not present in, or did not have enough marketshare, the company has been driving the XL range of small CVs in the sub 3.5-tonne segment. To increase the reach, Tata Motors is carrying out a high number of regional engagement activities. Selling 27,842 vehicles in July 2017, up 15 per cent year-on-year, the company has embarked on a business turnaround plan that aims at a strong bottom-line improvement. Selling 45,906 vehicles in August 2017, up 26 per cent year-on-year, the CV maker is not interested in buying the market share according to Girish. Suffering a decline of more than 17 per cent in CVs when compared to last year, efforts to increase the ability to respond to market changes quickly, and to be cost competitive are being carried out. If the regional engagement activities are presenting the CV maker with a terrific opportunity to interact with customers, attention is also on the performance of the Xenon Yodha product-line. “It (Xenon Yodha) is doing very well on the count of fuel efficiency, and in the last three-to-four months of the launch, we have gained a market share of 4.5 per cent,” said Girish.

Tracking the performance of buses in the segments that the Ultra is in, Tata Motors is coming out with a range of Ultra buses. This includes an automated manual transmission model too. To compete in the 40-45 seater bus market, the CV maker has launched the flagship Magna bus. Working to respond to the market requirement of a hard-top Magic SCV, Tata Motors, said Girish, is working on a host of safety tehnologies and programs. It is ready with the stability program, and will launch it shortly. Driving a six-pillar strategy that includes dealer and key account engagement, operational excellence, product interventions, defence business, technology and powertrain road map, and international business, the company is also working on Automonous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane departure warning, and technologies that will enhance safety and lead to autonomous driving.

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Safety tech & modularisation

With many advanced technologies that will help to reach the autonomous stage claimed to be in advanced development stages, Tata Motors is evaluating how they can be deployed to address product aspirations. To improve short-term performance, and to come out with exciting products will be key, said Girish. He pointed at the development of modularisation road map as an answer. “The number of parts in a CV have been converted into 32 modules. They have been grouped in 12 zones. All the zones and groups have been designed into a standardised and modular fashion, and can replace a zone or a module to create a variant,” explained Girish Wagh. Expected to help address market changes faster, the modular approach should enable Tata Motors to meet any demand change quickly. Especially in the case of fully-built CVs, the demand for which is rising. Working on a lot of technologies, some of which are in the drive-out stage and some are in the advanced stages of development, Tata Motors is confident of the deployment of 25 Starbus Hybrid low-floor city buses in Mumbai. Of these, five buses have been registered and will soon start operating. Showcasing Tata Motors’ abilities in terms of design, technology and experience, the Starbus Hybrid mirrors the Tata Hispano CNG hybrid buses that are plying on the roads of Madrid.

Working on LNG in the alternate fuel technology space, Tata Motors is keen to offer the lowest total cost of ownership. Described Girish that LNG technology development is at an advanced stage. The company has already produced a few LNG engines. Talking to Petronet LNG and IOCL to understand the nature of infrastructure the two oil majors will set up, the CV maker is looking at Delhi-Mumbai and Kolkata-Mangalore corridor. The Ultra electric bus, available in a nine-meter and 12 m length, is already on trial in certain domestic markets according to Girish. Ready to supply such buses as per the demand, Tata Motors has also developed a fuel cell bus in association with ISRO. Work on this is at an advanced stage. Stating that customers do not buy on price alone, Girish signaled a change in customer demand. He mentioned that they are looking at ‘comfort’. Concentrating on the development of LNG vehicles that are safe, efficient and comfortable, Tata Motors, according to Girish, is looking at offering a lower cost of operation.

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Addressing dealer concerns

Paying attention to the pain points of the dealers regarding profitability and the ability to respond quickly, and how the same could be addressed jointly, Tata Motors is taking suitable measures. Supporting the dealers from the back-end, the company has created a team of ‘Dronas’. These are expert drivers that reach out to customers; travel with them for the distance required, and train the drivers to achieve higher efficiency. Also helping to overcome any difficulty customers may face, the ‘Dronas’, said Girish, are able to explain the changes in technology that have been triggered by the move to BSIV emission regulations in terms of caliberation, etc. Proving to be an effective interface between the CV OEM and the customer, the ‘Dronas’, according to

RT Wasan, Vice President – Sales & Marketing, Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, are paving the way for effective communication. The team of 40 ‘Dronas’ was setup almost a year ago, and strengthened, said Wasan. Apart from the ‘Dronas, Tata Motors has also set up a team of ‘Acharyas’. These include over 15000 mechanics apart from those that are a part of Tata Motors’ own network. Trained to service BSIV vehicles, they are a part of the endeavour to deliver ‘comfort’. The best part perhaps is, the ‘Dronas’ and ‘Archaryas’ are providing a feedback on how the vehicles are performing.

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Expecting to ride the rise in GDP growth for the remaining three quarters, and the rise in the manufacturing index, the company is observing a change in the buying decision. Confident of yielding positive results on the basis of a cost reduction program, Tata Motors is working towards recovering the loss it incurred. Close to 40 per cent of the BSIII CVs have been dealt with. Stressing upon income from non-vehicles sales areas like spare parts and Prolife, the company is driving exports to de-risk domestic market cyclicity to an extent. According to Girish, last year was a record year as far as international business is concerned. With an eye on the future regulations, including BSVI emission standards that are slated to come in forced by 2020, Tata Motors is segment-by-segment defining value enhancers, which will provide ‘comfort’ to the customer. Acutely aware of the rising stress for alternate fuel vehicles, the CV maker is marrying technological developments to not just meet the regulations, but to enhance customer experience. Stated Girish, that the demand for value trucks in terms of rated payload is increasing. He explained, “With the implementation of rated payload, customers are looking at maximum payload that they could get within the given GVW.” Stating that they want to align with the government’s intent to elevate safety and reduce CO2 emissions, Girish concluded, “Our focus would be to deliver it economically.”

New formulations from MRF Tyres

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MRF is developing new formulations to make tyres efficient, and to make production sustainable.

Story by: Bhargav TS

Announcing a 2.65 per cent rise in the total income at Rs.4,060.93 crore against a total income of Rs.3,955.93 crore last year, MRF Ltd. is working on new formulations with special properties. Claimed to command a 24 per cent market share of the Indian tyre market with 95 per cent of the revenues coming from two wheeler, passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle tyres, the company is evaluating new generation materials to produce efficient tyres. It is also looking at increasing the production sustainability of tyres. Confident of growth in-line with the good sales performance of CVs in the last quarter, the company is expecting radialisation in CVs to continue. In heavy-duty commercial vehicles in India, radialisation is 38 per cent. In light-duty commercial vehicles, it is 40 per cent. To help OEMs to meet emission and other challenges, MRF is working closely with its suppliers to tap the latest developments when it comes to raw materials. The company is also initiating design process of a tyre by recording customer inputs. Working on the development of tyres that will enhance fuel efficiency, a 300 strong R&D and product development division of MRF are claimed to be working closely to achieve this goal. They are presenting the company with the strength and the feasibility to produce tyres from nano materials. According to KM Mammen, Chairman and Managing Director, MRF Ltd., nano materials are currently used in certain areas. Price is proving to be a challenge.

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New materials

Experimenting with the use of raw materials derived from environment friendly sources like biomass and waste materials to reduce the rolling resistance of tyres, MRF is claimed to look at sand. “We are doing a lot in terms of making fuel efficient tyres. Rolling resistance is important in the context of new emission standards,” said Mammen. He informed that the company is producing low resistance tyres for some segments. Said to be working on new projects that will result in tyres, which will enhance fuel efficiency, the focus, it is clear, is on new formulations. With price an important element, MRF is tapping into institutions and universities for knowledge. It is looking at new designs and patterns, and NVH and tyre simulations to reduce the rolling resistance and noise of tyres. Touching upon the development of fuel efficient tyres for passenger cars and trucks, Mammen averred, “The development of new designs, and the use of advanced materials is resulting in new products that will meet stringent customer requirements. To achieve higher accuracy, we have modernised our plant and machinery. We want to improve productivity and quality. We are therefore automating the manufacturing process to reduce manual intervention.”

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Looking at indigenous materials that will help to retain margins by substituting the use of imported raw materials MRF is working to improve process efficiency, machine utilisation, and reduce power, fuel and material consumption. Paying close attention to the regualtory as well as market changes, which could have a significant effect on its operations, the company is building a complete range of automotive tyres, including TBRs, TBBs, PCRs and LTRs. Producing tyres for the Sukhoi 30 fighter jet of the Indian Air Force, MRF, to keep ahead of the competition in the two wheeler segment, launched Masseter range of tyres recently. These are engineered to perform and deliver supperior grip and control. For the CV tyre market, the company is closely following developments like GST, Motor Vehicles Act ammendment, and sales trends across categories. Informed Mammen, “M&HCV production numbers were stagnant last year but the last quarter saw a boost driven by the transition to BSIV. The proposed cap on the age of commercial vehicles will have a significant impact on the segment’s radialisation drive. The New Motor Vehicles Act is also expected to be passed, and if and when it is, it will have a significant impact on overloading. It will also have an impact on how vehicles are configured in the industry to meet geographical peculiarities of the logistics business.”

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With the sale of new CVs likely to lack lustre in the first half of FY2017-18, the surge in tyre demand as operators decide to retain their existing fleet could provide MRF with a strong aftermarket stint. Setting up a facility at Bharuch, Gujarat, to support North and West India markets with an investment of Rs.4,500 crore, MRF has invested in e-commerce. While the Bharuch facility – one of the biggest among the eight plants the company has in India, is expected to go on stream in early 2018, the e-commerce initiative is finding takers in certain pockets like Pune. Averred Mammen, “The new factory will make all kinds of tyres and cater to the domestic and export markets. Work on e-commerce across the country is on too.” Confident of the e-commerce initiative to provide a new channel of growth, and will make it easier for the customer, Mammen concluded, “We are focusing on how to meet customer expectations and deliver what he needs.”

Growing stronger

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To grow stronger, JK Tyre has opted for a multi-thronged approach.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

The cyclic nature of the CV industry, and the recent events have added a dimension to how auto companies operate. The priorities and strategies of auto companies are changing. Leading truck and bus tyre manufacturer, JK Tyre and Industries is banking on a multi-thronged strategy to keep growing, to tackle challenges. Strengthening its market presence in a tough environment, JK Tyres and Industries, according to Vikram Malhotra, the marketing director, is exploiting, the multi-thronged strategy to combat flattening sales. The company, over the past two quarters, launched a series of tyres for the LCV and SCV market segment. “We strengthened our market presence by launching high mileage Jetway JUH5, Jet R Xtra Miles, Jet One for the LCV radial and bias segment despite the tough market conditions,” mentioned Malhotra. “The SCV segment portfolio will also now have our Jumbo King tyre moving forward,” he expressed. With CV sales lacking in the first quarter of the current fiscal, Malhotra is banking on an exciting next quarter. CV sales picked up some speed in July 2017, and changed into a higher gear in August 2017. The third quarter, according to Malhotra, will cheer up the CV industry and the various stakeholders.

Acquiring Cavendish Industries Limited (CIL), Haridwar, last year, JK Tyre and Industries is looking at the multi-thronged strategy to pay rich dividends. With the acquisition leading to an operational turnaround, including the boosting of volumes amid fluctuating cost of raw materials and the dumping of Chinese tyres, Malhotra is of the opinion that the multi-pronged strategy will not only enhance the company’s ability to cater to various vehicle segments, but also help to consolidate the overall market share. Averred Malhotra, “We have achieved a growth of 35 per cent in the replacement market for CV tyres. We hope that this will improve further by the year end.”

Tightening margins

The surge in the prices of natural rubber and petro-based raw materials over the last one year has exerted pressure on operating margins. To improve quality and increase production, tyre manufacturers are looking at working closely with the Rubber Board. To safeguard customer interest in the wake of rising material costs, Malhotra mentioned that his company has decided to absorb higher material costs. It may impact the margins for some time, the plan is to accelerate product development across categories and improve operational efficiency. “We will continue to invest on innovation, services and technology. This will help us to graduate from a tyre manufacturer to a 360-degree service provider,” said Malhotra.

Apart from a surge in the prices of natural rubber and petro-based raw materials, JK Tyre and Industries is also tackling the challenge of Chinese tyres being dumped in India. With almost 80 per cent of the imports at concessional duties, the low grade Chinese TBRs have been plaguing the Indian tyre industry for long. Calling for anti-dumping duty on such TBRs, Malhotra stated the company is riding on a comprehensive range of new and existing products, and with state of the art services under a network of truck wheel centres. It is hoping that the issue of Chinese TBRs will be soon sorted out. Expressed Malhotra that the Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) has recommended the imposition of a definitive anti-dumping duty. An investigative arm of Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the DGAD is known to have issued a notification on August 07, 2017, that India may impose an anti-dumping duty of USD 452.33 per tonne on a particular variety of Chinese pneumatic radial tyres. “Chinese tyres continue to be a threat for heavy investments made by domestic tyre manufacturers like us. We are hopeful this will get resolved soon. The government has already taken steps towards addressing the issue,”he said.

Clear roadmap

Confident of GST encouraging seamless interstate movement of goods and simplifying the supply chain, Malhotra averred that the new tax regime will

curb under invoicing and other unfair trade practices. “Replacement of Octroi with a uniform tax structure under GST will lead to smoother movement of vehicles and reduce the delivery times,” he remarked. Expected to benefit from a rise in inter-state movement of vehicles, the tyre industry, according to Malhotra, should seek higher supply chain efficiency. Opining that the CV tyre trade withstood the effects of demonetisation to a certain extent because it largely operates on credit, Malhotra said that he expects faster recovery in the current quarter.

With stress on product diversification, JK Tyre and Industries is expanding its service network. A strong network of tyre care centers equipped with state-of-the-art technology has been developed by the company over the last few years to not only to serve existing customers but also cater to new customers. Aiming at doubling its existing network of ‘Truck Wheels’, the company is offering end-to-end solutions to tackle the fall of CV tyre sales. The solutions include fleet management programs across product life cycle to control costs per kilometer. Said Malhotra, “Our network of JK Retread Centres, JK Tyre Steel Wheels, Truck Radial Tyre Care Centres and Truck Radial total solution showrooms provide effective after-sales services to our customers.” The tyre maker has 143 sales outlets, 4000 dealers and 230 retail stores across India.

Way forward

Pioneer in radial tyre technology in India, JK Tyre and Industries clocked a sale of 10 million TBRs last year. The company is now aiming to consolidate its market share in the CV segment, and foray into other segments to increase its reach. With the government’s thrust on road infrastructure development, Malhotra is of the opinion that the tyre industry in India will have a good time. “The Indian economy is riding on stable inflation, and is predicted to grow in the range of up to eight per cent. This will encourage the creation of a unified market, which would result in a major economic stimulus,” he expressed. Stating that their plants are working to capacity, and everything has been well planned, Malhotra called upon the need to ensure that the plans they have chalked out are successfully implemented.

Cummins banks on advanced powertrain technologies


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

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

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

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

Advanced powertrain technologies

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

The future

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

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