JK Tyre rolls out 10 millionth TBR

aa-copy dr-raghupati-singhania-cmd-copy

JK Tyre has rolled out the 10 millionth Truck & Bus Radial (TBR) tyre from its Mysore plant; will invest Rs 100 crore to build a R&D centre at Mysore.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

Pioneering radial technology in India in 1977, JK Tyre has rolled out the 10 millionth TBR tyre from its plant at Mysore. Seeking growth organically as well as inorganically, the company, with 12 state-of-the-art modern production facilities in India and Mexico, and with a capacity exceeding 20 million tyres per annum, is set to integrate its research and development functions spread across different locations in the country at its Mysore plant. Enjoying a presence in 90 countries, the company is expecting the centre to be functional by October 2016, and will contain the most advanced equipment. Announced Dr. Raghupati Singhania, Chairman and Managing Director, JK Tyres and Industries, “The facility will house the most advanced equipment, that will be operated by highly experienced engineers and scientists with deep insight into material resources, structures, and design and aesthetics.” to be built with an investment of Rs.100 crore, the new centre will be managed by 200 employees in the initial phase. By the end of the next year the centre is expected to double, and will be spread across one-lakh sq. ft. area. Expressed Dr. Singhania, “Technology has always been the backbone of our growth. The consolidation (of R&D activities) will help us to maintain leadership in the tyre industry.”

Manufacturing a range of tyres that cater to diverse business segments, the roll out of 10 millionth TBR tyre from the Mysore plant marks a significant development for JK Tyre. One reason is the TBRs expected growth; the TBR tyre segment is pegged to surge past 50 per cent in the next few years. TBRs are also expected to be the growth drivers for the Indian tyre industry apart from passenger radials and the farm and LCV segments. The other reason is the (Vikrant Tyre) plant at Mysore, which was acquired by JK Tyre in 1996. The acquisition of Vikrant Tyre, a Government of Karnataka undertaking, formed the basis for company’s inorganic growth. In 2008, the company acquired Hulera Tornel in Mexico.

When JK Tyre took control of the Mysore plant it was sick. JK Tyre successfully turned it around in less than a year. it also safeguarded the interests of 2000 employees. “Till date, we have invested close to Rs.1200 crore at Mysore. The plant employs 13000 people from the state of Karnataka,” mentioned Dr. Singhania. Drawing attention towards cheap Chinese tyre imports, RV Deshpande, Minister for Large Scale and Medium Scale Industries and Infrastructure Development, Government of Karnataka, in his speech expressed, “China is dumping tyres at a price that is 40 to 50 per cent cheaper than Indian tyres. It is a problem that needs to be checked.” “It is affecting the competitiveness of the Indian tyre industry,” he added. Deshpande called for anti-dumping duty to be levied on Chinese tyre imports.

Gunning for growth

Setting up of its first tyre plant at Kankroli, Rajasthan, with an installed capacity of 0.50 million tyres per annum, JK Tyre ventured into the manufacture of truck radials in 1999. Investing in a capacity to build a whopping three and a half million TBRs, JK Tyre is gunning for growth. In fact, it has experienced strong growth. Hunger for more growth continues. A multi-fold growth has led to the setting up of 12 plants globally, including three in Mexico. Explained Dr. Singhania, “In April 2016, we forayed into the two-wheeler tyre segment with the Rs.2,195 crore acquisition of Cavendish Industries Ltd. tyre plant at Laksar, Haridwar. Entry into the high growth segment of two and three wheeler tyres has further strengthened our position in the Indian market. From a two-kilogram scooter tyre toa 3.7-tonne ultra large OTR tyre, we have a complete range of tyres to offer.”

JK Tyre and Industries completed the second phase of construction at Chennai for a pure radial facility in the last quarter. It has invested Rs.1430 crore towards the building of this facility. The plant, according to Dr. Singhania, rolls out 12 lakh TBRs and 45 lakh passenger car radials. The capacity can be scaled up to two million truck radials and 10 million passenger car radials. Once the undergoing expansion at the JK Tyre’s Mexican plants is over, the TBR capacity is expected to reach five million per year from the current three and half million units.

Expanding the horizon

In order to expand the horizon and reduce the carbon footprint, JK Tyre has been moving ahead with an objective to manufacture green tyres. These tyres would offer lower rolling resistance and thereby save fuel. Dr. Singhania is of the opinion that his company has achieved a total energy benchmark level of 10.9 gigajoules per tonne. ‘Carbon Footprint Verification process’ standards set up by the British Standard Institute. He averred, “At the process level, JK Tyre is constantly reducing tyre industry carbon footprint by reducing energy and water consumption, the critical resources used in the manufacture of tyre.” JK Tyre has created a fleet management programme. As part of the programme, close to 900 fleets are serviced by a team of dedicated professionals whose aim is to derive optimal value out of the tyres. JK Tyre, under the programme, also offers assistance to implement practices like fit-to-application, proper fitment procedures, correct inflation pressure, timely rotation and corrective actions for abnormal wear. In order to serve the customers better, the company has also invested in a dealer network that amounts to 4000 numbers across the country. The company has been setting up a chain of retail outlets. Both, JK Tyre Steel Wheels and JK Tyre Truck Wheels is striving to provide high end tyre care assistance. The two channels are also aiming at helping customers to get the most out of their tyres.

Vajra Rubber looks at CV industry for growth

2-copy

Supplying natural and synthetic rubber products to the automotive industry, Vajra Rubber Products (P) Limited is looking at CV industry for growth.

Story by:

Anusha B

Natural and synthetic rubber products find good use in commercial vehicles. Their use has been growing in-line with the advent of new technology in commercial vehicles. As a supplier of quality natural and synthetic rubber products, Vajra Rubber Products (P) Limited is looking at the CV industry to grow. Catering to a variety of industries including oil field, aerospace, carbon composite, mining, flow control, marine, railway and energy, and automotive, the Thrissur-based company, manufactures automotive components like moulded rubber products, rubber bellows, bushes, diaphragms, oil seals, montage rings, AF rings, O rings and engine mountings. To be precise, for the CV industry the company supplies axle bushing, bumper and bellows. Catering to clients like Scania and Tata Hendrickson among others, the parts supplied to the CV industry by the 30-year old company find use in suspension systems primarily. For example, the axle bushing that Vajra Rubber provides to Scania finds use in its truck suspension systems. According to Kannan P S, Director, Marketing, over 80 per cent of the automotive products made by the company find use in the CV segment. The other 20 per cent find use in other automobiles. The rising acceptance and demand for its products in the CV industry has the company looking at it for further growth. An ISO 9001: 2008, Q1 and TS 16949: 2009 certified company, Vajra Rubber Products is keen to increase its turnover from the current Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 75 to 80 crore by 2020.

Natural and synthetic rubber products

Of the natural rubber and synthetic rubber products that the company manufactures, demand for natural rubber products is higher, according to Kannan. Supplying natural rubber based components to its customer across the globe, the company also manufactures and supplies synthetic rubber products on demand. In its product portfolio, the ratio of natural to synthetic rubber is 80:20. Close to 90 per cent of the products made are exported, Kannan mentions. The rest find use in the domestic market. Offering end to end solution in the area of product design, prototyping and manufacture, the company has invested in a an in-house design facility. It has also invested in a chemical lab, rubber compounding facility, moulding and metal fabrication, CNC tool and component manufacturing facility. Other facilities include plastic injection, polyurethane moulding and carbon composites processing unit. The R&D centre supports production.

Export orientation

With 90 per cent of the company’s products exported, the focus of the company is on further increasing the export volume even as it looks at higher domestic thrust. According to Kannan, the company caters to international CV markets like USA, Australia, China and European countries. “We have been exporting our products to international OEMs. Since they are setting up operations in India, the supply chain continues uninterrupted. It also helps them to localise,” he added. Performing very well in the export markets, the hurdle the company has been facing in the domestic market is its location. According to Kannan, they are not close to any automotive cluster in India. “OEMs prefer to have their suppliers in the supplier park. They prefer them to be in their vicinity for hassle-free delivery. Not only do we find it difficult to deliver the products just-in-time, we also find it difficult to follow-up for payments,” he mentioned.

Unique formulations

Vajra Rubber Products takes pride in its knowledge of formulations. With hands-on experience for manufacturing axle bush from the drawing board stage, the production stages, according to Kannan, include concept design, its review, finite element analysis, prototyping, testing and mass production. Kannan mentioned, “We have joint venture partners in Russia and the USA. Bush knowledge is very important in this industry. The experts who advise us on the formulations have been serving this industry for more than 50 years. The tacit knowledge is transferred as technical inputs from them. These formulations can never be duplicated. We are unique among fellow players in this. As a reflection of this, our products are of superior quality and promise superior performance. The bus, that we offer, thus absorbs shocks, vibrations and disturbances, and contributes towards a smooth ride.”

Aftermarket

Vajra Rubber Products started its journey with an entry into the aftermarket 25 years ago serving passenger vehilce segment with ‘bush kits’. OEM business followed. Finding good amount of takers, the ‘bush kits’ found use in the reconditioning of automotive suspension systems. Ironically, the superior quality and long service life of the ‘bush kits’ soon saw the company struggling for growth in the aftermarket. “Buyers simply did not come back for a long time, such was the quality of ‘bush kits’ we supplied,” averred Kannan. Garage owners started losing business, and weren’t too happy either. A decision to withdraw from the aftermarket was taken. Plans are being drawn to enter the aftermarket again. This time around, the thrust would be through distributors. Stressing upon the focus to offer superior quality products, Kannan said that they are the only manufacturer in India to make rocket directional control unit called the ‘Flex Seal’. “India’s prestigious moon mission, the ‘Chandrayaan’ flew using our components,” he added. At its facility in Thrissur, the company has extensive product testing facilities. These include deflection test bench, shock test bench and acceleration test bench among others. To prove the ranking of the products some tests are also carried at a third party lab. Based on the customer’s requirement, the company is also capable of supplying customised products.

Challenges

One of the big challenges Vajra Rubber Products faces is the disposal of byproducts. It is a challenge most industries in this ares of work face. In pursuit of a solution to address this problem, the company has devised a way of scientific scrap disposal. “We have a proper way to dispose of the scrap. The rejections could be quantified as two to three per cent,” mentioned Kannan. He concluded, “Some industrial units which do rubber mats and other related rubber products buy our scrap. These are powdered and used for various applications.”

Suspended seats from Harita Seating Systems

12x151-copy-2-copy

Harita Seating Systems has developed suspended seats for trucks and tractors.

Story by:

Bhargav TS

With an eye on the commercial vehicle and tractor market, Hosur-based Harita Seating Systems Ltd. (HSSL) has developed mechanical and pneumatic suspended driver seats for trucks and tractors. The development, in response to the rising demand for comfort and safety in trucks and tractors, is expected to enable the TVS Group company to find good number of takers, in the domestic as well as the export market. Specialising in the manufacture and supply of safe, ergonomic and reliable driver seats, and bus passenger seats, HSSL, it is clear, is keen to address the changing demand for seating solutions in CVs and tractors. It has been some time now that the CV industry has been facing acute shortage of drivers – good drivers. Operational costs are rising too. The situation has come to a level where drivers dictate the vehicle that they want to drive depending on the level of comfort it offers. With ergonomics and comfort assuming greater proportion among CV and tractor operators, the decision to develop and market suspended seats by Harita marks a significant move. In a fast urbanising environment, where infrastructure is rising, expectations are changing. Drivers, who have an important role to play, are demanding better comfort. Suspended seats, it looks like, could well provide the answer. According to A G Giridharan, President, HSSL, only a small portion in the Indian market is occupied by suspended seats. “These are imported. Sensing an opportunity we started working on both mechanical and air suspended seats for tractors and trucks. Both the vehicles operate in tough terrains unlike passenger vehicles,” mentioned Giridharan.

Need for suspended seats

Suspension in tractors is almost no existant making it necessary to have a suspended driver seat. In the case of a truck, the driver spends on an average 10 hours of the day behind the wheel. The need for comfort and safety is of paramount importance therefore. HSSL, according to Giridharan, has appointed a German consultant in Harita’s R&D centre with a rich experience in developing suspended truck seats for the European market. “Our team is working with him on this project and will come up with suspended seats for both Indian and global markets. We will be setting up a separate line in either of our plants to manufacture them,” Giridharan expressed. Catering to CV OEMs like Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, AMW, Mahindra and Scania, and tractor manufacturers like Tafe, John Deere, New Holland, Sonalika, Mahindra, Escorts and others, HSSL has a well equipped R&D centre at Hosur, which could play an important role in the development of suspended seats. The centre is equipped with virtual design capabilities and value-added infrastructure such as road condition data acquisition. It is also equipped with a servo hydraulic rig (for seats and seat components) and pressure-mapping system that helps acquire anthropological data. The seats, at the R&D centre, go through drop tests, lateral stability tests, slider endurance tests and ingress-egress tests.

giridharan-harita-copy img_8831-copy

Bus seats

Established in 1986 as a joint venture with Grammer AG of Germany, HSSL enjoys a strong hold on the bus seat market. It is claimed to command a majority share of the long haul bus seat market. To enhance safety, the company has added a safety feature by integrating a three-point belt in every bus passenger seat. The seat meets the ECE norms, and are supplied prominently to those who export their buses. Though the safety code has not reached up to this level in India, a few of Harita’s customers buy seats for buses that transport foreign tourists. Aware of the rising number as well as the popularity of sleeper coaches, Giridharan expressed a need for seat design that supports easy accessibility and an ability to get in and get out quickly. Especially in the case of an emergency. “There should be roll-over protection. In order to meet the requirements and provide good comfort, we have modular products which can be used both for day and night journeys,” said Giridharan. “We are however waiting for clarity on the statutory requirements to start manufacturing them

for sleeper coaches,” he added.

Lighter, more comfortable seats

With one of the seating trends being light weighting without compromising comfort, HSSL is testing the commercial viability of using plastic pans and high-strength steel instead of traditional steel. A good deal of seat’s weight is of its frame and foam. HSSL, by using alternative materials, is making efforts to reduce the weight of the seats it manufactures according to Giridharan. HSSL, having a mother plant at Hosur and six plants across India at Pune, Jamshedpur, Dharwad, Chennai and Pantnagar, also manufactures two-wheeler seats through a joint venture. The JV with F S Fehrer Automotive GmbH of Germany, with facilities at Hosur, Chennai and Pune, manufactures micro cellular urethanes, polyurethane composites, foams for driver seats and passenger seats for buses.

Focusing on improving the supply chain efficiency through inter-plant coordination and horizontal deployment of lean and other improvement initiatives across all plants, HSSL registered sales of Rs.30,781.08 lakh in FY2015-16 as against Rs.27,375.54 lakh in FY2014-15. Achieving 10 per cent of its turnover from exports (consolidated turnover in FY2015-16 was Rs.637 crore), the company is hoping to further increase its market share in all the seating system areas that it is present in. There are risks associated, the entry of overseas competition and the entry of Indian bus body builders into seat manufacture for example. The good part is, HSSL has a good command over the tractor seat market. To maintain leadership position, the new product development activities the company has undertaken look like a right step in the right direction.

Pinnacle bags new orders

IMG_0278 copy IMG_0288 copy Motor Home__002-Recovered copy

Pithampur-based Pinnacle Industries is targeting an annual turnover of Rs.500 crore on the basis of orders it has bagged.

Story by:

Anusha B

Pinnacle Industries was established in 1996 at Pithampur on the outskirts of Indore. Specialising in the manufacture of automotive seating and interior systems, the company is targeting an annual turnover of Rs.500 crore by FY2019-20, marking a growth of 150 per cent approximately as compared to the turnover of Rs.200 crore recorded in FY2015-16. To fuel growth, the company is banking on new orders that it has bagged. Continuously investing in, and expanding its technology partnerships, the company, claiming to be India’s largest commercial vehicle, bus seating and interiors company, has a capacity to produce 10,00,000 seats annually at the Pithampur plant. The company has an engineering centre at Pune since 2012.

Technology and capacity infusion

Over the last several years the company has not only invested in, and has expanded its technology partnerships, it has also upgraded its manufacturing systems, product range to emerge as an entity that provides the best solutions. Over 90 per cent of the products that the company manufactures find application in the domestic market. The rest are exported to Europe and Africa. In order to address the needs of the clients, the manufacturing capacity of the plant is being expanded in areas like press shop, fabrication shop, etc. With the current capacity utilisation claimed be as high as 85-90 per cent, the company has been investing in robotic welding, vacuum forming, ABS parts trimming and a tool room to make complex tools and dies. Catering to CV manufacturers like Force Motors, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles, SML Isuzu among others, Pinnacle Industries is also planning to set up a new manufacturing project. Sudhir Mehta, Managing Director, Pinnacle Industries, did not reveal more about the new project. Instead, he stressed upon them increasing their involvement in product design and engineering among others. Focusing on manufacturing, testing and development, quality control, assembly and integration, and service and support, the company calls for design inputs from its global technology partner, Netherland-based VDL. The engineering centre of Pinnacle Industries is claimed to be equipped with a complete design capability.

Orders

Driving growth at Pinnacle Industries are new clients. Apart from retaining existing clients, the company has been successful in attracting new clients like Daimler and Scania. Stated Mehta, “We have received orders for staff, school, inter-state and inter-city bus products from Eicher Motors. We have initiated business with Daimler to produce push back luxury seats for its buses. From Scania we have bagged an order for truck cabin interiors.” “New orders have come for ABS parts for JBM, Daimler and Ashok Leyland vehicles. These developments have pushed us to expand our capacity and set up a new plant. We expect them to help us realise our dream to reach a turnover of Rs.500 crore by FY2019-20.”

The technology partnership with VDL has been helping the company to provide greater versatility in vehicle conversions by offering 360-degree custom design solutions based on client requirements. Pinnacle Industries also customises pre-owned vehicles and new vehicles. It is known to cater to the requirements of DC Design among others. Keen to become the leader in the special purpose vehicle segment that includes business vans, election campaign vans, ambulances, utility vans, stretcher vans and delivery vans, Pinnacle Industries is banking on the fact that the acceptance for new and evolving seating and interior technologies is growing.

New and evolving technologies

Pinnacle Industries is paying a good deal of attention to new and evolving seating technologies in the wake of rising demand. It is looking at mechanically suspended driver seats, air suspended driver seats, semi luxury seats with calf support and others. The company is leveraging these technologies to offer enhanced seating solutions to the commercial vehicle industry. “We are providing a one-stop solution to our clients. From design to SOP, we are providing them a most comprehensive set of vehicle interior products,” explained Mehta. If this would explain the investments Pinnacle Industries is indulging in, and in an effort to enhance its manufacturing prowess, increasing attention is also paid towards light weighting. This is in-line with the requirement of the clients. The company has began using aluminium in its products to reduce weight. Said Mehta, that they have achieved considerable weight reduction in seats with the use of aluminium. “A two-seater push-back seat now weighs 30 kg less. A driver seat weighs approximately 23 kg less. Apart from aluminium, we are looking at low thickness materials of high strength,” he added.

The company has employed technical inputs like pressure mapping, foam density, foam contour mapping and hardness to increase the ergonomics and comfort. Said Mehta, “We have invested in equipment to check seat comfort and ergonomics. The seats we design are light in weight and comply with the requirement of seat homologation as well as vehicle level test. The light weight construction of seats helps to reduce gross vehicle weight and elevate fuel efficiency.”

Customised solutions to aid growth

Customised seating solutions is one area that Pinnacle Industries is keen to tap. The company supplies customised push back seats of different sizes and Poly-Urethane (PU) profiles. Seats with fabric and rexin cover are offered. They could be had in multiple stitching patterns. Certain features have been added. three-point and two-point seat belts for example; gas spring operated calf support, flip down arm rests, three-point adjustable foot rest, provision of mobile charger, magazine pouch and bottle holder. “Our R&D set up includes 40 engineers engaged in the design and development of seating and interior solutions. We have a dedicated prototyping shop and a tool room equipped with VMCs, EDMs and wire cutting machines. For our Special Purpose Machine (SPM) requirement, we are providing concept design and inputs to our SPM suppliers. We recently inaugurated our R&D centre at Pune,” informed Mehta.

Competition in the space that Pinnacle Industries operates in, is growing. It is attracting global players that are keen to leverage their relations with global manufacturers. In such a scenario, the aggressive plans charted by Pinnacle Industries should see them in good

stead.

Faurecia to support Isuzu pick-ups

20160505_114438 copy 20160505_114745 copy IMG_8646 copy IMG_20160427_135402 copy

Faurecia is setting up a new plant at Chennai, which will cater to Isuzu pick-ups.

Text & Photos:

Bhargav TS

Faurecia Interior Systems (FIS), a global leader in automotive interiors, is building its third plant at Chennai to manufacture instrument panels (IP), door panels (DP) and centre consoles (CC) at an investment of Rs.90 crore. The plant is expected to begin production in October 2016, and will supply IP, DP and CC for the Isuzu D-Max range of pick-ups apart from a multi-utility vehicle that will hit the Indian market in 2018. Expected to complement the two other facilities of the company in the same region, and which cater to the needs of Ford India, the new facility is also likely to serve many new vehicle platforms

Apart from a mandate from Isuzu Motors India, the Chennai facility should help FIS to drive other ambitious projects that it has undertaken. FIS has bagged an order from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to supply Instrument Panel (IP) for their Jeep model which is expected to be launched in India in the second quarter of 2017. FIS will also supply IP and CC for Renault’s forthcoming vehicle, which is expected to hit the road by 2017. For their existing customer Ford, the interior trim manufacturer will be manufacturing IP, DP and CC from 2017 for EcoSport MCA, domestic and North America. By the end of 2016, FIS will open a small assembly (sequencing) plant at Pune to supply IP and CC to FCA for the Jeep model mentioned above. The company will be setting up a state of the art paint shop too. To be built with technology inputs from Faurecia, the new paint shop will be used to produce soft painted, high gloss and matte finished interior parts. Expressed Vidyadhar Limaye, Director, FIS India, that the need for technology inputs in IP for recent orders bagged was sensed to meet the requirements, present and the future. “In order to meet the requirements we decided to set up a high-technology plant at Chennai. Spread over 8 acres, it will have a built-up area of 19,000 sq. m. The plant will have a broad range of technologies under one roof and the best-in-class machines for high and low tonnage injection moulding, negative thermoforming, closed mould foaming, weakening by milling and weakening by hot knife technology,” stated Limaye. FIS has invested Rs. 60 crore thus far in its facilities at Chennai. The new plant would hike the investment to Rs.150 crore.

Leveraging relations

Despite bagging orders from Isuzu and FCA, FIS has not let its attention deviate from the list of its existing clients. The Maraimalai Nagar plant of the company, operational since April 2013, has been serving Ford operations at Chennai as a dedicated sequencing facility. Out of the Maraimalai plant, Faurecia ships in-sequence micropits, door panels and consoles to the Ford compact SUV, the EcoSport, for domestic as well as export models. The Maraimalai plant has been certified by Ford as Q1 starting January 2015. Said Limaye, “We were able to get this certification from Ford because of the robust implementation of the Faurecia Excellence System (FES) which ensures efficient manufacturing operations. Ford gives Q1 certification to its suppliers based on certain parameters and criteria. It took us 21 months after the plant was commissioned to get the Q1 certification.” “When the new plant becomes operational, we plan to move all the equipment to the new facility to support the existing and upcoming business. The plant would thus have all the standard methodologies and global safety features,” he added.

Aiming at burgeoning SUV market

The gap between SUVs and pick-ups is fading. A look at the Renault Duster Oroch or the Chevrolet Trailblazer will highlight this fact. The Trailblazer shares the platform with the Colorado pick-up truck. The strategy to use a common platform to spring an SUV and a pick-up are on the rise. Aware of such developments as well as the rising preference for SUVs, Limaye averred that they are certain to meet such future demands. “Buyers who were keen to buy sedans are now keen to buy SUVs. Soft-touch instrument panels are gaining momentum. The outlook of customers is changing. That of the manufacturers is changing too. There is a shift taking place from basic variants to value-added and premium variants. We are gearing up to meet such and other demands,” he stated. FIS, in view of the developments happening around it, is exploring opportunities for value addition in various vehicle segments. It is also keen to create an opening in the market for itself. Opined Limaye, “We are confident to compete in the current system. Suitable investments have also been made. We are moving with the current trends where users are looking for comfort zone in the cabin space. Consumption of space by IP is proportionate to style. There are two ways that Tier 1 suppliers execute their programmes. As ‘Full Service Supplier (FSS)’ or as ‘Build to Print (BTP)’, based on which our involvement in the programme is decided.” “In FIS, we have a freedom to suggest and implement our global and local innovations and could suggest lateral inputs to automakers. However in BTP, we have only limited options and have to go according to the design standards given by the car maker,” he added. The R&D engineering centre of FIS in Pune is capable of serving all design requirements. The centre has an innovation cell, which is working on some cost-effective innovations that are expected to find a place in autos made by local automakers,” added Limaye. The R&D engineering centre at Pune provides vehicle manufacturers with design, development, testing and validation services. Capable of serving base, value and premium segments according to Limaye, Faurecia has come to map the preferences in each market it is present in. In India, for example, it is the base segment that works the most. In other countries it accounts for only a fraction of the sales. Trends like these, which differ from market to market, pose a big challenge for Faurecia. In India, they pose a big challenge for FIS. There is a direct influence on costs.

Kinematic Parts

To widen its appeal, FIS has forayed into kinematic parts like glove boxes, air vents, cup holders, and docking devices. The company supplies air vents to the Brazilian market from India. A dedicated facility for air vents and other kinematic parts is being set up by Faurecia at Pune with an investment of Rs.15 crore. “With growing preference of buyers for decorated and sophisticated car interiors, car makers are coming up with innovative and high-end interior solutions. FIS in such a situation looks to add decorative air-vents in its product portfolio considering many automakers are importing them. It can fetch us some good business in the growing market, which in a few years would be the third biggest in the world. The engineering center at Pune backs us with the technical know-how in this area,” said Limaye. He concluded, “We also have solutions for docking devices. These are currently on trial with our customers, and could be launched any time soon. We can cater to 100 per cent of such an additional business in the upcoming Pune facility.”

‘Lux’ from Ola

Ola has tied up with BMW to forward its premium aggregator cab offering, Ola Lux.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

topimg_32905_ola_big-copy

Ola and BMW India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU makes BMW a category partner of Ola for its premium premium ‘Lux’ offering. Ola Lux is currently offered in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. It is made up of luxury cars, the minimum fare of which is Rs. 250 per km. A fare of Rs. 20 to Rs. 22 per km is charged thereafter. By associating with Ola, BMW is expected to leverage the opportunity to increase sales, and in the process satisfy aspiring customers who find the price tag of BMW cars discouraging. Expressed Frank Schloeder, President (act.), BMW Group India, that a need gap exists. “It is Ola’s scale of operations and exponential growth that compelled us to partner with them,” he added. According to Schloeder, the luxury segment constitutes a dismal one per cent in India in comparison to 10 per cent share globally. At five per cent China ranks second. Enabling BMW cars to be a part of Ola customer’s daily lives, Ola Lux, apart from extending professional chauffeur driven cars, offers features like ‘ride later’, ‘Ola Corporate’, and more. With driver details displayed upfront, the Ola Lux cars are equipped with SOS buttons, auto-connect fourth generation Wi-Fi, and are tracked live apart from being supported by an online payment medium called ‘Ola Money’.

With BMW by its side, Ola has come out with attractive proposals that would enable the cab aggregator to tap into what Pranay Jivrajka, Ola’s COO, terms as tremendous potential. With BMW, expressed Jivrajka, we have come up with attractive proposals that will enable the operators to enter the segment with ease. The association will thus offer Ola cab operators easy financing, after-sales support and assured buy-back for the car, he mentioned. With assured buy-back claimed to be a way of securing the cab operator’s investment, in a bid to enhance customer experience, certified BMW instructors will train drivers. The cars, made available at attractive price points, will have BMW Financial Services India offering 100 per cent finance for up to four years at low interest rates. Pre-and-post sales ownership will be backed by support that extends through out the vehicle life. The after-sales service packages are expected to reduce the cost of ownership. Packages like ‘BMW Service Inclusive plus and BMW Repair Inclusive’ will be valid for up to three years or 100,000 km. The transparent service package and extended warranty would cover maintenance cost, inspection and wear and tear. Those who engage Ola Lux, have to pay rupees three per minute of the ride time apart from Rs. 20 per km. Service tax is payable in addition to the ride fare. Toll and parking are charged in the customer invoice over and above the regular pricing.

PKC Group plans India foray

3Drekka_hires copy AGCO_Engine_harness copy AGCO_Switchpanel_harness copy DSC_5342_Sandeep Nigade copy TIPM copy

Finland-based manufacturer of CV and locomotive electric systems and wiring, the PKC Group is foraying into India.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

A leading global supplier of electrical distribution systems and electronics for the transportation and industrial markets, Finland-based PKC Group is making a foray into India. It is evaluating the path that it should take to make a successful entry into the Indian market. Operating under two business verticals – wiring systems and electronics, the PKC Group, headquartered at Helsinki, is keen to tap the commercial vehicle and locomotive market in India. Serving commercial vehicle OEMs like Daimler, MAN, Scania and many others, the PKC Group posted a revenue of Euro 908 million in 2015. Also catering to locomotive manufacturers like Bombardier, the Group, according to Jyrki Keronen, President – APAC, is keen to increase its revenue as well as its reach in the Asia-Pacific region. He drew attention towards the Group employing 22,000 people the world over. The highest (55 per cent) number of people are in the USA, followed by Europe, South America and the Asia-Pacific region. This should provide some idea of the potential that remains untapped in the Asia-Pacific market. Said Sandeep Nigade, Business Development Director, India, PKC Wiring Systems Oy, that stress would primarily be on the commercial vehicle market in India. “The PKC Group caters to trucks and buses, light commercial vehicles, construction equipment, agriculture and foresty equipment, and engines. A number-one supplier of wiring systems to commercial vehicles in the USA, the Group is keen to leverage global relations for an Indian foray,” Sandeep added. He further mentioned that the Group’s foray into India is linked with the demand of its global customers to set up operations in India so that they can be served.

To serve locos too

Planning to invest Euro 20 to 30 million initially, the Group, according to Sandeep is also looking at foraying into the locomotive industry. “While the primary focus will be on the commercial vehicle industry to begin with, given the Group’s capabilities in the locomotive industry, it is quite logical to look at a foray into the Indian locomotive industry,” said Sandeep. He described the PKC Group as a growth-driven company. Planning to establish manufacturing operations within the next few years, the Group, in India, is looking at offering a complete range of products it supplies to the commercial vehicle industry. The commercial vehicle product portfolio comprises of electrical distribution systems, vehicle electronics, components, and wires and cables. Expressed Sandeep, “The Group takes pride in one engineering change per day over the life-cycle of a product platform. This essentially translates into the fact that the core competence of the Group lies in complexity management, process, data, systems and organisation.”

A global company

A look at the manufacturing operations of the PKC Group will reveal that they are spread quite evenly across continents. The electrical distribution systems are manufactured by the Group across its facilities in Brazil, China, Estonia, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, Russia and Serbia. They find use in commercial vehicles for supply of power and transfer of data; in truck and bus engines in particular. The Group’s manufacturing facilities in Germany and Mexico supply power switching and distribution systems and components to trucks and buses. It would be important to mention at this point in time, that the Group also supplies power switching and distribution systems to agriculture and construction equipment manufacturers. From its manufacturing facilities in Germany and Mexico, the PKC Group supplies power distribution centers, connectors, routing and retention aids, and sensor wires for application in trucks and buses. The manufacturing facility of the Group in Mexico offers insulated and non-insulated wires, multi-conductor cables, and battery cables.

Manufacturing & engineering services

Planning to manufacture wiring harness and provide engineering services in India, the PKC Group, according to Sandeep, is well aware of the domain changes that are taking place. Averred Sandeep, that the commercial vehicle industry will need a wiring harness manufacturing partner as complexity in the wiring harness will increase due to emission norms change. “More customisation and purpose built vehicles will find an opportunity,” he added. Investing one-per cent of its annual revenue into R&D, the PKC Group is hoping to achieve good growth in India. It is looking at offering wiring harnesses, terminals, connectors and power distribution centres in India with good attention to the increasing need for technology, demand for mass customisation and stricter standards. “Factors like these result in complexity of customer’s products and processes. This tranlates into an opportunity for us,” stated Sandeep. The strong domain expertise of PKC Group is highlighted by the fact that it delivers 11 million parts for 50,000 trucks annually. The Group, for a typical commercial vehicle platform, is known to supply 810 routings, 2,650 harnesses and 5,200 active part numbers.

The Indian foray

The PKC Group’s Indian foray, according to Sandeep could be through a Greenfield venture or through acquisition of an existing business. “We are evaluating both the routes and would come to a clear conclusion very soon,” expressed Sandeep. The Group is said to be in discussion with some players in India for an inorganic entry into India. The third possibility is to set up a joint venture. A look at the journey of the PKC Group, and it is evident, that its growth has been derived out of a mix of organic and inorganic routes as well as through joint ventures. The Group entered into a joint venture with Jiangsu Huakai Wire Harness Co. Ltd. (Huakai) last year. As part of the deal, Huakai transferred its business of developing and manufacturing electrical distribution systems for trucks, construction vehicles and buses in China to the JV. Key customers of the JV include Foton (and Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive), Kinglong and Iveco. In 2014, Huakai posted a revenue of Euro 43 million. Early this year, the PKC Group entered into an arrangement to acquire the wiring and controls business of Poland’s automotive seating manufacturer Groclin. The Groclin acquisition would also include its subsidiary Kabel-Technik-Polska (KTP) for Euro 50 million, and is subject to necessary clearances.

A major development during the last two years apart from the two joint ventures was the bagging of new business contracts amounting to Euro 30 million from two major global commercial vehicle manufacturers. Estimated to be effective by 2018, a major part of the development relates to the manufacture of high current fuse modules and associated EDS routing and retention shields for a light vehicle platform. This would provide economies of scale and strengthen the Group’s partnership with a key customer. The foray in India, based on the premise of further strengthening relationship with global clients, stems from the fact that the Indian commercial vehicle as well as the locomotive industry is changing. Mentioned Sandeep that local brands would need to adapt to international ways of operating in order to survive. He concluded, “We are looking at gaining 30 per cent market share in the next three years.”