Wabco is looking at leveraging its technological prowess, and the acquisition of Mico Incorporated to grow more than the industry average.
Anusha B & Bhargav TS
Wabco is known as a supplier of braking systems to CV manufacturers the world over. It is one of the few companies in the world, except Knorr Bremse, which specialise in this field. Not limiting itself to braking systems, the tier 1 supplier has also come to offer AMT technology and telematics solutions that tap into artificial intelligence to offer CV operators smart monitoring solutions, business execution tools through real time information and driver assistance systems among others. In India, the company, through its wholly owned subisdiary, is looking at leveraging its telematics solutions to offer a connected future to CV operators. The company plans to integrate telematics solutions in the vehicle and supply it as an OE offering. Wabco is already offering telematics solutions in the aftermarket. There are 3000 basic systems being offered. They are designed for track and trace, and perform a few other basic functions. Aware that telematics has a lot more to offer, the company is looking at leveraging its capabilities to carve out a unique standing among other telematics solutions providers. P Kaniappan, Managing Director, Wabco India Limited, opined, “Wabco’s specialisation is in mobilising vehicle intelligence. Our telematics solutions make it possible to communicate with the sensors in the system. Add to it, the service network we have invested in the world over. Our engineering prowess in vehicle dynamics will enable us to service the vehicle anywhere in the country. This will make it easier for a fleet operator and driver to stay connected with the authorised service centre.” “Our focus is not to sell the product, but to offer solutions that empower the fleet and driver,” he added.
The share of electronics in CVs is growing. The future, it is clear, belongs to CAN-enabled vehicles. With CAN-bus making up the backbone of all the electronic systems that are employed in a CV, it is but inevitable for CVs to head towards a connected future. A connected future where onboard diagnotics and remote monitoring are a way of life to guarantee maximum uptime. Predictive maintenance through telematics will form a crucial link in CV operators quest for maximum uptime. Wabco, through its telematics solutions, is looking at playing at role in this area, and in other areas that will signal value for fleet operators and drivers. The telematics solutions that Wabco is looking at offering as an OE fit will include collection of crucial data for analysis. Data from the engine; data for other smart aggregrates like the gearbox as well. “Large amount of data is becoming available. If the CV makers want us to incorporate the analytic bit, we are open. We can engineer it such that it provides feedback to them in the form of a dashboard. With our telematics solutions, OEs can add value to their product,” said Kaniappan. “With our engineering prowess, and the ability to provide service across the country, we can take pride in positioning ourselves above other players in the field. It is no secret that predictive maintenance helps to identify issues before hand. The telematics system sends a trigger warning to the driver. It also flashes on the screen the nearest authorised service station so that the driver can reach it. In the development of such telematics solutions, integration is the most important element. It is also the differentiating element for us over competition,” he added. By offering its telematics solutions as OE fit, Wabco, in India, is keen to highlight the fact that it is not just offering a software intensive product, it is also offering a solution that is ‘complete’ and adds value.
The telematics solutions that Wabco is keen to offer go beyond track and trace. They include fuel efficiency, fuel monitoring and time management. Time management, it is no secret, is crucial to a fleet operator. Even if one vehicle is idle or undergoing service, effective fleet utilisation is affected. Based on the number of trucks queuing up for servicing at the service centre, a trigger can be sent to the driver. This would help him to plan his visit accordingly, and even find out the time it will take to service the vehicle.
The electronic nature of telematics solutions Wabco is looking at, aligns well with the ABS and AMT solutions it is offering. These two are mechatronic in nature. Made mandatory on a certain class of CVs in India, including those that carry hazardous goods, ABS, it is acknowledged the world over, enhances safety. In India, the costs associated with ABS have been a deterrent for CV operators. For them, it is the most essential that matters largely. Awareness for ABS however has been rising lately, and it being made mandatory on certain class of CVs is making a difference. Operators are slowly coming to understand the benefits of ABS in terms of tyre life among others. According to Kaniappan, ABS, with the addition of few features like hill hold can offer greater value. The hill hold feature, he said, optimises the compressor and engine functions. Compressor need not run when not required. With electronic stability control in ABS, the roll back effect can be drastically reduced. This feature is expected to be made mandatory soon. Wabco is tasting good success with its AMT technology in India. “Two years ago, only three per cent of the population was using AMT. Today, AMT is finding greater acceptance. With engines electronically governed, the use of AMT is only set to increase,” announced Kaniappan. “We are ready with the AMT portfolio. We are working with most Indian OEMs, and want to make global products keeping India as a base. We plan to pass on the advantage to Indian customers,” he added.
Wabco has begun supplying disc brakes to the aftermarket. They are receiving a positive feedback. The bus operators have come to appreciate them especially. Plans, claim Wabco sources, are underway to provide the same to OEMs. Product localisation is progressing, and is expected to get over in the next 18 years. Once localised, the company will add more value to it. For AMT, the company has already setup a local assembly. For ABS solutions it offers, the company has achieved a localisation of over 90 per cent. Sensors continue to be imported. They are a highly critical element of ABS. Efforts to locally produce the sensors are on. The company hopes to achieve the desired result by April. Once achieved, ABS will be 100 per cent localised. About Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Kaniappan expressed that it is too big a technology and involves a lot of modules that serve electronic needs ranging from basic to advanced. “We first need to bring the technology to India and see how it can be applied to Indian vehicles. Lowest level is autonomous braking, and is mandatory in many European countries. Whether Indian CVs need full braking is the question. Collision warning systems and autonomous braking could make for a system that is feasible in terms of costs for India. A mandate may be necessary. We are figuring out whether we can tap the mining segment to absorb this technology first,” he stated.
Wabco is contemplating if the two products – vacuum pumps and electronic suspension, it offers to passenger vehicles can be applied to ambulances in India. These two products are exported the world over. Apart from vacuum pumps and electronic suspension, the company also produces wiring harness for ABS to endorse the quality of the product. The wiring harness business could be leveraged for other applications. Wabco, said Kaniappan, has acquired Mico Incorporated. It is a global acquisition, and expected to provide Wabco access to the off-highway industry. The acquisition could increase its operational footprint. Mico Incorporated is a supplier of complete pneumatic and hydraulic brake control systems for off-hghway vehicles worldwide. In India, Wabco could leverage the relations of Mico Incorporated to enter into the hydraulics market. Wabco, according to Kaniappan, wants to grow faster than the industry average. It plans to do so by increasing its product reach. What better opportunity than to offer new, exciting solutions to CVs, passenger vehicles and off-highway equipments.