Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Scania India has commissioned its bus plant in India with the aim to offer sustainable transport solutions which are safe and long lasting.

Scania buses are not new to India. Until now, they were imported from Malaysia where Scania has a captive coach builder. They will now be built in India at the new bus plant the Swedish commercial vehicle major has commissioned at Narasapura near Bangalore. Sharing the premises with the truck plant, the bus plant has a capacity to build 1,000 units per year and will employ 300 people in its first year. Marking the expansion of Scania’s only production hub in Asia, the bus plant, inaugurated by Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari in the presence of other dignitaries, will make 675 units this year. Of these will include 55 ethanol powered city buses for Nagpur municipal corporation apart from 60 Metrolink buses for Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and 30 buses for Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). With a target of 5,000 trucks and 2,500 buses by 2020, Scania Commercial Vehicles India Pvt. Ltd. (SCVIPL) has already sold 150 buses in the country to private operators. With STUs a part of the client list, the bus plant, according to Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO, Scania CV, will also serve as an export hub for other Asian markets, the Middle East and Africa.

As production picks up pace, the current takt time of 12 hours (time taken to build one bus) will be brought down to eight hours and six hours respectively.

In what could be termed as a ‘U’-shaped assembly line, work begins with the welding together of tubular sections using custom-made fixtures. The line is fed by sub-stations that build front, rear, side and top tubular sections. Post welding of reinforcements, stiff box sections (between front and rear axle) and surface preparation, the structure is painted in an dust-free environment. It is then married to the chassis. Subsequent stations include the fitting of reinforced composite fibre front and rear, aluminium side sections, wiring harness and various other bits and pieces. While the glued aluminium side sections can be easily replaced in case of damage, enough flexibility has been engineered into the line to produce inter-city luxury coaches measuring 14.5 m (three-axle), 13.7 m (three-axle) and 12 m (two-axle) in length respectively, and 12 m-long low-floor city buses with little modification.

After a hop to the paint booth, the bus reaches the final assembly hall. Here, window panes and the front windshield are fitted. Over the next few stations, the interior trim, dashboard, seats (from Harita), etc., are fitted. The final station involves wheel alignment and shower test. Describing the initiative as Scania’s contribution to ‘Make in India’, Anders Grundstormer, Managing Director, Scania India and Senior Vice President, Scania Group, said, “We brought products like the green (ethanol) bus at Nagpur. We brought biogas and bioethanol engines to take emissions to BS5 and BS6 levels.” He said further, “We want to create livelihood for rural India by buying their waste to make bioethanol from molasses, rice straw, wheat straw, etc. We want to run a sustainable city bus in India.”

Set to propel Scania’s ambitions in India, apart from turning out buses that are 70 per cent localised (in terms of value), the bus plant, builds on the company’s three core values – customer first, respect to individual and quality. To draw Indian suppliers with an opportunity to drive its quality mantra through the various supplier ranks, the buses Scania will build at Narasapura, will employ the same system of chassis modules and modular bodywork as trucks. They will also meet all the safety standards (are already ECE R66 compliant) according to Helmut Schwartz, Director – Production (Buses & Coaches), SCVIPL. Featuring ABS and stability program, the (600-litre) twin fuel tanks and battery have been placed at the most safe position.

Stressing on quality and the ability to offer the most promising cost per km operation in India, the city bus, said Grundstormer, will last for 15 years ensuring good ROI. The driveline life is 2 million km. Averred Lundstedt, “We see this (plant) as an investment for our global production system. 97 per cent of Scania’s production is outside of Sweden.” An engine plant is next in line. Scania’s only production hub in Asia is set to grow. It is set to play a vital role in the ambitious target of 1,20,000 trucks, 50,000 buses and 20,0000 engines by 2021. Looking at digitisation; at connected vehicles, Scania, banking firmly on its systems approach, is keen to devise as well as offer sustainable transportation solutions that involve recycling waste, and reduce CO2 emissions.


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