ANCR_JAN2016Anticipating growth from the rising bus market, Trans Acnr is gearing up its production facility in Rajasthan.

Story by: Anirudh Raheja

Trans Acnr had a modest beginning in 2003. A team of young entrepreneurs set up the company at Delhi with a handful of orders. Over the years, the company has grown to have a turnover of Rs. 600 million. It has sold over 7500 units in the Indian market for application in commercial vehicles.

Anticipating growth from the rising bus market, Trans Acnr is ramping up the production of air-conditioners at its plant at Shahjahanpur, near Alwar in Rajasthan. “We will be starting work on two new assembly lines at our facility early next year. By July 2016, one line will roll out air conditioners for lighter commercial vehicles of capacity up to 12kW. The other line will roll out products up to 44kW to serve a major part of the CV industry,” announced Shatrughan Kumar, Managing Director, Trans Acnr. He mentioned that his company has signed an agreement with Daimler India Commercial Vehicles for its 9-metre buses to supply 24kW air conditioners. The Shahjahanpur plant, according to Kumar, is currently operating at 75 per cent of the overall capacity. The facility produces close to 300 air-con units per month. The ramping up of the facility is expected to double the number of units produced per month. Only about six to seven per cent of the buses in India are fitted with air-conditioners as of current. The demand for air-conditioned buses is on the rise. According to Kumar, vehicle manufacturers are gradually realising the value of installing an air conditioner in buses. They are also realising the value of designing a bus with an ability to include an air conditioner, Kumar pointed out. In response to a query on the use of slave engines to drive air conditioners, Kumar explained they source them from Mahindra, Avtec and Yanmar. These engines range betwee 25 kW and 40 kW according to Kumar, and support air conditioner for a diverse range of buses including staff buses, school buses and inter-city buses. Catering to the demand of the commercial vehicle air conditioner market, and prominently that of the buses, Trans Acnr rolls out three new models every year. It will be soon introducing a 25 kW air conditioner for aftermarket application. Supplies, said Kumar, have already begun from last month.

Addressing changing market requirements
Well aware of the changing requirements of the market, and the issues faced by the existing users, Trans Acnr has developed SL series of air conditioners. These employ aluminium coils and are aimed at addressing the concern about weight. The weight of air-conditioners has been growing. According to Kumar, the SL series products could reduce the weight by up to 10 per cent in an air conditioner unit that weighs 200 kg. The 10 per cent weight reduction has been achieved through structural engineering and developing an air conditioner which does not have a bottom on the condenser. Not very happy with the use of aluminium coils as it compromises on the quality of the product, Trans Acnr developed two different series of products. These are offered under Astro and SL series. The former has copper tubes and aluminium fins and the latter has aluminium coils. Both are made in India, and at the company’s Rajasthan plant. With the demand for city buses expected to rise multi-fold under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme, Trans Acnr is fully geared up to deploy other models under A & E series which are being directly imported from China. As a part of its export portfolio, Trans Acnr is already expanding its base beyond Indian markets, and has come to gain over 80 per cent market share in the Nepal AC bus market. “We are now working with Lanka Leyland for LYNKS mini bus chassis, and already have orders for 20 units for our 15 kW and 20 kW models. We will be also focusing on Gulf countries and the SAARC market,” said Kumar

Catering to varying needs through import and manufacture of ACs
In India, Trans Acnr represents Jingyi Automobile Air Conditioners of China and Hwa Sung Thermo of Korea. Jingyi air conditioners are offered to the bus market. Hwa Sung air conditioners are offered to the truck market. Commencing operations in 2003 for truck refrigeration, and in April 2004 for bus air conditioners, Trans Acnr, said Kumar, addressed its first order for a 18 kW and a 24 kW AC by sourcing them from Jingyi. More orders started finding their way to the company, and in 2010, the company touched a milestone of 1000 unit sales. At this point, it was decided by the management to enter local manufacture and customisation. A client called PKN was the source of inspiration. Trans Acnr developed 10-12 kW ACs for customised Traveller vans out of its base in IMT Manesar. The need for expansion drove the company to invest Rs 6 crore in a facility at Shahjahanpur in 2013. This would enable the company to offer a complete portfolio of air conditioners ranging from 5 kW to 44 kW.

Future ready
For special application like buses plying in North India, where temperature variation is high during the year, Trans Acnr has developed Astro 438 and Astro 543 air conditioners with heaters for 10.5 m and 12 m buses. In the case of city and school buses, heat load is an issue that needs to be addressed with care. Pointed out Kumar, that the high heat load in city and school buses due to frequent door openings calls for air conditioners of higher capacity. “The capacity for air conditioners has gone up by at least 15-20 per cent for city buses,” he added. It is such developments that are posing a need for Trans Acnr to be future ready. To anticipate the changes.

A simple strategy, according to Kumar, is to offer products that meet the expectations. “Sometimes you face unavoidable regulations like removing of the film and curtains. It is necessary to keep a capacity margin such that even without the use of sun films and curtains, the cooling capacity is good,” Kumar explained. Drawing attention to the completion of an order to supply 80 21 kW air conditioners to SML Isuzu for semi-low floor midi buses aimed at Chandigarh Transport Understaking, Kumar adds, “Trans Acnr has always been in the race, and gets preference from respective engineering departments of vehicle manufacturers. “Margins can be however tight, which coupled with stringent service norms can make projects gasp for breath,” he remarked.

Despite the challenges, Trans Acnr continues to grow. It is growing at a CAGR of 30 per cent. The company posted a revenue earning of Rs.60 crores in FY15 with a good deal of business primarily contributed by the aftermarket. The aftermarket business is expected to touch Rs.100 crore this fiscal with the sale of over 1700 units. Apart from offices at Mumbai, Hyderabad and Ranchi, Trans Acnr has five service centres. There is one at Delhi, one at Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Chennai and Cochin each. “We will add five more service centres across India in FY 2016. To expand our reach, we have resident engineers who provide service at the customer’s site in cities like Jaipur, Jalandhar, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Patna and Hyderabad,” Kumar explained. To ensure the availability of trained manpower, Trans Acnr organises training workshops twice a year at its regional offices. Aware that the acceptance of Chinese products even if they are of good quality is a big possibility, Trans Acnr is banking on transporter connectivity. “We offer them our reference lists. Word of mouth publicity also plays a crucial role,” averred Kumar.

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