India is emerging as a manufacturing base for Wabco
Wabco, a leading global player in safety and control systems to trucks and buses, is bullish on growth opportunities in the Indian market on the back of growing awareness about safety contents in vehicles and upcoming new regulations. With five manufacturing units, a vehicle testing facility and a technology centre in India, the company is emerging as a key player in the automotive space. P Kaniappan, Managing Director of Rs.2103 crore Wabco India Ltd spoke to Automotive Script about its products and technologies and the growth opportunities. Edited excerpts
Can you take us through Wabco India’s operations, growth curve and the innovations you have come up with over the years?
In 2009, Wabco took majority stake in TVS Group company Sundaram Clayton, which was established in 1962. Sundaram Clayton was a pioneer in the quality movement in India and the first Indian company to win the Deming prize in 1998. It was supplying braking products for over 50 years to various OEMs and was the first to introduce dual circuit air brake system in the country.
With our majority stake, it became Wabco India Ltd, which is listed on the BSE.We introduced ABS in the aftermarket through the retrofit route and have fitted it in over 50,000 vehicles till dateWe have expanded our product portfolio and are promoting various technologies like Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill Start Aid (HSA), Automatic Traction Control (ATC), Electronic Braking System (EBS) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
Of course, the recent launch was the ESC technology for trucks and buses by collaborating with Tata Motors who became the first OEM to deploy ESC on their Prima range of trucks.
Wabco India in order to enhance vehicle safety, efficiency and connectivity has pioneered and leveraged technological innovation and new solutions for OEMs and fleet owners which are not only innovative and reliable but are also value for money in the long run. Technology plays a key role in facilitating OEMs and fleet owners to achieve safety, efficiency and maximum capacity utilization. Some of the key products which Wabco India has been focusing on, over the past few years include Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Trailer Electronic Braking System (TEBS), Wabco India was the first to Introduce Electronic Braking System (EBS), Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) – Wabco OptiDrive™, Air Disc Brakes, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (Wabco OptiTire™), Fleet Management Solutions (FMS), Electronically Controlled Air Suspension (ECAS) –Wabco OptiRide™
We have five world-class manufacturing facilities across India which is aligned with the customer footprint. Wabco India also serves the aftermarket customers through a wide national distribution and service network. We have local manufacturing lines for ABS & AMT and plan to localise technologies like ADB as well.
We have been growing at around 20 percent for the last 5 years driven by market performance which essentially means that we are growing at a higher rate than the market growth.
Can you elaborate on the benefits of deploying ESC for medium and heavy CVs in the context of your pact with Tata Motors?
Wabco India has worked closely with Tata Motors since 2013 to test and homologate ESCsmart™ technology in their commercial vehicles. The integration of ESCsmart™ in Prima and Signa range of Tata trucks was completed by April 2017 and in October 2017 the technology was jointly introduced by Wabco India and Tata Motors. With this launch, Tata Motors became the first OEM in India to deploy Wabco’s ESCsmart™ technology on their range of Prima trucks. It is an active safety system that monitors the roll and directional stability of vehicles. The system can automatically intervene, independent of the driver, when a high risk of instability is detected, thus helping to reduce the probability of accidents particularly associated with rollover, skidding and jack knifing. Wabco has pioneered ESC for commercial vehicles since 2001 and has sold more than one million ESC systems since its introduction.
Our ESCsmart™ system offers two features namely – Yaw Control for low friction surfaces and Roll Stability Control for high friction surfaces.
YAW Control captures movement of vehicle around vertical axis and prevents oversteering / understeering (vehicle spin) by reducing vehicle speed and correcting direction by means of independent wheel braking.
Roll Stability Control captures vehicle roll around longitudinal axis and prevents vehicle roll over by reducing driving torque via engine control and service brake activation.
ESCsmart™ is the commercial vehicle industry’s first and most efficient technology to homologate ESC, saving significant time and effort for truck and bus manufacturers.
It is easily applicable to a wide range of vehicles/platforms and offers significant savings on logistic costs by reducing parts inventory.
Tata Motors has launched Hill Start Aid (HSA) and Automatic Traction Control (ATC) technologies on their Prima range of trucks. We are working with other OEMs to increase market penetration.
We hope the demand for ESCs to grow in India and expect other manufacturers to adopt ESC in the coming years.
What are the emerging opportunities you see for safety systems in CVs and buses in India?
We see a huge potential for reducing road fatalities in India. The commercial vehicles category accounted for the highest proportion of fatal accidents (25.6 per cent) during the calendar year 2015. The percentage of commercial vehicles involved in road accidents rose to nearly 28 percent according to a report presented by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in India.
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has introduced vehicular safety standards and IT-enabled safety measures which include trucks prohibited from carrying protruding loads, making Anti-locking Braking System (ABS) mandatory on heavy vehicles, bus and truck code for safe cabins for drivers among other slew of measures to reduce accidents on the roads.
The new norms and regulations which is aimed at reducing road accidents has made it feasible for Wabco to introduce advanced technologies. This has further paved way for adoption and better acceptance of Wabco’s technologies by the Indian OEMs. Some of the key products that Wabco India has been focusing on to leverage safety, efficiency and connectivity of commercial vehicles include:
Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) is the first electronic system fitted in Indian trucks that monitors and controls wheel speed during braking. It helps steering control and vehicle stability during braking maneuvers and is engineered to fulfil the braking legislations for commercial vehicles globally.
Our ESCsmart™ functionality builds on Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Braking System (EBS) platforms.
We have also introduced Air Disc Brake (ADB) recently and are testing it with OEMs in India. ADB is lighter and capable of significant weight reduction and a 10 percent gain in the braking distance. We soon plan to localize ADB in India.
Wabco India has plans of introducing products revolving around Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) like Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS) in the future. Wabco’s AEBS (OnGuardACTIVE™) alerts the driver to potentially critical driving situations via acoustic, visual and haptic signals. Should the vehicle operator fail to take corrective action, the system provides active braking on moving, stopping and stationary vehicles to mitigate or prevent impending rear-end collisions. OnGuardACTIVE is capable of delivering up to full braking on moving and stopping vehicles and can bring the vehicle to a complete stop. It can also deliver partial braking on stationary vehicles.
With almost 4,400 employees, Wabco India accounts for one third of your global workforce. Do you have plans to increase the size of the workforce?
We look to grow in India consistently over the coming years which will be primarily driven by the business requirements. Wabco India has emerged as the second pillar of operations for Wabco today with renewed focus on developing Wabco India as the ‘Centre of Excellence’ which is in alignment with the Government of India’s vision to make India a global hub for manufacturing. One third of Wabco’s employees are in India, as more and more business services such as our global Software Development Centre and manufacturing facilities which supply to rest of the world, are based in India. With five world class manufacturing facilities, India is emerging as a manufacturing base for Wabco globally.
More than 500 engineers (One third) are based out of India. Can you elaborate on the design and development activities of each product and system?
Wabco India represents the largest base of employees for Wabco. Our advanced software development center in Chennai is actively engaged in developing cutting-edge systems functionality for electronic braking, stability control, transmission automation and advanced driver assistance technologies. We have a manufacturing unit in Ambattur, Chennai which is a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for Mechatronics Engineering Development and serves the global market.
Being the production hub for brake actuators and a key production base for a list of products in India, which are all the Indian OEMs you are doing business with?
WABCO India is a tier-one supplier to all leading OEMs in commercial vehicle, off highway and trailer segments in India.
Some of our aftermarket customers include VRL logistics, Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) and Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC).
What is the investment you are looking at in the coming years and what is your growth outlook?
We are currently investing around Rs.100 crore every year for enhancing capacities across our five locations. We are also investing in scaling up our production facilities across sites. We will make appropriate investments in production facilities, technologies and manpower as per market requirements. We will continue to operate on our three-pillar strategy of technology leadership, globalization, and excellence in execution while also continuing to pursue aftermarket opportunities and automotive application of our products and systems.