Eaton, a global power management technology player, has been offering energy-efficient products and services to customers for effectively managing electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more reliably, efficiently, safely and sustainably. India, where the company employees over 5500 employees and has seven manufacturing sites, is a major market for Eaton and forms a key part of its overall business strategy. For OEMs, Eaton’s vehicle business is fast emerging as a reliable partner in the country. Eaton believes that the government’s decision to increase the maximum axle load of heavy vehicles by 20-25 per cent will increase demand for its transmission products as they are specially designed to deliver optimal performance for businesses in emerging markets such as India. With the use of the right heavy duty transmission with more load bearing capacity, this move can turn out to be a big boost to the logistics and trucking industry, says Shandar Alam, Managing Director, Vehicle and Hydraulics, India, Eaton. He also sees huge business opportunities for Eaton products with BS VI norms coming into effect from 2020. In conversation with Rakesh Rao, Shandar Alam discusses the changing market dynamics in automotives and new areas of opportunities it offers to auto component suppliers.
Kindly brief us about the vehicle business that you handle in India.
Eaton’s vehicle business in India is fast emerging as a reliable partner of all major OEMs in the country. Our vehicle business has three state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. The Ranjangaon facility manufactures transmissions and parts for commercial vehicles; and the plants at Ahmednagar and Nashik produce automotive engine valves and valve actuation. With our wide range of vehicle technologies and solutions, which include medium and heavy duty transmissions, valve and valve actuation products, torque control products and Superchargers, and an expanding aftermarket and service network, Eaton is well positioned to provide safe, sustainable, efficient and reliable solutions to its customers in India. Eaton’s leadership in this highly competitive market scenario is attributed to its in-depth understanding customer needs and offering localised and customised solutions to its diverse customer and end-user base spreading across the country.
What makes you so optimistic about the vehicle business? At present, what are your priorities for vehicle business?
In the past two decades, the vehicle component industry in India has demonstrated consistent global competitiveness. The country’s vehicle ecosystem has also shown steady advances in the recent times with respect to quality, range, agility towards changes in regulatory framework, technology adoption and manpower development at a competitive price, and flexibility. The changing market realities in the western and other key regions is presenting a tangible opportunity for the component manufacturers in India to build a new identity with greater strategic emphasis on innovation, localisation, diversification and supply chain development.
Eaton’s vehicle business in India continues to focus on addressing the end market needs and providing tailor-made solutions for some of the most demanding Indian applications. Our products for the commercial vehicle industry in focus include manual transmissions, AMT and clutches. The plan is to have deeper market penetration by portfolio expansion, targeting additional applications and OEMs. Eaton also continues to expand its automotive offerings like engine valves, valve actuations, engine brakes, fuel emission solutions, torque controls and superchargers for various applications for the Indian automotive industry.
With the growing customer base of Eaton’s transmissions in India, we also see exciting opportunities in further improving our end-user connect. We are focused on consistently expanding our aftermarket business and service network across the country. Eaton Authorized Service Centers (EASCs) have been set up at key strategic locations to service transport and logistics service-providers as well as OEMs. Today, we have 13 completely functional Eaton Authorized Service Centers (EASCs) across India and are continuously strengthening our aftermarket channels with addition of more EASCs and field technicians. Eaton is also investing substantially in field training. As on date, more than 5,000 technicians at OEMs and dealerships across the country have been trained by Eaton.
How is the demand for the transmissions that Eaton manufactures for the commercial vehicle industry in India?
Globally, Eaton is well-recognised as a proven leader and innovator in developing cutting-edge transmission products and technologies. Our more than 100 years of existence is marked with long-term partnerships with major truck, bus, and engine OEMs worldwide.
In India, Eaton is consistently and significantly strengthening its customer footprint by offering highly efficient, robust and reliable 6-speed and 9-speed transmissions that suitably address the needs of the most demanding Indian operating conditions. Presently, over 100,000 Eaton transmissions are operating successfully on Indian roads. Eaton transmissions are recognised for superior product performance, reliability, and robustness and are locally manufactured in Eaton’s state-of-the-art, 8-acre greenfield plant at Ranjangaon, near Pune. The plant has undergone a significant up-scaling and has successfully sustained the steep ramp up in production, consistently delivering quality products to both domestic and global customers.
Can you please share a few examples of Eaton’s industry leading transmission technologies?
Eaton has a varied range of offerings to suit the precise and unique needs of customers and end-users and address colossal changes in the regulatory environment. Our UltraShift PLUS AMT has been designed with the driver comfort in mind and it offers the performance and versatility of a manual transmission with the simplicity of automatic designs. They reduce wear and tear on the driveline, prevent drivetrain damage, and enhance vehicle performance and maneuverability. UltraShift PLUS PV transmission makes buses easier to drive by providing a simplified driver interface and unmatched low-speed control and stability even on the most extreme duty cycles. It offers these performance benefits while offering significant value to end users, including reduced maintenance costs, simplified service requirements and up to 19 per cent fuel economy improvements vs. conventional automatics and 3-8 per cent over manual transmission. Eaton’s advanced controls enable intelligent shift selection using grade, weight and throttle information to calculate the most efficient and effective shift points. Additional features includes, hill start aid, skip shifts and faster shifts with smooth engagement resulting in least torque interrupt, providing an exceptionally comfortable ride to the passengers and drivers.
Eaton AMT with a parallel hybrid system incorporates an electric motor/generator located between an automated clutch and input of the transmission. Using Eaton’s patented hybrid system controls, the system recovers and stores energy normally lost during braking into batteries. When electric torque is blended with engine torque, the stored energy is used to improve fuel economy.
The SmartAdvantage Powertrain has proven to be the most fuel-efficient powertrain in the trucking industry. In this deeply integrated powertrain the engine and transmission share critical data, determining the torque required to deliver the power level that drivers need and optimises shifting based on grade, vehicle weight, engine torque and throttle position. The result is error-free, guess-proof shifting, making every driver in your fleet as efficient as your best driver. Error-free, guess-proof shifting makes every driver in the fleet as efficient as the best driver.
The SmartAdvantage Powertrain takes the efficiency of Cummins ISX15 and combines it with the smooth-shifting Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed Automated Transmission, for 3-6 per cent better fuel economy for the ISX15.
With the Indian government’s decision to increase the maximum axle load of heavy vehicles by 20-25 per cent, equipping commercial vehicles with a robust transmission has become the need of the hour. With the use of the right heavy duty transmission with more load bearing capacity, this move can turn out to be a big boost to the logistics and trucking industry. Eaton’s ES-9306 6-speed severe duty manual transmission has all the capabilities to meet demanding application requirements such as these. It has been specially designed to deliver optimal performance for businesses in emerging markets such as India that use applications involving heavy overloading and underpowered engines.
Electrification is the current buzzword in the automotive industry. How is Eaton helping OEMs in their quest for e-mobility?
Eaton’s eMobility business, which is relatively new, combines elements of our electrical and vehicle businesses to deliver electric vehicle solutions to passenger car, commercial vehicle and off-highway OEMs. While eMobility may be a new business at Eaton, we have decades of experience in managing high-voltage power and developing commercial vehicle hybrid systems. We have competencies in areas that automakers consider critical in the electric vehicle market and are well positioned to solve complex electrical challenges, including high-voltage power conversion, safe power distribution and protection and blended power systems to intelligently manage and distribute power to the wheels.
We offer wide range of power distribution and protection products such as EV fuses, disconnects and smart power distribution units that enhance safety and enable smart diagnostics on the vehicle. We are leveraging our expertise in high voltage industrial applications to develop EV components and systems that deliver predictive health monitoring of critical electronics, active monitoring of power usage, and advanced circuit protection.
Leveraging our deep expertise in industrial power electronics, we offer a comprehensive power electronics portfolio and the expertise to optimize vehicle performance, driving dynamics and range. Our power electronics products such as DC-DC converters, onboard chargers and inverters efficiently invert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC), convert power from low-voltage to high-voltage, and control energy flow between electric vehicle components.
We are an industry-leader in hybrid commercial vehicles with more than 15 years of expertise. Our understanding of the unique needs of bus and truck fleets, along with our experience in transmissions and power electronics in the hybrid space, give us a distinct advantage over other suppliers. Our power systems portfolio of medium and heavy duty EV transmissions and integrated power systems intelligently manages and distributes power to the wheels. Our light weight EV transmissions featured with advanced controls adds significant value to electrical powertrains by downsizing the motors and operating the motors in its peak efficiency in any challenging duty cycle. This integrated EV drivetrain enables efficient motor use, extended range and/or reduced battery requirements and reduced cooling, Improved vehicle performance on grades, improved vehicle starting ability with a lower-torque motor, better acceleration.
With BS VI norms coming into effect from 2020, what kind of opportunities are you looking at?
While engine manufacturers get ready for better emission control, the transmission can make a significant contribution here through improvement of fuel economy by adopting automation. The Eaton AMT is proven to save 3 to 8 percent fuel at a fleet level as compared to manual transmission.
Eaton’s 6-speed medium-duty AMT is compliant to BS VI requirements. The current 6 and 9 speed manual transmissions are fully capable of handling the increased torque on BS VI engine. Hence, we see increased usage of Eaton transmission post BS VI.
Eaton’s supercharger and valve actuation systems are capable of supporting engine strategies required to improve combustion and hence lower emissions. Use of supercharger to enhance performance of CNG engines has been demonstrated by Eaton way ahead of the BS VI announcement. We see exciting opportunities coming up around all of these products.
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