ZF India has commenced the production of off-highway equipment axles and transmissions at Coimbatore
ZF needs no introduction. A German brand, known for auto components and systems based on its expertise in the area of driveline and chassis technology entered India in the year 1980 with the setting up of a joint venture with Kinetic Group to manufacture automotive steering systems. The current nature of the joint venture involves ZF Lenksysteme, which is jointly managed by ZF and Bosch. The JV manufactures ball and nut, integral hydraulic power steering systems and worm and roller mechanical steering systems at its plant on the outskirts of Pune. The plant has a capacity to produce Present installed capacity is 2,00,000 units of worm and roller mechanical steering gears and 2,50,000 units of ball and nut integral hydraulic power steering gears, and 50,000 units of hydraulic rack and pinion steering gears per annum, and caters to clients like Mercedes Benz, Tata Motors, General Motors and others.
Apart from this company, ZF in India also has a joint venture with the TVS Group called ZF Electronics TVS. The company manufactures precision snap action switches, sensors and electromechanical assemblies at its plant at Madurai. ZF Group company Lemforder has also a joint venture with Hero Group in India to manufacture passenger car parts. Set up in 2010 with ZF acquiring 50% in Hero Chassis Systems, the JV, with manufacturing sites at Vadodara and Pune, produces suspension assemblies. A fully owned ZF venture near Pune under the umbrella of ZF India makes commercial vehicles transmissions. This venture was commissioned in 2010, few months after the plant for off-highway was commissioned at a rented facility near Pune as part of the planned investment by ZF in India amounting to between Rs 120 to Rs 150 million through 2010 to 2011.
The off-highway axles and transmission plant has gone on stream after it was shifted to the ZF Wind Power Coimbatore facility, which was acquired by ZF Group as part of the global acquisition of Hansen Transmissions in 2011. The capacity of the plant is the same at the facility at Pune earlier according to the spokesperson of the company, and would be ramped up given the scope of expansion and favourable tax treaties.
Speaking to Automotive Products Finder in Mumbai, Alexander Eisner, Team Manager – Product Communications (Off-highway Systems), Industrial Technology Business Unit, said, “We have shifted the off-highway axles and transmission plant from Pune to Coimbatore. The Coimbatore facility is our own, and offers scope for further activities.”
Stressing on a local content of close to 50 per cent, Mr Eisner hinted at a strategy that would involve the production of standard line, high line and premium line transmissions in India. A project of similar nature is already underway in China, and is looked upon as the one that would help to structure a common product platform. A standard product platform, beyond which the buyer could choose the additional features best suited to his nature of use of the equipment in which the transmission will be employed.
On the radar is the ZF Efficiency Package according to Mr Eisner as far as transmissions go. The package involves an optimised transmission system for different construction machinery types and offers an innovative feature of 5 instead of 4 gears. The package translates into fuel savings and reduction in emissions through engine speed reduction, less noise, and better driving performance. What is perhaps the most interesting are the possibilities for connecting an electronic driveline management, enabling vehicle specific controls. Mr Eisner also drew attention to another areas of the Efficiency Package – intelligent clutch-off and differential lock management.
He stressed upon the prospect of engine de-rating, which prevents torque spikes through active engine control via CAN. “The engine de-rating during shuttle shift reduces the energy dissipation in the clutches and contributes to lower fuel consumption,” he averred. The future of off-highway transmissions, according to Mr Eisner, lies in hybrid transmissions. Covering the entire range: components, modules, and complete hybrid system based on the parallel hybrid design, the hybrid transmission would lead to up to 30 per cent fuel savings compared to a conventional driveline. The ultimate future of off-highway equipment transmissions rests in continuous variable transmissions, quipped Mr Eisner.
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