Ger­dau In­dia de­vel­ops ‘spring steel’ for sus­pen­sion systems

Auto components India - - COVER STORY - Text : Anusha B ACI

The Brazil-based Ger­dau, a leader in the seg­ment of long steel in the USA, and one of the main sup­pli­ers of special steel in the world, has op­er­a­tions in 14 coun­tries. The com­pany’s In­dian op­er­a­tion, Ger­dau Steel In­dia has its plant at Tadi­pa­tri, Andhra Pradesh, to pro­duce special steel, mainly long prod­ucts, for au­to­mo­tive, de­fence, rail­ways and re­lated in­dus­tries.

The In­dian arm has been ex­per­i­ment­ing on new ap­pli­ca­tions of its prod­ucts and one of the re­cent try-outs is the rolled flat steel to man­u­fac­ture ‘Spring Steel’, a com­po­nent that goes into the sus­pen­sion sys­tem in com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. The com­pany has iden­ti­fied the sus­pen­sion sys­tem man­u­fac­turer Jamna Auto as its po­ten­tial buyer. The steel com­po­nent gets into a truck as a shock ab­sorber to with­stand pot­holes and other de­for­ma­tions, which is very com­mon on In­dian roads.

Ini­tia­tives for In­dia

Ger­dau Steel In­dia’s Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Srid­har Kr­ish­namoor­thy said, “We are work­ing on lot of new ap­pli­ca­tions for the In­dian mar­ket. One of the ap­pli­ca­tions we have de­vel­oped is the Spring Steel, which acts as a shock ab­sorber in the sus­pen­sion sys­tem. This par­tic­u­lar ap­pli­ca­tion is essential for In­dian roads which are gen­er­ally bumpy with lots of pot­holes. We sup­ply spring steels as rolled flats to our cus­tomers. They do the cut­ting, drilling, heat treat­ment, and paint­ing and make it as a spring steel as­sem­bly for OEMs.”

The steel man­u­fac­turer also plans to open a heat treat­ment bay to harden steel. The cus­tomers who buy steel from Ger­dau go to a third party ven­dor for the heat treat­ment op­er­a­tions. “If we are able to do this process, we will be­come one-stop- so­lu­tion for their steel needs,” he said.

Ger­dau In­dia man­u­fac­tures special steel or al­loy steel for var­i­ous au­to­mo­tive ap­pli­ca­tions like steer­ing and trans­mis­sion systems, en­gine and axle com­po­nents, and wheel hubs. “Since 3 years we have been sup­ply­ing to forg­ing com­pa­nies and many com­po­nent mak­ers. Our prod­ucts have to cross the grade qual­ity check line and on com­ple­tion of this au­dit­ing, the stan­dards are ap­proved and they will be tagged with ‘ready to sup­ply’ badge. We are very par­tic­u­lar about the qual­ity of our prod­ucts. If any prod­uct is not up to the qual­ity stan­dards, it will be re­called im­me­di­ately,” Kr­ish­namoor­thy said.

The com­pany is yet to sup­ply special steel to the Ja­panese car man­u­fac­tur­ers, who have very strin­gent stan­dards and a lot of tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments to be met in In­dia and at their par­ent es­tab­lish­ment. Ger­dau In­dia is work­ing to get the Ja­panese en­dorse­ment and hopes to sup­ply the test sam­ples very soon. It is cur­rently work­ing with Bosch, John Deere, Ashok Ley­land, Mahin­dra, Hyundai and oth­ers.

Ger­dau In­dia has a lo­cal­i­sa­tion strength of 90% with 10% be­ing im­ported from Aus­tralia. The cur­rent ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion is 80% and by 2020 the com­pany ex­pects to pro­duce 325,000 tonnes.

Lightweight­ing

“Lightweight­ing has be­come one of the ma­jor chal­lenges. We are us­ing special al­loys to re­duce weight. We work on the chem­i­cal and me­chan­i­cal prop­er­ties in dis­cus­sion with OEMs. We are work­ing on to in­crease the tol­er­ance of the bar and to re­duce the di­am­e­ter of the prod­ucts with­out com­pro­mis­ing on strength. How­ever, en­gine com­po­nents still need steel as a raw ma­te­rial. In In­dia elec­tric ve­hi­cles are still in the nascent stage. At the mo­ment, all-elec­tric is beyond our hori­zon and our fo­cus is on new ap­pli­ca­tions for the pre­vail­ing mar­ket in In­dia. We work on special steel space and have done a lot of value ad­di­tions to the prod­ucts. The low-value steel will not match the stan­dards of OEMs which place orders based on im­me­di­ate de­mand. We have ware­houses close to our OEMs in­clud­ing Pune, Chen­nai and Farid­abad. These fac­tors make us unique and the im­porters can­not ser­vice such de­mands,” Kr­ish­namoor­thy said.

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