Moving ahead through innovation
Rane TRW Steering Systems achieves high levels of productivity and profit through innovative management practices and production processes. In an interview with Bhargav TS, RTSSL’s Senior Vice President – Operations & TQM, K Sudhakar explained how the company re-designs the components it manufactures to reduce weight and optimise the processes to be competent and cost-effective in the domestic and export markets. The excerpts:
Q: What is your road map ahead and how do you plan to beat the competition?
Sudhakar: We are now entering into the small commercial vehicle (SCV) segment for which we are developing the systems. We are currently working on miniature of the gears but it will be of the same concept of recirculating ball, so that is our immediate priority. We have also started working on tractor hydraulic steering system. The volume is going to be huge and we expect the volumes to be 700,000 a year in the next 2 years.
Staying competitive is a challenge, so we are working on to use low-cost gears, which will replace the current gears without compromising on the quality. We will be using the same material at the same time we will be working on different process and the configuration will change. We normally work on value engineering the parts, where we will re-design the component to have less weight and to optimise the process.
Q: What are your plans on exports?
Sudhakar: We are currently exploring opportunities along with our partner TRW. Manufacturing the sub-assemblies requires huge investments. We are ready to do that and export to all our partners’ facilities. We will be localising the machineries to offer low-cost solution. We are also in talks with Isuzu for their pick-up both for the domestic and export market. We hope that we can grow in these areas.
Q: What is your current market share in the CV hydraulic power steering system?
Sudhakar: Our vision is to be a leader in domestic hydraulic power steering and currently we have a market share of around 53%, which is broadly classified into M&HCV and LCV. In M&HCV we have a market share of 49% and in LCV our market share is around 62%.
Q: What is the current plant capacity?
Sudhakar: Currently we are making 18,000 units a month and this year we will reach 21,000 units and next year we will have 25,000 units. This capacity expansion will be done by optimising the process parameters and adding some machines.
Q: What is the current level of automation?
Sudhakar: The plant automation is around 50-60%. In certain machines only loading and unloading is done manually. Many operations are automated. In certain cases gauging is also automated, which is called in-process gauging. In high precise components we cannot go for manual inspection, so we have automated it and all the close tolerance components are passed to the next station only after digital inspection.
Q: What are the initiatives taken to use alternative sources of power?
Sudhakar: The power tariff has increased in the last one and a half years and the diesel cost is also increasing so last year we invested in solar energy. We have installed about 1 MW and started reaping the benefits from the renewable source. Our board has also approved capex to install another 1 MW and also planning 1 more. This will help us to save huge amount on the power bill.