Hella India guns for all round growth
Automotive lighting market leader Hella India Lighting (HIL) is gunning for all round growth in the Indian subcontinent. HIL is promoting modularisation concept in automotive lighting. Mass customisation or modularisation helps to reduce the number of tools in use and allows the company to develop signatures using various combinations in shorter period. Since the products are already homologated and validated, it cuts the time to market.
The MD and CEO of HIL, Ramashankar Pandey, said the bus and coach segment has already shifted to modularisation and other segments like trucks, passenger vehicles and agricultural machinery will follow soon. Since products developed in the past are often seen unable to cope up with the demanding duty cycles, modularisation will also make the products more cost competitive. “Both on signalling and front lighting we are already working on further cost optimisation, which demands close collaboration with the OEM,” Pandey said.
Design and development
With over one and a half lakh people dying on Indian roads every year, the company has developed a process engineering set-up at its Derabassi plant that manufactures products specifically engineered and designed for Indian roads. It is also its global centre that supports design and development for special OE products.
Hella has set up 2 technical
centres, one each in Chennai and Pune. They work in tandem with its international development centres for new products. The Pune centre, a centre of excellence (CoE) for electronics, employs 180 people. The Chennai global centre has around 160 people, undertaking lighting development. The centres work also for Hella India lighting and Hella India Automotive when needed. Out of its total workforce of 33,000 employees, nearly 6000 are deployed in the research and development of new products, he said.
The Derabassi plant, a brown field project of Hella, has been undergoing a round of upgrades and houses light testing facilities, NVH testing, CMMs and environmental chambers for new product development. The company has completed a round of expansion in March 2017 for LED lamps and projectors. It is on course for another round of expansion starting next month for auxiliary lamps and LED work lamp destined for Hella’s international commitments. “Local for local and local for global has been one of our missions as a strategy,” Pandey said. Hella India has lately come up with 24 volts and 12 volts modules for buses, out of which the former is thermal shock proof and resists burst due to water splash. Indicating the commercial vehicle industry graduating to LED, especially in signalling in the next 4 years, Pandey feels headlights conversion to LED may still take time but will grow in double digits in the next 5 years, riding primarily on falling LED prices. “Last year itself, we have set up a new assembly line for single function lamp, LED lamps, and modular headlamps, and a special OE assembly line at Derabassi,” Pandey said.
The Gurugram-headquartered Hella India is all set to launch lubricants, filters and brake parts within the next 2 to 3 quarters. “We will give whatever a workshop needs to service a vehicle and needs less than an hour and a half to fit it,” he said. Hella lubricants will hit the market in the next 2 quarters, brake pads and filters will be added to the portfolio in the third quarter. After the launch of batteries last year for the entire automotive gamut, the new move will significantly boost the company’s presence in the largely unorganised Indian aftermarket.
Based on its tie-ups with Hella Pagid Braking Systems, Behr Hella and with Johnson Control, the company supplies condensers, radiators, evaporators, coolants, and wiper blades in the aftermarket. Pandey is of the opinion that looking at the pollution level in India, it is important for the Indian customer
to graduate to better products to avoid the harm sub-standard products cause to the environment.
After 6 months of preparedness while gunning for top of the mind recall game, Hella India is also set to launch a community of car sports enthusiasts to educate them and encourage them to go to authorised service centres for better servicing of the vehicles. “Since we are already very popular in the adventure clubs and rallies, we are going to leverage on that with our latest endeavour. Under the new community gomotoring. in, we have tied up with Mahindra Adventure, and will also launch women rally by August 2017 to train them and educate all about driving safely on roads as well,” Pandey said. Since every passenger vehicle OEM is into sports, the platform will provide a wider outlook for Hella India that has been putting the thrust on road safety in India.
With the European manufacturers expanding base in India, Pandey feels it is no more a one sided business for both the OEM and the supplier. Even when the OEM conceive for a model, it is important to start working with the supplier right from the design stage where teams sit together for 2-way partnerships. This leads to co-creation of a product, to reach just that point where important criteria like cost innovation can be achieved while extracting the demand from the OEM.
As an aftermarket player, the biggest challenge for any component manufacturer is the counterfeit and substandard products. To counter this, Hella India is doing a process ramp-up for the serialisation of its products for the aftermarket. It will be completed in 3 months. Post this, mechanics and technicians will be able to suppress poor quality products. Also, taking it at the industry level, under the leadership of Pandey, ACMA is also working closely with government bodies to bring in standards in the aftermarket. Since various companies have track and trace service for their products using SMS service, ACMA is working hard to bring these fragmented efforts under one roof. “ACMA’s genuine catalogue will be a credible source for any person willing to buy a component,” Pandey said.
Aiming to educate the workforce at the grass-root level, Hella has collaborated with an NGO called `Drive Smart, Drive Safe’. “The NGO aims to promote road safety in India. Every stakeholder of the industry, from companies, dealers, distributors, to media can be a part of it,” he said. Since the mechanics are often considered to be the disrespected part of the community, Hella is also aiming to partner with them and come with a campaign called workshop’s friend. Hella has opened training institutes in Seemandhara, near Vijaywada, and Harinagar in Delhi. They are also approved by ASDC. They will soon be followed by new centres in Arunachal Pradesh and Bihar.
Growing at 20%, HIL posted a revenue of Rs 150 crore in FY17, sourced primarily from its commercial vehicle business. Pandey aims to maintain the growth trajectory in future as well, despite uncertainty pertaining to GST. “For aftermarket, GST will bring in a big change as most companies sell in aftermarket without excise on it. GST will allow better management of logistics, reduce time taken for transport from one point to another which will bring the costs down. However, the 28% GST is very high. Had it been 18%, substantial passing of costs reductions would have happened to boost Indian component industry,” Pandey said.
HIL’s manufacturing facility in Derabassi
Ramashankar Pandey, MD & CEO, HIL