Ashok Ley­land driv­ing tech­nol­ogy at In­dian in­no­va­tion

Auto components India - - CONTENTS - Story by: Bhar­gav TS

The Hin­duja Group flag­ship firm Ashok Ley­land (AL) re­veals its fu­ture plans on the tech­nol­ogy front and how the new In­tel­li­gent Ex­haust Gas Re­cir­cu­la­tion (iEGR) works on the BS IV trucks. When all the Euro­pean OEMs opted for Se­lec­tive Cat­alytic Re­duc­tion (SCR) sys­tem for re­duc­ing emis­sions and mak­ing their trucks BS IV ready, Ashok Ley­land, the Chen­nai-based truck ma­jor proved its iEGR sys­tem en­hances fuel ef­fi­ciency by 10%, is cost ef­fec­tive and is also a lot more re­li­able. To achieve this, the truck ma­jor min­imised the use of elec­tron­ics in the new engine.

To know more about iEGR and how Ashok Ley­land plans to com­pete with the global OEMs, Auto Com­po­nents

In­dia spoke to the Chief Tech­nol­ogy Of­fi­cer of Ashok Ley­land, Dr Seshu Bha­ga­vathula. He said, “To­day all the bus and truck com­pa­nies are busy with BS IV and fac­ing chal­lenges in terms of telling cus­tomers how to han­dle the small amount of elec­tron­ics that you have, how to han­dle the new sys­tem and ser­vice it and how fast you can re­pair. Now we have one more chal­lenge of meet­ing BS VI by 2020 for which we have only 3 years. But we won’t stop here for BS IV, be­fore rolling out BS VI we will come up with 3 more up­grades by un­der­stand­ing the cus­tomer re­quire­ment. The rea­son to do this is the mar­ket mov­ing to­wards higher power to weight ra­tio, air-con­di­tion­ing cab­ins, fully built so­lu­tions and I also ob­serve the trend to­wards bat­tery in­fra­struc­ture. Also I see the speeds are go­ing up, which will change the long haulage seg­ment. So you have to match the re­quire­ments of the duty cy­cle much more and change your engine cal­i­bra­tion pa­ram­e­ters, and col­lect lot of data. All the works will be done dur­ing the next cou­ple of years.”

Ashok Ley­land launched BS IV trucks with iEGR sys­tem and said EGR is more suited for the In­dian con­di­tions than SCR. Bha­ga­vathula ex­plained that, “I can still of­fer the SCR sys­tem at a price of an iEGR sys­tem but still you have main­te­nance cost to it. Depend­ing on the driver be­hav­iour you need syn­thetic urea, which takes 5-10% of diesel, who will pay for it? And it also has elec­tron­ics. But I am not say­ing SCR sys­tems are bad, we be­live that iEGR is some­thing that helps our users in the long-run. Fuel emis­sions is just not only the func­tion of the engine, it is the func­tion of the fuel qual­ity, driver and the road con­di­tions. Sep­a­rat­ing them is never easy, so we have to keep rice and husk sep­a­rately, you can­not mix them. More­over less num­ber of parts means less prob­lems and if you com­pare the bill of ma­te­ri­als of iEGR and SCR, iEGR has less parts. We have done a lot of re­search and col­lected a lot of data for iEGR and we found it has less com­plex­ity.”

Since the EGR sys­tem can op­er­ate only up to 180 HP, Ashok Ley­land’s iEGR al­lows to op­er­ate even

400 HP en­gines. When asked how it is pos­si­ble and how this iEGR works, he said, “We worked ex­ten­sively on cool­ing the ex­haust gas in an in­tel­li­gent man­ner by con­trol­ling the valve. The rest of the op­ti­mi­sa­tion is done in the in-cylin­der com­bus­tion of the com­mon rail sys­tem. We com­bined in­tel­li­gence with EGR, so we gave only 5% back and max­i­mum of 10% of ex­haust gas in­stead of 20%. So the in­tel­li­gence ac­tu­ally hap­pens in the com­bus­tion not in the EGR, this re­duces the Par­ti­cle Ox­i­da­tion Cat­a­lysts (POC) and in some case it is com­pletely elim­i­nated. To achieve this we have done lot of op­ti­mi­sa­tion and now it is a com­bi­na­tion of 2 sys­tems. In-cylin­der tem­per­a­ture op­ti­mi­sa­tion is based on new com­bus­tion tech­niques.”

Nor­mally higher in­jec­tion pres­sure is used but in iEGR the in­jec­tion pres­sure is op­ti­mised by al­ter­ing the noz­zle. There are around 6 to 7 pa­ram­e­ters to op­ti­mise, and the com­pany has op­ti­mised ev­ery de­gree of it. This re­sults in bet­ter fuel ef­fi­ciency and life. The com­pany is also plan­ning to re­duce the elec­tronic con­tent in BS VI as much as pos­si­ble, but elec­tronic con­tent will be much more than BS IV. Ley­land wanted to grad­u­ally in­crease the com­plex­ity rather than giv­ing it in big­ger stan­dards.

Cur­rently the ef­fi­ciency of the engine is around 40%, which has more po­ten­tial for im­prove­ment and here the po­ten­tial is for the ma­te­rial tech­nol­ogy and how fine are the ma­te­ri­als. The CTO said 60% of engine ef­fi­ciency can be achieved by hav­ing fine ma­te­ri­als, which al­lows for no cor­ro­sion, no sound, no oil re­quire­ment but this is not pos­si­ble prac­ti­cally. He is op­ti­mistic that one fine day this would be pos­si­ble if ev­ery­thing is man­u­fac­tured at a zero grav­ity at­mos­phere. Ashok Ley­land is op­ti­mistic about en­hanc­ing the per­for­mance of the en­gines be­cause all the en­gines are made by them­selves and it con­cen­trates more on the engine tech­nolo­gies. In Ashok Ley­land a sep­a­rate team is work­ing on im­prov­ing the com­bus­tion and the com­pany is op­ti­mistic and said its BS VI will be en­tirely dif­fer­ent from oth­ers.

As part of its mod­ernising its trucks, Ashok Ley­land is work­ing on high pow­ered to weight ra­tio trucks and these trucks will hit the road even be­fore the im­ple­men­ta­tion of BS VI. Cur­rently for AL, 80% of the mar­ket is be­tween 170 and 190 HP, but this is shift­ing. The truck man­u­fac­turer is also work­ing on above 400 HP en­gines but the mar­ket is very small to en­ter now.

Bha­ga­vathula said, “To­day we are ship­ping a load of 49 tonne with 180-190 HP, in the fu­ture the same 49-tonne will have 200-220HP. The ma­jor­ity of our trucks will be do­ing this in the fu­ture and this will be part of mod­ernising our trucks. We are also work­ing on air-con­di­tion­ing the cabs, which will have very dif­fer­ent fit and fin­ish. There is also a big ini­tia­tive go­ing on light-weight­ing the trucks, if I go for lighter weight ma­te­ri­als some­where it has to give me a plus point, typ­i­cal plus point will be less re­pairs or more weight to

be shipped or some cush­ion­ing where the driver feels bet­ter. The fu­ture of light-weight­ing lies on how my sup­pli­ers are go­ing to re­duce the cost of the end prod­uct. I can say to my sup­pli­ers that if you give me a cost re­duc­tion right now, I will give you a longer term con­tract, where they can op­ti­mise the cost over the time by do­ing dif­fer­ent ma­te­rial pro­cess­ing.”

Out of the 3 im­prove­ments that the com­pany will be do­ing the first will be fuel ef­fi­ciency, sec­ond will be de­rived out of the data that the com­pany col­lects from its cus­tomers, and the fi­nal one will be the out­come of the mar­ket de­mand. Ashok Ley­land has a chance to do all the 3 im­prove­ments.

Re­ply­ing to the ques­tion on al­ter­nate fuel ve­hi­cles, Bhag­vathula said, “On the high-tech side you can im­age elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs) where ev­ery­one is into it and we have our good roadmap. In EV space we are work­ing on new kind of man­age­ment sys­tems, it is all about how do you con­trol the ve­hi­cle and bat­tery func­tions. With Optare in the UK, we are de­vel­op­ing the sys­tem for a long time. With Optare buses, we have al­ready in­creased bus range by 45% and we are work­ing con­tin­u­ously to in­crease the range.”

Since AL is present in the In­dian mar­ket for more than 6 decades now, it is con­tin­u­ously grow­ing in the com­po­nents sourc­ing for its global op­er­a­tions. But on the other side the com­pany get ac­cess to the new tech­nolo­gies in Europe be­cause of its pres­ence there through Optare. So the fruit­ful ex­change of tech­nolo­gies is hap­pen­ing in AL. In­stead of driver as­sis­tant sys­tem AL is work­ing on driver warn­ing sys­tem. There are 3 sys­tems avail­able; ba­sic, mid and pre­mium level sys­tems. Un­der the ba­sic sys­tem it is just a warn­ing sys­tem for driv­ers. In the mid­dle level where the un­or­gan­ised sec­tor goes into or­gan­ised like big fleet op­er­a­tors, where they want their goods to reach on time. And the fi­nal is on au­tonomous sys­tem. AL is work­ing on all the 3 sys­tems by hav­ing cheap, af­ford­able, sim­ple warn­ing sys­tems all the way to com­plete con­trol. The CTO said when in­tro­duced these sys­tems will de­pend on the mar­ket re­quire­ment. Cur­rently the man­u­fac­turer has ‘i Alert’ and ‘Ley As­sist’ where the i Alert im­proves vi­a­bil­ity of the trans­porta­tion in­dus­try through state-of-the-art, in­no­va­tive, user­friendly and cost ef­fec­tive ser­vices. Through the Ley As­sist app an owner/ driver via Blue­tooth can get all in­for­ma­tion about his truck from GPS lo­ca­tion to what prob­lem the engine is fac­ing.

Bank­ing on its strong M&HCV port­fo­lio, the com­pany is now look­ing to ex­pand its range in the light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles (LCV) seg­ment where it has cur­rently prod­ucts like the Dost and Part­ner. In the LCV seg­ment, AL plans to dou­ble its mar­ket to 30% in the do­mes­tic LCV busi­ness. This will en­hance the pres­ence in LCV seg­ment for Ashok Ley­land and help it be­come a full range CV player in the fu­ture. To sup­port the tar­get, the com­pany will be launch­ing 1 new prod­uct for ev­ery 3 months for the next 2 years at least. The com­pany will be in­vest­ing around Rs 400 crore in LCV busi­ness in the next 2 years. At Ashok Ley­land, fru­gal in­no­va­tion is go­ing to come into play and it is spend­ing a lot of time to be­come a ma­jor player in re­li­a­bil­ity en­gi­neer­ing.

Ashok Ley­land’s Nep­tune engine

Dr Seshu Bha­ga­vathula, Chief Tech­nol­ogy Of­fi­cer, Ashok Ley­land.

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