Mer­i­tor In­dia in­tro­duces Slip­per sus­pen­sion

Mer­i­tor CVS In­dia Pri­vate Ltd, the man­u­fac­turer of axles and brakes, is now en­ter­ing the sus­pen­sion mar­ket with its new Slip­per type sys­tem.

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

It is a well-known fact that the ex­ces­sive vi­bra­tions in heavy ve­hi­cles af­fect driver com­fort, cargo safety and in­crease tyrewear. The cur­rent chal­lenge in the field of sus­pen­sion de­sign for heavy ve­hi­cles is to op­ti­mise the sus­pen­sion dy­namic pa­ram­e­ters to meet such re­quire­ments. In In­dia trucks are fit­ted with Bell­crank sus­pen­sion in spite of its dis­ad­van­tages. Now an al­ter­na­tive sys­tem has come in the form of Slip­per type sus­pen­sion, which of­fers ad­van­tages like light weight de­sign and lower cost of own­er­ship.

Af­ter do­ing a mar­ket study on Slip­per type sus­pen­sion for the In­dian mar­ket, Mer­i­tor CVS In­dia Pri­vate Ltd, the man­u­fac­turer of axles and brakes, is now en­ter­ing the sus­pen­sion mar­ket with its new Slip­per type sys­tem. Ac­cord­ing to Mer­i­tor, the prod­uct is cur­rently preva­lent in Brazil, a mar­ket sim­i­lar to In­dia in terms of load­ing and the road in­fra­struc­ture. The com­pany had a joint ven­ture with Sus­pen­sys in Brazil but it was dis­solved in late 2013.

Now the com­pany is ready with the Slip­per sus­pen­sion and the com­mer­cial launch in In­dia is likely to hap­pen in the next 3-4 months. Man­u­fac­tur­ing the sus­pen­sion in In­dia is not a prob­lem as the man­u­fac­turer is equipped with all the ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The new sus­pen­sion is meant for trucks, to be pre­cise medium duty trucks of 36-tonne ca­pac­ity. Slip­per type comes in the cat­e­gory of leaf spring sus­pen­sion with its own unique char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Speak­ing to Au­toCom­po­nents In­dia, Thim­ma­iah N P, Vice Pres­i­dent, In­dia, Mer­i­tor CVS, said, “In­dia is the only mar­ket which is us­ing Bell­crank sus­pen­sion now. When we go with our prod­uct to top OEMs, ini­tially they were not show­ing much in­ter­est. Then we started ap­proach­ing them in­de­pen­dently to make them un­der­stand the pain points with the existing Bell­crank sus­pen­sion. With Bell­crank, the op­er­a­tion and the main­te­nance are chal­leng­ing. In Bell­crank sus­pen­sion there are more than 20 joints and bushes and screws are bolted which re­quire lu­bri­ca­tion. These link points have to be lu­bri­cated for the ef­fi­cient func­tion­ing. But with the Slip­per type we have only 2 link points which can eas­ily be op­er­ated and main­tained.”

Ac­cord­ing to the study con­ducted by Mer­i­tor and test­ing of the Slip­per type sus­pen­sion in var­i­ous cus­tomers’ ve­hi­cles, it is found that the main­te­nance cost has come down from 15-20 paise per km to 3-5 paise. With the Slip­per type sus­pen­sion even af­ter 60,000 km the tyre wear was only 30% and no parts were

re­placed.

With the existing Bell­crank sus­pen­sion, tyre has to be re­placed af­ter 40,000 km. In ad­di­tion to that, Slip­per sus­pen­sions weighs 80-100 kg less which en­ables the op­er­a­tors carry ex­tra load. In a nut shell the Slip­per type sus­pen­sion re­duces the down­time, main­te­nance cost, part re­place­ment needs and sus­pen­sion over­haul.

Ashok Ley­land has shown in­ter­est in Slip­per sus­pen­sion and is the first com­pany to come on board for Mer­i­tor. The com­pany, with proven data, ap­proached the OEM and even its cus­tomer VRL Lo­gis­tics has shown in­ter­est in the Slip­per type sus­pen­sion due to its wide range of ad­van­tages. Tyre life is promised up to 180,000 km. This is be­cause in Bell­crank all the loads go through the tyre to axle and axle to spring un­evenly. But with the Slip­per type there will be con­stant change in the stiff­ness of the spring, which aids driv­ing com­fort. Also in Slip­per type the ver­ti­cal load goes to spring and the brak­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tion is taken care by the torque rod. The grease points are re­duced from 20 to 2 which is the big­gest ad­van­tage.

The new sus­pen­sion is 100% lo­calised and it will be only 10% costlier than the Bell­crank sus­pen­sion. Chas­sis and in­ter­nal pack­ag­ing is dif­fer­ent across fleet and across OEMs. Hence the sus­pen­sion has to be de­liv­ered match­ing this. Mer­i­tor in dis­cus­sion with OEMs ap­plies re-en­gi­neer­ing where ever nec­es­sary.

Se­nior En­gi­neer­ing Man­ager of Mer­i­tor CVS, Kis­han Ku­mar Udupi, said, “Our Slip­per sus­pen­sion pro­vides op­ti­mum per­for­mance matched with over­all cost ben­e­fits. It of­fers im­proved ma­neu­ver­ing by hav­ing the leaf springs asym­met­ri­cally there­fore the axles can have op­ti­mum spac­ing be­tween them. Also due to this de­sign it en­hances the ride com­fort dur­ing un­laden and laden con­di­tions. We have de­signed the drive axle spring with 10% higher stiff­ness to en­sure bet­ter trac­tion and start abil­ity. The de­sign also pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to lift the tag axle with the unique cen­tral lift de­vice. This axle lift re­duces the wear and tear of parts and im­proves fuel econ­omy. Our en­tire sus­pen­sion is pack­aged within the chas­sis frame, which pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to bring down the over­all ve­hi­cles cen­tre of grav­ity. This will im­prove the ve­hi­cle dy­nam­ics to a large ex­tent.”

Com­ment­ing on up­grad­ing thier existing prod­ucts, Thim­ma­iah said, “We are up­grad­ing all our prod­uct port­fo­lio. We are also work­ing on new plat­forms. Our R&D cen­tre in In­dia takes care of the en­tire ac­tiv­ity from the ini­tial pro­to­type to con­cept de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing prod­uct, test­ing and de­liv­er­ing to the do­mes­tic and the global cus­tomers. Our prod­uct

port­fo­lio com­prises man­u­fac­tur­ing axles for LCVs, MCVs, HCVs and ICVs. In In­dia ICV mar­ket is nascent for us. But our Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence (CoE) takes care of the process from the de­sign stage un­til the prod­uct is out for de­liv­ery. In a nut­shell, ICV’s CoE will help the global mar­ket in case of any con­cerns. We are work­ing with OEMs and con­tem­plat­ing on the ef­fi­ciency in­crease within the axle range to sup­port them to abide by the BS VI norms. We en­sure with our upgra­da­tion that the prod­uct would be light in weight with in­creased per­for­mance.”

Quite ride gear­ing

Mer­i­tor is com­ing up with quiet ride gear­ing, a new con­cept in gear­ing in the man­u­fac­tur­ing process. It is pop­u­lar in the global mar­kets. The prod­uct gets into buses, es­pe­cially the lux­ury coach seg­ment. In In­dia dis­cus­sion is go­ing on with the OEMs. About the quite gear­ing Thim­ma­iah said, “This prod­uct is de­vel­oped in In­dia and sup­plied to the global mar­ket. The prod­uct

in­curs just 1% in­crease in cost. But the cus­tomers in In­dia are not valu­ing the prod­uct ow­ing to other noises in the ve­hi­cle. We ex­port axles from In­dia to Brazil, China, Europe and the US, and the quiet gear­ing to Europe, China and the US. At the axle level we en­counter changes in the leapfrog­ging from BS IV to BS VI. When BS VI hap­pens the gear ra­tio is go­ing to change com­pletely. Engine speed will be re­duced and the speed has to be trig­gered from the axle level. We re­design our axle to cater to the OEMs. We also have laser-welded gear ring to avoid churn­ing losses. In all our prod­ucts we re­duce the num­ber of bushes aid­ing light weight. The fuel ef­fi­ciency is also en­dorsed,” he added.

The com­pany also fo­cuses on off-high­way and mil­i­tary ap­pli­ca­tions. It is al­most ready with the back­hoe loader axle and the pro­to­type is ex­pected to be done in a month. It also wants to tune its fo­cus on wheel loader and mo­tor grader. China is strong in off-high­way seg­ment. The com­pany plans to bring wheel loader from China and lo­calise in In­dia.

“We are pro­gress­ing to in­dus­try 4.0, and our next strat­egy is con­nected ma­chines. We are up­grad­ing our sys­tems and pro­ces­sors to the world level. In line with that we are mak­ing in­vest­ments of about Rs 70 crore ev­ery year and we keep mov­ing for­ward,” Thim­ma­iah said.

Af­ter­mar­ket

Mer­i­tor is also in the af­ter­mar­ket and 10% of its rev­enue comes from this seg­ment. Its axles and brakes have pen­e­trated well in the af­ter­mar­ket and the com­pany has started to sup­ply clutch and trans­mis­sion re­cently. As of now it has more than 120 re­tail­ers across the coun­try and at least 20 more will be added by the end of 2017. In the next 5 years the com­pany has plans to ex­pand its sus­pen­sion port­fo­lio in the bus seg­ment also. The rev­enue has been dou­bling since 2012 and the trend will con­tinue for the next 5 years, Thim­ma­iah con­cluded.

Slip­per sus­pen­sion

Thim­ma­iah N P, Vice Pres­i­dent, In­dia, Mer­i­tor CVS

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