The chang­ing world of spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs

Spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs are chang­ing in re­sponse to mar­ket needs.

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Story by: Ashish Bha­tia

Spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs are chang­ing in re­sponse to mar­ket needs.

Stacked in one cor­ner of Turbhe in­dus­trial area in Navi Mum­bai is the Nan­dan Ground Sup­port Equip­ment (GSE) fa­cil­ity. The com­pany spe­cialises in the man­u­fac­ture of spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs, and has been do­ing so from 1991. The first ve­hi­cle to come in sight upon en­try into the fa­cil­ity is a hi-lift (cater­ing) truck based on the BharatBenz 1617. It has been built for EIH Flight Ser­vices (Mau­ri­tius), a wholly-owned sub­sidiary of EIH Lim­ited, a flag­ship of the Oberoi Group. Op­er­at­ing Oberoi Flight Ser­vices and Oberoi Air­port Ser­vices, the com­pany pro­vides cater­ing ser­vices among oth­ers to air­lines. The hi-lift truck, painted in an at­trac­tive shade of green, is equipped with a scis­sor lift and can lift a load of 3000 kg to a height of be­tween 2.7 m and six-me­tre. Twelfth such truck to be pro­cured by EIH Flight Ser­vices (Mau­ri­tius) from Nan­dan GSE over the last three years, the hi-lift will be shipped to Mau­ri­tius. Called the cater­ing champ, the hi-lift truck ac­cord­ing to Raghu­nan­dan Jagdish, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer and Di­rec­tor of Nan­dan GSE, is in de­mand in the Asian, African and the Mid­dle East mar­kets.

Air­port CVs

Like the cater­ing champ Nan­dan GSE has built, an air­port would typ­i­cally re­quire nu­mer­ous other spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion ve­hi­cles. The mar­ket size of such ve­hi­cles is dif­fi­cult to judge given the amount of ve­hi­cles pro­cured lo­cally from play­ers like Nan­dan GSE, and im­ported from sim­i­lar such play­ers in the ad­vanced mar­kets of Europe and US. Ac­cord­ing to Raghu­nan­dan, his com­pany com­mands 95 per cent mar­ket share of the hi-lift mar­ket in In­dia. Over 200 hi-lifts are ex­ported by the com­pany ev­ery year. Those de­liv­ered to the lo­cal mar­ket amount to 60 units on an av­er­age. The na­ture of work of those that cater to the do­mes­tic mar­ket dif­fers from those that are sup­plied to the in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. For ex­am­ple, the hilifts that are ex­ported, are built from ground up. They in­volve the pro­cure­ment of a truck chas­sis as well. In the case of do­mes­tic or­der, the client buys the truck of his choice and gives it to con­vert­ers

like Nan­dan GSE to mount the ap­pli­ca­tion su­per­struc­ture. To build a spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion truck, it would take be­tween eight weeks to three months ac­cord­ing to Raghu­nan­dan. He states, “The task of build­ing a spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion truck de­mands re­sources and is cap­i­tal in­ten­sive.” The cater­ing champ, has an amount of cus­tomi­sa­tion built in, and fea­tures an air-con­di­tioned cabin and a re­frig­er­a­tion unit among oth­ers. If the BS IV emis­sion com­pli­ance made the BharatBenz truck suit­able for the hi-lift ap­pli­ca­tion, air­ports call for spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs to fea­ture an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion as a rule. This may pro­vide an an­swer as to why air­port buses fea­ture au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. In the case of air­port buses, it is the man­u­fac­turer of the bus who equips it with an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion; ir­re­spec­tive of whether it is made by Tata Mo­tors, Ashok Ley­land or Cobus. The Cobus, found at most air­ports around the world fea­tures Al­li­son auto trans­mis­sion. Most air­port ap­pli­ca­tion trucks or sim­i­lar such ve­hi­cles, fea­ture Al­li­son au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. To ar­rive at a ro­bust yet light weight struc­ture, many con­vert­ers are us­ing re­in­forced fi­bre pan­els and alu­minium. Alu­minium is claimed to find favour with air­port bowsers and re­fu­elling trucks. Steel con­tin­ues to rule al­though alu­minium is in­creas­ingly find­ing favour in the con­struc­tion of spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion ve­hi­cles. Also, com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als. “A big change is in store for avi­a­tion spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs,” says Raghu­nan­dan.

Change is a con­stant

With air­ports ex­pected to adopt higher reg­u­la­tory stan­dards like ad­vanced emis­sion norms ahead of the in­dus­try, it is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing clear that change is a con­stant in the case of avi­a­tion spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs. If Raghu­nan­dan is to be be­lieved, tier-two cities like Lucknow and Varanasi are switch­ing to hi-lifts from vans like the Trav­eller. Vans are in­creas­ingly find­ing dif­fer­ent, and more suit­able use; staff car­ri­ers among other ap­pli­ca­tions. “The trend,” avers Raghu­nan­dan, “is such that trucks are in­creas­ingly be­ing retro­fit­ted with hi-lifts.” The hi-lift body, he ex­plains, is of­ten fit­ted with a Car­rier Supra re­frig­er­a­tion unit, which gets tem­per­a­tures down to zero-de­gree in un­der 15 min­utes to main­tain the strictest HACCP hy­giene stan­dards nec­es­sary. Reg­u­la­tory changes, it is clear, are sub­tly dic­tat­ing a change in the ba­sic na­ture of the CVs be­ing de­ployed for the job. Avers Raghu­nan­dan, that Euro­four com­pli­ant ve­hi­cles are find­ing more tak­ers. This is en­sur­ing the in­flux of new brands like BharatBenz in a spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CV mar­ket­place.

Reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment

A ris­ing con­cern for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and sus­tain­abil­ity is be­gin­ning to have a pro­found ef­fect on air­port bound spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs. Delhi’s ban on the use of 10 year old diesel ve­hi­cles has given rise to re­place­ment de­mand ac­cord­ing to Raghu­nan­dan. He fur­ther states, that the gov­ern­ment has banned the use of farm trac­tors at Mum­bai and Delhi air­port ter­mi­nals. A big change is sweep­ing through. Spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CV clients are known to de­mand elec­tric ve­hi­cles with em­pha­sis on safety. They are even ready to pay a pre­mium for such ve­hi­cles. Forc­ing a change ahead of the reg­u­la­tory changes, for con­vert­ers like Nan­dan GSE, this is in­di­cat­ing a need to change the way they have been con­duct­ing busi­ness all these

years. Says Raghu­nan­dan, that they are study­ing ways to re­place en­gines with elec­tric mo­tors, and the na­ture of con­ver­sion.

The fu­ture

Apart from hi-lifts, bowsers, re­fu­elling trucks (tankers) and trac­tors, avi­a­tion spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs also in­clude bag­gage con­vey­ors, main­te­nance plat­forms, wa­ter and toi­let ser­vice units, fuel bowsers and am­bu­lifts. Each has a spe­cific and spe­cialised role to play. As CVs, they have been work­ing hard, and are de­signed to be re­li­able and ef­fi­cient. While there have been in­stances where a su­per­struc­ture is trans­ferred from one ve­hi­cle to an­other ve­hi­cle since the ear­lier ve­hi­cle is no longer fit to com­ply, changes in tech­nol­ogy is en­su­ing a big change. For ex­am­ple, the ar­rival of vac­cum and bio-toi­lets has en­sured that the de­mand for wa­ter and toi­let ser­vice units is wan­ing. Fuel bowsers con­tinue to be pop­u­lar, and they are in­creas­ingly us­ing newer, light­weight ma­te­ri­als. Avail­able in both, tow-able and self-pro­pelled type, the bowsers work such that a pump sup­plies fuel to an air­craft through a DC mo­tor pow­ered by a bat­tery, or through a hand pump. A cal­i­brated me­ter dis­plays the amount of fuel dis­placed. Cur­rent day bowsers ac­cord­ing to Raghu­nan­dan use RFID tags in an ef­fort to curb pil­fer­age. The tag fa­cil­i­tates an en­tire gamut of data col­lec­tion, which is streamed to a cen­trally lo­cated server, and can be ac­cessed re­motely in real time.

Like FAME, which was framed by the gov­ern­ment to en­cour­age elec­tric ve­hi­cles, tax sops for spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion ve­hi­cles could bring about a dis­rup­tive change, men­tions Raghu­nan­dan. It would fuel the ar­rival of newer, safer and more ef­fi­cient spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs in im­por­tant ar­eas of work like air­ports, he says. Rather than wait for reg­u­la­tions to dic­tate a change, steps like tax ex­emp­tions and faster de­pre­ci­a­tion might prove to be bet­ter in­cen­tives, he feels. With air­ports likely to em­ploy Euro-six stan­dards ahead of those for on-roads ve­hi­cles, the strong winds of change are also find­ing their way into how var­i­ous pub­lic and pri­vate bod­ies are procur­ing fire ten­ders. The Ma­ha­rash­tra In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (MIDC) Fire Ser­vice is procur­ing 12 MAN trucks. Cur­rently un­der fab­ri­ca­tion ac­cord­ing to Milind V Ogale, Deputy Chief Fire Of­fi­cer of MIDC Fire Ser­vice, the ve­hi­cles (fire ten­ders) will be ready in a cou­ple of months. Af­ter the Re­gional Trans­port Of­fice for­mal­i­ties are com­pleted they will be de­ployed at lo­ca­tions across Ma­ha­rash­tra, and will have a 12000 litre wa­ter hold­ing ca­pac­ity. Fire tend­ing oper­a­tion will be sup­ported by a sin­gle pump mounted on the truck. As spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs, fire ten­ders make a crit­i­cal arse­nal for fire fight­ing bod­ies. It is not for no rea­son that the Mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion im­ported a turntable ladder based on a Mercedes-Benz chas­sis last year. Early this year they in­ducted six­teen first at­tack (first re­sponse) trucks based on MAN chas­sis fab­ri­cated by Vi­jay Fire Ve­hi­cles. They are pow­ered by Euro-four en­gine and an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Fire fight­ing

Ev­ery fire de­part­ment is claimed to have the in­de­pen­dence to gauge its own re­quire­ment, and ac­cord­ingly up­grade. “Such up­grade and pro­cure­ment of new ve­hi­cles are how­ever done on a case to case ba­sis at each fire sta­tion,” states Ogale. “The de­ci­sion is based on the re­spec­tive fire de­part­ment’s ge­o­graph­i­cal spread and the po­ten­tial fire ar­eas around,” he adds. Ogale is of the opin­ion that each fire de­part­ment has a cer­tain re­quire­ment of ex­tin­guish­ing me­dia like wa­ter, foam, dry-chem­i­cal pow­der and car­bon-diox­ide. As a re­sult the ve­hi­cle spec­i­fi­ca­tions are de­cided based on the fire sta­tion’s re­quire­ment to hold the ex­tent of ex­tin­guish­ing me­dia. Like in the case of MIDC Fire ser­vice, Ogale claims, “We pre­pared our own ten­ders spec­i­fy­ing an on-board re­quire­ment of 4500 litres of wa­ter, 550 litres of foam, 50 kg of dry chem­i­cal pow­der and 50 kg of car­bon-diox­ide with two ex­tin­guish­ers each.” Such

in­di­vid­ual re­quire­ments ex­plains Ogale are cru­cial for a fire sta­tion when it de­cides to up­grade to a par­tic­u­lar fire ten­der. “The ve­hi­cles have to meet the codes pre­scribed by Bureau of In­dian Stan­dards,” he adds. MIDC Fire Ser­vice, till date, known to pro­cure Volvo Chas­sis; two units of 8x4 chas­sis, three units of 4x2 chas­sis. Ad­di­tion­ally a 55 m, 6x4 turntable ladder and hy­draulic plat­forms to deal es­pe­cially with high-rises have been pro­cured from Ger­many and Italy.

Speak­ing on the need to pro­cure mini-fire ten­ders due to the dif­fi­culty in ne­go­ti­at­ing con­fined ar­eas , Ogale men­tions, that they don’t see the need for them in in­dus­trial ar­eas. In in­dus­trial ar­eas, he adds, the min­i­mum no­ti­fied roads are sixme­tre wide. Mini-ten­ders are suit­able for use in slums or high ter­rain ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to Ogale. Goa, it is claimed, to has pur­chased mini fire ten­ders for prompt re­sponse. Cus­tomised by Pune based Hi-Tech ser­vices, the cost of fab­ri­ca­tion and in­stal­la­tion of life-sav­ing equip­ment on these ve­hi­cles is known to be Rs. 1.89 crores. The ve­hi­cles will be sta­tioned at Ma­pusa and Pernem ac­cord­ing to sources aware of the de­vel­op­ment. On board gad­gets on the ve­hi­cles are claimed to in­clude a con­crete cut­ter, steel and iron break­ers, gen­er­a­tors, pneu­matic lift­ing air-bags, multi-gas de­tec­tors, hy­draulic door-open­ing kit, breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus, chem­i­cal pro­tec­tive suits and petrol driven rotary res­cue saws. Ashok Menon, Di­rec­tor of fire and emer­gency ser­vices, Goa, in an in­ter­view is known to men­tion that the mini res­cue ten­ders could help phase out the old fire ten­ders. The mini ten­ders are in­dica­tive of a change that is in­deed sweep­ing through mu­nic­i­pal spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs in re­sponse to the ris­ing ur­ban­i­sa­tion.

Speak­ing about land­mark changes in spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs, and the best known per­haps is the ar­rival of Rosen­bauer Pan­ther in 2008. Ac­cord­ing to Ogale, it was the Rosen­bauer Pan­ther 6x6 air­port fire ten­der from Aus­tria, built on a 6x6 cater­pil­lar chas­sis, and ca­pa­ble of hold­ing 12,500 litres of wa­ter apart from 1500 litres of fire re­tar­dant foam and 500 kg of dry chem­i­cals on-board to fight fire, that marked the last big change till date. The Pan­ther 6X6 is a com­mon site at most air­ports in In­dia. It is pow­ered by a 705 hp en­gine, and can quickly ac­cess any part of the air­field. Ac­cord­ing to Ogale, “The Konkan air­port, be­fore it be­comes op­er­a­tional, will have to pro­cure such air-field fire ten­ders.”

In a re­cent ten­der, the Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion of Greater Mum­bai is known to have in­vited ven­dors for an e ten­der­ing process to fab­ri­cate and sup­ply a 16.2 tonne GVW Haz­ardous Ma­te­rial (HazMat) ve­hi­cle to be mounted on a suit­able 4x2 truck chas­sis for han­dling chem­i­cal ac­ci­dents with a five years Com­pre­hen­sive Ser­vice Main­te­nance Con­tract (CSMC). The ve­hi­cle is to be built in ac­cor­dance with spec­i­fi­ca­tions from the Mum­bai fire bri­gade. It will in­clude a crew cabin and have a suit­able ca­pac­ity PTO. The gear­box shall be fully au­to­matic with a torque con­verter. The suit­able ca­pac­ity PTO should be able to drive a hy­draulic pump for ladder move­ments. It should be Euro-four com­pli­ant with a 250 hp (183 kW) en­gine. Rear axle must be hy­poid type with prefer­ably hub re­duc­tion and dif­fer­en­tial lock. An im­por­tant cri­te­ria for the ven­dor is that the HazMat ve­hi­cle shall be de­signed as per the op­er­a­tional sta­bil­ity and struc­tural strength based on the cri­te­ria laid in EN / NFPA stan­dards used for han­dling chem­i­cal ac­ci­dents and dis­as­ters. On the op­er­a­tional front, of the ex­haus­tive set of re­quire­ments, an im­por­tant re­quire­ment is that the con­trol sys­tem of the ve­hi­cle shall be fully trop­i­calised and the ve­hi­cle should be able to op­er­ate in the tem­per­a­ture range of up to plus 50 de­gree centi­grade, and in a dusty and hu­mid con­di­tions with­out re­duc­ing the max­i­mum op­er­at­ing lim­its. The ve­hi­cle is to be de­liv­ered to Mum­bai Fire Bri­gade (By­culla) af­ter com­ple­tion, in­spec­tion and per­for­mance test. Driven by chang­ing needs and reg­u­la­tions, spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion CVs are chang­ing. They are also pro­lif­er­at­ing.

MAN CLA’s are find­ing good ac­cep­tance with fire fight­ing agen­cies.

Raghu­nan­dan Jagdish, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer and Di­rec­tor, Nan­dan GSE.

Fuel bowsers are us­ing RFID tags to counter pil­fer­age.

Rosen­bauer Pan­ther sets a bench­mark, and is a dar­ling of air­port fire fight­ers.

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