Tata Hendrickson seeks new avenues of growth
Tata Hendrickson is banking on growth through new avenues.
Tata Hendrickson is banking on growth through new avenues.
Pune-based Tata AutoComp Hendrickson Suspension Pvt Ltd. (THSL) specialises in the manufacture of suspension systems for commercial vehicles. Established in 2006, the company, a joint venture between Tata AutoComp Systems Limited (TACO) and Hendrickson International Corporation (HIC), has come to cater to the needs of many automotive OEMs in India. It has been offering them heavy duty mechanical, elastomeric and air-suspensions; integrated and non-integrated axle systems, and parabolic and multi-leaf springs. In a bid to increase its market share, the company is banking upon growth by supplying advanced suspension systems,
retrofitments and upgradations. THSL is looking at a growth of 15-20 per cent over last year’s growth of 28 per cent. Mentioned Sanjay Sinha, CEO of THSL, that they are planning to invest in the expansion of facilities in India. Keen to cater to growing segments like defence, retrofitments and upgradations, the company, according to Sinha, is optimistic about growth.
A part of the group of auto suppliers under the TACO umbrella, THSL found its first customer in Tata Motors. Tata Motors was on a look out for a supplier of advanced suspension system for its new development, the Prima range of medium and heavy-duty trucks. Hendrickson, at the same time, was contemplating entering the Indian market. A joint venture resulted from the intense deliberations that followed. THSL saw an opportunity to tap into the resources of the two partners; the knowledge and experience of Hendrickson especially. Said Sinha, “THSL’s credibility stemmed from access to technology across Hendrickson’s global network.” “THSL has been using this to its advantage by developing and offering products that suit the needs of customers in India, and in the geography defined by the joint venture,” he added.
The products that THSL manufactures and develops in India are world-class. There’s however an Indian angle to them. According to Sinha, they are developed to perform specifically in accordance to the customer defined duty cycles and conditions deemed best suited to the Indian operating environment. At the core of the activity at THSL are products of high technology metal and rubber type. Air and auxiliary suspension systems for Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCVs) to be precise. Finding application in trucks, tippers and buses, the products are finding new takers apart from the traditional customers of the company. Averred Sinha, “THSL received its first Letter of Intent (LOI) for bogie suspension systems in just a year after the two companies collaborated for the JV in 2007.”
Bogie suspension systems include a framework that is attached to a vehicle and serves as a modular sub-assembly of wheels and axles. In trucks, a bogie suspension could find use on a rigid truck or on a tractor trailer combination. This suspension type is also used in trailers. In trailers, it acts as a sub-assembly of axles and wheels that are most likely permanently attached to the frame (as on a single trailer) or make up the dolly that can be hitched and unhitched as needed when hitching up a second or third semi-trailer. Apart from bogie suspension systems for
tandem drive axles for tippers, THSL has also introduced lift axle suspension systems in India. The current product range that THSL manufactures is supplied to Tata Motors, Daimler Commercial Vehicles India and Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV).
Striving to manufacture worldclass products that are tailored to meet the Indian needs foremost, THSL employs a manufacturing culture that is based on the model of an extended factory. The company, according to Sinha, has come to develop vendors in accordance to the drawings that are prepared. “These are within a set of specified tolerances,” he added. He also drew attention to the Supplier Technical Assistance (STA) cell, which manages the development of the vendor’s process capabilities to meet the requirements of THSL. The components procured from the vendors are assembled on fixtures, and fabricated to the closest tolerance levels. The extended factory model has enhanced THSL’s capability to include design and application engineering, flexible manufacturing and an efficient supply chain management. THSL’s primary responsibility may be to cater to the needs of the Indian market, it has the flexibility to export parts too. The company has thus been exporting products to OEMs abroad through the Hendrickson network according to Sinha.
Retrofitments, upgradations and defence
With an eye on the aftermarket, THSL has ventured into the retrofitment of suspension systems. The company has been retrofitting advanced air suspension systems to trucks, and metal rubber suspension systems for tandem drive axles of tippers and haulage tractors. The company is also looking at marking its presence in the defence sector. It is working with Tata Motors on this front if industry sources are to be believed. THSL is also claimed to work with a few other OEMs in an effort to support their defence offerings.
In the financial year 2015-16, THSL achieved a Year- onYear ( YoY) growth of 28 per cent. In the current financial year, the company hopes to achieve a growth of 15- 20 per cent. Banking on projects that it is working upon with OEMs, THSL is optimistic about demand for advanced suspension systems picking up as the awareness for comfort in commercial vehicle increases. Said Sinha, “One program with Tata Motors is already on the verge of completion. The product is likely to be launched in the third quarter of this financial year.” THSL is claimed to be developing a product that would replace the current lift axle on the Tata LPT 3118 platform. This product is expected to be much superior to what is currently being offered. Also keen to introduce advanced front axle suspension systems, the company, with well- timed investments and expansion of facilities as well as capabilities, is confident of finding new avenues of growth. Air suspension retrofitments, upgradation kits and defence are some of them. “If plans materialise, the product portfolio could see further additions by way of an air suspension system for buses, advanced parabolic front suspension systems for trucks and tippers, and an advanced metal rubber suspension system for rear tandem axles of trucks,” stated Sinha.
A pusher lift axle suspension system.
Sanjay Sinha, CEO, THSL.
A comfort drive axle air suspension system.