Tata Hen­drick­son seeks new av­enues of growth

Tata Hen­drick­son is bank­ing on growth through new av­enues.

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

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.

World-class prod­ucts

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).

Man­u­fac­tur­ing cul­ture

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.

Out­look

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.

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