Gold Rush

DC De­sign has de­vel­oped In­dia’s first mo­bile jew­ellery show­room to help Thris­sur-based Chem­ma­nur Group to ex­pand its mar­ket reach.

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar Pho­tographs: DC De­sign

DC De­sign has de­vel­oped In­dia's first mo­bile jew­ellery show­room to help Thris­sur-based Chem­ma­nur Group to ex­pand its mar­ket reach.

Gold rush in the state of Ker­ala is well known. The New York Times in 2012 pub­lished a story on Ker­ala’s ob­ses­sion for gold. It stated that Ker­ala val­ues noth­ing more than gold. It stated that it is com­fort­ing for the peo­ple of the state to know that their erst­while rulers too had a fas­ci­na­tion for the yel­low metal, which they stored in the tem­ple as an of­fer­ing and as an in­sur­ance against famine. The story men­tioned that Ker­ala is gold’s own coun­try. Claimed to gob­ble 20 per cent of the coun­try’s gold con­sump­tion de­spite hav­ing just three per cent of the pop­u­la­tion, Ker­ala has over 5000 re­tail­ers of the no­ble metal. Con­tribut­ing to In­dia’s rep­u­ta­tion as the largest con­sumer of gold in the world – In­dia con­sumes 30 per cent of the world’s gold, the sky-rock­et­ing prices have failed to de­ter the peo­ple of Ker­ala from buy­ing gold. To them, gold sim­ply does not cease to amaze. The vil­lage of Ko­du­vally near Kozhikode for ex­am­ple, has nearly for­got­ten its tra­di­tion of pot­tery-mak­ing for gold. It boasts of over 100 jew­ellery shops. Clients in­clude fam­i­lies who have rel­a­tives work­ing in Gulf coun­tries. Apart from ex­po­sure to for­eign coun­tries, the state’s ob­sessed for gold is claimed to date back to the Ro­man era. Ker­ala then, and in par­tic­u­lar Kochi (Cochin), was a key port among the chan­nels of trade and fre­quented not only by Ro­man ships but also by Greeks, Jews, Arabs and Chi­nese.

The for­eign mer­chants and their cus­tomers were so be­sot­ted with In­dian pep­per, car­damom and cin­na­mon that they were quite happy to part with in­creas­ing amounts of gold in ex­change.

If the grow­ing re­mit­tances by 20 lakh (and ris­ing) non­res­i­dents and a steep in­crease in the price of rub­ber is claimed to fuel the state’s gold rush, for In­dia’s sav­ings-con­scious so­ci­ety gold has al­ways found a way of trans­lat­ing into an in­sur­ance against cloudy days. It is sim­i­lar to how gov­ern­ments buy gold for the amount of cur­rency they print, to en­sure that their cur­rency is val­ued and re­spected. Worn dur­ing fam­ily func­tions, the ob­ses­sion for gold in Ker­ala has been greatly com­ple­ment­ing In­dia’s con­sump­tion at 746-tonne ev­ery year ac­cord­ing to the World Gold Coun­cil. At­tract­ing film stars and sports­men of re­pute as good­will am­bas­sadors, the ob­ses­sion for gold has en­sured that the in­dus­try, which em­ploys over two hun­dred thou­sand peo­ple, finds new ways to reach out to the buy­ers. In what could be termed as the most strik­ing way of reach­ing out to buy­ers thus far, Mum­bai-based DC De­sign has de­liv­ered In­dia’s first mo­bile jew­ellery show­room to Thris­sur-based Chem­ma­nur Group. It is based on a semi­trailer (truck), and painted in a strik­ing colour of yel­low and matt gray. A head turner, the trac­tor­trailer com­bi­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to Dilip Ch­habria, Chair­man and Manag­ing Di­rec­tor, DC De­sign, was de­vel­oped with an in­ten­tion to trans­port gold to places where peo­ple are short of time; to make it con­ve­nient for peo­ple to buy gold, and to also fa­cil­i­tate im­pul­sive buy­ing.

Stun­ning look­ing

To power their mo­bile jew­ellery show­room, the Chem­ma­nur Group chose a 410 hp Sca­nia G410 6x4 trac­tor. The mo­bile show­room is built on the trailer. It took a good five months for DC De­sign to ex­e­cute the project. The semi-trailer mea­sures 40 ft. With the ear­lier cre­ations of DC De­sign based on a rigid in­ter-city bus chas­sis mea­sur­ing upto 14.8 ft, the use of a Sca­nia trac­tor­trailer com­bi­na­tion comes as a sur­prise. So, what prompted DC De­sign to use a Sca­nia truck for the job? Ac­cord­ing to Ch­habria, the de­ci­sion to use a Sca­nia truck as the ba­sis for a mo­bile jew­ellery show­room was en­tirely of the client, the Chem­ma­nur Group. “Cost was not an is­sue with the client. What he wanted was the best and the most strik­ing,” he added. One look at the rig, and it is clear that a lot of ef­fort has gone into the mak­ing of it. The shade of yel­low with a streak of gray run­ning through­out the length of the whole ve­hi­cle makes the Sca­nia semi-trailer looks like it has come from Mars al­most! The colour scheme was dic­tated by the client ac­cord­ing to Ch­habria. A bright colour along with the highly volup­tuous shape helped to achieve a stun­ning look. Stun­ning look­ing the mo­bile jew­ellery show­room is. If the Sca­nia G410 6x4 prime mover at­tracts at­ten­tion, the semi-trailer sim­ply com­mands at­ten­tion.

Averred Ch­habria, that the brief was to cre­ate a stand­out mo­bile re­tail out­let; the one that does not look like a plain Jane fab­ri­cated box on wheels, but is de­signed through the ex­act­ing au­to­mo­tive de­vel­op­ment process, which in­cludes con­cept sketches, a 1:5 scale model, com­puter aided de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing, anal­y­sis, milling the plugs and gen­er­at­ing com­pos­ites in­clud­ing car­bon sub­strates. “The process al­lowed for ex­treme con­tour­ing on all the axes, an im­por­tant fac­tor to help dif­fer­en­ti­ate and cre­ate a dis­tinct unique style that was more space­ship than ve­hi­cle,” he stated. The struc­tural chal­lenge was the man­u­fac­ture of a highly cur­va­ceous and com­plex outer skin. It did not al­low for the usual tubu­lar su­per­struc­ture route. DC De­sign had to cre­ate skin pan­els like cars and re­in­force them at van­tage points with struc­tural mem­bers. Re­vealed Ch­habria while touch­ing upon his ear­lier projects, that this is the first time

where the ex­te­rior de­sign of the ve­hi­cle is of greater promi­nence than the in­te­rior.

In­te­rior

Act­ing as a sub­sti­tute to a brick and mor­tar show­room, the in­te­rior of the mo­bile jew­ellery show­room is well crafted and im­pos­ing to say the least. Away from the ex­te­rior de­sign brief, which called for jaw drop­ping style cou­pled with the rather huge di­men­sions of the semi­trailer com­bi­na­tion, the in­te­rior in­volves a two-level show­room. If the trailer fa­cil­i­tated a large bed size, the in­te­rior in­cludes a hy­draulic ex­pand­ing side sec­tion with hy­draulic open­ing stair­ways akin to pri­vate jets. Di­vided into two sec­tions – di­a­mond and gold, the show­room also in­cludes a billing sec­tion, a con­fer­ence room and a rest room. Ex­pressed Ch­habria, “In the case of the in­te­rior, the chal­lenge was to bal­ance aes­thet­ics with var­i­ous func­tions. There was also the need to man­age the ex­pan­sive sizes of sub­strates, the com­bi­na­tion of dis­parate ma­te­ri­als like alu­minium, steel, car­bon, glass, plas­tics, fab­rics, leather, etc.” To cre­ate the right am­biance, stress was laid on light­ing. Con­sid­er­ing the na­ture of ac­tiv­ity, stress was also laid on tighter tol­er­ances. The stan­dards of fit and fin­ish are high there­fore. In­ter­est­ingly, the hy­drauli­cally open­ing stair­ways, when closed, form the outer skin. They have their own hand rails which fold open. They have their own fail safe de­vises to en­sure safety. Heav­ily for­ti­fied with se­cu­rity con­trap­tions, the mo­bile jew­ellery show­room has the best ve­hi­cle se­cu­rity that can be had. There’s high res­o­lu­tion cam­eras that have re­motely ac­tu­ated swivel and night vi­sion. Also fit­ted are prox­im­ity sen­sors and more. The ve­hi­cle, mea­sur­ing 2.6 m in width, can be re­motely im­mo­bilised, its door and racks can be re­motely se­cured.

On the move

Ex­pected to be a fit­ting al­ter­na­tive to brick and mor­tar show­rooms that may not al­ways turn out to be vi­able in the wake of com­pe­ti­tion, the mo­bile jew­ellery show­room is claimed to be the first of the three such ve­hi­cles planned. The other two would find their way to Tamil Nadu and Ma­ha­rash­tra. Con­sid­er­ing the length of the trac­tor trailer, it may be log­i­cal to think if it will travel over the ever wind­ing roads of Ker­ala. Ex­plained Ch­habria, that much to their sur­prise they found the ve­hi­cle to be ca­pa­ble of ma­noeu­vring through nar­row and tight spa­ces where a bus or a rigid truck would find it dif­fi­cult. “The ar­tic­u­lated na­ture of the ve­hi­cle makes it pos­si­ble,“he added. At DC De­sign op­er­a­tions in Pune, it was sur­pris­ingly easy to ma­noeu­vre the Sca­nia semi­trailer as com­pared to sev­eral 14.8 m coaches that the com­pany has worked upon. Trucks are about busi­ness, and the Chem­ma­nur Group’s mo­bile jew­ellery show­room is no ex­cep­tion. A head turner, the ve­hi­cle could do away with the need for a brick and mor­tar show­room, which in the face of the com­pe­ti­tion has the risk of be­com­ing a white ele­phant. A unique and stun­ning vis­ual pro­vides an ex­cel­lent ad­ver­tis­ing real es­tate that is also dy­namic. Cer­tain to of­fer the Chem­ma­nur Group a front run­ner ad­van­tage, the Sca­nia- based mo­bile jew­ellery show­room has a white dome on the top of the cabin. It de­notes a foot­ball ac­cord­ing to Ch­habria. Per­haps hint­ing at the Chem­ma­nur Group’s as­so­ci­a­tion with leg­endary foot­ball star Diego Maradona, the foot­ball also speaks about Ker­ala’s love for the game. There’s lit­tle doubt, that the Chem­ma­nur mo­bile jew­ellery show­room is set to be a game changer in gold’s own coun­try.

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