In­ter­na­tional Trac­tors: Bullish about Growth

In­ter­na­tional Trac­tors is bank­ing on growth by pro­vid­ing er­gonom­i­cally ad­vanced prod­ucts that best suit the needs of the farm­ers.

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Story by: Anirudh Ra­heja

In­ter­na­tion Trac­tors is bank­ing on growth by pro­vid­ing er­gonom­i­cally ad­vanced prod­ucts that best suit the needs of the farm­ers.

In­ter­na­tional Trac­tors Lim­ited (ITL), which man­u­fac­tures and mar­kets Son­alika brand of trac­tors, re­ported a ro­bust 19.6 per cent in­crease in sales at 81531 units in FY2016-17, the high­est sale of trac­tors to be ever recorded in the history of the com­pany. In com­par­i­son, trac­tor sales in In­dia grew 18 per cent in FY2016-17, record­ing a sale of 582844 units ac­cord­ing to the Trac­tor Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. In FY2015-16, 493764 trac­tors were sold. In­creas­ing the mar­ket share from 11.9 per cent to 12.3 per cent, do­mes­tic sales of ITL grew 18 per cent, at 69290 units. Exports reg­is­tered a growth of 29.3 per cent at 12241 units in last fis­cal.

Bullish about growth, and keen to pro­vide er­gonom­i­cally ad­vanced prod­ucts (trac­tors) that best suit the needs of farm­ers,

ITL has com­mis­sioned a fully in­te­grated trac­tor plant at Hoshiarpur, Pun­jab. Spread over an area of 85 acres, the new plant is lo­cated ad­ja­cent to the ex­ist­ing plant. With a ca­pac­ity to pro­duce two lakh trac­tors per an­num, the new plant will el­e­vate the to­tal man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity of ITL to three-lakh units. The ex­ist­ing plant has the ca­pac­ity to make one-lakh trac­tors per an­num. Fu­eled by an in­vest­ment of Rs.800 crores, the new plant is fully equipped to roll out trac­tors rang­ing from 20 hp to 120 hp in a takt time of two min­utes. En­gi­neered to pro­duce trac­tors up to 180 hp ac­cord­ing to Am­rit Singh Mit­tal, Vice Chair­man, ITL, the new plant will sup­port the com­pany’s move to higher ca­pac­ity trac­tors, and

exports. “Ninety-nine per cent of the trac­tors sold in In­dia may amount to a power out­put of less than 60 hp, we are con­fi­dent that the trac­tor in­dus­try will soon grad­u­ate to higher hp en­gines,” he said. Stress­ing upon a modern ap­proach, Mit­tal averred that mech­a­ni­sa­tion in agri­cul­ture is ris­ing. On the ac­count of exports, claimed a source close to the com­pany, that plans are be­ing drawn to ex­port onelakh trac­tors. These would be pro­duced at the old plant.

Trac­ing its roots to 1969 when it man­u­fac­tured its first farm equip­ment (thresher), ITL in an ef­fort to en­hance its tech­ni­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties en­tered into a joint ven­ture with Re­nault Agri­cul­ture, France, and Class Trac­tors, Ger­many, in 2000. This was 14 years af­ter ITL pro­duced the first trac­tor in 1996. The com­pany be­gan pro­duc­ing en­gines in­house in 2001. By 2005, the com­pany grew up to be­come the fourth largest man­u­fac­turer of trac­tors in In­dia.

It tied up with Ja­panese diesel en­gine spe­cial­ist

Yan­mar. The new plant, by lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy, and the ex­pe­ri­ence the com­pany has gained over the years, will con­trib­ute to the en­deav­our to pro­duce a good num­ber of ag­gre­gates in-house. Ag­gre­gates like en­gine, chas­sis, sheet metal parts, dif­fer­en­tial and trans­mis­sion.

Op­er­a­tions

The new plant will hike ITL’s ca­pac­ity to pro­duce trac­tors to 300 from the cur­rent ca­pac­ity to pro­duce 225 trac­tors per shift. ITL at present runs two eighthour shifts. When the de­mand in­creases, a shift is ex­tended to 10-12 hours, said Mit­tal. In an ef­fort main­tain a com­pet­i­tive edge in what is termed as the big­gest trac­tor mar­ket in the world, third shift is also pressed into ser­vice if the need arises. ITL man­u­fac­tures an en­tire range of en­gines – from 20 hp to 110 hp, at the plant. The en­gine plant has an in­stalled

ca­pac­ity of 500 en­gines per day, and has been en­gi­neered such that it will play an im­por­tat role in ITL’s en­deav­our to de­velop en­gines of dif­fer­ent capacities. There are 24 en­gine test beds. With the cur­rent emis­sion com­pli­ance stan­dards for trac­tors be­ing BSIIIA, ITL’s Son­alika brand of trac­tors have been af­fected with the Supreme Court or­der to stop sale as well as the reg­is­ter BSIII ve­hi­cles from April 01, 2017. In many parts of In­dia. RTOs not want­ing to at­tract con­tempt of court, are said to refuse regis­tra­tion of trac­tors that com­ply­ing with BSIIIA emis­sion reg­u­la­tions. This is de­spite the emis­sion stan­dards for trac­tors be­ing dif­fer­ent from what the trucks and buses fol­low. In­formed Ra­man Mit­tal, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, ITL, that the (trac­tor man­u­fac­tur­ers) as­so­ci­a­tion is mak­ing the re­quired pre­sen­ta­tions, and is hop­ing that busi­ness is not sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected.

Pro­duc­ing two, three and four cylin­der en­gines, in nat­u­rally as­pi­rated and com­mon rail turbo-diesel guise, the en­gine plant of ITL has over 23 pro­duc­tion stages. Par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion is paid to the qual­ity of man­u­fac­ture from the ini­tial stage. Averred Am­rit Singh Mit­tal, “In­dia is a price sen­si­tive mar­ket. It is im­por­tant there­fore that we de­velop fuel ef­fi­cient prod­ucts.” Post dereg­u­la­tion, price of diesel has been ris­ing. In the wake of that, the com­pany is work­ing on a com­pletely new se­ries of trac­tors that are stylish, er­gonom­i­cally sorted and com­fort­able. ITL, in a bid to ad­dress the ex­act­ing needs of the Indian mar­ket, de­vel­oped a 35 hp DI35Rx Sikan­der trac­tor re­cently. Pow­er­ing the trac­tor is a three-cylin­der unit that gen­er­ates a torque of 157 Nm peak torque. Trans­mis­sion is a con­stant mesh de­sign with six for­ward and six re­verse gears. For su­pe­rior fuel ef­fi­ciency, the hy­draulic pump of the trac­tor can be dis­en­gaged from the en­gine when not in use. “This re­flects on our un­der­stand­ing of the Indian mar­ket,” quipped Mit­tal. He pointed at the four trac­tors his com­pany launched in Oc­to­ber last year. “These trac­tors have beeen de­signed and en­gi­neered for potato farm­ing, and are equipped with ad­justable track width, a hy­draulic sys­tem that was spe­cially de­vel­oped, and have a com­pact turn­ing ra­dius

to help them ma­neou­vre in the field with­out dam­ag­ing the crop,” opined Mit­tal. Pramod Rajan, Head, R&D, ITL, ex­pressed, “We are de­vel­op­ing a six-cylin­der 120hp en­gine for trac­tors. Pro­duc­tion of this en­gine will be­gin later this year. The en­gine will find ap­pli­ca­tion in big trac­tors the com­pany exports. The 120 hp en­gine plat­form will be lever­aged to pro­duce higher ca­pac­ity en­gines men­tioned Rajan. A 200 hp en­gine is on the anvil too. If this will pro­vide a glimpse of ITL’s plans for the fu­ture, the 120 hp trac­tor, in­formed Rajan, will be equipped with a 24+24 trans­mis­sion, and of­fer a mas­sive 4,500 kg lift­ing ca­pac­ity. Of the opin­ion that a trac­tor should trans­form into a sta­tus sym­bol, Rajan revealed that en­gines above

50 hp are be­ing equipped with com­mon-rail tech­nol­ogy. The change in emis­sion stan­dards for en­gine above 50 hp is said to be a rea­son for this. The other is per­haps, the ris­ing sale of trac­tors in the 40 to 50 hp range. In the last five years, most trac­tors sold in In­dia are in the 40 to 50 hp range.

Trac­tor trans­mis­sion

If the en­gine assem­bly makes for an in­ter­est­ing in­sight at the ITL plant, the trans­mis­sion line adds to the knowl­edge of trac­tor man­u­fac­ture. Found on the line are trans­mis­sion cases, gears, shafts, clutch plates, and more. Multi-speed trans­mis­sions are pro­duced with a 12+12 speed range. To main­tain con­sis­tency, the com­pany man­u­fac­tures four wheel drive axles in-house. Stat­ing that the shift to 50-60 hp trac­tors in In­dia is likely to hap­pen faster than ex­pected, Rajan revealed that they are work­ing on an eight for­ward and two re­verse speed trans­mis­sion. It will be up­graded to 12 for­ward and 12 re­verse gear­box, and in­tro­duced in the 60 hp seg­ment fol­lowed by the 40-50 hp seg­ment as well. ITL is also work­ing on 30 hp trac­tors with hy­dro­static trans­mis­sion. The com­pany plans to ex­port them to Europe and US.

For trac­tors to with­stand tough work­ing con­di­tions,

ITL’s gear shop man­u­fac­tures be­tween 250 and 400 dif­fer­ent com­po­nents. The fa­cil­ity has a ca­pac­ity to man­u­fac­ture 1.5 mil­lion parts per an­num. A to­tal of 112 ma­chines in­clud­ing 22 gear hob­bing ma­chines and 12 gear shav­ing ma­chines have been in­stalled. Also, a part are a Seal Quench Fur­nace (SQF), in­duc­tion hard­en­ing and pit type fur­nace. A modern met­al­lur­gi­cal lab has been set up. It con­tains Leco Spec­trom­e­ter and a Mi­cro Hard­ness Tester from USA among other test equip­ment. A Ja­panese spec­trom­e­ter is used to en­sure the qual­ity of spur, bevel and he­li­cal gears is right.

R&D and man­u­fac­tur­ing

Em­ploy­ing 200 en­gi­neers and 100 tech­ni­cians, ITL R&D is at the core of nu­mer­ous ini­tia­tives the com­pany is tak­ing. Out of the 200 en­gi­neers, 120 en­gi­neers are en­gaged in de­sign projects that will ma­te­ri­alise in the fu­ture. They are closely sup­ported by 50 prod­uct test­ing en­gi­neers. Cru­cial to the smooth func­tion­ing of the world’s largest in­te­grated trac­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing plant with world­class tech­nolo­gies, ITL R&D, ac­cord­ing to Rajan, is play­ing an im­por­tant role in the de­sign and de­vel­op­ment of ag­gre­gates. The ca­thodic elec­tro-coat­ing pre-treat­ment fa­cil­ity has a dip tank of 70,000 litre ca­pac­ity. The paint shop tech­nol­ogy en­sures up to 95 per cent paint util­i­sa­tion, and is manned by six ro­bots. While the sheet metal parts are pro­duced at the press shop, most plas­tic parts are also made in-house. The com­pany has 26 ma­chines in­clud­ing 19 presses of up to 400 tonne ca­pac­ity; two laser ma­chines (sourced from Prima, Italy), and three in­jec­tion mould­ing ma­chines. To man­u­fac­ture in-house dies for press tools, sheet metal parts and in­jec­tion mod­ules, 35 ma­chines work in tan­dem. The de­sired level of ac­cu­racy is main­tained by ITL with 167 spe­cial pur­pose ma­chines and 57 CNC ma­chin­ing cen­ters sourced from Mazak, Ja­pan. To achieve a com­pet­i­tive takt time, cast­ings at the plant are trans­ferred through un­der pit con­vey­ors. The fi­nal assem­bly line is struc­tured such that ev­ery unit un­der­goes a num­ber of tests. These in­clude a roller test, hy­draulic test and a vi­bra­tion test. To en­sure op­ti­mal prod­uct qual­ity, the com­pany em­ploys qual­ity man­age­ment sys­tems like Pokayoke.

Ex­port­ing trac­tors to 80 coun­tries, ITL is de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts that will com­ply with the stage IV emis­sion norms. These would be aimed pri­mar­ily at the ex­port mar­kets of Europe and US. ITL is also work­ing on telem­at­ics. Test­ing of a telem­at­ics plat­form, ac­cord­ing to Rajan, is on. The re­sults will de­ter­mine the time to mar­ket. Rajan is of the opin­ion that it will still take some time be­fore the trac­tor mar­ket warms up to the prospect of us­ing telem­at­ics. Costs, he said, are a bar­rier. Look­ing at ex­pand­ing its reach in the do­mes­tic, and over­seas mar­kets, ITL is bank­ing on er­gonom­i­cally ad­vanced, ro­bust and ef­fi­cient trac­tors. Apart from an assem­bly unit in Cameroon, Africa, the com­pany is set­ting up a unit in China. A cost sen­si­tive mar­ket ac­cord­ing to Ra­man Mit­tal, the unit at China – ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional at the end of this fis­cal – will open up new av­enues for the com­pany. With Yan­mar agree­ing to buy Black­stone Eq­uity In­vestors’ shares in ITL for Rs.1,600 crores, Yan­mar’s hold­ing in the com­pany is set to rise to 30 per cent. This is ex­pected to boost out­sourc­ing. Mit­tal is keen to see his com­pany ex­port one lakh units. “Out of the one lakh units, 50,000 units will be man­u­fac­tured for our part­ner Yan­mar’s out­sourc­ing com­mit­ments. The re­main­ing 50,000 will be sold in­de­pen­dently un­der the Son­alika brand,” said Mit­tal.

⇧ ITL will soon in­tro­duce the 35 hp Son­alika DI35 Rx Sikan­der trac­tor.

⇦ Heavy-duty So­lis 120 4x4 trac­tor is aimed at African mar­kets.

⇦ Am­rit Singh Mit­tal, Vice Chair­man, ITL, is keen that his com­pany de­vel­ops fuel ef­fi­cient prod­ucts that ad­dress the needs of price sen­si­tive mar­kets like In­dia.

⇩ ITL’s gear divi­sion man­u­fac­tures up to 250 com­po­nents for trac­tors.

⇩ The in­stalled ca­pac­ity of the en­gine plant is 500 en­gines per day.

⇧ ITL’s new plant is equipped to man­u­fac­ture en­gines up to 180hp.

⇦ Be­fore rolling out of the assem­bly line, trac­tors un­dergo roller test­ing, hy­draulic test­ing, and vi­bra­tion test­ing.

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