Jacques Es­culier, Chair­man & Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Wabco Inc..

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

Q. What role do you see Wabco play­ing in shap­ing the fu­ture In­dian CVs? A.

It is the turn of con­nec­tiv­ity af­ter elec­tron­ics, which helps to im­prove safety and ef­fi­ciency. It is about con­nect­ing the truck to the ground, and be­yond brak­ing, Au­to­mated Man­ual Trans­mis­sion (AMT), and elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled air sus­pen­sion. It is about in­for­ma­tion that op­ti­mises the way one li­aisons with the truck, and helps the driver to be more care­ful and ef­fi­cient. Wabco is glob­ally present in this area, and wants In­dia to ben­e­fit from this tech­nol­ogy. We have al­ready taken a lead po­si­tion in pro­vid­ing ABS. It is elec­tron­i­cally driven, and one of the first elec­tronic sys­tems to find its way to In­dian trucks. It is the first ba­sic fea­ture on the path to safer com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles. We are rolling out AMT, which makes driv­ing com­fort­able. It also el­e­vates ef­fi­ciency, and can save al­most five per cent fuel. We are in­tro­duc­ing tech­nolo­gies and ca­pa­bil­i­ties around ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance sys­tems like Au­ton­o­mous Emer­gency Brak­ing (AEB). Wabco in­tro­duced AEB to the world of CVs, and has been al­ready man­dated in Europe. The lane de­par­ture warn­ing sys­tems Wabco of­fers, as­sist the driver to avert ac­ci­dents caused by drowsi­ness. In US, this fea­ture is in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar. It may not be man­dated, but has been in­stru­men­tal in avoid­ing 85 per cent of the col­li­sions. In In­dia, we are pi­lot­ing this tech­nol­ogy. We are tak­ing an ac­tive part in pro­vid­ing the func­tion­al­i­ties and hard­ware for telem­at­ics and fleet man­age­ment. It will be a ma­jor step to­wards op­ti­mis­ing lo­gis­tics. The air disc brakes we have de­signed may not be elec­tron­i­cally driven, they are how­ever es­sen­tial for safety. Not only are they lighter and sim­pler than the com­pe­ti­tion, they save

25 kg per wheel weight. They also en­able 10 per cent gain in brak­ing dis­tance. The money that would have been spent on main­te­nance is saved since there is no need to change the pads. Air disc brakes can go up to 100,000 kms, and this has been demon­strated in In­dia. It takes one fourth of the time to change the pads when com­pared to drum brake lin­ers. We will soon lo­calise air disc brakes in In­dia. Tech­nolo­gies like these may have been rooted into de­signs and ini­tia­tives taken in Europe, they are be­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally re­viewed for cost op­ti­mi­sa­tion. We are lever­ag­ing the engi­neer­ing and sup­ply chain we have es­tab­lished in In­dia. We are con­scious about the need for such tech­nolo­gies, and there ex­ists a price con­straint.

Q. How is the de­mand for air disc brakes, AMT and ABS in In­dia? A.

OEMs in In­dia are in­ter­ested in new tech­nolo­gies. There is aware­ness for the need to con­trib­ute to make roads safer, es­pe­cially with the coun­try de­vel­op­ing so fast. There will be more com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles on the road. Their ris­ing num­ber will call for sys­tems to make them safer. I think there is pres­sure from global man­u­fac­tur­ers en­ter­ing emerg­ing mar­kets. They are bring­ing tech­nolo­gies from Europe. Re­gional man­u­fac­tur­ers are clos­ing that gap and leap frog­ging to demon­strate that they are also ca­pa­ble of in­tro­duc­ing new tech­nolo­gies. Truck man­u­fac­tur­ers in In­dia share the am­bi­tion to ex­port ve­hi­cles to re­gions with higher stan­dards of safety and ef­fi­ciency. To com­pete with fully equipped Euro­pean trucks, one has to be on par in terms of tech­nol­ogy. Such rea­sons, I think, con­verge to­wards a strong in­ter­est for OEMs to de­velop and adapt those sys­tems to their plat­forms.

Q. What is the level of lo­cal­i­sa­tion in AMT and ABS? A.

ABS has been com­pletely lo­calised, in­clud­ing the Elec­tronic Con­trol Unit (ECU) that has been his­tor­i­cally man­u­fac­tured in Europe and ex­ported. With a strong fo­cus to min­imise costs in In­dia, we de­cided to break the rule and man­u­fac­ture ECUs in In­dia. We have al­ready achieved zero qual­ity de­fects. Rid­ing on this suc­cess, we will make ECUs for more sys­tems in the fu­ture. For AMTs we have built an as­sem­bly line in our fac­tory at Chen­nai. We are also pro­gres­sively lo­cal­is­ing since we have a net­work of sup­pli­ers. Do­ing this will con­trib­ute to lower pric­ing for OEMs and fleet own­ers.

Q. How do you look at your ven­dor base in In­dia? A.

About 30 per cent of what we man­u­fac­ture in In­dia is ex­ported. All com­pres­sors for Volvo trucks world­wide are built at Chen­nai. All sus­pen­sions for BMW cars are built at Chen­nai. The sup­pli­ers in In­dia are world-class in terms of cost, qual­ity and de­liv­ery. It is amaz­ing to see the com­mit­ment they have, and the way they adopt man­age­ment ap­proaches like lean man­age­ment and six sigma. Our sup­pli­ers in In­dia not only sup­port Wabco in In­dia, they also sup­port our fac­to­ries in Europe and US.

Q. What con­straints do you face when it comes to driver as­sis­tance sys­tems in In­dia? A.

Driv­ing in an In­dian city is quite dif­fer­ent from that in an Euro­pean city. High­way driv­ing is dif­fer­ent. The en­vi­ron­ment there is fairly sim­i­lar to other parts of the world. We are right now pi­lot­ing those sys­tems, gath­er­ing data, and un­der­stand­ing what ex­actly the driv­ers of trucks and buses are ex­posed to, and how we have to adapt those sys­tems. This would en­sure that we do not of­fer fea­tures that are not adapt­able. We want to de­velop func­tions that specif­i­cally ad­dress the In­dian en­vi­ron­ment. We are work­ing with OE part­ners to process this in­for­ma­tion, and op­ti­mise the in­ter­face.

“All com­pres­sors for Volvo trucks world­wide are built at Chen­nai.”

Q. In­dia is a reg­u­la­tory driven mar­ket. Does it pose a lim­i­ta­tion for au­ton­o­mous and con­nected tech­nolo­gies? A.

Most govern­ments of ma­jor coun­tries like In­dia are go­ing through the same path. It can be dis­cussed and de­bated whether ABS, sta­bil­ity con­trol are good or not. Some­one has to put the stick in the sand and drive the mar­ket. It has been proven time and again that the steps govern­ments take are in­stru­men­tal in en­hanc­ing safety on the road. The In­dian gov­ern­ment is op­ti­mistic about cut­ting the num­ber of road fa­tal­i­ties by half in the next five years. This would call for the need to im­pose cer­tain im­prove­ments in the way ve­hi­cles are de­signed. They have to meet the set tar­gets. Europe has al­ready man­dated AEB and lane de­par­ture warn­ing. There are im­por­tant mile­stones on the hori­zon. I think, sta­bil­ity con­trol will be­come manda­tory in US by mid 2017. It will soon be manda­tory in Ja­pan as well. It be­came manda­tory in Europe a few years ago. For In­dia to fol­low suit is ab­so­lutely nor­mal. The move up to BSIV emis­sion stan­dards re­flects upon us hu­man be­ings ad­dress­ing the prob­lem of pol­lu­tion. It is about push­ing the in­dus­try to­wards cleaner en­gines and ve­hi­cles. There was quite a lot of push when EuroVI norms were im­ple­mented (in Europe). Lot of tech­ni­cal chal­lenges had to be over­come to meet the in­cred­i­bly strin­gent re­quire­ments. As a ci­ti­zen, I am happy that our govern­ments have been en­forc­ing things. The talk about BSVI is nor­mal and healthy.

Q. Isn’t the time frame to BSVI too short? A.

I would say that the tech­nol­ogy is avail­able. It was in­vented by the Euro­pean man­u­fac­tur­ers. All the tech­nolo­gies that are needed to move to BSVI are al­ready there. About the 2020 time­line, it is hard for me to com­ment. It is a de­ci­sion that In­dia has to make given the con­straints. The sooner the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try of­fers cleaner air to the so­ci­ety the bet­ter it is for all.

Q. Bus Code im­ple­men­ta­tion was de­layed. Some reg­u­la­tions seem to lag. How does that af­fect you? A.

For us, the first ex­pe­ri­ence was the ABS man­date. The gov­ern­ment stood by its word and it hap­pened on date. For us, the un­cer­tainty is about man­ag­ing the sup­ply chain de­pend­ing upon im­ple­men­ta­tion. We fac­tor those things in our plan­ning.

Q. There is an ur­gency in im­ple­ment­ing the truck code. Crash norms are also be­ing talked about. What do you think of their im­ple­men­ta­tion? A.

When­ever we set off, we al­ways fac­tor such things in the plan­ning. There are a lot of stake­hold­ers, and it takes time to re­flect upon the im­pact of the mea­sure you take. The In­dian Gov­ern­ment looks de­ci­sive. The world seems to be im­pressed with what­ever is go­ing on in In­dia.

Q. How has been the re­sponse for AMTs in buses? A.

AMT tech­nol­ogy took off in US only three years ago – when the price of oil was USD 100 per bar­rel. Each mar­ket has its own way of ma­tur­ing. Like any other lo­ca­tion, tech­nolo­gies will be adopted in In­dia too. The trend of tech­nol­ogy adop­tion is ac­cel­er­at­ing in In­dia. It is aimed at el­e­vat­ing safety and ef­fi­ciency. Ex­cept col­li­sion mit­i­ga­tion sys­tem, safety is of­ten reg­u­la­tory driven. In US, fleets are ab­so­lutely con­vinced that col­li­sion mit­i­ga­tion low­ers ac­ci­dents. In the case of ef­fi­ciency, it is eas­ier. From the to­tal cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion point of view, AMT will pay back in a mat­ter of months. The tech­nol­ogy is ma­ture. AMTs sup­plied to Ashok Ley­land Jan­bus were as per the JNNURM pro­gram. We also sup­plied AMTs to many fleets in In­dia through that pro­gram. It was spec­i­fied un­der the JNNURM scheme. Against au­to­matic trans­mis­sion in terms of fuel sav­ing, AMT is bet­ter. The cen­tral gov­ern­ment has struc­tured Atal Mis­sion for Re­ju­ve­na­tion and Ur­ban Trans­for­ma­tion (AMRUT). It has asked the state govern­ments to de­cide upon the bus spec­i­fi­ca­tions. The only prob­lem is, the in­dus­try is frag­mented in terms of fleets, which is not the case in the western world. There are large fleets there. The frag­men­ta­tion makes it a bit dif­fi­cult to reach out and con­vince. Smaller fleets makes it com­pli­cated. We have a strong pres­ence with al­most 7000 out­lets to dis­trib­ute our spare parts; 250 ap­proved ser­vice cen­tres, and pre­cious an­chor points which are in touch with trucks driv­ers and fleets on a daily ba­sis. Wabco is tak­ing steps to com­mu­ni­cate val­ues that tech­nolo­gies like AMT could bring.

Q. How do you plan to in­crease your reach in the In­dian mar­ket? A.

With ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies find­ing their way into In­dia, it is be­com­ing dif­fi­cult for road-side me­chan­ics to at­tend to ve­hi­cles. Train­ing is es­sen­tial. We are pro­vid­ing them (me­chan­ics) with the right di­ag­nos­tics tools and equip­ment. We have placed ser­vice en­gi­neers in the field to sup­port our net­work. Roughly at ev­ery 100kms, we have a touch point. We are also look­ing at ex­pand­ing both, the ser­vice en­gi­neers and the touch points.

There is a need for the ser­vice cen­ters to el­e­vate them­selves to be able to han­dle ad­vanced prod­ucts. There is more and more elec­tron­ics in­volved. Glob­ally, there is a Wabco univer­sity to sup­port peo­ple in­volved in fleets. In In­dia also we have a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment, but not as big as a univer­sity.

Q. In­dia is known for its IT prow­ess. Are you in­vest­ing in soft­ware devel­op­ment in In­dia? A.

We have al­most three times more soft­ware en­gi­neers in In­dia than in Europe. Their num­ber is fast grow­ing, and their ca­pa­bil­i­ties are for­mi­da­ble. The lat­est brak­ing sys­tem Wabco has de­vel­oped for Daim­ler global, 85 per cent of the soft­ware it has, was de­vel­oped in In­dia. This brak­ing sys­tem will go on ev­ery Daim­ler truck, and is mod­u­lar in na­ture. In­dia de­vel­ops ma­jor pieces of AMT soft­ware as well. The In­dian op­er­a­tions are also ca­pa­ble of lo­cally adapt­ing sys­tems de­vel­oped in other ad­vanced mar­kets for the lo­cal mar­ket. In case of AMT, we made some ad­just­ments to the sys­tem to suit the lo­cal work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. In­dia is right now the sec­ond pil­lar of engi­neer­ing for us. Ger­many may lead in ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, the ba­sic soft­ware is built in In­dia. In­dia is thus driv­ing the me­chan­i­cal as­pect of our prod­ucts and sys­tems. No prod­uct is re­leased any­where in the world with­out In­dian en­gi­neers ei­ther con­tribut­ing di­rectly to it, or re­view­ing it to make sure it has been op­ti­mised. This is be­cause there are par­tic­u­lar skills in­clud­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity to en­gi­neer fru­gally, which leads to a drop in costs by 30 to 40 per cent. We have sys­tem­at­i­cally shifted all the prod­ucts we have de­signed ear­lier to In­dia to avail of the fru­gal engi­neer­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties the en­gi­neers here posses. While it is not just one coun­try that ben­e­fits from what we de­velop in Europe, In­dia is a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to the value Wabco pro­vides to truck, bus or trailer man­u­fac­tur­ers the world over. We have more Wabco em­ploy­ees in In­dia (close to 4000) than we have in any other coun­try in the world. They amount to al­most one third of the to­tal Wabco em­ployee strength.

Q. Do the In­dian op­er­a­tions make a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence? A.

In­dia is a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for vac­uum pumps, air sus­pen­sion, com­pres­sors and ac­tu­a­tors. We build ac­tu­a­tors that are de­signed in In­dia, in Europe, Ja­pan and US. Com­pres­sors made in In­dia sup­port Volvo glob­ally. Around 300,000 ABS sys­tems in In­dia have been lo­calised. There has not been a sin­gle re­ject. Ac­tu­a­tors made lo­cally are com­manded by ABS elec­tron­ics. ABS di­rects com­pressed air to them.

Q. With sys­tems like ABS and AMT find­ing their way to In­dia, how far are we from con­nected ve­hi­cles? A.

We are fast mov­ing to­wards con­nected ve­hi­cles. Wabco has de­vel­oped a new strat­egy in that di­rec­tion. It’s a com­pletely new area of value that our in­dus­try would pro­vide to the fleets. We ac­quired a leader in fleet man­age­ment so­lu­tions in Europe. In In­dia, we have de­vel­oped a prod­uct, that is es­sen­tial to con­nect the truck to the ground. It si­mul­ta­ne­ously gath­ers in­for­ma­tion (on fuel con­sump­tion, driver be­hav­iour and other func­tions), pro­cesses it and trans­mits it. Func­tions like fuel con­sump­tion and driver be­hav­iour are in­cred­i­bly valu­able for fleets to op­ti­mise their way of func­tion­ing.

Q. What is the level of in­volve­ment of Wabco when it comes to cloud based tech­nolo­gies? A.

We are gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion as we are build­ing elec­tronic sys­tems. We know how to in­ter­pret enor­mous amount of in­for­ma­tion, process it, and send it to the cloud. We are al­ready build­ing all those el­e­ments that will ul­ti­mately lead to pow­er­ful func­tions. We are work­ing with in­surance com­pa­nies in Europe to gather all the safety events that have hap­pened on a truck. We can have those in­surance com­pa­nies ac­cess the level of risk. They can ac­cord­ingly ad­just the pre­mium by judg­ing the level of risk. This can push other fleets to im­prove their per­for­mance; check how many times they trig­ger safety mech­a­nisms. We have cam­eras that watch the driver, any time there is a safety event. We send the record of what has hap­pened in the last 30 sec­onds to a cen­tre in In­dia. This sys­tem is very use­ful in US, as it has driven the num­ber of events down sig­nif­i­cantly, mak­ing ev­ery­one safer.

Q. Is telem­at­ics a grow­ing busi­ness for Wabco? How much does it con­trib­ute glob­ally? A.

In In­dia, telem­at­ics is pick­ing up well. With BSIV emis­sion norms, the use of elec­tron­ics will grow. We are en­gag­ing with Volvo Eicher as an OE sup­plier to de­velop telem­at­ics for them. Telem­at­ics is a size­able busi­ness for us, and is grow­ing fast. In digi­ti­sa­tion, the sky is the limit. The po­ten­tial of what the big data will bring to fleets in terms of en­hanc­ing their ef­fi­ciency is high. Half the trucks to­day any­where in the world are empty. Think about what a Uber type of sys­tem can bring to this in­dus­try. There are many things in the fleets that can be brought to­gether by the dig­i­tal world.

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