Samir Ya­jnik, Pres­i­dent Sales & COO – Asia Pa­cific, Tata Tech­nolo­gies Lim­ited.

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Pres­i­dent Sales & COO – Asia-Pa­cific, Tata Tech­nolo­gies Lim­ited In­ter­view by: Anirudh Ra­heja Samir Ya­jnik,

Q. Tata Tech­nolo­gies is as­so­ci­ated with Tata T1 truck rac­ing. How is it help­ing the com­pany? A.

There was com­plete dis­be­lief when we got a call ini­tially. This, de­spite us be­ing an quin­tes­sen­tial part of the Prima truck devel­op­ment at Jamshed­pur, and in Korea. The po­si­tion­ing el­e­ment was clear. Tata Mo­tors wanted to po­si­tion it (the truck) as a unique tech­nol­ogy driven prod­uct in the mar­ket. There was also a need for a strong so­cial an­gle. Truck­ing in In­dia is looked down upon. The need was to change this per­cep­tion. It was also about show­cas­ing truck rac­ing from a cur­rent and fu­tur­is­tic tech­nol­ogy point of view. At Tata Tech­nolo­gies we saw a strong rea­son to drive im­prove­ments in the truck. Our fo­cus on three mar­kets – au­to­mo­tive (PV and CV), aero­space and In­dus­trial Heavy Ma­chin­ery (IHM), gave us a rea­son to drive tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments for dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions. We were clear about be­ing as­so­ci­ated with this project. It was in the third year that a ques­tion arose: How much more ex­cit­ing and dif­fer­ent can this get? The so­cial an­gle, brew­ing in the back­ground, was brought in, and not as a chance. A full fledged process of bring­ing the driv­ers up to rac­ing stan­dards made for much learn­ing. We brought those el­e­ments into our cour­ses in In­dia. We are look­ing at them to pro­vide a bet­ter means to train en­gi­neers; to make bet­ter ve­hi­cles, and to op­er­ate them suc­cess­fully.

Q. What role is Tata Tech­nolo­gies play­ing in the CV space? A.

Our as­so­ci­a­tion with truck­ing in not only lim­ited to prod­uct devel­op­ment, it also in­volves fab­ri­ca­tion, paint­ing, and other tasks. We sim­u­lated a line that is er­gonom­i­cally de­signed; it is a re­sult of much pre-work. In the case of the 1000 hp race Prima, CAE ap­pli­ca­tion was used. Sim­u­la­tion is per­va­sively in­volved in the early think­ing stages, and all the way through to test­ing and val­i­da­tion. It helps to un­der­stand how dif­fer­ent things put to­gether will fare. Dy­namic sim­u­la­tion, static sim­u­la­tion, ride and han­dling sim­u­la­tion, crash sim­u­la­tion, NVH sim­u­la­tion, and dura­bil­ity sim­u­la­tion is car­ried out. There is the ‘con­nected’ part with the use of dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als. The sus­pen­sion sys­tem of the 1000 hp Prima race truck is con­nected to the LCD screen in the cock­pit. We were in­volved in ac­tiv­i­ties like the wa­ter jets; the tem­per­a­ture at which they will work. They are linked through sen­sors. Sim­u­la­tion is nec­es­sary for me­chan­i­cal as well as the elec­tronic side of it. It is also re­quired for test­ing. For au­to­mo­bile com­pa­nies to dom­i­nate the mar­ket, it is nec­es­sary to take down com­peti­tor ve­hi­cles; tear them down, and run them on the test track to un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics. We part­ner to sim­u­late and un­der­stand how the prod­uct be­ing con­ceived should be po­si­tioned in the mar­ket, and at what cost. Also, how it should be po­si­tioned. We part­ner to

un­der­stand how a prod­uct should be de­vel­oped from the pre-con­cept stage so that the price is right. We talk to sup­pli­ers, ne­go­ti­ate with them for the OEM. The early con­cept pro­to­type that is built should come out at the right ball-park. We do talk­ing through to New Prod­uct In­tro­duc­tion (NPI) and pro­duc­tion. We are in­volved through­out the cy­cle – from the con­cept stage to the grave. We also help dealer man­age­ment; cap­ture data and feed it to the en­gi­neers. It is not just about con­cept-to-mar­ket, but also about con­cept to af­ter­mar­ket. The in­sight ob­tained is ploughed back into the devel­op­ment cy­cle.

Q. Isn’t the work you do over­lap with some Tata Group com­pa­nies? A.

There are ar­eas of over­lap, but there are many more ar­eas where we com­ple­ment each other. If you look at an auto OEM, there are a lot of things that need to be done, in­clud­ing in­fra­struc­ture man­age­ment. We are very strong in that space. We have grown over­time in engi­neer­ing. We were born and brought into the mar­ket to help com­pa­nies en­gi­neer a prod­uct and pro­vide tech­nol­ogy en­abling ser­vices around it. We have found a good bal­ance while work­ing with OEMs like Chrysler and JLR.

Q. So, you are a soft­ware and a hard­ware com­pany? A.

I would say that we are a prod­uct-cen­tric ser­vices com­pany. This is good be­cause it makes us good at net­work­ing and hard­ware man­age­ment. We know how the whole thing works. A com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in soft­ware may make great au­to­ma­tion soft­ware, we are about ap­pli­ca­tion of tech­nol­ogy for build­ing a prod­uct.

Q. You are nei­ther a sup­plier nor an OEM. What makes you an as­so­ciate of the CV in­dus­try? A.

We call our en­gi­neers PFLE (Pas­sion­ate Fun Lov­ing En­gi­neers). There is a lot of in­no­va­tion that can be at­tained, and when chal­lenged by the prob­lems faced. Sim­ple things like noise and vi­bra­tion can pose a chal­lenge. A cer­tain level of noise and vi­bra­tion is just not ac­cept­able in pas­sen­ger cars; not in In­dia ei­ther. When a mi­nor or ma­jor in­no­va­tion can help to deal with the chal­lenge, there is a rea­son to be ex­cited. It can be patented, and helps to get in­volved with an OEM. It can be used across dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries. Since we op­er­ate in dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ing en­vi­ron­ments, the lessons we have learned in one in­dus­try can be ap­plied to other in­dus­tries. The lessons that we learned in the dig­i­tal fac­tory, we are now us­ing in the aero­space in­dus­try. It is ex­cit­ing that such learn­ings can con­trib­ute to prod­uct im­prove­ment.

Q. Tech­nolo­gies like block chain and telem­at­ics are draw­ing at­ten­tion. How do you look at them? A.

The in­volve­ment of sup­pli­ers in prod­uct devel­op­ment of­ten starts at a later stage. The in­volve­ment of core sup­pli­ers in the devel­op­ment of a new prod­uct should start early. This would help to keep cost, weight and per­for­mance tar­gets from be­com­ing un­pre­dictable. While tech­nol­ogy is driv­ing the sub ag­gre­gates, the big ques­tion that arises is, how early can they get in­volved. There is a need to have strate­gic sup­pli­ers. At the time of ne­go­ti­a­tion, 90 per cent of the con­cept is al­ready in mind, and frozen. They (sup­pli­ers) are in no po­si­tion to in­flu­ence. It is there­fore nec­es­sary to build a process that bridges the gap and brings them (sup­pli­ers) early into the equa­tion. This would en­able work through cloud of op­tions to fa­cil­i­tate a prod­uct that is priced right.

Q. Amid the changes ex­pe­ri­enced by the CV in­dus­try, what role is Tata Tech­nolo­gies keen to play? A.

We were taken se­ri­ously when we made an im­pact out­side. We did con­nected ar­chi­tec­ture for a brand new EV com­ing out in the Chi­nese mar­ket. Tata Mo­tors was sur­prised. Our ac­cept­abil­ity is grow­ing. For the new norms, on the prod­uct devel­op­ment side, we looked at pack­ag­ing, at cool­ing sys­tems, and how ev­ery­thing will change when new en­gines are in­cor­po­rated. Run­ning an­a­lyt­ics is im­por­tant. It will pro­vide valu­able in­sights. Con­sul­tants can pro­vide data re­gard­ing OEMs, and their sup­ply chain, They can tell about ve­hi­cle per­for­mance in ge­o­graphic terms. Not just for Tata but also for oth­ers. Mo­bile Apps. are com­ing in. They are find­ing their way into fac­to­ries as well. The whole process of in­te­grat­ing the ve­hi­cle in a fac­tory can be se­quenced far bet­ter. Bet­ter in­ven­tory man­age­ment can be achieved. Digi­ti­sa­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing place is what we want to ex­cel in. We un­der­stand how things should be se­quenced such that they fall in place; are right. We are not go­ing to be just a ser­vice provider but also run in the field, and be­yond.

Q. As a home grown MNC, how do you seek a bal­ance be­tween do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional busi­ness? A.

We spend a lot of time on engi­neer­ing out­sourc­ing. We work with our clients to im­prove the prod­uct. This calls for an amount of bal­anced on-site and off-shore ca­pa­bil­ity. The need for on-site pres­ence could be as much as 70 per cent. Off-shore ca­pa­bil­ity may call for much lo­cal engi­neer­ing. Of

the US $ 430 mil­lion rev­enue, al­most US $ 150 mil­lion came from Europe, rid­ing JLR pri­mar­ily. In US, Chrysler and Cater­pil­lar are our big clients. In In­dia, we are in talks with new auto com­pa­nies.

Q. Many com­pa­nies are look­ing at In­dia for off-shore ac­tiv­i­ties. Is it be­cause of the fru­gal engi­neer­ing abil­i­ties? A.

I would say it (fru­gal engi­neer­ing) is in­jected into our value propo­si­tion. May it be us, or Magna Styer, for ex­am­ple, we both can of­fer what is needed at a cost. Only our cost is much more bal­anced. We have a lot of en­gi­neers work­ing to­gether. They are in In­dia, Ro­ma­nia, Thai­land, and at other lo­ca­tions. Western en­gi­neers pro­vide you a propo­si­tion in terms of prod­uct devel­op­ment and en­abled engi­neer­ing at a cost point that is higher. Hav­ing done scores of ve­hi­cles to build a data­base, we are ready to work on ve­hi­cles.

Q. How in­ten­sive is the busi­ness model. The amount of risks in­volved? A.

We got an op­por­tu­nity to work with western OEMs; to bench­mark with them, when we worked on the Nano project. It was then that we re­alised, it was a great way of start­ing an en­gage­ment. We thought about build­ing our own lab. It is in­vest­ment in­ten­sive. It is how­ever nec­es­sary to un­der­stand that it works as a dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion for us in the man­u­fac­tur­ing world.

Q. Driver­less ve­hi­cles are draw­ing at­ten­tion. Is Tata Tech­nolo­gies play­ing a role?

A. We have been in­volved with tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies in Cal­i­for­nia where they are try­ing and test­ing driver­less ve­hi­cles. In the space that we are in, the rel­e­vance of driver­less ve­hi­cles is not as much as it is for driver as­sis­tance. We re­cently set up an in­no­va­tion lab in Cal­i­for­nia. The idea is to en­gage with tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, which will give us those in­sights. We are also work­ing with com­pa­nies that have to com­ply with EuroVI emis­sion stan­dards. To that end, we are al­ready train­ing our peo­ple. We are mak­ing them un­der­stand what they would be up to. We have a specialist or­gan­i­sa­tion in Ro­ma­nia that fo­cuses on powe­trains and en­gines. We have had the op­por­tu­nity to work with cus­tomers that wanted to progress to EuroVI. We co-in­vest with our cus­tomers; un­der­stand their cur­rent ca­pa­bil­i­ties. We take what they have, put in our own tal­ent, and help them fru­gally de­velop a prod­uct that is com­pli­ant. The lessons we learn, en­rich our abil­ity to de­velop fru­gally en­gi­neered prod­ucts.

Q. Do you con­duct tear down anal­y­sis in In­dia? A.

We de­rive a cost ad­van­tage by do­ing tear down anal­y­sis in In­dia. We set up a cen­ter at Pune, and since most of our cus­tomers wanted to see the op­er­a­tions hap­pen­ing in front of them. It would have been far more ex­pen­sive to carry out the same in western coun­tries. Even if it is a high end ve­hi­cle, we can bring it here, and tear it down. We are al­ready do­ing it for mul­ti­ple OEMs.

Q. How much of your busi­ness comes from CV seg­ment? A.

Nearly 65 per cent of our busi­ness comes from au­to­mo­tive. Add 10 per cent for IHM. About 30-40 per cent of this to­tal is from the com­mer­cial side. About 45 per cent of our R&D spend is on au­to­mo­biles. Apart from our Pune cen­tre, we have a cen­ter at Ro­ma­nia and Thai­land. Through Land Rover we have got a fairly big team of highly spe­cialised peo­ple in­volved in light weight­ing at Coven­try. We also have a cen­tre in Detroit, which is smaller and does work for dash­board and in­te­ri­ors. We also have one in China, We will go to Chen­nai this year. Our growth rate would be more than 10- to 15 per cent.

Q. CVs are mod­ernising. What op­por­tu­nity does Tata Tech­nolo­gies see in them? A.

A lot of our com­peti­tors have built soft­ware for con­nec­tiv­ity, for em­bed­ded elec­tron­ics, and do it on a mass scale. It is not that we don’t want to do it, where we are in­volved is in the area of con­nected ar­chi­tec­ture. It is about talk­ing to the cen­tral servers by the means of telem­at­ics and ser­vice providers. Through NASSCOM we want to play a role in the IoT stan­dards. The IoT de­vices that are com­ing up, have not been tested for hu­man safety. There are no man­dated stan­dards as yet. We want to be in­volved in the set­ting up of those stan­dards. Safety is quin­tes­sen­tial in ev­ery­thing we do. It is a part of our sus­tain­abil­ity cri­te­ria. We are try­ing to de­velop a net­work of com­pa­nies that will help de­fine those stan­dards. I have an IoT lead sec­tion that works with NASSCOM COE.

Q. How long will it take and how it will ef­fect au­to­mo­biles? A.

When you talk about stan­dards, there are stan­dards avail­able in the Euro­pean mar­ket which are strin­gent. They are how­ever closed. There is a need to con­nect with them. Stan­dards are needed in In­dia too. How long it will take is an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion. It is an on­go­ing process. We are work­ing with the gov­ern­ment in each coun­try that we are present in. Ul­ti­mately our propo­si­tion is to ap­ply tech­nolo­gies. We also con­nect with con­struc­tion equip­ment com­pa­nies and work with them in set­ting new stan­dards for safety.

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