Slip­per sus­pen­sion from Mer­i­tor

Mer­i­tor In­dia is bank­ing on slip­per sus­pen­sion to com­pli­ment its ex­ist­ing prod­uct port­fo­lio and tap growth.

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Story by: Bhar­gav TS

Mer­i­tor In­dia is bank­ing on slip­per sus­pen­sion to com­pli­ment its ex­ist­ing prod­uct port­fo­lio and tap growth.

Driver short­age in the CV in­dus­try is forc­ing a change. One of the fac­tors is the ris­ing pref­er­ence for com­fort. The trend could trace its roots to Europe where the em­pha­sis on com­fort is high. With rise in in­fra­struc­ture, and im­ple­men­ta­tion of GST, op­er­at­ing speeds are ex­pected to in­crease. A CV that clocked 80,000 to 100,000 kms a year is ex­pected to clock 150,000 to 175,000 kms a year. If this will call for higher ef­fi­ciency, re­li­a­bil­ity and com­fort, the slip­per sus­pen­sion from Mer­i­tor could ad­dress the need just right. Of­fer­ing a weight ad­van­tage and low own­er­ship cost, the slip­per sus­pen­sion that Mer­i­tor has in­tro­duced is the re­sult of an ex­ten­sive mar­ket study. Into the man­u­fac­ture of CV axles

and brakes,

sus­pen­sion sys­tems make a log­i­cal ex­ten­sion for the com­pany.

It also of­fers the com­pany an op­por­tu­nity to grow faster.

Cur­rently found in Brazil whose in­fra­struc­ture and load­ing con­di­tions are sim­i­lar to that of In­dia, the slip­per sus­pen­sion, ac­cord­ing to Thim­ma­iah NP, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor & CEO, Mer­i­tor In­dia, has an ad­van­tage over the Bell­crank sus­pen­sion In­dian CVs are fit­ted with. States Thim­ma­iah, that In­dia is the only mar­ket, which of­fers Bell­crank sus­pen­sion. “There are over 20 joints with bushes and screws, which re­quire lu­bri­ca­tion in a Bell­crank sus­pen­sion. For ef­fi­cient func­tion­ing, they need reg­u­lar lu­bri­ca­tion. In the case of slip­per sus­pen­sion, there are only two links. Th­ese are eas­ily op­er­ated and main­tained,” he ex­plains. Con­fi­dent of the ac­cep­tance of slip­per sus­pen­sion, Mer­i­tor is plan­ning to launch the same in the next three to four months. It will be man­u­fac­tured at the

com­pany’s fa­cil­ity at Mysore.

Aimed at M&HCVs, the slip­per sus­pen­sion is be­ing pitched by the com­pany to

CV OEMs. It was not easy ini­tially, men­tions Thim­ma­iah. OEMs were not show­ing much in­ter­est. A change in ap­proach ac­com­pa­nied by the high­light­ing of the pain points as­so­ci­ated with Bell­crank sus­pen­sion drew at­ten­tion to slip­per sus­pen­sion. A study done by fit­ting the sus­pen­sion in cus­tomer ve­hi­cles re­vealed main­te­nace cost re­duc­tion from 15 to 20 paise per km to three to five paise per km. “With the slip­per sus­pen­sion, even af­ter 60,000 km, tyre wear was found to be only 30 per cent. No parts were re­placed,” ex­plains Thim­ma­iah. “In the case of Bell­crank sus­pen­sion, tyre re­place­ment af­ter 40,000 km was nec­es­sary,” he quips. Weigh­ing 80 to 100 kg less than a Bell­crank sus­pen­sion, the slip­per sus­pen­sion, which is just an­other type of leaf spring sus­pen­sion, not only en­hances the load car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of a truck, but also re­duces down­time, main­te­nance, and parts re­place­ment needs.

The first com­pany to warm up to the slip­per sus­pen­sion is Ashok Ley­land says Thim­ma­iah. VRL Lo­gis­tics has also shown in­ter­est, he adds. With a con­stant change in the stiff­ness of the spring, which el­e­vates driv­ing com­fort and avoids un­even load dis­tri­bu­tion, slip­per sus­pen­sion prom­ises 180,000 km of tyre life. Opines Thim­ma­iah, that the ver­ti­cal load is trans­ferred to the springs. Brak­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tion are taken care of by the torque rod. Sig­nal­ing an ad­van­tage with greas­ing points re­duced from 20 to two, the slip­per sus­pen­sion is com­pletely lo­calised. It will cost 10 per cent more than the Bell­crank sus­pen­sion. The chas­sis and in­ter­nal pack­ag­ing will be dif­fer­ent across fleet, and across OEMs. A need to match it with each OEM spec­i­fi­ca­tion will be nec­es­sary.

Im­prov­ing the ma­neou­vra­bil­ity of CVs, the slip­per sus­pen­sion has its leaves asym­met­ri­cally ar­ranged ac­cord­ing to Kis­han Ku­mar Udupi, Se­nior Man­ager, En­gi­neer­ing. The asym­met­ri­cal ar­range­ment helps to achieve op­ti­mal spac­ing be­tween the axles. Laden and un­laden ride com­fort im­proves. “We have de­signed the drive axle spring with 10 per cent higher stiff­ness to en­sure bet­ter trac­tion and start­ing-abil­ity. Hav­ing a pro­vi­sion to lift the tag axle with a unique cen­tral lift­ing de­vice, that re­duces wear and tear of parts, and in­creases fuel ef­fi­ciency, the slip­per sus­pen­sion is pack­aged within the chas­sis frame. It pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to lower the cen­tre of grav­ity and im­prove ve­hi­cle dy­nam­ics,” ex­plains Kis­han Ku­mar.

Work­ing on new plat­forms, Mer­i­tor, ac­cord­ing to Thim­ma­iah, is closely fol­low­ing the changes the CV in­dus­try is go­ing through. Car­ry­ing out ac­tiv­i­ties and de­vel­op­ments with the sup­port of its R&D cen­ter, the com­pany is also work­ing with OEMs to in­crease the ef­fi­ciency of the axles it of­fers. This should help them to meet the strin­gent reg­u­la­tions.

Quiet Ride gear­ing

As part of its en­deav­our to of­fer prod­ucts that are light in weight and en­hance the per­for­mance, Mer­i­tor CVS will also in­tro­duce ‘Quiet Ride’ gear­ing soon. En­joy­ing good ac­cep­tance in global mar­kets, Quiet Ride gear­ing is ap­plied to buses. Fea­tur­ing an in­no­va­tive gear tooth de­sign, which en­sures both the drive and coast side of the tooth are quiet, Quiet Ride gear­ing, made with ad­vanced CNC gear cut­ting equip­ment with at­ten­tion to pre­cise cut­ting and ex­cel­lent re­peata­bil­ity, prom­ises low noise sig­na­ture. De­vel­oped in In­dia and sup­plied the world over, Quiet Ride gear­ing, men­tions Thim­ma­iah, in­creases the cost by just one-per cent.

Ex­port­ing axles to Brazil, China, Europe and the US, and Quiet Ride gear­ing to Europe, China and the US, the com­pany is en­coun­ter­ing a change in CVs through gear ra­tios. Re­veals Thim­ma­iah, that the gear ra­tio of BSVI CVs is dif­fer­ent. “En­gine speed is de­creas­ing, and is shift­ing to the axle level,” he adds. Com­ing out with so­lu­tions where the gear ring is laser welded to elim­i­nate churn­ing noises, Mer­i­tor CVS, Thim­ma­iah ex­presses, is also fo­cus­ing on off-high­way and mil­i­tary ap­pli­ca­tions. The com­pany will soon un­veil a back­hoe loader axle as part of its strat­egy to par­tic­i­pate in the back­hoe and mo­tor grader seg­ments. In­line with the move, plans are be­ing chalked out to lo­calise cer­tain de­signs. To sup­port such en­deav­ours, Mer­i­tor is up­grad­ing its sys­tems and pro­cesses. “We are pro­gress­ing to In­dus­try 4.0, and con­nected ma­chines. We are up­grad­ing our sys­tems and pro­cesses. We are in­vest­ing Rs.70 crore ev­ery year,” ex­plains Thim­ma­iah.

After­mar­ket

Present in the after­mar­ket, Mer­i­tor is look­ing at good growth. Look­ing to profit from the de­ci­sion of many op­er­a­tors to re­tain, and main­tain the same truck and bus rather than re­place it per­haps, the com­pany is look­ing at in­creas­ing its after­mar­ket rev­enue. Close to 10 per cent rev­enue comes from the after­mar­ket. The axles and brakes that it man­u­fac­tures find their way into the after­mar­ket. The sup­ply of clutch and trans­mis­sion has also be­gun. There are 120 re­tail­ers pan-In­dia. An­other 20 will be added at the end of this year. In the next five years, the com­pany is plan­ning to ex­tend its sus­pen­sion port­fo­lio to the bus seg­ment. Driv­ing such en­deav­ours is a quest for strong bot­tom­line. Rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to Thim­ma­iah, has dou­bled since 2012. “We ex­pect the trend to con­tinue for the next five years,” he con­cludes.

⇧ Thim­ma­iah NP, MD & CEO, Mer­i­tor In­dia.

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