Global market access service is our main growth area: Hemant Desai
TUV Rheinland India, a subsidiary of Germany-headquartered TUV Rheinland Group, is mainly into technical inspection to ensure safety, quality and protection of the environment. Its services include testing, inspection and certification, training and consu
Q: Which are the verticals that TUV Rheinland India operates in?
Desai: TUV Rheinland India is a 100% subsidiary of Germany- headquartered TUV Rheinland Group. The name itself reveals the nature of the business which is mainly into technical surveillance or technical inspection. We are here to ensure safety, quality and protection of the environment which are the 3 foundation pillars of our services. Our services include testing, inspection and certification, training and consultation. We have several divisions catering to different industrial sectors like industrial services pertaining to infrastructural development etc, pressure equipment certification, energy and environment technology, material testing, and nondestructive testing among others. In mobility, we deal with railways, automotive and the aviation sectors. For product testing, we cater to diverse range of products, from a leather shoe to a nuclear installation, from machines to IT equipment, and appliances. For academy and lifecare, the erstwhile training and consulting division, we deal with professional and vocational training. Through our sister company, TUV Rheinland NIFE, we do fire safety training. Under ICT that deals with communication technology we are looking at expansion in India. For systems, we take part in ISO standards, Government certifications etc.
In India we emphasis on training, certification, testing and training in the automotive space. We are the world’s largest technical services company pertaining to homologation and type approval which is our forte. Through our global divisions, we cater to the different needs of vehicle and component manufacturers in their endeavour to export from India which entails different approvals from different countries. We are a European designated service company popularly called as E-mark service which is very popular across Europe etc. Likewise, we also support global manufacturers to comply with Indian approvals, what in India is called Central Motor Vehicle Rule (CMVR) or type approval application. We have our own labs like the state-of-the art Electro Magnetic Compatibility (EMC). We are one of the first privately set-up bodies to possess such certification in India. This lab caters to automotive EMC testing, and in particular the ‘make in India’ campaign. Electronic sub-assemblies, vehicle control systems, infotainment systems, driver assistance systems which are making their way to India, not limited to the domestic market alone.
Q: In your opinion, how have the offerings in the testing and homologation evolved?
Desai: Homologation in India started in 1989. It is not a recent phenomenon. It is a very matured system contrary to popular opinion, and is at par with markets like that of Europe and Japan. With more global manufacturers making their way to India, exports got a boost. The market evolved from catering to just the domestic requirements to becoming a global provider. Regulatory approvals became more and more important. Be it the Indian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) or the Global OEMs, today they need tremendous support in the space that we operate in. In the type approval domain, unfortunately, we don’t have our own big laboratories in India. Given our accreditations, our experts are qualified by European ministries of transport. So, it’s possible that we witness the tests here in India, across private or national labs or be it the OEM labs such that we assess the lab and facilities before issuing the type approvals. India as a country has already announced that it will align most of its regulations with United Nations CC regulations. Today it’s becoming easier for the OEMs in the sense that you do a test once, irrespective of whether it’s
for the domestic or global markets. The industry has moved in the direction of test and many certificates. Since India is fast evolving as an export nation, many facilities at par with international standards are making their way here.
Q: How advanced or unique is your EMC lab?
Desai: We do not limit ourselves to testing for the domestic market as you know. We even assist the OEMs in engineering tests, for example. When we started the EMC lab, we set it up such that it was not exclusive to the automotive industry. We expanded the facility to include the automotive industry. Today besides complying with Government regulations, one has to comply with OEM specifications which are far more stringent. As a result, we are gearing up to increase the capability of our test centres besides looking at expansion. Beyond electromobility, we are also looking at homologation capabilities, component homologation, testing of energy storage system that includes the batteries. Our battery testing lab today caters to non-automotive space in India but elsewhere we have full capabilities in the space. We look to expand our activities in India on that front. Our wireless communication protocols cater to advanced Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) wherein collision avoidance, lane departure warning etc entails communication in a wireless manner. It might be premature for the Indian market but we are confident that there is a big need in the entire electromobility value chain. Since we have our safety laboratory we can test chargers, connectors, cables, and inspect the whole charging infrastructure. We have prepared training modules for handling high voltage electric system for people who will handle them like the technicians etc.
Q: How evolved are these capabilities from a CV perspective and when, according to you, was the turning point?
Desai: The current export of commercial vehicles from India is not to the
advanced countries. We cater to the major OEMs in India whose markets are majorly in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Gulf. There is no inherent demand for advanced safety features as yet. For the Indian market, these are exceptions, except Anti-skid Braking System (ABS) and adherence to advanced emission norms. From 2010 onwards we have been getting a significant number of queries for commercial vehicle testing.
Q: What is your say on the OEMs increasingly offering fully-built vehicles, and more recently offering an extended warranty on their trucks?
Desai: Yes, of course, I see a significant shift, and for that, we should thank the Indian government at first. One could previously see only a chassis being driven in an unsafe manner. It was the CMVR rule that mandated a minimum safety addition to such vehicles. Even today we do not have a full-fledged powertrain manufacturer with a major chunk of components still being imported. Of course, there are many people coming up in the powertrain industry. With India’s prowess in sheet metal and forging etc, we are already reckoned as being among the top nations. On global OEMs entering the Indian market with their quality standards, Indian OEMs too had to up the ante to at least come up to acceptable levels. Pricewise there is a big difference but OEMs are forced to think of the customers too. As far as measures like extended warranty are concerned, it is an exercise leading to brand loyalty. It is an effort in the right direction to tie the customer to themselves but more from the perks and benefits perspective being passed on to the customer than purely a technological advancement.
Q: What is the footprint in India for TUV Rheinland?
Desai: We have a dedicated automotive lab in Bengaluru.
Q: The world safety standards body, Global New Car Assessment Programme (GNCAP) is motivating Indian car manufacturers to achieve 5-star rating through a special recognition award. Have we come far off from the days of zero-star cars plying on Indian roads?
The Bharat National Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) and similar others are not regulations but bodies or institutions which are not directly
related to a regulator. So these standards are much higher than mandated regulations. When we talk about regulations and certifications, we are only talking about minimum requirements. These are above the minimum requirements, more on the performance requirements. When we certify, we don’t certify performance, we certify safety to a minimum level. These, in my opinion, are more consumeroriented. Certifications and regulations have seen a spike in standardisation across OEMs.
Q: Does TUV Rheinland in India work in tandem with nodal agencies like ARAI and CIRT?
Desai: We had signed a MoU with ARAI a couple of years ago. We have agreed to support each other on all fronts of industry requirements. If a manufacturer wants to export or needs an international certification, ARAI will approach us with the requirement and we will support it in whichever way we can. Similarly, we take help from ARAI when an Indian certification is required on the testing front. We are always in touch with these organisations wherein a lot of standardisation is happening. We are asked for global interpretations when they are preparing the Indian standards where inputs from advanced countries are required. We conduct joint training programmes for the industry. So we are working quite closely with Indian bodies.
Q: Which are the key focus areas for TUV Rheinland in India given the new regulations and amendments coming in?
Desai: Definitely, our focus growth area is the global market access services. It deals with information from exporters and manufacturers on different regulations across countries. What is the regulatory risk? Supporting the OEMs through the process of testing and certification. We also anticipate market analytics to pick up in due course of time to help manufacturers think globally and act locally. Other areas of growth include training and consultation. Many of our centres are NSDC- accredited. In electrification, testing across EMC, wireless or energy storage systems hold good potential for us. We would additionally like to support Government of India in devising charging infrastructure standards. Our vast global experience in inspection and setting up of safety standards for charging infra is expected to hold us in good stead there. With the Government agencies lacking capacities, we are open to extending support to the government initiatives to help realise the dream of electrification.
Q: Any global trends in homologation that could make way to India soon?
Desai: We are waiting for the Government to open up before we think of bringing testing technology in India. We do not see that happening as yet. Globally, a lot of self-testing by manufacturers is being allowed. The results then have to be verified by an independent nodal body.
Q: With every passing day bringing out an emission scandal by an auto major, are you playing a catalyst to bridge the gap between lab results and on-road performance metrics?
Desai: It is a very sensitive issue indeed. There have been new regulations that have now been notified particularly in the emission domain. It is called Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test which is a mandate in Europe. So the cycle has started. We expect Indian regulations to be aligned similarly by 2020. The need is to have a very robust inspection network known in India on the lines of Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (INM), which is a periodical exercise. The Government of India has asked the States to set up similar facilities. It could take another 6 to 8 years before on-road testing becomes a norm.