Auto components India
WABCO India is aiming to tap the off-road agribusiness with its proven Automatic Manual Transmissions.
WABCO India Limited is known for its safety, efficiency and connectivity solutions for commercial vehicles, trailers and offhighway equipment. The company showed signs of focusing on the off-road agribusiness when it first showcased an innovative automated agricultural tractor concept at ‘Esclusive 2018’ technology event hosted by Escorts Limited in New Delhi. As a key technology partner to Escorts, Wabco back then presented the breakthrough integration concept to support new automated agricultural tractors. A little over a year the company has come up with its Automatic Manual Transmission (AMT) for tractors. It is said to aid better drivability and comfort.
According to V Ramanathan, VP, OE Sales and Marketing, Wabco India Ltd, the company has worked with a major OEMs and the transmission is still in the prototype stage. It is hopeful of the AMT attracting more drivers into the profession.
Claimed to be the industry’s first supplier to provide an innovative system integration solution in India the company combined a tractor’s major functionalities including Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), braking control, steering control, path control, implement control and Independent Power Take-Off (IPTO) to make a strong case for its off-road agribusiness solutions. Together with Escorts, the company aims to redefine agricultural practices in the country aimed at a higher output and at turning around mechanised farming. This is expected to lead to higher productivity and farmer earnings. The engineering and technology excellence and the collective R&D strength of both the companies are committed to futuristic agriculture solutions such as the AMT, and automated agricultural tractor concept. Coupled with its vision for accident-free driving and greener transportation solutions, the company claims to have excelled in bringing regular innovations to both the domestic market and other markets
From the cost perspective, the Wabco AMT is said to assure customers of a quicker ROI owing to the latter being an affordable technology. AMTs are known to help increase the efficiency levels of unskilled drivers which in turn helps to address the issue of skilled driver shortage in the industry. With the new AMT, the company has reiterated its commitment to the long-term success of its customers who stand to benefit by leveraging the company’s global technology portfolio. With the AMT penetration in the CV segment known to be less than five per cent, the company is banking on the ‘OptiDrive’ known to have a high degree of modularity, reduced development time in line with the company’s go-tomarket strategy. Covering nearly all applications in medium and heavy-duty trucks as well as buses, the company’s OptiDrive consists of three core components: a cabin mounted shift lever unit, including the system’s electronic control unit; a shift actuator mounted on the gearbox, and a clutch actuator.
Wabco India reported sales of Rs 2854 crore in FY 2018-19. Earlier this year, Global technology company ZF Friedrichshafen AG announced the approval of Wabco shareholders for the proposed acquisition of the company. With efficiency, safety, automation and connectivity the focus areas of the two companies, the transaction is expected to be closed in 2020, and create long-term value for the customers of the two entities.
According to Ramanathan, CVs in India have witnessed an overkill of manual transmissions. Citing the latter’s performance in vehicles, he drew attention to the fuel efficiency levels being dependent on the driver skill. Of the opinion that comparatively, the automatic transmissions have established a case of offering lower fuel efficiency too. It is here that the AMTs are being looked at as a good alternative by the company, he said. “Shifting from MTs to AMT, makes you retain the normal gearbox and the AMT will be programmed to drive like an expert driver. This also ensures fuel efficiency, which is increased by five to seven per cent,” explained Ramanathan. He drew attention to 1986 when the company first introduced the electronic transmission automation system for commercial vehicles claiming that it has been the leader in transmission automation technology since then. In the Indian market, the company started its AMT on buses first. Claimed Ramanathan that with BSVI rollout on the anvil, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are building a strong case for AMTs to be part of the driveline. “They want to give this as a value-added feature along with their vehicles,” he claimed. “Many of the fleet owners are now coming forward for this, as they get better fuel efficiency, better drivers and a safe ride,” he added.
Even if the EVs enters the Indian market, it would not be a threat to the truck segments, expressed Ramanathan. The penetration will be in the two-wheelers, three-wheelers, cars, buses and trucks would be the last to convert, he opined. He explained that for an e-truck, batteries would eat into most of the load-carrying capacity itself. From a transmission perspective, EVs would not require a complicated AMT but still requires a two-step gear change process, he quipped.
Aftersales and service
Wabco has established a strong network of 250 authorised service centres across India to help customers. Dedicated engineers have been trained on the AMT technology eliminating the case of roadside servicing. The company will offer a service warranty for two to three years. The company claims to have subjected the AMTs to 300,000 kms of on-road testing and assures a higher uptime and longer service interval. It is said to increase the reliability of the clutch system and gearbox performance. Using telematics, the company has worked out a way to link the fleet management system and remote monitoring of the AMT unit.
The company senses a potential for India to become an export hub for the AMTs. For Wabco, a certain level of software development for AMT is happening in India according to Ramanathan. The company manufactures two types of AMT. One is based on customer requirements and called the integrated AMT. It is specifically designed for a particular gearbox and is produced in Europe. The other is a modular AMT unit which is ‘Made in India’. Claimed Ramanathan that the country is already a hub for these transmissions. With a local manufacturing line in place and localised supply chains, the company refrains from exporting AMTs directly. It is claimed to instead deliver the units to its customers who in turn are said to export these.