By APA Bureau:
Meritor India, manufacturers of drive train solutions with axles and brakes for heavy vehicles in commercial, military and off-highway applications, has been bringing out innovative products over the last 30 years to meet local market needs. It is developing an integrated E-axle portfolio to support the e-mobility requirement of the Indian market. The company is in talks with the OEMs for road-testing of the product.
Meritor Inc has formed strategic alliances with partners including UQM, a leading electric motor company in North America, and TransPower, a global leader in electric commercial vehicle technologies. The JV is to develop a range of next generation e-axles to meet the increasing demand for improved fuel economy and reduced emissions through higher levels of vehicle electrification.
“We are developing a solution called e-axle to support the e-mobility requirement of the market. Its prototype is under development and it will be tested on Indian roads very soon. This integrated e-axle solution would effectively perform the functions of many other components when compared to the current systems. Our new ‘Slipper Suspension,’ which reduces the overall weight of the suspension system by about 100kg in comparison with the conventional suspensions used in India, is much sought after by the fleet owners. Like our other product offerings this is a much-optimised solution in terms of improved fuel efficiency, reduced total cost of ownership, and better serviceability,” Thimmaiah Napanda, VP India and Australia, Managing Director and CEO, Meritor India, told AutoParts Asia.
All emerging technologies adopted by the market or OEMs that aim to have better offerings have to be backed by subsystems, he said. He hopes that Meritor products with better features, service or economy would improve the market share of the company and increase content per vehicle in the coming years.
Meritor is focused on designing, manufacturing and delivering solutions to meet the tough and challenging demands of the market. Its products are designed globally and at the same time customised to meet Indian applications and market requirements.
Napanda said that every new product development process of Meritor would consider the requirements of both the OEMs and the end-users. “In all our product offerings, we ensure that we are either enhancing the performance of the product by improving capability and reliability or optimising the weights or combination of both. Every product uses the optimisation software that helps in determining the right amount of material at the right location while maintaining the design space. This creates products that offer better fuel efficiency, high reliability (decreasing the occurrence of breakdowns) and better serviceability (ensuring maximum uptime for the vehicle). All these factors ensure that the operating cost for vehicle and the total cost of ownership come down significantly. We focus more on light-weighting in all our product offerings as it helps to improve fuel efficiency and provides an opportunity to increase the payload,” he said.
Solutions For EVs
Meritor can provide the complete solution for commercial vehicles manufacturing in the form of drive axles, brakes and suspensions. At its facilities in Mysore, Pantnagar and Jamshedpur, the company manufactures drive axles, non-drive axles, front steer axles, speciality and defence axles, drum and disc brakes and slipper suspensions. Products supplied by Meritor cater mainly to commercial vehicles. In the last decade, Meritor developed several configurations of electric drive axles for the bus and coach market in Europe and North America.
In order to meet the growing customer demand, Meritor India’s legacy manufacturing systems using automation, robotics etc. would be adapting Industry 4.0 in a phased manner, he said.
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is enabling monitoring, efficiency, and precision in the process of manufacturing automotive parts and is being integrated into autonomous cars and intelligent transport systems. The adoption of robotics and mechatronics has been very deep and wide in the Indian manufacturing sector. But the concept of smart factories, where machines talk to each other, use machine learning principles and communication technologies to capture and share data with each other and with human operators, is far more advanced and most of us have started adopting it. We have numerous examples of such smart factory implementations happening across the globe and catching up quickly and steadily in India as well,” Napanda said.
BS-VI, An Opportunity
Meritor is investing resources to bring out new products for the future and to enhance product quality and reliability to meet end-customers’ requirements. The company is working on several innovative products to reduce weight and improve efficiency to align with the next-gen BS-VI platforms. It is working on products with new and faster ratios, lighter weights, and enhanced reliability catering to the BS-VI requirements. The company is trying new materials to reduce the size and minimise friction to increase efficiency. Quicker turnaround and agile operations are other areas that Meritor India focuses to strengthen, especially ahead of BS-VI implementation in April 2020.
“To support our new product launches and businesses, we continue to invest in our testing and validation capabilities. Meritor India Engineering provides end-to-end solutions right from product ideation, design, development, manufacturing, testing and validation. A new state-of-the-art R&D and testing facility is being built in Mysore to expand our current validation capabilities in India. The focus of the new R&D centre will be to cater to the growing needs of our customers in the Asia Pacific region. The shift to BS-VI is a turning point for OEMs and auto parts manufacturers. It is likely to drive pre-buy in FY19 and also replacement-led demand caused by the implementation of vehicle scrapping policy (which aims to take out over 20-year-old vehicles off the roads). The switchover is generally considered as a challenge for the automotive industry. It also presents opportunities to enhance our capabilities and move up in the value chain. Meritor is working to support OEMs on their BS-VI platform applications. Significant capacity ramp-up activity is on to meet the increasing demand requirements. In addition, we are expanding and strengthening our supply base in line with our expansion plans,” he said.
Meritor caters to the major domestic and global manufacturers of trucks and buses serving in the heavy, medium and light commercial vehicle segments, military and off-highway vehicles, aftermarket and exports. It also supplies components to customers across India, as well as international markets. The domestic OEM clientele in the CV sector of Meritor includes Ashok Leyland, Mahindra Trucks & Buses, VE Commercial Vehicles, Daimler India, Tata Motors, Volvo India, SML Isuzu, MAN Trucks etc.