12 December 2019

Interaction - Dinakar B, Sr VP-Sales, Mktg & Aftermarket, VOLVO Trucks India

Our trucks never STOP!

Brand Volvo has always been a game changer and Volvo Trucks is no exception. Few years ago when the FMX series was launched, Philippe Divry, (then President, Volvo India Pvt Ltd), told me “We have created the Premium Segment,” and rightly so. Three years down the line the company has accelerated into the fast lane clocking plenty mileage. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, DINAKAR B, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT – SALES, MARKETING & AFTERMARKET, VOLVO TRUCKS INDIA, VE COMMERCIAL VEHICLES LTD, discusses their India strategy and explains why Volvo trucks never stop!

 

 

Tell us about the range of tipper trucks offered by you, in terms of types, applications, and capacities.

 

Our product offering is by and large dictated by the application, operating conditions, and with an eye towards maximising overall profitability for a customer. Our sales consultants thoroughly analyse a customer’s need prior to recommending a solution from our product and service portfolio. Our range of solutions include 8x4 tipper trucks, 10x4 dump trucks and tip-trailers with body capacities ranging from 19.5 Cu.M to 45 Cu.M

 

 

 

Off-road segment

 

FMX: When you have round-the-clock operations in a tough environments like quarry, mines and construction business, it’s important to have the right solution. The Volvo FMX is the toughest truck Volvo has built and is best suited for extremely rough and demanding applications. The FMX comes with a 13 litre engine producing 460hp to 520 hp. The 8x4 tipper or the 4 axle trucks was pioneered by Volvo in India. The FMX 8x4 has a 13 litre engine generating 460hp and 2300Nm of torque @ 1000 – 1400rpm. This is the most powerful truck in this category. The FMX 8x4 also comes with an automated gearbox (I-Shift) version. We offer two types of bodies on this truck – regular and exhaust heated body with a capacity of 19.5 Cu.M

We also offer an FMX 10x4 in the tough off-road segment. The FMX 10X4 is another innovation from Volvo and the first of its kind in India. The FMX 10x4 concepts gives the capacity of a dumper with the agility of a tipper truck. Currently we offer 2 variants in the 10x4 truck category – 10x4 dump truck with 24 Cu.M body and with 26 Cu.M body. Apart from trucks for overburden, we also offer India’s largest capacity tipper for coal transportation. The Volvo FMX 460 hp with a 33 Cu.M body is designed for transporting coal (both washed and raw coal) in the coal mines. FMX tippers comply to all statutory and safety requirements of the DGMS (Directorate General of Mines Safety).For the tough off-road segment, we have solutions for every type of operation be it overburden removal, ore transportation or construction.

 

 

 

Features in your trucks enhancing safety and driver comfort.

 

Safety is our core value. We build trucks around this core value and not as an additional feature in our trucks. We take pride in our offerings – especially the FMX cabin which is the same design and quality offered globally. Our cabins are tested under the Swedish cab test norms which require both; head on collision testing as well as back crash testing. Our cabins are designed for ergonomic and comfortable driving position with all buttons, instruments, and storage, within easy reach. The sloping design towards the windscreen improves visibility. In the new FMX i-shift an additional safety feature of auto parking brake has been introduced where the parking brake is automatically engaged once the engine is turned off.

There are many other features like the Air suspended seats; the controls on the steering wheel, the easy glance instrument cluster etc., that are designed around the driver for comfort and productivity which appeals to our customers.

 

 

 

Which sectors are major demand drivers for your products?

 

Segments that majorly drive our business are tough off-road, power and infrastructure segments. Infrastructure segment in fact has a major bearing on almost all other core segments. This fiscal the FM announced `96,000 cr. allocations to infrastructure development. Also, one of the world’s biggest tough off-road companies – Coal India Ltd has said it will increase its production from current levels of 555 MT per annum to 600 MT per annum. However, the power segment is currently under quite a bit of stress. We see quite a few projects thermal power projects put on hold as our country has become power surplus. Nevertheless we expect this situation to be temporary as the latent demand for power exists in a big way. We are very positive about the future outlook.

 

 

 

Do you offer equipment finance or do you have tie-ups with finance companies for the same.

 

We have Volvo Financial Services (VFS), a one-stop shop solution for equipment loans, leases, insurance, maintenance and other aftermarket services to customers and dealers of the Volvo Group and VECV. Volvo Financial Services offers customisable loans, leases, and insurance options for truck, construction equipment, and bus customers associated with Volvo, Eicher and SDLG.

Volvo Financial Services seeks to enable value for customers and dealers throughout the business lifecycle.

 

 

 

Impact of GST on your products.

 

GST has not had a big impact on our product pricing as most of our customers buy under E1 sales where they are not liable to pay sales tax. Also since most of them work in the tough off-road segment, they can avail excise duty benefit.

Our puller customers however, will see a huge benefit on account of GST as the entire tax component can now be availed as an input credit for the services they provide to the end customer.

 

 

 

Any initiative to be more environments friendly? & Now that BS3 has been scrapped, what are your plans with BS4?

 

As per MoRTH guidelines, we have transitioned all our products to meet BSIV emission norms. As far as our future plans with BS-IV is concerned, there exists only a 3 year window before BS-VI norms kick in. So our long term strategy in India is not driven by BS-IV alone.

Environmental care has been one of our core values since the 1970s. At Volvo Trucks, we believe that sustainable truck transport is within reach. As we see it, no single innovation or energy source is going to solve everything. This is why we are focusing on the development of a range of fuel alternatives and drive systems, each designed for a specific purpose.

Volvo Trucks participates actively in the development of alternative fuels. We are focusing primarily on alternatives that meet the toughest standards in terms of both high energy efficiency and low environmental impact. Already back in 2007, we presented trucks that could be driven on seven alternative fuels to highlight both the viability of these solutions and the need for a coordinated effort to promote them.

The possibility to use alternative fuels is however depending upon a lot of local parameters such as government subsidies, but also to fuel quality and operating conditions. For India, we are currently evaluating the different options and will come with what we think is the right proposal. Since the 70’s we have decreased the emission of pollutants from our trucks by 90 per cent and fuel consumption by 40 per cent.

 

 

 

Your strategy to play in a price sensitive market.

Our pricing strategy has always been based on the realised value for our products. We take credit for bringing down the cost of tough off-road in India with our solutions. Hence we have retained market leadership in our class of trucks. We firmly believe that customers buy our products for the overall value we deliver.

 

 

 

Future outlook on the industry and from your company perspective.

 

Our country is among the very few in the world where the economy is growing at 8 per cent plus year-on-year. The growth calls for investments in developing the infrastructure and improving quality of lives of our citizens. To cite an example, one of the biggest missions that our country has embarked on today is to ensure 24x7 access to electricity for all. This calls for robust logistics to ensure a continuous and steady production and supply of coal. In the coming years, as infrastructure improves further, more and more sectors will place such demands on logistics. This in turn will call for products that can service longer and tougher duty cycles. To give you a comparison, today the average running of a truck per day is 200 – 250 km in India, whereas in developed economies the average is more than 500 km per day. Another facet of this industry that needs to be examined when we talk about the future is the customer size and psyche. Today we see that the trucking industry is highly fragmented with very less number of organized players. But as the industry matures, infrastructure improves, demand on logistics becomes tougher, we expect that customer will be forced to reorganize their businesses to meet the needs of their end customers. Use of technology will play a key role here. From advanced fleet management systems to auto-piloted trucks, the spectrum of trucking landscape will be very different than what it is today.

 

 

 

Cutting edge technology featured in your machines. What distinguishes them from competitors?

 

Over the years Volvo Trucks has introduced many new features in its trucks. A few major introductions have been the 10x4 tag axle dump truck, I-Shift transmission, Volvo engine brakes – which is Volvo patented technology, I-Roll feature, centralized lubrication system and Volvo’s advanced telematics system – Dynafleet online.

We have successfully tested many innovative technologies, like the Emergency Braking System, Lane Assist, Sleep Detection System, Autonomous truck, platooning etc. These are under extensive testing and will be available in the future globally depending on the various market needs.

AMT – Automated Mechanical transmission or the Volvo I-Shift

The Volvo I-Shift is best in class AMT that allows the driver to completely focus on driving while the I-Shift manages the gear shifts effectively based on the speed, load and the gradient and terrain. The I-Shift guarantees optimum shifting thus ensuring better fuel efficiency almost 3 per cent better than the manual transmission. Driver fatigue is also reduced substantially and the driver is able to focus on the road which also helps avoid accidents.

EMS – Engine Management system

Helps in better and optimal engine performance and better and faster fault tracing. The Volvo EMS, a wholly electronically controlled system provides precise and efficient engine control. The engine control module takes in data from several sensors on the engine and the vehicle. The control unit compares current readings with stored parameters and adjusts fuel quantity and injection timing accordingly, throughout the engine’s operation.

Volvo has been actively working on the Autonomous truck technology. There have been many on-road trials conducted as well.

VDS – Volvo Dynamic Steering

Volvo Dynamic Steering combines conventional hydraulic power steering with an electronically regulated electric motor fitted to the steering gear. The electric motor receives around 2.000 signals per second from the trucks on board sensors to create highly precise steering.

With the new Volvo Dynamic Steering, a big truck can be steered without the slightest effort, even when the vehicle goes in reverse. Unarguably VDS is the best steering system in heavy duty trucks globally today.

 

 

 

Aftermarket services as a strategic differentiator.

Aftermarket has been our biggest strength since inception. Our business model is quite unique as we provide after-market services directly from the company. We do not have many dealers doing this for us. We provide direct services across 150+ locations in India through site based workshops. This is what differentiates us from the rest. We understand the importance of delivering fast and efficient service at the customer’s doorstep. Our technicians are deployed at customer’s sites to ensure that our trucks never stop!

Another aspect of our aftermarket is the high skill levels of our technicians. We foster a learning environment in the team through various initiatives and competitions that result in enhancing the skill levels for our service team. Equipped with the right training and tools, our aftermarket team has delivered some outstanding results for customers, like ensuring 7000 hrs of operations in a year and availability of >95 per cent at the remotest of locations in India.

Volvo Trucks has a comprehensive network of service and parts centres in India with site supports provided at the remotest of locations, considered to be the benchmark in the tough off-road industry. The right service, the most skilled technicians, and top-quality parts, ensure increased uptime, lower cost of ownership, and greater operational control. Volvo’s driver development program, having trained 90,000+ drivers in the country till date, is benchmark in the industry. We understand that world class trucks require world class service to maximise its operational efficiency.

 




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