Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Table of Contents for Cover Story

Interaction- Rama Rao A S, VP-Sales, Marketing & Aftermarket, Heavy Duty Vehicles, VE Commercial Vehicles

Eicher has pioneered use of intelligent technologies

VECV has been driving in the fast lane clocking prodigious growth, and its recently launched Pro series is a roaring success. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES,

RAMA RAO A S, EXECUTIVE  VP - SALES, MARKETING & AFTERMARKET, HEAVY DUTY VEHICLES, VE COMMERCIAL VEHICLES, talks about smart features on their trucks and the new shift to TCO among Indian buyers.


Tell us about your Manufacturing Base in India. Do you practice Lean Manufacturing?

The main plant of VECV, Eicher Trucks and Buses plant at Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh, is a fully integrated facility spanning across an area of 80 acres. It encompasses manufacturing, product development, purchase, test track, and support functions of the complete range of Eicher Trucks and Bus Chassis. Owing to its scalability, the unit is one of the most efficient and lean set ups in the country, expandable to up to 100,000 vehicles per month. Eicher also has a Bus manufacturing unit in Baggad, The Eicher Bus plant has been already given a green building platinum rating, being the first one in Madhya Pradesh, to receive this recognition. The flagship plants for Eicher branded trucks and buses are known for their cost effective and lean manufacturing operations. In recent years, these plants have been invested towards capacity expansion, enhancement of quality, and introduction of new technology. VE Powertrain facility at Pithampur has been commissioned as an exclusive manufacturing hub for medium duty automotive Euro VI engine requirements of Volvo Group for five- and eight-litre engines.



What would be the cutting edge smart technology featured in your machines? Especially about features like engine control, SCADA, PLC, Telematics, IoT, etc. and Safety and Operator Comfort features in your machines.

Eicher has pioneered the use of intelligent technologies in trucks and tippers to bring a significant improvement in quality, efficiency, and productivity operations. Eicher is one of the first players to introduce the Fuel Coaching system in their Pro Series trucks, which enables the driver to improve his driving and achieve better fuel efficiency. With services like Eicher Live and new technologies such ABS, Eicher is ready to keep pace with the Government agenda towards modernising the commercial vehicle industry.

The advanced onboard diagnostics management module of Eicher Live, enables proactive maintenance of the truck. The system throws up fault indicators to the driver in the form of visual signals, messages, and alarms. Together with the fully equipped Eicher service network, this ensures preventive and corrective maintenance of the truck, thus delivering superior uptime. Eicher Live services gives the owner and our aftermarket teams a thorough view of vehicle performance, utilisation, and uptime. Further, the uptime services enable service teams to proactively schedule and plan for the repairs and maintenance activities on the vehicle. In this way the truck spends more time generating revenues. In the event of breakdown, the service team is well prepared with the right parts, tools, and the right technician, to address the repairs and minimise the downtime. Another interesting feature is the Dynamic Service Reminders, where the vehicle utilisation changes with the dynamic needs of the customer’s business, and thus it also allows to alter the truck’s service plan. These service reminders help the customers and fleet owners to schedule and plan for the vehicle’s preventive maintenance.

To address concerns of driver comfort and safety, the Eicher Pro series trucks are designed with an ergonomically designed ultramodern truck cabin for comfortable driving and higher driver efficiency. The spacious sleeper cabin has been smartly designed to provide a relaxed yet efficient workspace for the driver. Further, mandatory fitment of Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) for the domestic market has unlocked several opportunities for us. All trucks have the ABS system as part of safety requirements to help customers gain certain values in fuel efficiency.



Major demands made by end-users of your equipment. Is there a shift from initial cost price to TCO in Buyer Decisions? Also please state the importance customers place on aftermarket services.

We are seeing huge growth in rigid multi axle tipper trucks, making steady inroads in the Indian mining and construction sector. This segment has gone a complete makeover in recent years, to respond to the requirement of multiple utility vehicles at the mining sites. In the mining space, 16-37T capacity tippers are already being extensively utilised for different kind of operations, out of which 180HP class represent the majority of the sold volumes. In future, we see demand for 230-330HP class tippers emerging, driven by requirements of greater productivity, increasing depths of mines, and overall economics of operations.

With focus on TCO, customers now demand product reliability and performance, and services and parts support. As mining activity takes place 24 hours a day, there is a need for trucks that are reliable and run 24x7 on difficult terrains with heavy loads. To maximise truck utilisation, on-site service and part support is required to help the trucks running 24x7 at the mining sites. This helps achieve higher uptime and productivity, to meet project timelines and maximise profit.

We have specially trained technicians, right infrastructure, and special tools, to make sure that our customers get the right parts, any time across our 281 dealer setup points, 2270 retailer’s parts, 22 distributors, and 159 EGP Shoppers.

With our world-class infrastructure and process, we operate at 90 per cent parts availability for our dealers, running 24x7 for 365 days- a benchmark in the industry. Further, we have Eicher on-road service that provides round the clock assistance in case of en-route breakdown. With more than 250 GPS- enabled fully equipped EOS vans, Eicher has a set of expert technicians available 24X7 that do real-time tracking to enable faster service to the customer, for faster turnaround time for enroute breakdowns. This service also gives real-time SMS updates to customers. Through this initiative, Eicher aims in providing the best on-road and off road assistance for its customers.


Do you practice ‘Make in India and Sell Globally,’ use your India manufacturing base to supply the global market?

Yes, we already are committed to the Make in India approach. Our products are highly indigenised. We already have several manufacturing plants in Madhaya Pradesh at Pithampur, Baggad where we manufacture our vehicles. We have also invested in the state-of-the-art engine manufacturing plant in Pithampur with significant investments, that is capable of manufacturing 5 and 8 Liter engines which are Euro VI compliant and are exported to serve the requirements of Volvo Group. We will continue to invest in these facilities for modernisation based on the market and business needs.



What distinguishes your products vis-a-vis the competition? What is your current market share in all your product categories?

We have increased our focus on mining and construction with our new range of Eicher Pro series tippers in the 180 HP to 330 HP range. The Eicher Pro series range of heavy duty tippers promises to deliver best-in-class fuel efficiency, higher superior uptime, and overall vehicle life time profitability. Eicher offers a wide range of tippers ranging from 16T to 31T, and tailored made offering for various application and segments:

Eicher Pro 6000 series is a next generation product range of heavy duty trucks from 25T GVW – 40T GVW with best-in-class fuel efficiency, superior uptime, faster turnaround, and rider comfort targeted for mass and value segment.

Eicher Pro 8000 series is a new generation of heavy duty trucks, tractors, and tippers, from 25T to 49T GVW, meant for emerging mid-premium segment that requires high power and torque combination as well as a greater degree of refinement and sophistication. The Eicher Pro 8031XM “Extra for Mining” is a 330HP tipper in the value segment for various mining applications. It has been designed and developed in collaboration with Volvo Group and is powered by state of the art VEDX8, 7.7 litre engine delivering 330 HP, based on Volvo Group’s global platform. The Pro 8031XM comes with several class leading features like Fuel Coaching and Eicher Live telematics solution, and is compliant to various DGMS requirements for mines’ safety standards. With Pro series tippers in mining, Eicher has increased its market share by up to 21 per cent in FY’17.

Further, Eicher Trucks and Buses command a strong presence in the commercial vehicle market with a share of 31.7 per cent, and 18.4 per cent, (YTD Oct’17) in LMD and bus segment, respectively. Eicher is also a market leader in school bus segment. Further, Eicher is also improving its position in heavy duty space with an overall market share of 5 per cent and is further improving.



Could you talk about the impact of GST on your company?

The government’s progressive economic policies like GST have augured well for the industry. As transition to GST gets more and more streamlined, the macro-economic fundamentals are getting strong. The immediate effects of GST are now diminishing and we are seeing good growth since last two months. Fleet owners have returned to the market to purchase new vehicles.

We have already seen that vehicle turnaround time has reduced drastically due to tenser checks at state borders. Truck utilisation is already on a rise, which has given an impetus to the demand for medium and heavy commercial vehicles. So we are looking forward to a good run for the industry and for VECV



Give us an understanding of your company’s performance this year and your outlook going forward?

Growth in the first quarter saw a steep decline, however, it has been excellent since August. The short-term concerns are dissipating and the economy has started bouncing back. The pent-up demand is also getting freed with fleet owners returning to the market, who had deferred purchases till now. This is translating into higher volumes and movement towards higher tonnages. For Q2, we have witnessed a growth by 17.4 per cent over the last quarter. We always maintained a very healthy stock line and thus, had the least number of BS III inventory.

We already had a major expansion of heavy duty business; having strengthened our product line up, expanded dealerships, and built a strong after-sales service base.

We launched an entirely new range that is in tandem with the new norms and available for the mass segment, the Eicher Pro 5000 series BS IV compliant range of HD trucks. These BSIV compliant trucks are based on i3-EGR technology that is innovative, contemporary and efficient. The new E 694 engine also includes advanced features based on Volvo Group’s Engine Management system, EMS 3.0, and offers first-in-the-industry features like fuel coaching and cruise control at a competitive price.



As an exhibitor, what are your expectations at EXCON ’17?

At EXCON 2017, we are showcasing a complete range of construction and mining applications; trucks/tippers backed with customer centric AM processes which takes our services like fuel coaching, onsite support solution, Eicher Live, and dynamic service reminder features to the customers’ doorstep.

Our presence at EXCON is a testimony of Eicher’s readiness to move along with government’s focus on infrastructure development and actively contribute towards India’s growth journey.

Eicher Pro Series 8000 and 6000 mining tippers, with advanced technology and a powerful driveline, will address the essential drivers of transport economics and delivering a premium/valuable experience to take the CV industry to a new professional level and usher the future of Indian trucking.

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