“Eaton is the world's leading producer of heavy-duty and synchro-mesh medium-duty transmissions. They not only offer best-in- class system performance, but also help the industry to customise solutions based on customer requirements,” says Krishnakumar Srinivasan, Managing Director, India Truck Division, Eaton Corporation. In an exclusive chat with Agith G Antony, he elaborates on the changing trends in the automatic transmission systems and talks about Eaton's strengths and capabilities.
Has revival of market sentiments been reflected in the demand-supply for commercial duty fully automatic transmissions and hybrid propulsion systems in the automotive industry? Demand for construction equipment (CE) is bound to grow with the government speeding up the process of contract awards and working towards the removal of impediments of execution. The prospect of investment in the CE industry is encouraging, with the government's push for more private participation. To remain competitive in such a scenario, it is necessary to have efficient equipment with optimised utilisation. Automated solutions help the fleet owners to not only reduce operating cost but also help in significant improvement in asset utilisation. Automatic transmissions are relatively new technologies that are making way into the construction, mining and earth-moving equipment. These technologies are delivering the benefits which have been eluding the mining and construction companies for sometime. For example, the mining industry has recognised the benefits of having automated transmissions on their trucks : reduced driver fatigue and safety, in addition to more fuel efficiency. So, as the benefits of these technologies are being evaluated, we are seeing a rise in demand and in the last few months, the pace has increased.
What are the major growth enablers of this industry? The growth drivers for the CE industry include the current and proposed financial outlay in road infrastructure, housing, power, irrigation and segments like ports and airports. All these are major growth enablers of the CE industry because they not only use large construction equipment but also generate secondary demands in cement, steel and mining which all require large number of earthmoving and construction equipment.
Could you throw some light on the comprehensive range of transmissions on offer from Eaton for mining, off-road construction and heavy haulage applications? Eaton caters to all segments of this industry, with products especially designed to suit these end-customer needs. Eaton can offer products suitable for 900 to 3,000 Nm torque requirement, and has very robust and rugged solutions in 6 to 18 speed manual and automated manual transmissions (AMTs). We have a number of modular construction designs for our heavy-duty transmissions. We can offer our AMTs in 10, 11, 13 and 18 speeds, with overall ratios ranging from 15.5 to 36:1. Then, we can give a level of optimised vehicle performance to a broad range of applications which we believe is unparalleled in the industry. Eaton has specifically developed Line Haul, Vocations (off-road and mining) and a multi-purpose series of transmissions with varying speeds and torque capabilities to suit specific requirements within the segment. Specific features have been developed considering the application requirements so as to bring efficiencies to the fleet.
Could you tell us about the overall market potential in terms of size and value. The Indian CV market and in particular, segments relating to infrastructure growth, have been growing very rapidly and we expect a robust and consistent growth for at least next 8-10 years. Putting a size and value is difficult due to the rapid growth rate of close to double-digit figures but if the momentum continues, we may see it breaking into double-digit figures soon.
What is the range and capability of Eaton transmissions? Eaton offers AMT as a complete driveline solution provider taking care of complete system efficiency including the clutch and transmission. Eaton solutions are extremely rugged and durable with best-in-class performance and efficiency. Eaton AMT solutions are also built with top safety features. The solutions offered by Eaton help improve fuel efficiency and hence optimise on running and operating costs.
What are the advantages of using Eaton transmission? Eaton is the world's leading producer of heavy-duty and synchro-mesh medium-duty transmissions. Eaton not only offers best-in-class system performance, but also helps the industry to customise solutions based on customer requirements. Eaton transmissions can offer a wide range of speeds in various overall ratios and torque ratings. Our research and innovation have enabled us to use aluminium-based castings that make the transmissions lighter, hence vehicles become more fuel-efficient. Computer-designed constant mesh helical gearing ensures quieter operation and greater gear strength.
How do you rate your success of penetration in the Indian CE segment? What are the challenges Eaton faces there? Eaton has excellent products for the CE segment and well poised to grow in this segment. We have developed our understanding of the conditions that this segment demands and now upgraded the products to best suit the market needs. Our automated transmissions have excellent inbuilt features to succeed in the CE segment in India.
Tell us about the evolution of transmission technology and the R&D spend. Every market and customer segment has very unique requirements. The success is to have products designed and developed to suit those requirements and market needs. Eaton has developed an extensive engineering capability in India. Our engineering centre in Pune is the largest integrated engineering and research centre in Eaton. Our engineers collaborate on global projects for across the world as well as for India, to develop right products meeting the respective market requirements. We have also set up a big Test Lab to test and validate products designed and produced in India. Many OEMs have made India the hub of their R&D and that speaks about the potential and volume of investments that are being diverted towards India.
How do you look at the competition in this segment? What differentiates Eaton from the competition? We are a diversified company and a global market leader in the segments we operate in. Our presence in the hydraulics segment has ensured a strong foothold in the CE industry and we are well aware of the conditions and needs of the segment. Eaton has been supplying the trucking industry with products designed to improve vehicle performance and power, and increase profitability for over a century now. Our length and breadth of experience in the industry positions us as the leading supplier taking care of the customer needs. The fact that we have our heritage of a hundred years of innovation gives us a headstart to provide the right products to the right segments. This way, Eaton has been successful in understanding the end-customer needs and expectations and has been successfully delivering the value.
How do you look at the capabilities of the supply chain? Suppliers are one of our key stake holders for the company in India as well as globally since we operate in diverse countries and regions. The fundamental requirement of any supply-chain organisation is to reduce costs – not just direct material costs, but costs such as logistics, services, inventory, and other indirect costs. We have a full-fledged supply-chain team with specialisation in various technologies like castings, forgings etc, supporting our Indian and global operations. Eaton in India has excellent supply-chain capabilities with quality suppliers at globally competitive pricing. We are attempting to ensure that most of the products manufactured and sold in India have a significant level of localisation.
Brief us about Eaton's manufacturing facilities. Do you have further plans on investment? Eaton Corporation's truck transmissions plant is its first greenfield manufacturing facility in India. The plant was commissioned in 2007 and began its production in 2008. It's a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with heat treatment, assembly and testing facilities. The second phase of construction for the plant was started in April 2008 and is operational as of now. We recently invested in an integrated test lab at our Ranjangaon facility that will help to test the products developed in India resulting in significant time saving. We plan to regularly invest to meet the growing market requirements.
What was the total turnover in the last fiscal, and what is the expected growth this fiscal? All I can tell you is that we have a positive growth outlook for our business in India.