We position ourselves as a premium player offering the lowest environmental impact and total cost of ownership with the help of technology, added with durability and reliability, says S Prabhakaran, Vice President - Industrial & Marine Power Systems Volvo Penta. Excerpts from the interview.
Is there any specific reason why the latest emission norms are not legislated yet?
As per plan, CPCB Stage 2 emission norm for power generation was proposed in mid-2013 and now it is expected in April 2014. We are yet to see an official announcement from the nodal agency. However, we feel it is bound to come. As far as Volvo Penta is concerned, we are fully prepared to meet the upcoming emission regulation.
For construction equipment, we have CEV 3 norms whereas for gensets it is CPCB Stage 2. Why are the same emission norms not applicable for gensets?
This is due to technological reasons. Basically the CEV 3 is meant for off-road equipment that came into effect from April 2011 onwards. CPCB Stage 2 is nothing but Tier-3 and EU Stage 3A meant for power generation engines. The reason why it is different is that all off-road engines are with variable speed engines and all power generation engines are with constant speed engines. Hence they have different test cycles.
Which are the major categories for CEV 3?
CEV 3 is applicable for engines fitted on rubber-tyred equipment or used as prime mover for self-propelled equipment.
To what extent has the price hike of diesel impacted companies such as Volvo Penta?
Not much because all these activities have to continue, and the customers will choose equipment which has the lowest total cost of operation, which means the lowest fuel consumed for a unit measurement of work done.
What is the impact of the slowdown?
I think the entire capital equipment industry is impacted by the slowdown. The gensets market has fallen by at least 35 to 40 per cent.
What is the growth potential from the telecom industry?
As we understand, there will be consolidation and sharing of infrastructure which means there won´t be major additions of power back-up requirement. They may also look at moving towards other type of energy resources for back-up support. It will definitely have some sort of impact on the industry.
What is your take on the increasing competition?
India is a market of high growth potential. Nobody can ignore this fact and this will bring more players into the marketplace.
At Volvo Penta, we have been seeing competition for many years not only in India, but also at global level. We position ourselves as a premium player where we offer the lowest environmental impact and the lowest total cost of ownership with the help of state-of-the-art technologies.
Could you brief us on telematics?
It is very similar to CareTrack which we have in our construction equipment. With this device, customers will be able to monitor what is happening to the engine or equipment from a remote place and a lot of data can be uploaded from equipment to the central system where the customer has access.
With this data, they can improve productivity and mobility. We offer complete solutions right from picking up information to processing them; it is available in a certain template for the customers.
What has the response from the user industry been?
These are value additions we can provide to customers. In future, these trends will be highly appreciated, and it will grow over a period of time and will be used in various applications.
Do you think cost is going to be a deterrent?
Not at all, not when one looks at the benefits it brings.
What is your product portfolio like, and which verticals do you focus on?
We offer power solutions from 85 kVA to 650 KVA for power generation and from 105 kW to 565 kW for versatile applications. We are focussing on segments like material handling, raw material exploration, construction and power generation. We also have engines for marine applications ranging from 10-900 hp for marine leisure and commercial application and 60-480 kWa for auxiliary and emergency gensets.
Brief us on the latest technologies used to reduce noise levels, vibration and pollutants?
To reduce the vibration and thereby noise level, the engine cylinder block and head is manufactured in a single-piece cast iron. The curved shape of the block at each cylinder provides the cylinder block with good torsional stiffness and sound insulation. Also the engine timing gear is fitted on a sturdy steel plate, bolted to the cylinder block. It incorporates a hydraulic damper on the camshaft gear for minimised vibrations and noise level.
The world-class technology behind our engines are Selective Catalytic Reduction together with light EGR system, with this advanced technology, we manage to create an optimised air and fuel pressure ratio, which gives efficient combustion and results in lower fuel consumption and extremely low emission levels.
What is your business growth plan?
We focus on a number of selected segments like material handling, construction, raw materials exploration and power generation. We want to grow in these segments and provide total solutions in addition to basic products, accessories and services through our OEM and dealer network.
Even OEMs are coming out with own engines. What is your take on this?
The future trend will be verticalisation - equipment manufacturers having their own engines or branded engines. However, we see both independent and vertically integrated engine suppliers co-exist.
What are your future prospects?
If you look at the future growth markets, nobody can ignore India. From that perspective, we see a positive trend for growth and investments happening out of India.
What is the impact of the devaluation of rupee?
Nobody can escape currency devaluation. So it has really impacted us but we have reconciled to it and are managing it.
What is the impact of the varying quality of fuels?
The quality of fuel impacts the engine emission. Current diesel fuels available across the country exhibit significant variability in quality and performance characteristics. Fuel stability is an on-going concern; poor quality of fuel can damage the filters and injectors, but they can also affect the reliability, performance and service life of an engine. One interesting thing with our products is that we have technology to take care of the fuel quality. The same engine can operate in different fuel quality with the same components which have a good tolerance to withstand it and this gives us a unique opportunity to offer the same product in different markets.
How do you look at the marriage between electronics and the existing systems, especially in terms of new engines?
As emission norms are getting more stringent, one cannot work without electronics. Everybody is going to leverage electronics in terms of achieving the desired outcomes. There are world-class electronic suppliers available today. Today, almost all passenger car engines have it. Diesel price definitely will be going up either by global demand or by reduction in government subsidy, and then the importance of total cost of ownership will come into play. Customers want costs to be low.
What are the design challenges that Volvo Penta faces?
We are ahead when it comes to emission technology. As we move up to a higher emission standard, there will be a penalty on fuel consumption. But that is where we have employed the latest emission technology utilising the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) principle which is simple compared to other competitors. So with light exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) plus selective catalytic reduction, we are managing Tier-4 norms. We are offering an easy and compact installation system which is less complicated (without particulate filters and oxidation catalysts) both from the investment and operation point of view.