We deliver fuel efficiency across all elements of our machines via engines, systems, operator behaviour and future technologies while increasing the productivity for our customers. Hybrid technology is one part of this wider range of fuel saving solutions that Volvo will offer in the near future, says AM Muralidharan, President, Volvo CE India. Excerpts from the interview.
How do you look at the contradiction that a combustion process low on harmful emissions leads to higher fuel consumption?
It's correct that a reduction in harmful emission leads to higher fuel consumption. However, at Volvo we believe in fuel efficiency and the best fuel efficiency can be achieved by increasing the performance of the machine with the slight increase in fuel consumption.
What have been the trends seen in India on the use of alternate fuels for construction equipment?
In India so far, we have not seen any players coming in with alternate fuels. However, with fuel costs increasing month on month, we do expect manufacturers to introduce machines with hybrid technology or ones running on alternate fuels.
Do you see any potential for hybrid technology in India?
Volvo has been one of the earliest pioneers in driving higher fuel-efficiency, and one of the earliest in recognising the environmental issue. We understand that fuel has two adverse attributes to it: one, it costs money and the more a piece of equipment uses, the more expensive it gets; two, fuel consumption creates pollution, and hence the need to make engines even more judicious.
What are the current emission norms applicable to off-the-road equipment?
For the CE equipment running on tyres, it's Tier III emission norms and for the tracked machines there are no norms as of now. We expect that there will be Tier II or Tier III norms brought to India for the tracked machines.
How is Volvo geared up to meet the challenges?
Volvo machines are already with the Tier III norms in India. We don't expect any challenges on the same. With the latest emission norms in place, Volvo CE looks at creating new facilities such as engine test labs, transmission labs, axle testing rig, vibration testing lab, hydraulic testing labs, and all weather simulation chambers. It is important to develop a comprehensive road map for emission norms, in consultation with the industry, to ensure timely investments by the industry.
Brief us on the inbuilt features that bring fuel/energy efficiency into your products.
As mentioned earlier, Volvo has been one of the earliest pioneers in driving higher fuel-efficiency. The Volvo diesel engine is at the heart of the company's range of products. Based on well-proven, robust technology, the Volvo V-ACT engine range meets the needs of Indian customers by providing increased machine performance along with reduced emissions - emissions that are ahead of the increasingly strict regulations on exhaust pollutants.
Along with environmental improvements, the V-ACT engine also represents new achievements in combustion efficiency and overall engine performance. With new fuel injection, air management technology and advanced electronics, the inherent potential of the V-ACT engine is then tailored by Volvo engineers to meet the specific performance criteria required by differing machine types and applications.
Fuel efficiency is often one of the demands of our customers. Hence, we are constantly innovating to make equipment that are fuel efficient while reducing emissions and environmental impact; OptiShift is a prime example of this.
Volvo's unique OptiShift technology consists of two important features: a torque converter with lock-up and free wheel stator and Volvo's patented Reverse By Braking (RBB) function. The combination of this technology has reduced fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent as well as increased machine performance in wheel loaders.
We recently introduced our Remanufactured (REMAN) programme to encourage users to keep their Volvo machines genuinely a Volvo. It allows users of Volvo CE to have their used components renovated to the same condition as new, thus eliminating the scope of environmental damage. This programme aims at creating an eco-cycle and is testimony to Volvo's commitment towards a greener environment.
What kind of machine control technologies do you have?
Volvo CE is the first manufacturer to introduce a telematics system called CareTrack, a telematics system that allows remote monitoring and machine diagnostics by using exclusive Machine Tracking Information System (MATRIS). It allows customers to monitor a machine through GSM connection and provide suitable maintenance suggestions.
CareTrack combines two independent systems; GPS and the mobile phone network, or data via satellite. These systems are coordinated in CareTrack and only two items need to be installed in the machine: a small computer with an integrated GPS receiver and modem plus an antenna.
With CareTrack, a customer gets the knowledge and information he needs to make the right decisions about his machine and thereby increase profitability. The customer can access the information he needs by entering into a password protected website, which gives him detailed information about his machine. Tell us about the usage-patterns of these sophisticated machines by the users. Volvo believes in skill development. We have been actively investing in training and competence development to ensure there are trained labour and operators to operate advanced machinery. We have an operator training centre with all the latest machinery and also with simulators.
Volvo has partnered with GMR Varalakshmi Foundation (GMRVF), the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of the GMR Group, to offer an Operators` Training Course, which will provide free training to under-privileged youth in India to operate construction machinery.
How do you assess the role of pre- and periodical maintenance in achieving optimal use of machinery?
Maintenance is the key to achieve best efficiency for equipment. Periodical maintenance ensures customers get the maximum life of a product and it also reduces operational cost. Good maintenance practices also results in low fuel consumption.