As automotive lighting systems are recording faster than expected changes, Lumax Industries Ltd, which is part of the New Delhi-based D K Jain Group, is working on driving both its new product development as well as manufacturing process technology. The company has adopted a two-pronged approach to address emerging needs.
Lumax has been associated with automotive lighting for almost six decades and the activity constitutes one of its major product lines, contributing about 60 percent of the group revenues. Lumax Industries has a technical and financial collaboration with Stanley Electric Company of Japan for about 25 years.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, Deepak Jain, senior executive director, says the company has begun to actively conduct technology shows at its customers’ premises. It is also setting up a consolidated engineering centre in the National Capital Region to catalyse new product development and also develop newer technologies.
Following the success of its technology show, Lumax has formulated a technology policy which states that the company, “will proactively identify customers’ needs and we will be the first to bring optimum technology in to India through our global collaborations. The technology will be fully integrated using people, process and the product. We are conducting road shows at customers’ sites inviting their engineering, marketing and materials departments and to get documented feedback,” said Jain.
Lumax began the tech experiment with Maruti Suzuki and this year it showcased its capabilities to seven customers in western India. “At Maruti Suzuki, we had about 1,000 footfalls and documented about 500 feedback forms. In multiple locations in the western region, we had about 3,000 visitors and could document feedback from about 2,000 of them. This feedback will tell us about the customer requirements in the country in terms of technology, trends, performance and functions.”
“From the Auto Expo channel (to showcase technologies) that happens once in two years, we are now actually meeting customers more often now through the technology show,” he says. As a result, the company is investing in creating new manufacturing process and product technologies. The recently introduced ‘multiple shots – multiple colours’ technology gives flexibility in injection moulding while achieving different colours without joints in the tail-lamp lens. This gives tremendous flexibility for the designers. Lumax has been supplying these types of lens to Honda SIEL for the Jazz and will soon be supplying to Maruti Suzuki, reveals Jain.
Jain adds that Lumax is setting up a ‘consolidated engineering centre’ to localise and augment design capabilities. The company is also upgrading its laboratories by commissioning new equipment to test new technology products. The centre will be ready by January 2011 and will have about 50 engineers before the beginning of the next fiscal. The aim is to have a number of skilled engineers to engage with the customers on site since the need for technology, designing and styling is becoming increasingly critical for lighting products. The centre will also help Lumax reduce customer schedules in new product development process significantly, he said.
Developing competence in electronics
Lumax is also focusing more on electronics for developing and manufacturing lighting components. “We are thinking of having either captive suppliers or invest in electronics as, going forward, we see printed circuit board technology evolving for the needs of lighting. We have never ventured out in electronics and within the next two years we will build local competence to understand the electronics part of it and then develop further,” he says.
The D K Jain Group will be investing Rs 200 crore in its operations with about half of that on the lighting division for R&D, expansion of manufacturing plants and enhancing process capabilities, in addition to the upcoming plant in Bangalore to support supplies to the Toyota Etios. The company is also working on a couple of more projects which will be finalised soon, says Jain.
Lumax has six ultra modern manufacturing plants in India. Of these, two are located in Gurgaon, Dharuhera, two plants in Pune, and two plants in Uttarakhand-Pantnagar, Haridwar.
Furthermore, the product development cycle in lighting will be much shorter as the overall timeframe from design through to product is reducing dramatically and is coming on par with global launches.
Lumax also believes there will be considerable action in the two-wheeler segment, what with the increasing demand for energy efficient, dynamic and compact lighting and is gearing up to introduce new technologies in its manufacturing process to enhance productivity further. These initiatives will offer its customers the convenience to design more flexible aerodynamic and contours in lighting systems.
For instance, says Jain, “We are investing in 1,300 tonne and 1,500 tonne injection moulding machines, surface treatment and also working with raw materials manufacturers for specific requirements.”
Jain feels that going forward automotive lighting will be an integrated system where it will deliver more performance while consuming less energy. It has the potential to go in a modular way also, he adds. “We are in the final stages of discussions with certain projects,” and the company might enter into injection moulding of bumpers also. “We will have the capability to become a modular supplier as well since the speed of integrating technologies will be much faster. We see new technologies in lighting systems catching up across the mobility space,” he concludes.