Growing demand from OEMs for lighter components sees Delhi-based supplier achieve sizeable gains across both exterior products as well as in engineering applications.
Delhi-based Radiant Polymers is one of the low profile but fastgrowing companies. The Tier 3-cum-Tier 2 supplier has been one of the early starters among many component makers in the business of developing lightweight parts for vehicles. However, with the incoming BS VI emission norms by 2020, the urgent need to cut down overall vehicle weight is bringing in new business projects.
Speaking to Autocar Professional in this context and explaining the benefits of manufacturing engineering plastics, Nitin Bahl, CEO, Radiant Polymers, states, “With the upcoming BS VI norms, we are working on various lightweighting projects with our customers. Deploying engineering plastic to design parts offers multiple other advantages besides lightweighting. It gives designers an opportunity to integrate multiple parts or features into one component, reduction in the number of processes to make the finished component and tailor-make the base material using various fillers and additives. The end result is a superior quality part with reduced child parts and reduced total cost of ownership while boosting production throughout.”
Giving further details on one such project wherein Radiant had developed a lightweight component with exterior applications for a light commercial vehicle (LCV), Bahl says, “The component involved three metal parts, which were individually stamped, plated and welded together. This entire assembly was redesigned and developed as one integral part in plastic with just one manufacturing step in the process flow. Lightweighting gains were to the tune of 50 percent or 2kg per vehicle along with higher manufacturing output.”
Among other lightweight parts, the company has developed an oil pump suction pipe wherein aluminium was replaced with high temperature engineering plastic with integrated strainer resulting in a weight saving of 30 percent. Similarly, it had also achieved weight savings in a thermostat housing wherein aluminium housing was replaced with high temperature nylon with a multiple slider mechanism in the tool. According to the company, besides weight reduction, it also eliminated all machining processes from the manufacturing of the same.
PLASTIC VS METAL
Bahl says large-scale weight reduction is achievable in automobiles by conversion of multiple aluminium or ferrous parts to engineering plastics. “Typically, this is done in components such as air intake manifolds, cylinder head covers and plastic fuel tanks, to name a few. Radiant develops and supplies many components in plastic for use in engine environment applications as well as exterior applications aiding in lightweighting. We have achieved weight savings in exterior products including exterior trim, battery cases in plastic while engineering applications include water pumps, oil pumps, thermostats, plastic fuel tanks and engine mounts,” details Bahl.
MUCELL INJECTION MOULDING
Throwing light on specific weight reduction technologies Radiant has deployed, Bahl says, “One of the interesting technologies we are working on is Mucell injection (moulding). This is a physical foaming technology where liquified CO2 or N2 is injected into and mixed with molten plastic prior to moulding. This process reduces density of plast quality improvement, as dimensions are more consistent. Warpage is significantly reduced due to drop in moulded-in stresses. This light weighting tech can be used in applications such as fan shroud module, HVAC, instrument panel, door trim, door latch housings and airbag covers.”
Radiant plans to expand its product portfolio in the areas of mechatronics and kinematics for applications in fuel handling and storage systems, emission control systems, actuators, sensors and ECUs.
It is also upping the ante on its overseas business. “Our exports will continue to grow strongly as we add more destinations for our direct and indirect exports. We have started direct exports to Japan since January 2017 and will be starting indirect exports to Mexico and Romania this year,” reveals Bahl.
Radiant Polymers, which works with Japanese and Indian OEMs as well as global Tier 1 suppliers from Japan, Germany, France and North America, foresees new opportunities based on growth drivers in the auto sector such as emission control, fuel efficiency, lightweighting, safety and comfort.
“BS VI emission norms will bring a windfall for progressive companies which are geared up to meet the challenge and see it as an opportunity. Radiant is working with its key customers to be fully geared up for the BSVI opportunity,” he adds.
The company has opened FY2017-18 on a strong note aided by BS IV. “The implementation of BS IV norms resulted in increased deployment of our components on vehicles. We have closed Q1 FY2017 at 24 percent higher revenues. We would be closing this year north of Rs 215 crore,” says Bahl. The company has a manufacturing footprint of four plants located in Sahibabad (Uttar Pradesh); Pantnagar (Uttarakhand); Bhiwadi (Rajasthan) and Sanand (Gujarat). Radiant, which has steadily invested across all its facilities, plans gradual capacity expansion as the deadline for the implementation of BS VI approaches.
“Incremental capacity expansion will continue in all plants with further mega expansion planned in Gujarat as well as South of India, following our customer footprint,” sums up Bahl.
(This article was first published in the October 1, 2017 print edition of Autocar Professional)