Auto Components

ArvinMeritor sets up new technical centre

Having divested itself of the bulk of its chassis systems activities and looking to make a good sale of its body systems business, ArvinMeritor is now in the final stages of its transition to a company solely focused on commercial vehicle axles and drivelines for the on- and off-highway and military sectors.

The company projects 30 percent growth compounded annually over the next five years for its Commercial Vehicle Systems (CVS) division in Asia and the Pacific, a region in which India and China each accounted for 40 percent of its business in 2008, according to Timothy Bowes, vice-president and managing director of the Asia-Pacific business.

To help feed this growth, ArvinMeritor has invested in a new technical centre in Bangalore that will primarily support the development of a slate of advanced axles and foundation brake products it plans to introduce in the Indian market for on-highway trucks and construction machinery over the next two years.

Equally importantly the new facility, carved out of an existing tech centre in the city that CVS shared with the erstwhile Light Vehicle Systems (LVS) division, will also develop new products for and “sustenance-engineer” current products in Meritor’s other Asian markets, primarily China, Australia, Japan, and Singapore.

With 100 engineers, it is the second-largest engineering resource in the company’s global network after its R&D lab in Troy, Michigan, which it will also support besides the two others in Cameri, Italy (for Europe and South America) and Cwmbran, UK.

In addition to product design and development, including design optimisation and value-engineering, the centre’s capabilities include finite element modelling and analysis, and uniquely to such facilities in India, a full-fledged physical benchmarking and testing area that will house dynamometer rigs for axles and brakes and hydraulic rigs for vertical fatigue and side skid.

These resources in simulation and validation will significantly enhance the technical capabilities of Meritor HVS India, the joint venture company with the Kalyani Group responsible for customer engineering. In particular, they will enable it to introduce global axle platforms perfectly adapted to the needs of individual markets that Meritor’s global or globalising customers want to enter, like Volvo with its Asia Global Truck being also developed in Bangalore, or Tata Motors with its World Truck.

The BTC has six groups currently working on various Meritor product lines worldwide. The axle group has two subgroups that focus on the North American and European/South American markets, while the trailer systems and aftermarket group helps develop salvage technologies for the North American remanufacturing business in Plainfield.

The brakes group is a significant force behind the Meritor business Bowes calls the “number one commercial foundation brake supplier in the world”. The speciality group is plugged into construction and military vehicle axle and air suspension developments worldwide, and the advanced engineering group made significant contributions to Meritor’s innovative electric hybrid system for long-haul trucks. Finally, the test team, which has begun with validation cycling of Meritor disc brakes and benchmarking heavy duty tandem axles from Dana and drive axles for backhoe loaders from JCB, will in a later phase a couple of years hence get another facility in the Global Village Tech Park off Mysore Road built with heavy foundations for heavy test equipment.

“Some of our greatest ideas have come from looking at what others do,” said ArvinMeritor India VP and MD Larry Dowers.

ArvinMeritor is presently engaged in a “number of programmes” for off-highway vehicles like cranes, wheeled loaders and backhoe loaders, and expects the business to really kick off in the next “6 to 8 months,” Dowers said. Equally interestingly, it is also looking at ways to bring in its highly successful aftermarket business model from the US to India, China, and the ASEAN region, and sees opportunities in remanufacturing, he said, but declined to elaborate. N
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