Roots Industries gets big global orders

by 22 May 2006

The Rs 70 crore Roots Industries, part of the Coimbatore-based Roots Group, has bagged orders for supply of 10 million horns this fiscal from top global majors. These include Renault for its plants in Hungary and Germany, Volkswagen in Germany, International Trucks of the US as well as Harley- Davidson. This is not all. It is also in talks with General Motors to supply horns. Director NV Krishnan said that back home in the domestic market, the company is close to sewing up a deal for the Logan that will be manufactured by Mahindra Renault.

Roots Industries is looking at increasing capacity to meet these orders. There is enough space in the export-oriented unit created when it got its first OEM export order from Ford in 2004. However, it needs to instal an assembly line and increase the number of shifts. It has invested Rs 5 crore in the EOU and has earmarked a further Rs 3 crore for the expansion programme. Roots Industries is also working on a project to develop and upgrade vendors to meets its needs.

At present the share of exports in turnover is about 30 percent and targeted to grow to 50 percent soon. Significantly, it has begun exporting horns developed in-house back to Bosch with whom it has a technical alliance. Roots has also developed horns for vehicles designed and developed in the ASEAN market. It has recently supplied two varieties for the MAN trucks being launched by Force Motors in India and has developed a new design that increases their lifespan. Krishnan said that the company has taken up a ‘life expectancy project’ to enhance the life and durability of horns. The new-generation horns have improved the number of cycles.

Regulations in the US and Europe involve testing horns for 50 kilocycles, while this is three times more in India, he added. OEMs, though, seek 300 kilocycles and all Roots horns are tested for 500 kilocycles with some even crossing the one-million mark. Indian Standards also permit tuning thrice till the horn reaches 1.5 lakh cycles. Nearly a year ago, Roots managed to achieve tuning only once after one lakh cycles. Some horns do not need tuning till 1.5 lakh cycles. The company plans to further extend tuning frequency. It is also working on finding alternative materials as well as design change for the internal component of the horn while maintaining cost. One of the main objectives is to redesign the coil to reduce use of copper since its price has been rising.

Roots Industries has been importing diaphragm material for all horns primarily to maintain tonal quality. It also imports housing for certain varieties of horns. At present, it makes about 1,600 horns (part numbers) in 10 families in the range from six to 72 volts. Krishnan said that the company would soon launch electronic horns with a longer lifespan. At present certain circuits have been converted to electronic from an electromechanical set-up. It is also working on developing a full electronic horn.

Roots Industries had, a few years ago, introduced the reverse assist system which did not take off due to high costs of imported components. For the last two years, it has been working on greater local content without compromising on quality. The product has also been made simpler for its use in small cars. The new gadget is weatherproof and works anytime of the day irrespective of light availability. It will be relaunched soon and Krishnan believes it has huge potential. The company has also been selling halogen lamps and disc brakes. The Roots Group is also engaged in making aluminium/zinc pressure die castings, dies, tools, jigs and fixtures, cleaning equipment, machining, plastic moulding and digital engineering services.

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