Rasandik’s Pune plant to kickstart exports
New Pune plant with tailor welded blanks line will spearhead Rasandik Engineering Industries' export drive to the US and Europe.
The company has received large export orders from Cummins and Garima for automotive parts to be supplied from its new Pune facility. The company has also received enquiries from the US and Europe for its tooling business. Highly placed sources also revealed that Rasandik could be among the parts suppliers — for body parts and fuel tanks — to Tata Motors' Rs 1-lakh car. The company, which apparently has been shortlisted, however, refused to confirm this news.
Rasandik has also developed fuel tanks and complete frame assembly along with toolings for a stepthrough vehicle for TVS Motor Company for the latter's Indonesian project. And, by end-2006, the company would also be delivering fuel tanks for the Logan to be made by Mahindra Renault in India.
USHERING IN NEW TECH
The company has been the purveyor of the latest welding technology in the automobile industry with the installation of India’s first tailored blanks welding system. Pioneer in sheet metal technologies and a Tier-1 supplier to automotive OEMs in the country, Rasandik recently set up a tailor welded blanks (TWB) line at its plant in Sohna. A similar line will soon be set up at a greenfield site in Ranjangaon in Pune.
TWBs offer an excellent opportunity to reduce manufacturing costs and decrease vehicle weight, without compromising on safety. A TWB is manufactured by welding together two or more sheets of metal of different thickness, material grades, and/or coatings to produce a single blank, which is subsequently formed/stamped. Rasandik's TWB set-up is a state-of-the-art ND-Yag Laser, semi-automatic welding system, employing cutting edge technology over the conventionally used co2 system. It has advanced and patented features of manufacturing and quality assurance and has an installed capacity of a million metres of laser welding.
##### The company has already received an order for supply of TWBs for the Maruti Swift, which uses four TWBs and is the first car in India using TWBs for inner door panels. In India, use of TWBs is in its nascent stage; the world over, 38 percent of sheet metal has been converted from conventional sheet metal stampings to TWB stampings. Vehicles in developed economies have between four to 15 TWBs.
“We want to make this company into an engineering powerhouse where we can work together and implement concurrent engineering with the OEMs to develop and design the body parts so as to reduce their lean time in manufacturing vehicles. This would involve setting up engineering centres and considerable investment in software. Our capability involves complete handling of a project — right from its initial engineering, simulation, tool design and manufacturing, checking fixtures, welding fixtures, through to component manufacture,” says Rajiv Kapoor, managing director of the Rs 200-crore-plus Rasandik Engineering.
Kapoor is clear that he does not want to limit his company to the stamping business alone. “That is now a low-end business. It is a complete value-added business that we are looking at now. We take a single-point responsibility to do integrated product development. This helps the company reduce design time and costs and helps the organisation to be more competitive. Our area of work involves body parts like fuel tanks, steel stamping parts, the complete body, inner parts, engine compartment parts, and cross-members,” he says.
The plant in Surajpur, Greater Noida, is split over three properties where there is a tool room and a TWB plant. A new press shop is also coming up there. The Sohna plant already has an existing press shop, a fuel tank line and a weld shop. Kapoor points out that major expansion is taking place in Pune where there would be a complete tool room, tool design centre, TWBs, blanking lines, and press shop lines.
“The Pune plant is under construction and with various time lines. The first time line is September 2006 when production of fuel tanks will begin. The toolroom will be commissioned by August while the TWBs will start sometime in March 2007. We will support the existing requirement for TWBs for Tata Motors and others from our Sohna plant. The Pune plant will cater to our western and southern region customers,” he notes.
A first-generation entrepreneur from IIT (Mechanical Engineering), Kapoor initially headed DCM Toyota’s vendor development department. He says it was the Toyota team which pushed him into making fuel tanks due to their inability to find good fuel tank manufacturers in India. In 2000, Rasandik put together a 2010 vision document split into yearly missions. It involves providing the customer with complete solutions from engineering to design, to manufacture of sheet metal components, TWB components and assemblies.
##### TWB IS THE WAY AHEAD
As part of the 2006 mission, apart from setting up a TWB line, the company plans to set up a TWB application centre which will work in association with OEMs to define all the components can be converted from regular conventional sheet metal stampings to TWBs.
“At the TWB application centre we have identified around 15 components for which we hope to work with OEMs. The centre would identify as to which component is feasible for conversion to TWB. TWB offers cost advantages and also makes the vehicle lighter. In addition, Pune will have a design centre for tool design, tool manufacturing facilities, press shop, welding shop, and a fuel tanks line with paint shop (by November 2006). To begin with, the plant will cater to Tata Motors. We will also target new customers in the area and are already talking to a few. The design centre and tool manufacturing would also be focussing on export projects as logistically it is better placed than a facility up north.
“For instance, whatever work we do for Fiat, we will shift to Ranjangaon because they are very close. The Pune unit will also take care of the export order we have from Cummins and Garima. We are also exploring further prospects for exports. Since we have a business relationship with Tata Motors, we are starting with toolings and TWBs first. We have received a large number of enquiries from the US and Europe for our tooling business and we expect exports to increase significantly. In tooling, we have the first mover advantage since we set up a tool shop in 2002 and tooling costs in Europe are rising significantly,” says Kapoor.
In 2002, Rasandik made the complete skin panels for International Cars & Motors’ Rhino range of MUVs. It also carried out the complete design engineering and making of the skin panels and the outer and inner panels. The complete body shell outer, door outer, door inner, tailgate, bonnet outer, inner, and front fender were all done by Rasandik. But for reasons not revealed, the project never came to Rasandik with ICML completing the weld engineering and fixtures from a different company. Rhino’s inconsistencies in overall design can probably be attributed to this factor. Kapoor, however, does not want to be drawn into this controversy.
Kapoor is firm that unless a vehicle manufacturer integrates the total development of a vehicle with one company taking up project management responsibility, it fails. “So that is why we offer weld engineering jobs for which we have brought in a US-based company. While we carry out the smaller weld engineering jobs, the bigger ones are done by the US company. There is a business model being worked out,” he states.
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