2013 Automotive Lighting Special - Magneti Marelli Motherson comes up with innovative solutions to light up vehicles
Pune-based Magneti Marelli Motherson Auto System is flush with orders from OEMs,thanks to its continued quest for innovative lighting products, says Amit Panday.
To name a few recent examples, this company has designed, developed and supplied the stylish tail-lamps that replace the C-pillar on the Mahindra Verito Vibe launched in early June.
Disclosing details, Vishal Kabadi, chief executive officer, MMMAS, says, “The Verito Vibe project was the first project made by any automotive lighting supplier in India with Light Guide LED-based technology.”
How does the light guide LED technology work? Unlike how an LED (light-emitting diode) functions by emitting light in one direction, the light guide LED-based technology enables equitable distribution of the light, maintaining a sustained flow of the light thereby improving the vision.
The company implemented the entire project (including the design and development time) within 12 months, which stands as a special achievement for the firm, says Kabadi. MMMAS had dedicated a team of five skilled engineers (including R&D and programme management) working full time in India, who were supported by the global technology centres of Automotive Lighting.
MMMAS is also supplying the projector headlamps to the recently launched MarutiWagonR Stingray. Kabadi says the company is the first to supply this type of (projector) headlamps to any car in the hatchback segment in India. Designed and developed in-house by Automotive Lighting in 20 months (from the receipt of order to the final delivery), MMMAS had deputed three engineers full time to work on this project while the AL team based in Malaysia chipped in with the development and validation of the product.
Furthermore, the all-new headlamps and the split tail-lamps which form a major differentiating feature on the recently revealed Nissan Terrano from its badge cousin, the Renault Duster is also supplied by MMMAS. Describing this project, Kabadi said, “The Nissan Terrano was a relatively faster project wherein the Indian team was responsible for developing the tooling to manufacturing the products while AL did the design and development.”
Challenges of the lighting business
Talking about challenges working on a fast-tracked project, Kabadi explains, “The biggest challenge in designing and developing any lighting solution is to procure respective design approvals from the OEMs that usually take around six months. For example, in the Verito Vibe project, the M&M team gave us the approval in a record four months.” According to him, the development cycle for a rear lamp is nearly 16 months as compared to 18-20 months for a headlamp.
Besides these projects, Maruti Suzuki Swift, Skoda Rapid, Fabia, Fiat Linea and Punto, Ford Figo and Tata Xenon are some of the other prominent car models to which the company supplies to. According to Kabadi, as OEMs in India are now increasingly focussing on introducing high-end features on the exterior lighting solutions (LEDs, projector lamp technologies and others) and offer better value for their products, MMMAS wants to be their vendor of choice.
Highlighting the company’s multi-colour moulding capabilities, he says, “Our facility is equipped with four-colour injection moulding tools, a first in India. Applicable to the rear lamp’s lenses, these processes enable us to put all four colours from the same machine to a single product. All our rear lamps supplied are with the multi-colour injection moulding process.”
The company, which was the first to introduce multi-colour technology for the rear combination lamps in the Swift (and in others such as Skoda Rapid, Ford Figo, Fiat Linea and Punto) has seen a substantial evolution for this segment in India. “Since our inception, we have seen the trend of increased usage of LED-based technologies (light guide, light curtains and others) in the exterior lighting solutions.
Multi-colour injection moulding for rear lamps, projector systems and daytime running lights for headlamps has gained momentum over the years. “We are focused on introducing new trends in India based on client requirements. Whatever is available within the global library of Automotive Lighting (full- LED headlamps and rear lamps and bi-LED modules) is transferable into India depending upon the need of the customer,” adds Kabadi.
MMMAS also has a buyback arrangement with AL wherein it manufactures the products in India and the latter supplies under a centralised distribution system.
The company is currently developing light guide LED-based headlamps for an OEM in India. “We are also in discussion to introduce HID systems and bi-LED modules to passenger cars,” reveals Kabadi. Operating out of two plants in India – Manesar (assembly operations) and Pune – MMMAS plans to expand production capacity at its Pune plant in 2014-15. The Pune facility, which is also the JV headquarters, has a production capacity of 500,000 sets of headlamps and 700,000 sets of tail-lamps per annum.
“Due to the increasing demand of multi-colour rear combination lamps, we plan to install new equipment and add capacity to produce another 300,000 sets of rear lamps at the Pune facility next year,” says Kabadi.
With Maruti Suzuki being the largest customer for MMMAS, the firm is mulling over moving to Gujarat in order to be located closer to the customer. However, on a lighter note without confirming the development, Kabadi signs off, “We are always willing to increase capacities based on the needs of our customers in different locations.”
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