2013 Lightweighting Special : Tubecraft keen to grow with Tier 1 suppliers

Tier 2 supplier aims to make special lightweight corrugated tubes with Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs, plans to expand capacity in near future. Amit Panday reports.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 13 May 2013 Views icon3262 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
2013 Lightweighting Special : Tubecraft keen to grow with Tier 1 suppliers
Tier 2 supplier aims to make special lightweight corrugated tubes with Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs, plans to expand capacity in near future. Amit Panday reports.

Pondicherry-based Tubecraft, a Tier 2 supplier of corrugated tubes for wiring harness, ventilation and duct hoses and fill hoses for windscreen washers, is keen to team up with Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs for developing special lightweight components. The company, which already uses thermoplastics in developing tubes for automotive applications, is currently working to develop lighter windscreen washer water delivery hoses. DilipGhevaria, managing partner, Tubecraft, explains that “as against the conventionally made windscreen washer water delivery hoses which are made of either rubber or TVC, we are developing the similar hoses using the relatively lighter thermoplastics. Though it is difficult to quantify the weight cut in these hoses, this is a step in the right direction. This is our own initiative and we plan to start supplying these new lighter hoses to our customer within the coming six months.” The company manufactures 24 different sizes of wiring harness tubes and two different types of ventilation and duct hoses at its Pondicherry facility. “These products are basically made out of either rubber or plastics. Our expertise lies in replacing the rubber content with thermoplastic polymers which can be polypropylene or polyethylene or polyamide (nylon) plastics and which in turn helps in reducing the weight in the range of 5 to 30 percent,” says Ghevaria.

Changing times
Usage of thermoplastics is fast gaining ground and is replacing heavier materials such as rubber and metals in various components. According to Ghevaria, thermoplastics are not only relatively lighter in weight, but have a longer lifecycle and, in some cases, are cheaper as compared to the rubber. “At Tubecraft, we are capable of producing thermoplastic hoses that can also replace some of the rubber bellows in vehicles,” he adds. “There are several rubber-made air and water hoses placed inside the engine compartment which are heavy. It is possible to replace these rubber hoses by those made from thermoplastic materials. However, the challenge here lies in ensuring that these lighter hoses are mated well with the other surrounding components. This is where other parties such as Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs step in. Such developments require companies to closely work together on the prototypes, suggest design changes and make adequate recommendations before it goes into the mass production,” says Ghevaria. Components made by Tubecraft are used by Maruti Suzuki, Ford India, Hyundai Motor India, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland and many other OEMs.

Capacity expansion
Tubecraft produces about 6.5 million metres of corrugated tubes for automotive applications every year and has spare capacity of about a million metres. With expansion plans on the anvil, Ghevaria discloses that “we plan to increase our annual production capacity of 7.5 million metres to 10 million metres in the near future.” Tubecraft registered a turnover of over Rs 4 crore during 2012-13, of which the company plans to allocate around 2-2.5 percent into R&D efforts this year. According to Ghevaria, in the wake of current slowdown in the market, the company is growing at 7 to 10 percent year-on-year.
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