Bonfiglioli Transmission targets India's infra drive

Bonfiglioli Transmission of Italy, which operates from Chennai, is targeting double-digit growth, thanks to the Indian government’s focus on developing infrastructure. Kiran Bajad reports.

Kiran Bajad By Kiran Bajad calendar 31 Aug 2015 Views icon11771 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Kennady V Kaippally, country manager for mobile business, Bonfigolioli Transmissions, India:

Kennady V Kaippally, country manager for mobile business, Bonfigolioli Transmissions, India: "We have high localisation and a deep understanding of the market and a local vendor base."

Bonfiglioli Transmission of Italy, which operates from Chennai, is targeting double-digit growth, thanks to the Indian government’s focus on developing infrastructure. Kiran Bajad reports.

The Narendra Modi’s government’s focus on infrastructure development has come as a fillip for growth for companies which deal with construction equipment. Bonfiglioli Transmission of Italy, a supplier of gear motors, drive systems and planetary gearboxes for industrial processes, automation, mobile and renewable energy, is one such company.

Its Indian arm, which has its offices in Chennai, was set up in 1999. It manufactures a varied range of transmission as customised solutions for multipurpose vehicles, concrete mixers and agricultural and construction equipments. Its India operation began with industrial gearboxes, followed by wind gearboxes. While Schwing Stetter India was its first customer, it now caters to AMW, Volvo Global, Tata Hitachi, Escorts Construction, and Atlas Copco.

According to Kennady V Kaippally, country manager, BU Mobile & Wind Solutions, Bonfigolioli Transmissions, India is poised for higher growth in the construction and infrastructure sector. He says, “We are well placed to take advantage of this opportunity, being present for over 15 years with higher localisation and a deep understanding of the market.” 

The company foresees the India market, which is predominantly a backhoe loader market, will shift towards excavators over the next few years as the improving infrastructure will call for bigger machines. It believes the excavator market will grow by nearly 20-25 percent and in turn give it new business from regular clients.

The company says its India operation’s USP is that it works on a ‘glo-cal’ approach – local design and project management supported by state-of-the-art equipment, strong supply chain, global quality, all-India service network and quick response to customer. Product development typically takes 16 to 20 weeks as the gearboxes are specific to applications.

In the past couple of years, faced with a slow-growing domestic market, the company utilised its Chennai plant capacity to export to its global plants (it has presence in 14 countries including Europe, China and USA). Now, with growth returning to India, plans are to cater to domestic demand.

Being a global supplier for a highly technical product like transmissions, the company initially depended on imports. However, over the years, it has developed a local supplier base which has helped increase localisation levels considerably and in turn made its products cost competitive in India.

At present, it has a formidable presence in India. Its foray into the agriculture segment has seen it do good business with TAFE and New Holland. Now the new focus area in India is material handling, agriculture, lifting and lightweight electric vehicles.

Bonfiglioli Transmission’s Chennai plant, which covers 26,000 square metres, produced 30,000 gearboxes last year. Upbeat on the domestic market, the company is targeting production of 36,000 units in 2015 and aims to notch a CAGR of 20 percent in the next 2-3 years.

Bullish on the Indian market, Kaippally says the company will make investments in capacity expansion within the next two years and enough land is available at the current location. “We are here for the long term and focus is on the Indian market. New business areas include material handling equipment like forklifts in India,” he says.

Speaking about the company’s India technical centre, Santosh Godi, head - India design centre, says, “We have a strong R&D team in India with a major focus on local market and local projects and developing solution specifically suitable for India. We also work on many global platforms and integrate with global R&D centres. This way, knowledge sharing and technology transfer helps grow our competency.”

“We collaborate with customers and work to their specific requirements, be it in India or abroad. We also have collaborative suppliers in India which helps us develop solutions in India. We help integrate the manufacturing technology, innovations and the solution we provide to the market,” he adds.

According to Sandeep Rajagopal, senior manager, project management, BU Mobile, “We follow a structured way of realising the product from design to mass manufacture. We bring structured project management processes from customer requirements, design, prototype, feel for testing, validation and industrialisation. Our three major strengths are quality, cost and delivery.”

As part of its vision for cleaner energy vehicles, the company also focuses on electric mobility solutions for small commercial vehicles and passenger cars. In the EV segment, it is working with major global companies. Interestingly, in India, it is also working with a leading electric passenger carmaker for a gearbox.

“We have a couple of solutions which are undergoing trials. In Europe, some of our products have been introduced on a few vehicles, both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles like mini trucks. In India, this will take time as the infrastructure is not yet fully ready for hybrid and electric solutions,” says Kaippally.

While the work is at a nascent stage, the company says the initial response is encouraging as the market need reliable suppliers to cater to things like NVH requirements which are quite stringent in EVs.

“We work on different products ranging from 1,300kg to 500kg for light commercial vehicles and hybrid vehicles and fully electric vehicles. High efficiency, low noise and light weight are the need of this particular market,” says Godi.

He adds that the company’s focus on electric mobility has seen the development of a prototype concrete mixer which has been tested in China. “We will bring it to India once the market is ready for it,” he concludes.  


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