Ricardo steps up India profile
The technology solutions provider is looking for a bigger piece of the action in a fast-growing market, writes Sandeep Belagajee.
The company, which counts on Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor as clients for its mechanical software products, recently organised seminars in Pune and Chennai where it showcased its suite of software products including Wave, Vectis, Valdyn, Pisdyn, Engdyn, Sabr, Pingpak and Fearce. Ricardo Software is distributed in India by Pune-based Caepro, which provides front-line support, guidance and training in the use of the company’s range of advanced powertrain computer aided engineering (CAE) software products.
The distribution agreement, which has been in place since March this year, is part of Ricardo’s on-going strategy to develop the quality of service offered to its customers in the rapidly developing Indian automotive industry. It also has a long-standing representative organisation, Kalra Consultants, which supports the engineering services.
Ricardo has technical centres in the UK, USA, Germany and the Czech Republic, and offices in Shanghai and Tokyo. Its engineering expertise ranges from vehicle systems integration, controls, electronics and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies.
Speaking at the seminar, John Roebuck, managing director, Caepro, said the many reasons why Ricardo’s software suite was appropriate for Indian automotive manufacturers was the fact that it both developed and used its own products in its consultancy role. “The software is being used everyday and supported globally by skilled engineers who know about engines, powertrains and vehicles. We also have engineers available globally to assist with resourcing problems, consulting projects and an exchange models and data,” he said.
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This is best exemplified by the outstanding success the company recently had in assisting JCB break the world land speed record for diesel cars – in a vehicle powered by engines originally designed by the two companies for back-hoe loaders. Ricardo had been the powertrain partner on the original JCB444 engine. The company used the Wave software on the simulations to predict the durability of engine components and systems at far higher ratings than originally envisaged.
Validating the CAE models for almost every aspect of the engine became easy because the original engine had been designed using other Ricardo software including Valdyn (for valvetrain and drive system analysis) and Pisdyn (a package that analyses the dynamics of the piston and connecting rod assembly). In India, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motors on the OEM side and India Pistons (IPL) on the components side are big users of Ricardo’s softwares. Bajaj, in fact, has been using Vectis, Valdyn and Wave for engine design since 2001.
India Pistons has been using Ringpak to meet the revised oil consumption targets and to reduce particulate emissions from naturally-aspirated diesel engines. It has also used Ringpak to resolve oil throw into the exhaust manifold for tractor engine applications. In a presentation, the company reported that it was able to solve many critical issues using the predictive technique in the Ringpak software.
For new clients, Ricardo offers the benchmarking and time-bound evaluation options of assessing the capabilities of its software. In the benchmarking option, Ricardo undertakes to perform small projects based on a brief of required results. It then delivers a report that includes both the methodology and results. The client can then recreate these during the evaluation period. The evaluation period usually lasts two months, and the company does not charge a fee during this period. The company offers full technical support during this period, and the evaluation period can be varied to meet the client’s workload and needs.
There are normally three ways in which Ricardo interacts with its clients. For expert clients switching over from similar software, it supplies the software directly while ensuring on-going training. On another level, Ricardo offers to perform the benchmarking for customers who want to perform a benchmark, but cannot afford all the resources required to carry it out. In such cases, it supplies both the software and training options.
Finally, the company’s consultation arm carries out project work followed by technology transfer for customers who need to maintain project deadlines but want to learn the software and processes at the same time. The software, in this case, is supplied free of cost. Ricardo’s software training support comes in many formats with the basic course offered free of cost at its facilities. The advanced, customised and technology transfer trainings are charged, and happen either at its facilities or in-house at the client’s end.
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