'The greatest weight reductions have been achieved using a combination of materials and innovative processes.'

Saket Sapra, Dana India’s MD talks to Amit Panday on the latest trends in vehicle lightweighting.

By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 09 May 2014 Views icon2879 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
'The greatest weight reductions have been achieved using a combination of materials and innovative processes.'

Saket Sapra, Dana India’s MD talks to Amit Panday on the latest trends in vehicle lightweighting.

What technologies does Dana use to reduce weight? Is it using metal alloys, aluminium or polymers instead of metals/steel?
Dana’s lightweight solutions utilise a mixture of materials and innovative engineering processes to help automakers improve fuel economy, while maintaining maximum reliability and durability for the product’s function.
For the drivetrain, Dana’s Spicer aluminium driveshafts help reduce weight by up to 30 percent, and our Spicer AdvanTEK axles can be customised to include aluminium carrier housings and laser-welded ring gears for further weight reduction benefits.
On the sealing side of our business, we offer thermoplastic oil pans and cylinder-head covers that reduce weight by up to 50 percent compared with the aluminium products they replace.

Does Dana work with OEMs from concept and design stage through to delivery of the final product? What role do the inputs from Dana play in the overall vehicle development?
As a technology-focused supplier, we work alongside our OEM customers to find the right solutions for each individual vehicle model. In some cases, this means working to address a specific problem, such as improving how quickly a vehicle warms up. In 2012, Dana received the Automotive News PACE Innovative Partnership Award with Ford Motor Co for its Long brand of active and passive warm-up units, which improve fuel economy by 4 percent.
In other cases, Dana engineers are able to help the OEM choose the right solution for their vehicle based on the variables being measured. For example, efficiency of any powertrain component is not fixed. Each engine, axle, or transmission performs differently under changing variables, such as speed or temperature. Understanding how these variables affect a specific product, like an axle, enables automakers to decide the best combination of products for a vehicle’s design. Dana engineers specialise in understanding how its products perform as efficiency variables are modified, enabling the delivery of the most fuel efficient products to the market.

In which areas has Dana achieved maximum weight reduction? What, in your opinion, are the key areas in a passenger car where weight can be substantially reduced?
Dana has been very successful at finding lightweight product solutions for its customers. The greatest reductions have been achieved using a combination of materials and innovative processes. For example, Dana engineers developed driveshafts using the company’s proprietary magnetic-pulse welding technology that joins a lightweight aluminium shaft to industry-proven steel end-fittings. The assembled driveshaft is up to 30 percent lighter in weight, equally strong as an all-steel driveshaft, and supports automakers’ aggressive fuel economy targets.
In another case, Dana applied the advantages of thermoplastics to oil pans, which are designed to withstand the most rugged conditions, including stone impacts and temperature extremes. The lightweight resin material, combined with the oil pan’s unique ribbed design, offers significant weight reduction of up to 50 percent — and cost savings of up to 30 percent — when compared with cast aluminium, and also provides benefits in noise, vibration, and harshness characteristics.
In the near term, the most significant weight reductions will likely be found in the body and structures of the vehicle, but there still remains opportunity to improve efficiency, increase power density, and reduce weight in the drivetrain.

How do you see Indian OEMs and suppliers adopting to advanced technologies as compared to other emerging economies?
The rate of technology development and adoption is accelerating in every part of the world. The types of technology — such as safety, emissions, or fuel efficiency — are adopted at different speeds and times based on local market requirements and needs. For example, we see the industry in China and Brazil increasing its focus on technology to reduce emissions, while OEMs in India are putting emphasis on our solutions that help lower purchase price and operating costs of vehicles.
The entire global industry is focused on improving safety and performance, though the technology utilised and general approach by OEMs varies widely by region, based on the appetite and readiness of their customers.

What are the global synergies in executing or achieving lightweighting of various products at Dana Corp? Is the Dana Technical Centre in Pune supported by other global facilities on this front?
Dana has a network of nearly 100 engineering, manufacturing, and distribution facilities in 26 countries serving customers around the globe.
We have strategically placed technical centres in each of our key markets to address the specific needs of local OEMs. These technical centres work together to leverage the knowledge from other regions, which helps to advance our entire product portfolio. We also have the unique position of working with light-vehicle, commercial-vehicle and off-highway systems, which enables us to look at solutions that can be scaled across these segments.

How was FY2013-14 for Dana in India and how do you see market growth going forward?
Typically, we don’t disclose the financial year details by country but I can tell you that Dana is confident of future growth in India. Our advantage in India and throughout the Asia-Pacific region is our investment in the development of advanced technologies that would improve the return on investment for end-users. Manufacturers and end-users alike would recognise the long-term value of our products.
Dana has been committed to this market for decades. India is important to our long-term strategic plan, which is focused on sustaining Dana’s position as a global technology leader. We look at the Indian market as having a great potential for growth.

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