ATS Elgi targets smart workshops
Sometimes there is good news that comes out of a downturn. With vehicle owners preferring to delay new car purchases and maintain their existing vehicles better to enable longer, trouble-free ownership, modern garages are finding a growing number of customers at their doorsteps. As new technology pervades new-generation vehicles in India, owners are increasingly looking at getting their cars serviced at modern workshops and garages. Clearly, there is a fast-growing need for hi-tech vehicle servicing and maintenance equipment, be it for the body shop, paint booth, engine management systems, wheel alignment machines or a multitude of other vehicle care jobs.
While a few garages have equipped themselves with large infrastructure, most workshops in India have to make do with their existing space. The need of the hour for such workshops is products that can not only reduce running costs and fetch higher revenues, but importantly do so without the need for expanding existing infrastructure.
With this in mind, ATS Elgi Ltd, the Coimbatore-based garage equipment player and Rs 90 core wholly-owned subsidiary of Elgi Equipments Ltd, has launched a slew of new products aimed to further its position as a one-stop shop automotive equipment provider. The extended product range will now include a dent removal system called ‘Flatliner’, a clear floor electro-mechanical lift, lubrication management system and nitrogen inflator. According to Harjeet Singh Wahan, managing director, Flatliner mechanises and quickens the process of dent removal, resulting in higher revenues and profits for garages.
The company has also launched its clear floor electro-mechanical lifts. While these were imported from MAHA of Germany last year, ATS Elgi now makes them. The lifts incorporate European safety features and help garages improve their per bay output. “We have introduced the Lube Management System in association with major oil companies. This drastically reduces lubricant wastage. In addition, the garage can buy the lubricant in bulk and save on the buying cost, resulting in higher margins. We have completed more than 30 such installations in India during 2008-09,” Wahan points out.
The company has also added the nitrogen inflator to its product range. This equipment is used to fill nitrogen in tyres, which keeps them cooler and ensures lower loss of pressure. It also ensures better tyre life and improved mileage. “We have so far installed more than 200 units during the year. In fact, we are the first Indian company to design and manufacture this product locally,” Wahan claims.
Growing product range
The company plans to introduce a number of new products in 2009-2010, all of them focussing on higher productivity and lower cost for garages. A full-fledged garage typically is equipped with 35 equipment and over 150 tools and accessories; ATS Elgi either deals with or manufactures most of them.
Every product is manufactured and tested under strict international quality control systems while strategic alliances with global leaders like Celette, Cemb, Maha, Fasep, Elletro, Body Shop, Istobal Sp-Air and Sata have placed the company on the path of advanced technology to sell products to global standards, yet with competitive pricing.
ATS Elgi's automotive training centres in Coimbatore, Mumbai and Delhi are another expression of its customer focus to provide hands-on training to clients and technicians. It provides technical support to authorised technicians of a number of vehicle manufacturers including Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Hyundai Motor India, Ford Motors, Honda Motors, and Toyota Kirloskar Motor.
At present, the company has 13 branches and over 70 dealers for effective sales and aftersales support to its customers all over the country. The objective of these training courses is to impart training on all diagnostic equipment under one roof, educate trainees on basic and related theories, impart knowledge on various diagnostic techniques, impart skills on interpreting the diagnosis, find out the cause of failure and provide an effective solution, and to educate trainees on basic maintenance practices of equipment.
As regards the growth of this sector in India, Wahan said: “We believe that with the lower number of new workshops commissioned during 2008-2009, the market has shrunk by around five percent. However, we expect that the market will record growth of around 10 percent during 2009-2010. For the past few years, we have been growing at around 12 percent year-on-year in our business, which includes not only garages but also related sectors such as driving simulators for Maruti Suzuki, mobile service units for the construction and mining sectors and pneumatic tools.” While elaborating on the quality initiatives the company has undertaken, Wahan said, “Elgi as a group has launched the Elgi Manufacturing System (EMS). This is based on the Toyota Manufacturing System (TMS) and is localised for our needs. We are assisted by our German consultants in this journey. This not only ensures timely delivery to the customer but also that the quality of each product leaving our factory is of the highest order. Various checks are implemented at each stage of manufacture to ensure that defects, if at all, are prevented from going further. In case a defect is found, we use various tools such as ‘Root Cause Analysis’ to find out the reason for the defect after which corrective and preventive action is taken to eliminate this defect from all future products. Through this process, our customer complaints during installation and warranty have dropped by more than 60 percent during the current financial year. Obviously, this results in higher customer satisfaction.”
Despite the downturn, this is one company that believes its new products will draw new clientele and have existing customers augment their existing equipment.
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