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Construction : Cover Story | March 2016 | Source : Equipment India

Leadership Through Innovation

´Driving Progress´has been our brand promise and it has always distinguished us in the industry around the world. Rama Rao A S elaborates on the innovations from Volvo.

Volvo Trucks entered the Indian commercial vehicle (CV) industry 17 years ago with a clear goal, to drive the change. The company focused on the mining transportation segment in India and realised that our brand promise was more relevant than ever before. There was a big opportunity to make the difference for Indian transport operators with solutions that would meet their demands of productivity, efficiency and profitability.

The beginning
Volvo Trucks envisioned the market potential and became the first European truck company to set up a state-of-the-art truck manufacturing plant and make high performance trucks in India for Indian customers.

Driving progress in a market not exposed to high performance transport solutions was an uphill task, as it meant bringing about a perceptional change in the mind of customers. It needed a progressive and innovative approach and deeper understanding of the needs of customers and the industry, to deliver solutions that would make a difference.

Innovation in mining transportation
The mining transportation industry was earlier using the conventional inefficient 6x4, low capacity tippers, primarily designed for construction work or depended on large, gas guzzling dumpers. They were difficult to operate efficiently in most of the Indian mines with deep coal pits, narrow roads and faraway dump sites.

The need of the hour was a mining truck that was flexible, easy and comfortable to operate in Indian mines with bigger capacity, combined with fuel efficiency and a reliable technology to deliver high uptime.

The 8x4 tipper concept was just the right solution for India. When the company introduced the first Volvo FM7 8x4 tippers, there weren´t many takers. Nobody really believed that the tipper with such a sophisticated technology, air-conditioned cabin and an innovative 8x4 concept could last in the tough terrains of Indian mines in the scorching summers and tropical dusty environment.

The Volvo FM7 not only paved the way - it created a new segment in the industry. Later, the FM7 gave way to the FM9 in meeting the demand for higher capacity and more power. Operators understood the advantages of reliable and high performing trucks that were making a big difference in productivity and efficiency for faster turnaround of projects. They had the solution to dream big, take on bigger and more projects and plan for business expansion. They had a partner, who not only understood the needs, but also joined hands to walk the extra mile and grow together.

Focus on drivers
One more significant change that Volvo brought to the industry was the much-needed safe, comfortable and driver-friendly cabin that just didn´t exist then. The Volvo tipper cabin was a true revolution for mining trucks. It introduced the world´s safest cabin in India for the first time. The cabs were tested with Swedish impact tests, the toughest safety norms across the globe. The cabs were made of tough steel and with high quality interiors, unknown at that time in India. The ergonomic driver´s seat was designed for long working hours on the uneven roads of the mines. And above all, the high performance air-conditioning system introduced for the first time in India as a standard fitment changed the life of Indian drivers forever.

The most critical challenge that Volvo faced was not about bringing in the technology that was developed keeping the driver in mind, but to successfully bring in the perceptional shift in the mindset of Indian fleet owners by making them understand that a good work environment leads to improved productivity of drivers, which in turn was key to increased operational efficiencies.

New benchmarks in uptime
As the population of Volvo tippers grew, so did the need for their upkeep. Customers wished for even better performance for higher returns on investments. And there was no looking back as Volvo had to keep its promise.

The next best thing that happened in the industry was the introduction of the Container Workshop. This is a complete service solution at the site to reduce the downtime, so that customers could have their trucks rolling when and where they needed.

For the first time, a world-class customer support became available to customers at the mining sites. The container workshop came with Volvo trained technicians, complete service infrastructure and ready availability of genuine spare parts and lubricants, to get the trucks back on road in the shortest possible time. Bringing the world-class technology products was just the beginning. But making a commitment of a lifetime support was true customer care.

Driver competency
As more and more operators made Volvo tippers their choice, there was a huge demand for the drivers who had the competence to use the high performance technologically advanced Volvo tippers and deliver productivity.

Volvo had anticipated this well ahead of time. In fact, even before the first truck had rolled out of the plant, Volvo set up its first driver training centre for the commercial vehicle industry. The Volvo Competence Development Centre has come a long way ever since. The programmes are designed to not only train drivers, but also technicians and fleet managers. It helps customers create a complete team of well-trained manpower to bring in professionalism in operation. Till date, Volvo has trained over 35,000 truck drivers, making them better and competent to deliver higher driver productivity with Volvo trucks.

FMX platform
By 2010, Volvo had established itself as the market leader in the mining transportation industry that had fully adapted to the FM series of 8X4 tippers with thousands of them working round the clock across the mines in the country. It was designed with a much stronger chassis, axle, more powerful driveline, powerful brakes, large body and the most advanced and safest cabs in the world. FMX set new benchmarks in productivity performance, uptime and efficiency. The industry got what they wanted to get into top gear. FMX became an instant success, as it delivered its promise for higher reliability, uptime and efficiency. It became the industry leader, making Volvo synonymous with innovation.

By 2012 there were more than 5,000 Volvo tippers delivered in India, a big number in the high performance truck industry, leaving the competition way behind. With the mines getting deeper, the mining transport industry had a latent need for high capacity solutions that could deliver higher productivity with efficient fuel consumption and they knew only Volvo could come with another innovation.

Innovative 10Xx dump truck
The launch of an innovative dump truck built on the first-of-its-kind 10x4 platform with a 5-axle chassis was a unique solution. It integrated the flexibility and fuel efficiency of a tipper with capacity closer to a dump truck and at an attractive price tag.

Its large body offered the capacity of 43 tonne. For the customer it was a solution where three dump trucks could now do the work of 5 tippers, making it an economic option for their fleet as well as overall operations.

With FM 10x4 dump truck, Volvo created a new segment in mining trucks as it did back in 1998 with its 8x4 platform. This was followed by two new products for coal transport for the first time by Volvo. These were the 33 cu m coal body tipper for crushed coal and 29 cu m coal body tipper for raw coal. Being a customer centric organisation, the aim was to provide a range of technologically advanced solutions to the industry.

The new FMX
Towards the end of 2014, Volvo introduced the most advanced FMX mining tipper built on the new global technology platform, optimised further for tough and hilly terrains of Indian mining operations. They came with features that made a world of difference to mining trucks, with even bigger body capacity for higher productivity and improved cabin for better driver productivity.

The choice of manual and I-Shift
The challenge of getting that extra distance with every drop of fuel was answered with I-Shift for mining, an automated transmission system specially configured and optimised for mining applications. This technology innovation was introduced in India for the first time and now customers had the choice of both manual and I-Shift transmission on FMX Tippers.

Smart information solution for smarter operations
Along with hard products, came yet another innovation called Dynafleet Online, a telematic system gateway developed to improve fleet management through real time data analysis of vehicles and drivers to make the right and wise decisions for improving operational efficiency. It´s a solution that takes advantage of the intelligent electronic architecture of a truck and allows the access of information through the Internet to generate smart reports on performance.

The widest range of mining transport solutions
The success of the new FMX was the turning point. Volvo went back to the drawing board to create the all-new range of FMX series of mining transport solutions to create the widest range of mining tippers and dump trucks from a single source. With this wide range, the customer can now build a complete fleet with Volvo FMX and get the advantage of product synergy, optimised maintenance practice, peace of mind with tailor-made aftermarket services.

At EXCON 2015, Volvo introduced three innovative solutions based on the new FMX platform, the FMX 520 26.1 cu m dump truck, the FMX 480, 24 cu m dump truck and the FMX 440 33 cu m coal tipper.

Both the dump trucks and the tipper feature the new FMX cabin, now established as the safest and the most comfortable in the industry. While the 24 cu m dump truck is built on a chassis with a pusher axle, 26.1 cu m dump truck is built on a first-of-its kind 10x4 chassis with a tag axle. This is an innovation that offers much more flexibility while carrying larger loads in mines with fuel efficiency far better compared to conventional dumpers currently available.

Another introduction built on the new FMX platform is the new FMX 440 tipper with 33 cu m coal body for coal transportation.

Now Volvo offers the FMX 440 19.5 cu m tipper with the choice of manual and I-Shift transmission, the FMX 440 33 cu m coal tipper and the FMX 24 cu m and 26.1 cu m dump trucks, making it the leader in the range of offerings for mining transportation. As a leader in the industry, Volvo has delivered over 7,500 tippers so far, of which, over 5,000 are currently operational and trained over 35,000 truck drivers. It has been recorded that some Volvo tippers have clocked over 50,000 hours of operation.

The author is Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Aftermarket, Volvo Trucks, India , VECV.

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