Bosch Automotive Aftermarket is responsible for the supply, sales and distribution of all Bosch-branded automotive parts and accessories for vehicle servicing, diagnostic equipment , technical after-sales service, imparting technical information, training and consulting In India.
The range of products is the largest under one brand. They find applications in two and three-wheelers, cars, MUVs, LCVs, HCVs, buses, tractors, off-road applications and stationary engines. The division has eight zonal offices and more than 1200 distributors across the country.
For automotive services it has over 3000 outlets comprising Bosch Car Service, Bosch Diesel Service Workshops, Electric Modules, Express Car Service, Express Bike Service and Optimum Diesel Partners. The division has 28 automotive training centres which include Bosch Training Centres and Joint Certification Centres. They cover parts, bytes, services and training, all under one roof.
In its `Automotive Service Solutions‘ operations, Automotive Aftermarket offers testing and repair-shop technology, diagnostic software, service training, and information services. The services are supported by more than 50 dedicated engineers and a manufaqcturing unit in Bengaluru for workshop equipment like AC service equipment, wheel alignment, wheel balancers, tyre changers, vehicle lifts etc. It has development centres in the US, EU and India.
Products like the indigenously developed AC service equipment, and global solutions like Intelligent Fleet Manangement, Connected Services, Connected Vehicles, and Augmented Reality will enable Bosch’s transformational drive, and facilitate several other applications with secondary benefits.
“GST will bring in many advantages like the one-India concept. It will help reduce inventory levels and allow the B2B customers and service stations use the new IT planning system that Bosch uses worldwide. We will introduce it in India this year; we are just waiting for GST. Recently we have also started an ‘incubation programme’ for the service start-ups. By 2020 we want to have 5,000 workshops, most of them for car service,” in a special interview, Vijay Pandey, Regional President, Automotive Aftermarket, Bosch Limited, told T Murrali. The excerpts:
Q: How is the aftermarket progressing as there are many challenges from the numerous new technologies? The transformation is towards the organised sector but with some glitches. How does Bosch, as a one-stop supplier, address these issues?
A: The need for transformation is more today than it was five years ago as new technologies are coming in faster; BS VI is upon us though we thought it would take several years to come. There is much less time for the industry to upgrade from BS IV to BS VI. This is a big challenge. Germany took nearly 10 years to graduate to this standard.
Market requirement is another factor that drives transformation. Earlier a whole lot of workshops thrived on repairing cars with the conventional system – the repair frequency was higher and it was not too complex. Even an unorganised workshop could repair a vehicle. This is no longer possible. Today a car with a sophisticated system can only be handled by diagnostics to analyse problems before the mechanics touch it.
KTS is the diagnostic system we use for the Japanese, Korean and American cars. As an aftermarket player we are the only one to have all three: Parts, hardware and services. We have more than 3000 workshops in India – Bosch car service, Express car service, Bosch diesel service, Bosch electrical service and Express bike service. So transformation is taking place as Bosch provides all this as well as education and training on the different systems. We are now proactively generating requirement for customers who we had not approached earlier – it increases their convenience levels. We are also looking at options where customers can check availability and buy online.
Q: How does checking online help the customer? If it is (Do it Yourself) DIY, it helps, but here it is do-it-for- me, so how can the customer address these issues by checking online?
A: I am talking about B2B; DIY will remain a very small part.
Q: Is there a way where a system can automatically give a command to replenish from your central warehouse that will enable the workshop to address the customer’s need faster? Is Bosch working on such things?
A: Today we have a service portal launched by Bosch. It is a unique tool where workshops can register and get our data on lead time, etc. Our replenishment model gives you a total sophisticated planning system – it will be in use this year. It will connect our plants to the mother warehouse, local distribution centres and consumption units wherever they are. We will have safety stock to ensure the system is always live. Also, we are launching a totally different logistic system to take care of vehicles off-road. It will make supplies within 24 hours, against over five days earlier.
Q: That is easier said than done. Not only cost but Bosch may have other systems where it may not have direct control over it, like transportation and logistics. Is there a plan already in place to address this?
A: In India, on one side we have problems of logistics, transportation and reliability, while on the other side you see online e-shop companies that promise fast deliveries; there are companies solely for logistics that ensure on-time delivery – avenues are opening up.
Q: Once you connect seamlessly to this sort of system, to what extent do you think you can optimise the entire chain, right from manufacturing to centralised warehouse to delivery?
A: We can optimise the total supply chain. Another factor of transformation is GST which gives us a unique opportunity – one nation, one tax and seamless flow. It will revamp the whole logistics set-up. We need not have so many warehouses that add to a lot of inefficiencies. With this sophisticated system we are able to forecast very accurately; our customer SLA (Service Level Agreement) will improve as also efficiency in terms of inventories. Waste and pilferage will be controlled. With better infrastructure and GST, trucks can double the travelling distance. So our customers will get faster deliveries – they need not hold too much inventory and, maybe, the market will expand.
Q: B2B customers can optimise their resources?
A: Yes. For example, I went to one of our customers in UP who was holding six months inventory; now that will definitely shrink once he becomes aware of the advantages in the new IT planning system that Bosch uses worldwide. We will introduce it in India this year – we are just waiting for GST.
Q: On an average to what extent will it impact inventory levels?
A: On the overall supply chain we are expecting a reduction of 10-15 percent, which is a sizable number.
Q: Another challenge is the cost of finance or financial availability for entrepreneurs to open Bosch service outlets. Is there a way for Bosch India to help them?
A: Right now finance is not provided; we provide parts, diagnostics and services. The focus is to upgrade them to face new technologies. Any car that comes to the Bosch workshop with a new system has to be serviced; they should have the capability to do it. This is our first priority.
So today we support them in every way except finance. Recently we have also started ‘incubation programme’ for the start-ups.
Q: Can you elaborate your programme – incubate?
A: We give them a three-month programme of incubation within Bosch where we provide them all guidance on legal aspects, administration, marketing, sales and some money to survive the initial period before they get their funding from other sources. We have Bosch Car Service, Express Car Service, Bosch Diesel Service, Bosch Electrical Service and Express Bike Service.
Q: Coming to the bike service, a lot of changes are coming in the two-wheeler segments. How well are your service centres geared to handle this?
A: This is our focus for the next few years because with the Express Bike Service we have also plans to launch Bosch Bike Service as a different brand. The pilot will come this year itself. We see a big need due to the change in the engine management system; also the middle and high-end mobikes are increasing and growing at a faster pace. This is an opportunity for people to get into total parts, diagnostics and services especially as customers are now ready to spend money on such bikes. Today no customer will take his expensive bike to an unorganised workshop – that is where we would like to step in.
Q: From 2018 all two-wheelers in India will have ABS retrofitted. Will your facilities be ready by then?
A: Yes, our facilities will have retrofit for ABS, retrofit for a management system that can improve efficiency; how we can change the efficiency of the bike to get better mileage. We have more than 3000 workshops (including 500 of Bosch car service) where we will implement this. By 2020 we want to have 5,000 workshops, most of them in car service.