ZF, known for its design, research and development, and manufacturing activities in the automotive industry, is a worldwide supplier of driveline and chassis technology for cars and commercial vehicles. ZF has strong technical expertise and depth in developing and producing components for passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles. The company offers steering systems, transmissions, axles, chassis solutions, braking systems and telematics solutions for commercial vehicles.
To cater to the rising demands due to infrastructure initiatives by the Government, ZF is all set to strengthen its market offerings for Commercial Vehicles (CVs) in India. Plans are afoot to launch Automated Manual Transmissions (AMT) in CVs in the near future.
Adhering to stricter emission norms to protect the environment and creating sustainable mobility solutions are also among the priorities for developing vehicle technologies. The shift from BS-IV to BS-VI in India needs more efficient drivelines. “ZF is already one-step ahead of its peers as our transmission technology 9S1110 is already BS-VI compliant,” Suresh KV, Country Head, ZF India, told AutoParts Asia.
Complying with BS-VI emission norms by 2020, will help Indian companies compete with global companies. He foresees opportunities in India’s transformation to BS-VI as ZF is one of the key global suppliers with economic strength and technological expertise to be at the helm of this change.
“We are engaging with our customers and working closely with OEMs to manufacture components customised for their products that comply with BS-VI norms. Global automakers are betting big on India, as vehicle penetration is still much lower than in the developed countries. At the same time, a city like Delhi is already listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world. While BS-IV compliant fuel currently in use has 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, BS-VI fuel has only 10 ppm. Also under BS-VI, particulate matter emission for diesel cars and nitrogen oxide levels are expected to be substantially lower than in BS-IV,” Suresh said.
The ‘SEE – THINK – ACT’ principle is the unique selling point for ZF’s technological innovations. The company applies its understanding to come up with not only individual solutions for megatrends like mobility, safety, efficiency and autonomous driving, but also to design comprehensive and intelligent systems. In order to create intelligent system solutions for vehicles, the company had launched its telematics platform ‘Openmatics.’ It is an on-board unit in the vehicle, which records the data for all the desired telematics applications. Outsourced servers takeover the data conversion and storage. The users access the data via a web portal, for instance on the computer, tablet, PC or via a smartphone. The different telematics services are offered as modular software applications i.e. apps, so that the fleet and/or vehicle operators can freely select and combine them as desired.
“Policy changes like cap on overloading will lead to HCVs growing in the market with higher torque requirement. ZF has a wide product portfolio, which caters to this need. ZF is a pioneer in the field that continues to rely on modular plug-in systems for vehicle hybridisation. This means the electric drive can handle average daily driving distances on its own. Furthermore, ZF is not only making its transmissions, steering systems, braking systems and actuators more efficient through electrification, it is also making preparations for implementing autonomous drive functions,” he said.
The company’s products for CVs are designed in such a way that they minimise the cost of total ownership by reducing the number of failures, lower replacement of cost and by making components with a life longer than the vehicle itself. Proven and tested performance of transmission ensures that there are few failures in the vehicle. To increase the uptime of a vehicle, the best suitable product should be used. Application of high tech products (over-designed) in low-end vehicles will result in failure and vice versa. For example, the 9S transmission is best suited only for high-end tipper applications.
The lifespan of a vehicle depends on the life of its engine. The company supplies components, which have a longer life thus reducing the number of overhauls/repairs. Its components also reduce the frequency of replacements. This results in optimising costs for overall repair thereby reducing the total cost of ownership.
Digital Future Of Mobility
Technology is going to disrupt the Indian manufacturing industry in the coming years. With advanced solutions, manufacturers can increase efficiency, get better output, increase productivity and sell bigger volumes. Automation will take over production lines, so there will be less margin of error. Manufacturers are adopting advanced technologies like additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and augmented reality for improved productivity. These technologies are also functioning as catalysts for innovation while helping automakers maintain/improve their quality.
“ZF dedicates considerable effort for innovative approaches in all its product fields. We are aiming for rapid implementation with substantial benefits for customers with our ‘intelligent mechanical systems’ concept. We are sure that the trend toward digitisation, which has also been shaping the industrial sector for some years, will not just turn out to be a show-off, but that the high rate of innovation will soon lead to stronger demand. Intelligent connection definitely facilitates efficiency and increases productivity. ZF Openmatics is a pioneer in the field of intelligent connectivity. Openmatics, introduced in stages since 2010, is bringing connection to truck and bus fleets, seemingly without limit. It provides various services like simplifying orders, management of forwarding companies, proactive driver training for better fuel efficiency and infotainment platforms for long bus journeys. In 2017, ZF launched Openmatics in India and we have received good response for it,” Suresh said.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is dramatically accelerating the development of autonomous cars. Digitalisation is all about integrating and interconnecting AI into more and more products and endowing it with the capacity to learn.
“ZF is quickly becoming one of the trailblazers that are revolutionising mobility. One example of this is its supercomputer ZF ProAI for vehicles, which is able to process enormous volumes of data in real time. Using its capacity for ‘deep learning,’ it independently gathers experience. Abilities such as these are necessary for realising autonomous driving in day-to-day life. In addition, ZF is developing new applications such as X2Safe, an algorithm that warns road users of potential collisions before they happen. ZF will also share its increasingly requested digitalisation expertise with companies outside the mobility industry,” he said.
The intelligent combination of mechanics, electronics and digital technology is crucial when it comes to developing suitable solutions for the mobility trends of the future. The company is constantly integrating AI and IoT in its portfolio to achieve increased efficiency, optimisation of products and the new products and services will be developed on the basis of digital business models.
Focus On Future
The company is steadily increasing localisation and working closely with the Indian supplier base to meet ZF global quality standards for both the domestic and export markets. It has special products and solutions for the CV segment.
India is an important market for CVs and the industry will play a pivotal role in the development of the country. The company started with T/M for CVs in India. Today it supplies Torque rods and V-links.
The company along with its JV partner offers comprehensive safety systems for CVs. A truck’s braking system should be as powerful as its engine, because of the size of the vehicle. Its ABS has grown to support additional functionality, such as dynamic rear proportioning that can provide improved balance and handling performance. It is also one of the pioneers in creating sustainable mobility solutions. Besides, it also has hybrid solutions, AMT and E-mobility solutions.
ZF has developed many advanced technology solutions like telematics and intelligent rolling chassis for CVs. Features like automatic emergency braking can help drivers avoid or mitigate collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians, and adaptive cruise control systems can improve driving comfort and help the driver maintain a safe following distance.