Auto Serv 2006 for automotive care, maintenance, service, parts and garage equipments was held in Chennai recently.
Like November last year, the rain gods kept their promise and it rained. It rained all through the three days of Auto Serv 2006 almost. While it caused an amount of irritation to many, it also ensured a pleasant twist to the weather bringing the mercury a few slots down and with it the humidity levels. The rain also damped the enthusiasm of the participants but it was the sluggish start that was probably the right reason for the lower enthusiasm levels.The day started with participants fine tuning their presentations and stall layouts in anticipation of the event gathering good speed into the day. And it did, even though Sunday was a people mover in more terms than one. The first day of the exhibition saw the Union Minister of Communication & Information Technology, Dayanidhi Maran flag off the event in the presence of many stalwarts from the auto sector, like R Seshasayee, MD, Ashok Leyland and president of CII, which hosted the three-day event. Maran in his speech said, "Private participation is essential to promote global standards in traffic management, road safety, training drivers, automobile maintenance and services." He added, "The industry must come forward to sponsor and adopt traffic zones in their vicinity to implement safety standards and to change the mindset of the road users with respect to safety rules."Acknowledging the challenges faced by the emerging auto industry, Maran, at the inauguration of the conference on Trends In Automotive Service & Collision Repair, said, "The country is facing huge challenges in terms of road safety with increasing number of road accidents." Complementing Maran's comments, Sehasayee said, "India is growing at an extremely interesting pace and Indians have been the most surprised by the growth."Sehasayee's words reflected the spread of companies at the exhibition almost. One of the exhibitors, Shareware Dreams, based in Chennai is pretty much upbeat about the prospects, seen in this background. The company manufactures GPS systems, and is confident that such systems would become indispensable with the ever-growing traffic. While commercial fleet owners and cab operators are the prime prospects, automaker Hyundai is said to have approached the company for a demo of the system, giving a hint of things to come.Yet another manufacturer and leading supplier to display GPS was Pricol. This Coimbatore-based instruments major and OE supplier displayed a range of products that it offers on the after market. Other than instrument clusters, tank sender units, fleet solutions, data loggers, GPS, Pricol also displayed centralised lubrication system, which it supplies to Chennai Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses. On display was the road speed limiter for commercial vehicles, which, according to sources at Pricol, is mandatory fitment on commercial vehicles in Kerala.Chennai-based Hetrogenous Communications India, a branch of Infreight, a Sundaram Finance group company showed GPS, GSM/GPRS based vehicle-tracking systems.Among the major automakers present at the show were Tata and Ashok Leyland. Their big stalls indicated their aftermarket participation, mainly service and spares. Tata Motors exhibited cutaways of various engines, including a carbureted version of the Indica petrol unit. Then, there was a trailer axle, reconditioned Ace engine and gearbox and an assortment of genuine spares of the Tata range including lights and lenses. Highlighting the motto at Tata were the words, "Service solutions for every need". Sadly though this did not include even a single mention of Tata-Fiat alliance and the fact that a good number of Tata and Fiat dealerships are selling and servicing Tata and Fiat vehicles.Adjacent to the exhibit hall Ashok Leyland displayed the Comet trucks, one in the bulk carrier guise and another with a body built to work as a parcel van or execute similar duties. At the stall, Ashok Leyland had on display a model of the H Series W06 DTI2D (BSII compliant) engine, coupled to a ZF SB 36 6-speed synchronised mesh gearbox. Also on display were the complete range of Leyparts, and a trailer axle assembly.In the area of insulation, two exhibitors were Trimoorty Autodeco and Monarch. Their stalls exhibited the range of adhesives and foams that they manufacture. Both the companies are also OE suppliers to various auto manufacturers like Tata, Kinetic, Honda, Hero Honda, Bajaj Auto, Kinetic, Honda, Reva, Eicher Motors, Ashok Leyland and tier suppliers like Behr, Motherson, Siemens VDO, Bright Brothers, etc. According to Makarand Joshi of Trimoorty Autodeco, "We are talking to various companies and looking for a good response from events like these." He added, "While we strive to match the growth of the industry we are also looking at new avenues and especially with the increasing use of sealing systems, adhesives, foams, etc." Pidilite Industries exhibited its range of sealants, adhesives and the recently introduced Motomax range of car care products. Anabond too marked its presence by displaying its range of aftermarket engineering adhesives and sealants, RTV-Silicone sealants.The event was marked by the presence of TVS group of companies. The TVS Tyres stall had on show its range of tyres, while the Rubber Division exhibited products like engine mountings, bellows, etc. Group company Sundram Fasteners exhibited a range of high tensile fasteners, wheel fasteners, radiator caps, and the TVS Autolec division displayed a water pump. Lucas Indian Service was also present at the event and exhibited its range of after market services and products. The large stall of Sundaram Clayton displayed the range of after market brake system components. An OE supplier to various auto and commercial manufacturers like Tata, Ashok Leyland, Eicher, Force, Swaraj Mazda, etc, the company put on display various vacuum boosters, air dryers, separators, pedal box, brake chambers, brake valves, pneumatic brake system compressors, etc.The pneumatic ABS system that the company displayed evoked great interest. The ABS system includes an ECU, sensors, a modulator valve, etc. According to Ritwik of Sundaram Clayton, "The ABS system will be mandatory on commercial vehicles that ferry hazardous goods from next month." He added that eventually ABS would become mandatory for all commercial vehicles. Brakes India displayed the range of brake components, disc brake components, drum brake components and brake fluids that its sells under the TVS Girling brand. The highlight was the electro magnetic retarder, which according to sources at Brake India is an auxiliary braking system. The system is said to be fitted as aftermarket fitment to a few Volvo B7Rs even as Tata and Ashok Leyland are claimed to have generated interest in the system. Co-sponsor of the event, My TVS exhibited the range of Garage equipment including new generation tyre changers, accident repair benches (fixtures), diagnostic equipment, etc.Garage Equipment was one area that was well represented. Manatec displayed a range of wheel aligner, wheel balancers, auto tyre changer, heavy vehicle tyre changer, lift, smoke meter, etc. Taking a stall adjacent to Manatec, Elgi put up a bright display of garage equipment. While giving demo of a new body panel repair system, Elgi put on display crash repair system, lifts, wash systems, tyre inflator, tyre changer, tools, etc. Bangalore-based Marvel Tools & Accessories stall displayed a range of sanding/polishing equipment from known brands like Dynabrade and KWH Mirka. Coimbatore-based Sriram displayed its range of air compressors. Madhus showed its range of garage equipments from world renowned brands like Hunter, Protech, Romess, Technotest, Hofmann and Ravaglioli. Oil and lube manufacturers poured out in good force at the event. Bharat Petroleum put up its stall exhibiting its retailing concept complete with the big dispensers. Indian Oil Corporation, and Castrol too were present with their wares on display. Motul Lubricants displayed its range of products. Gulf Oil displayed its range of regular products. In addition it displayed its range of car products.Mann Filter put up a display at the event showing their range of filters. Mann+Hummel is a well-known entity in the area of filters. It is an OE supplier to prestigious brands like DaimlerChrsyler and Skoda. At the event, Mann put on display its range of after market products like filters, air filter assembly, filter elements. The company has set up shop at Tumkur in collaboration with Bosch to produce a range of filters. Yet another company to display filters was Chennai-based Inca Radiant Engineering. The company, which is an OE supplier of filters and other components like power steering reservoirs, air filter assembly, etc., to manufacturers like Greaves, Rane, Ford India, Royal Enfield and Bonfiglioli Transmission Ltd, displayed its range of air, oil, gas and fuel filters, which it offers in the aftermarket.While on the topic of filters and environment, mention should be made of Gurgaon-based SRF Limited. The company claims to be the only one in India, and South East Asia, to manufacture CFC-free refrigerant for automobile air conditioning systems. Called Floron 134 a, this Ozone-friendly substitute of CFC 12 is also used as a propellant in aerosols and foam blowing agents. Malaysia-based Syarikat Warasjaya Technology used the event to launch its fuel booster. The product STR 2020, according to Kwong Choy Yook of SWT, is based on food grade oil, and cleans fuel systems of both petrol and diesel vehicles resulting in faster pick-up and better fuel efficiency.The event also saw Petra feature its electric bikes, and the stall attracted crowd in large number, given the current fuel scenario. The bike, when fully charged, can go up to 40 km, and the electricity consumed is less than 1 unit.Batteries were presented by Prestolite brand of Tudor India. The company displayed the Prestolite Classic Gold, Classic Silver, standby batteries and motorcycle batteries. Roots Industries displayed its wide range of aftermarket horns, lamps and various other electrical accessories like relays. The Roots Multiclean stall exhibited a range of cleaning equipment comprising sweepers, scrubbers, vacuum cleaners, high pressure jet washers and lawn movers.Mico Bosch, also the co-sponsor of the event displayed its range of diagnostic equipments in addition to highlighting its contribution in the area of automotive servicing. Bosch, which has been instrumental in after market activities like spares and service has been setting up service outlets the world over including India. In India, one of the important initiatives by the company is setting up of Bosch Service centers for new generation automobiles. Including this service centers, Mico Bosch at present has more than 800 service stations under various other heads. The company also put on display products like lamps, batteries, electrical components, pumps, etc, that it sells in the aftermarket.Alfa Flexitubes displayed exhaust parts, exhaust flexes, EGR tubes and SS hoses. Samsons Rubber showed timing belts, V belts, etc. The company is promoting belts under the Helicord name.On the whole, Auto Serv 2006 fulfilled its purpose of driving the spot light on the after market that is on the growth track with the population of automobiles in India rising. The question is when will the after market assume the right speed of growth? When will the service sector become aware of quality, efficiency? When will it get cost competitive? Will it witness a great deal of DIY participation? Given the growth of automobiles and the need of factors to support the growth, it is time that could provide the best answer.