Nexus Pneumatics will cater to the entire requirement of automation solutions in the Body-In-White segment
Amodern body shop flaunts a high degree of automation. Robots and theirassociates rule the place. Working unrelentingly, they lift and arrange panels,mount them on fixtures, wait for them to be clamped down, and then weld themtogether to make an assembly. It is a process that looks both artistic and scarywith the associated fireworks and resulting heat. Seemingly difficult to followas various bits add to make the Body-In-White (B-I-W) at the end of the line, aclose look reveals that sheet metal clamping solutions play a crucialrole.
Explains Hitesh R Panchal, director of Mumbai-based Nexus Penumatics,"Utmost care has to be taken in the process of assembling the car body sothat the outer finish of the component is not damaged. It is therefore vitalthat every process is handled carefully and using the right clampingsolutions".
Nexus Pneumatics is a venture of Steel-Smith (India) and represents the UniverGroup of Italy in India. Having a 4000 sq.ft facility at Vasai on the outskirtsof Mumbai, the company offers a wide range of automotive sheet metal clampingsolutions and pneumatic as well as electric automation products from Univergroup, like pneumatic power clamps, pneumatic locating pin cylinders, pneumaticpower pivots, pneumatic under body clamps, pneumatic grippers, electrical powerclamps, electrical locating pin cylinders, electrical power pivots, electricalunder body clamps and electrical grippers.
Some of the Univer Group products are assembled from knocked down kits sourcedfrom Italy. Some have an amount of local content. States Hitesh, as he watchesan operation in progress, "It is essential that we aim at localising theseproducts in the near future. We have successfully assembled a range of ISOcylinders, valves and other accessories in India with Univer components. Thisgives us an edge over our competitors."
Pointing at the pneumatic cylinders and grippers arranged in one corner of hisoffice, Hitesh adds that the automotive range of Univer-Group is speciallydesigned for B-I-W. clamping. Emphasising that Univer's (Automotive Division)product portfolio offers almost everything required in the industry for thetop-of-the-line automation solutions, Hitesh Panchal explains, "Today anentire body shop is handled by robots and other automated solutions to ensurethe highest level of quality and consistency in components. The concept ofautomotive clamping plays a vital role in the process. Clampings fitted on thetooling/fixtures of the assembly line, welding stations, hemming stations, etc.,present the manufacturer the advantage of clamping and de-clamping the componentby the push of a button and irrespective of its size or profile. The processinvolved is therefore executed smoothly, resulting in a assembly that is preciseand consistent."
A lot of consideration goes into the selecting of right clamping solutions.Considerations like quality of the products and their consistency, userfriendliness of the product keeping in mind the operator, maintenance team,production engineers, etc, cost feasibility, design aspects of clamping productsas per the tool design, compactness of the clamping products for spot weldingand gun entry in critical work stations, clamping force required for clamping ofthe component, holding force required for clamping the component in place, selfweight of the tool (the self weight of the clamping products matters a lot) andthe downtime of the products during maintenance or trouble shooting alsomatter.
Speaking about maintenance and trouble shooting, Hitesh emphasizes on the needfor standardisation. "There is a need for standardisation in the Indianauto industry. Lack of standardisation often affects the ability to upgrade andoptimise costs," he states. Drawing attention towards the need for aone-shop stop, Hitesh opines, "The moment a fault develops in the line itbecomes difficult to diagnose as the manufacturer of each component isdifferent. Each manufacturer has to be called for to diagnose the fault andfinally replace the faulty component. Good deal of time and resources are wastedin the process, which is not desirable."
Having chalked out an ambitious growth plan, which includes catering to theentire requirement of automation solutions in the B-I-W segment, Hiteshannounces that the company has some well known names as its clients. "Thecomplete body shop of the Linea at Fiat's Ranjangaon plant has Univer range ofautomotive products. We are also supplying to Tata for its world truckproject."
Admitting that the slow down in the auto industry has delayed opportunities,Hitesh Panchal puts it that his company is only eight months old. He modestlyremarks that though he and his team have chalked out a growth strategy, it isthe not the right time to speak about the same. "Another six months and wewould have added to our range of offering and thus further penetrate the market,creating enough awareness in the process," he concludes.