Putting business in auto pilot mode

Putting business in auto pilot mode

The convergence of engineering and IT technologies in the manufacturing sector heralds a paradigm shift in the production process.

Auto ancillary units in India have been hard hit by the global recession and have been relying on strong technological acumen to weather the cross-winds of flagging demand and occasional blips on the radar. JBM Auto Limited, a flagship company of the $1.2-billion Delhi-headquartered automotive component manufacturer JBM Group, is solidifying its position with its inhouse product capabilities. In an interaction with Deccan Herald’s Umesh M Avvannavar and N V Vijayakumar, JBM Group Executive Director Nishant Arya expounds on the scale of competition in the auto component manufacturing sector where technology is the clear differentiator and the group’s vision to become an end-to-end solution provider for the industry.

JBM Group has been a pioneer in steel metal manufacturing. How did you venture into auto component manufacturing?

JBM Group began its journey of excellence in 1983. The organisation commenced operations as a manufacturer of LPG cylinders for the Delhi-NCR region of India. Moving from strength to strength, assisted with experience and knowledge, JBM Group entered the automotive industry in 1985. In 1986, the group signed a joint venture with Maruti Suzuki India Ltd to manufacture sheet metal components and assemblies.In 1986, we decided to expand the business in the automotive sector by staying abreast of market trends and the latest technologies. JBM Group soon associated with other OEMs and gradually emerged as a leading supplier to almost all automotive OEMs in the country. The group today is a diversified conglomerate with a presence in the automotive, engineering and design services and renewables.

Could you share additional information on the group’s manufacturing facilities, products and key customers?

The JBM Group has 35 manufacturing plants and four engineering and design centres across 18 locations globally. In India, we have plants across 14 locations – Indore, Pune, Chennai, Nashik, Bangalore (Hosur), Faridabad, Gurgaon, Haridwar, Pantnagar, Nalagarh, Greater Noida, Sanand, Pathredi and Kosi. Some of the manufacturing plants are located in supplier parks to minimise transportation costs and time. The products are customised inhouse as per customer requirements. Our ‘art to part’ philosophy starts with the drawing board design of the product and ends with the product being manufactured under guidelines given by the customer. In fact, this is our core USP to suit the dynamic needs of customers. Among the products we manufacture are air tanks, body-in-white parts, corner modules, cross car beams, cross members, chassis and suspension systems, door impact beams, exhaust systems, fuel tanks, fuel fillers, tubes and tubular parts and wheel assemblies. The group also manufactures CNG/LPG cylinders, railway coaches and locomotive accessories.

Today, we supply to almost all OEMs in the domestic and global markets in the 4-wheeler, 2-wheeler, 3-wheeler, commercial vehicle and farm and construction equipment domains.
JBM Group unveiled its long awaited low-floor intra-city bus at the Auto Expo earlier this year. Why did the group decide on the intra-city segment and not the inter-city segment?

Our latest foray into bus manufacturing focuses on creating a niche segment in the intra-city public transportation space and aims at providing luxury, comfort and safety. We have extensively worked towards understanding the requirements of this product category and studied similar products being used globally. We feel that a big opportunity lies in this segment and can be catered to with the introduction of the right kind of product. 

We are very bullish about various urbanisation schemes where the government is expected to spend over $20 billion over the next 7 years on transport modernisation. Getting into full-fledged vehicle manufacturing is a natural progression for us as JBM Group has already been doing contract manufacturing over the years for various renowned OEMs in the country.

As you have entered the intra-city bus segment with CITYLIFE, when do you foresee commissioning of the facility? What is your current order book?

The work at the Faridabad and Kosi Kalan (UP) facilities are in full swing and they will be operational by October 2014. At peak capacity, these plants will manufacture 2,000 buses annually. 

Currently, we are in discussions with various state agencies as well as private bodies. Once these discussions reach the final stages, we shall make the announcements on the order status.
JBM Auto Ltd has selected Breda as a technology partner. How did JBM Group narrow down on them?

The renowned European bus manufacturer BredamenariniBus (BMB) has supported us with their domain expertise and experience in the bus manufacturing business. BMB boasts of over four decades of experience in this domain. Their legacy in this business was a key factor in our association with them for this project.
What is your capex for the current fiscal? How much of it has been achieved?

We have already spent Rs 100 crore each to set up plants in Bangalore and Indore. The Bangalore plant will cater to Honda Motorcycles and will come under the group-owned Neel Metal products Ltd. The Indore plant will cater to Volvo Eicher and M&M and will come under JBM Auto Ltd. The group has commissioned two plants for the bus project, one in Faridabad for the monocoque structure and one in Kosi for assembling buses. The company has started expansion for the Faridabad and Gurgaon facilities for the bus project. The expansion is part of the earlier announced investment of up to Rs 500 crore in the bus business. Our further expansion will depend upon the opportunities the company get in future.

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