Bus manufacturing in India – turning over a new leaf

“New Technology & Trends in Bus Industry and Update on the status of Bus Code Implementation and Sleeper Coach Specification” a Seminar organized by the newly formed national level association of Bus & Coach builders called IABM (Indian Association of Bus Manufacturers). The 5th since its inception and the 1st in Gujarat, the seminar was a platform for all Bus, Coach & SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) manufactures including bus dedicated ancillary suppliers in India to meet and become a part of an organized forum.

India along with China are gearing to become the Global manufacturing hubs for Buses and Coaches being the major users due to habitat of largest population in the world. Although the Bus penetration at 0.7 per 1000, is drastically low in India as compared to other Asian countries, but the policy framework being put in place by various authorities towards up gradation and Standardization besides Passenger safety, promises tremendous scope in Bus Body Aggregates and Bus Manufacturing.

IABM which was formally registered in mid 2010 and celebrates May 17th as ‘Bus Day’ across the nation, came into being to address the need of representing the interests at the National level of its members in the yet mostly unorganized industry spread all over the country to take care of primarily local needs.

The seminar participants discussed the pioneering efforts of many of its members in introducing the new technology of buses like – Sleep & Luxury coaches, Low Floor & Semi Low-Floor Monocoque buses, Intra & Intercity buses, etc. Indian manufactures having supplied buses in neighboring countries was lauded.

IABM has taken it upon itself to appraise its members on the upcoming unified Bus code besides Bus manufacturing norms called accreditation system. This will not only help its members and the entire industry in India to organize itself in the face of strong competition from Global players’ entry on the anvil, but it will also be the 1st step to build a modern Bus Industry in India in a very systematic, scientific and organized manner.
The seminar in Ahmedabad organized on 9th Sep.’11 at The Sports Club of Gujarat, was Chaired over by Mr Shridhar Kalmadi, MD Corona Bus Manufacturers Pvt. Ltd. and Sr. VP-IABM. Mr. SK Lakra, former Director CIRT (Central Institute of Road Transport, GOI) was the chief-guest. Key note on Latest update on Bus Accreditation and Bus Code Implementation was delivered by Mr Balraj Bhanot, Chairman TEDC-BIS; founder chairman CMVR- TSC and Former Director ARAI (Automotive Research Association. of India, Pune), the primary homologation body in India.

The Seminar was well attended by members of IABM from all over India and also by manufactures seeking to become members from as far as Bangaluru, Indore, Haryana, Pune, to name a few.

Presentation by Mr Yogesh B, DG-IABM set the tone for the day, followed by informative presentations on new trends & emerging technologies in Elastic Bonding solutions, Bus Paint, Styling concepts in Bus Body design.

The DG-IABM stressed on the need to coming together and joining hands of all Bus manufactures to ensure future growth in the wake of stiff competition from Global giants like Volvo, Mercedes, SCANIA, MAN etc. who are soon going to establish manufacturing bases in India’s expanding markets. Mr Yogesh stressed on Design uniformity and detailed the initiatives taken up by IABM towards development of a common bus design for small body builders to reduce huge burden of developing a new contemporary design meeting Bus code requirements. He emphasized the fact that small and medium bus body builders are unable to design a good bus as per latest trends and specifications. Thus IABM has taken the responsibility to standardize bus designs, get govt. approvals and continuous up gradation works. This will help its members lower their costs on designing reduce waste and improve quality manufacturing besides reducing homologation costs. He stressed that with such initiatives the members will benefit by reducing their designing costs alone by over 80%.

Sleeper coach a big market as per current and future trends is yet devoid any standardization. IABM’s efforts so far have ensured Sleeper Coach Specifications have already been frozen under AIS (Automotive Industry Standards) and under consideration by the concerned ministry for implementation.

He also shared the IABM initiatives on creating consortiums of its members to pitch for large Govt., local bodies, export and other orders. By joining hands members will be able to manufacture as per their capacities and yet able to participate in bulk-order tenders, which they were as yet unable to do.

Mr Balraj Bhanot, talked about ‘Latest Update on Bus Accreditation and Bus Code Implementation’ besides explaining the Type Approval system as would be in force shortly with the compliance to AIS 052 bus code. This would also ensure uniform Tender specifications all over the country with a level playing ground for all…. Thus post-production loss shall be reduced as well as uniformity shall be maintained avoiding unnecessary turf wars in the industry.

Mr Bhanot Shared that AIS committee (under the aegis of ARAI) was established in 1995 and so far 150-160 automotive standards have been established in the entire automotive sector , which have greatly benefited the manufactures and customers alike in upgrading the standards of Indian automotive sector which has now become globally competitive within a span of one decade. Now the steps are being taken to upgrade the bus and coach industry and hopefully country would soon be proud of making contemporary buses. Hitherto body builders were making buses/coaches on approved chassis and the final approval body was inspected by RTOs before registration; that lacked the expertise with the result non –standard buses with varying designs are produced in the country. This need to be curbed if this industry has to survive in the long term.
Other eminent speakers included Dr Deshpande of Asian Paints PPG and Mr Amit Paul who spoke on New Styling Concepts in Bus Body Design.
Finally Mr Yogesh, Director General IABM shared with all the onerous recognition coming from BUSWORLD by way of an invitation to IABM to lead a delegation to the forthcoming Busworld Kortrijk is happening from October 21st – 26th 2011. It is the biggest show on earth in Bus industry.. IABM is leading the Indian delegation and would also be celebrating a India day at Busworld., Kortrijk.. The seminar closed with hearty applause on the significant achievement, and promises all round towards ensuring success and support to IABM.

The Indian Bus Manufacturing industry is sure poised for its next leap into the future.

Mohit Gupta