China-based Hongfa, a leading manufacturer and supplier of world class relays, will invest Rs 10-15 million in India on automotive electronics research and development (R&D) functions as electronic innovation requires value engineering. The company is doing a lot of research on machines and tools, mainly for their automation and on downsizing of relays.R A Gotur, Director-Indian Operations, Hongfa Group-India, told Auto Components India that “We are the only relays manufacturing company to be ranked as China’s top brand. We are supplying relays across industries and supply PCB and plug-in relays to the automotive industry. The relays are supplied to two-wheelers, three-wheelers,commercial vehicles and construction equipment. In the vehicle segments our relays take the position in wiring harness and electronic devices.These relays find their applications in the flasher, starter, centre locking, power window, and wipers.”

The production lines of relays are automated and this gives the best properties like pick-up voltage, electrical endurance, release voltage and consistency in performance. These are the critical parameters for relays to have a seamless performance. In a vehicle the relays are used in body segment and chassis. Relays also find their place in safety, security, power, comfort and driving segments.Recently relays are getting smaller. Small amps could be replaced by semiconductor but it is expensive. The cost-sensitive Indian market may take time to accept it. Plug-in relays are the trend with high amp applications.PCBs are the trend now with its set of advantages. There is an obvious change to PCBs in the Indian market. Hongfa has 1200 employees and about 10% of them are engaged in R&D. The

year ahead is promising for the company with a projected output beating the current production rates. “Our R&D is working on miniature relays and SMT relays to be in line with the market focus on lightweighting. The size of the relays contributes to lightweight which in turn reduces fuel consumption and emissions contributing to the green environment.

Automation in relay manufacturing is equally important and 80% of our shop floor is automated,”Gotur said It has HFV6V/HFV6V-G, HFV15/HFV16,HFV4, HFV7, HFV9, HFV9-G, and HFV11 in the plug-in segment, and HFKF, HFKJ, HFKA,HFKC, HFKW/HFKH, HFKT, and HFKP in the PCB segment. HFKF series relay is the smallest available. All these products are manufactured in China and imported to India.

The Chinese company exports the relays across the globe, but mainly to the other Asian countries, and the European and American markets. The export: domestic sales ratio of auto relays is 30:70. The company supplies its relays to tier-1 companies who in turn supply the entire module to OEMs like Hyundai, M&M, GM, FCA to name a few. The tier companies list includes Motherson, Minda, Delphi, Lear Corporation, Yazaki, Leoni etc.

India is opening new avenues for electronic manufacturers by making regulations stricter. “This is a very good opportunity for us as we see a lot of potential in the Indian market,” Gotur said. In India, the Hongfa relays have a market share of 8%. But within a year “we expect the market share to touch 15%. Our relays are in the final approval stage with a few Indian automotive companies. With a few other Indian companies and contract manufacturers of MNCs, they are in the qualification stage,” he said.

The Indian operations of the company are handled by the distributors and tier companies. There are 3 sales managerswho are promoting automotive relays in the Indian market in addition to latching relays, power relays and signal and

telecom relays. “We need to increase the market share in India and all our plans are in place now. From the Indian operations we expect at least a contribution of 12-15% to reach our growth-forecast. We should become

a key automotive supplier across the globe and we expect 33% growth by 2020,” Gotur said.

Hongfa has a testing and experimenting centre for relays and related products recognised

and approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), VDE and China National Accreditation Service (CNAS) for conformity. The company is formulating multiple national standards. Its testing lab is approved by UL America as a Witness Test Data Program (WTDP) lab. Also it is approved by VDE Germany as Test Data Acceptance Program (TDAP) lab.

It has received many awards including ‘National Export Base for Automotive Components’ from the ministry of commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission.The company also provides space for other manufacturers to test their relay components.

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