National Engineering Industries Ltd (NEIL), part of the CK Birla Group, has launched PreSet hub assemblies for heavy commercial vehicles. The company that makes bearings under the NBC brand has established a technical collaboration with ConMet for the preset technology that results in lower maintenance costs and improved vehicle performance. ConMet, part of Amsted group, USA specialises in the development of lightweight, high performance products for the commercial vehicle industry.

Rohit Saboo

 

Rohit Saboo, President and CEO, NEIL, informs that the PreSet hubs are assembled carefully with bearings and other parts to provide for maximum life. “Through this technology, we aim to address the changing needs of the heavy vehicle industry, which requires extended service intervals as well as reduction in failures of critical components. These hubs will help reduce maintenance and labour costs as well time taken. Importantly, failures arising from incorrect adjustments of bearings and rotation of the inner rings of the axle can be eliminated,” he says.

PreSet Hub (2)

The new generation hub assemblies use pre-adjusted bearing technology developed by ConMet. The bearings are set with precise control over hub and precision spacer tolerances. ‘This level of accuracy is nearly impossible to achieve in shop environments that use manual bearing adjustment methods,’ asserts Saboo. Mark Wagner, vice president, ConMet, adds, “When bearings are set at the factory itself, machining and sealing become better, thereby improving tolerances.”

About 80 percent of the US market uses preset hubs, while the corresponding ratio in Europe is 60:40. In India, Volvo India has set the ball rolling for preset hubs by signing up with NEIL.
“We are in talks with several CV makers including Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors for their premium models. The response is good as the OEMs understand that there is no need to alter the existing axle to incorporate preset hub. Besides, we are promising a two-year warranty,” he reveals. 

PreSet Hub - 2

The company can offer on its preset hubs, double the warranty applicable to conventional products, because the estimated life of its hub is 1.3 million km under ideal conditions. “We maintain the tolerance band to about a tenth of the conventional hub,” Saboo insists.

Moreover, since the hub is assembled as per OEM specifications, vehicle manufacturers save up to 75 percent in assembly time. Parts of the hub no longer need to be assembled individually. In return for all these benefits, the preset hub draws a premium of 15 – 30 percent., Saboo asserts that the incremental cost may be recovered within a year on accounts of the articulated benefits.

Given its optimistic assessment of market prospects, NEIL has invested Rs 15 crore to set up a dedicated facility for preset hubs at its Jaipur plant. ConMet has helped NEIL in this effort. “The US company has extended support even to the extent of identifying equipment to be commissioned in the manufacturing line. It offered inputs to equipment suppliers, helping them customise machines including presses and hydraulics,” sets out Saboo.
NEIL has an installed capacity to make 20 preset hubs per hour. On the whole, the company makes about 110 million bearings per year that straddle 10 mm – 1.2-meters in diameter. Notably, the company has the capability to make bearings up to two meters in diameter.
The mother plant in Jaipur weighs in at about 80 percent of NEIL’s total production. Another plant is located in close proximity. The third plant is in Manesar. When the fourth comes up in Gujarat towards the end of this calendar, the company’s annual installed capacity will increase to 150 million bearings.
This is by no means the end of NEIL company’s capacity expansion agenda. It has procured lands near Ajmer for its fifth plant that will come up some time in the future. The incremental capacity will pave the way for forward and backward integration.
“While the preset hub is a forward integration initiative, we are mulling options to get in to forgings, as a backward integration measure. We are also looking at making sub-assemblies for tractors in the future,” articulates Saboo.
Last year NEIL reported a turnover of Rs 1,250 crore. The company hopes to grow by about 12 percent in the current fiscal. Exports account for about 16 percent of its topline. So far as the domestic market is concerned, the company gets 80 percent of its revenues from OEMs, the vast majority of these are from the auto industry.

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