Rico Auto Industries addresses the mushrooming of counterfeit parts in the automotive aftermarket with new distinctive packaging to safeguard consumer interest.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Rico Auto Industries Ltd. is determined to deter customers from buying counterfeits in the automotive aftermarket. In an effort to help the customers differentiate fake from the vast pool of genuine spares, the company has introduced a distinctive product packaging. Averred Abhishek Kulshrestha, Vice President- Corporate Materials & After Market Business, RICO Auto Industries, “As a part of a continuous improvement cycle we have changed the inner packing of all our items. This packing is more attractive, robust and enabled with security features.” Expecting a six per cent hike in packaging cost, as a result, claimed Kulshrestha that the company would not pass on the burden to the consumer.

Rico Autos’ new packaging will feature a holographic effect on the entire packaging except on the component photo. Explained Kulshrestha that the top flip-open portion of the packaging will feature a camouflaged security code readable only with the exclusive use of a unique film. With the help of a scanning device, the parts will be identified as genuine or counterfeit. Add to it the company can cyclically change the code in the midst of the production cycle in a bid to foil the attempt by counterfeiters. “This special packaging can only be done by two companies in India at the moment utilising specialised machines and we are getting it printed in Uttarakhand,” he claimed. Beginning January 01, 2020, the company has additionally made use of QR codes for keeping in with the area-specific product distribution requirements. This is expected to facilitate easy identification of product lots and curtail the crucial loss of time during product audits and identification procedures. The QR code works such that the company will be able to track the product inventory and curb the practice of dealers indulging in inter-state ‘dumping’.

In an effort to increase awareness in customers, the company has organised several awareness camps to introduce the new packaging to customers and set new quality benchmarks for the future. “We are hopeful that through this initiative, the spurious content in the market should go down significantly,” opined Kulshrestha. Claiming not to differentiate between the quality standards for its range of OEM and aftermarket products, the company is said to be actively involved in raising awareness levels in tier markets as part of the overall brand strategy.

On account of counterfeits, India loses an estimated revenue of Rupees one lakh crores in sales/purchase by consumers across sectors as per a report by Authentication Solution Providers’Association (ASPA). The report claims that the trade volume of counterfeits alone is pegged at 3.3 per cent of the total global trade. Known to deceive consumers into buying a fake or fraudulent product by misappropriating someone else’s trademark without authorisation and in order to gain illegitimate profits by riding on the reputation and goodwill associated with the trademark, the mushrooming counterfeits are a big menace for the automotive aftermarket too. The counterfeit automotive parts industry is valued at an estimated Rs.22,000 crores. As per a statistic, when the total aftermarket in 2018-19 grew by 9.6 per cent to Rs.67,491 crores from an estimated Rs.61,601 crore the previous fiscal (2017-18), counterfeits accounted for 30-40 per cent of the overall aftermarket in retail markets. A draft notification Together with Auto Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA), Rico Auto is actively working towards freeing the automotive parts and packaging from the clutches of counterfeits. Anti-counterfeiting technology like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, NFC among others for traceability are expected to help companies like Rico Auto to safeguard consumer interest. ACI

With inputs from Anwesh Koley

q Paper-based products

Known for its clutch assembly business as an OE supplier to major two-wheeler manufacturers, Rico Auto has invested heavily in Research and Development activities. Mentioned Abhishek Kulshrestha, Vice President- Corporate Materials & After Market Business, RICO Auto Industries that the company will also introduce these assemblies for paper-based plates. In terms of applications, the new paper-based products from the company are claimed to offer better reliability, performance and enhanced pick-up especially in the case of two-wheelers. Internationally, the trend of using paper-based frictional material in wet clutches is known to have been a popular concept with the trend said to be making inroads in India too. In a closely tracked development by the market, the company from the next financial year (2020-21) plans to make a foray in the commercial vehicle segment with its range of brake linings, brake drums and cylinder covers.

Today, 60 per cent of the company’s business is accounted for by the two-wheeler segment. 30 per cent of the business comes from the four-wheeler segment with the remaining 10 per cent said to come from the three-wheeler segment. Rico Autos’ aftermarket product portfolio includes over 500 components for motorcycles and passenger cars. The distribution network constitutes 70 distributors across the country. In the case of exports, the company has established a significant market to neighbouring countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The company further is buoyant of the potential of export potential of SAARC nations besides select regions in Africa, especially where India-make vehicles are in demand.

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