Text & Photos : Bhargav TS

Alten India, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alten France, has an aggressive growth strategy for India with plans to harness its global technologies and customise them for OEMs and component manufacturers here. The company that provides technology consulting and product engineering services to manufacturers is also planning to enter new avenues for growth. It will position its Indian design centres as a major hub for servicing customers in India and the APAC region.

Alten India’s Director, Jayakumar Ettennil said, “We have been traditionally focusing on automobile industry, which comes under our transport division accounting for 20%. We largely focus on engineering related activity and our resources also cater to the aerospace sector, which accounts for 18.5% of our revenue. Our global competence team helps us to grow in new areas and to invest into different verticals, industries and geographies that help to achieve YoY growth. When we came to India in 2010, we brought in lot of expertise from Europe and practising it here makes us grow in different verticals. Last year we invested into automotive and this year we are seeing some traction in that area.”

Jayakumar Ettennil, Director, Alten India - CopyInitially the company focused on aerospace and started the engineering services in the systems and mechanical areas. In 2011, Alten saw potential for growth and looked for investments in India. With its acquisition of Calsoft Labs in 2011, the Alten Group has expanded its expertise in India to telecom products and cloud computing.

The company currently has more than 820 employees and is looking to expand it to 2,000 by 2016. In the automotive business, the company will be focusing on ECUs and electrical areas, where its strength lies in the systems software areas. Recently Alten has been growing very well in the wire harnessing area working with three OEMs; they see lot of demand for resources. The focus within systems engineering is in the powertrain area says Jayakumar. He continued that Alten is very strong in ECU software development and has its own tool kits for validation of these powertrains and body computers; these kits are developed in France and are being absorbed back in India, they are trying to develop and sustain it here.

Earlier, systems and software were not predominant areas in India; local R&D is playing a big role, in which many suppliers are also involved, in development. A few years ago India was more like a manufacturing hub but today it is emerging as an engineering hub, underlines Jayakumar.

Elaborating on the validation process, Jayakumar said, “All the controllers that get into the passenger car are validated in different environments. These behavior models are developed by us and the controllers are simulated before it is fitted into the car to save more time. By deploying this, the time to market the product is shortened drastically, where the control functions are developed in this virtual environment and then taken to production directly. Some of the tests we do can be used for homologation and can simulate the complete electrical environment to validate an entire electronic unit of a passenger car. We have the capability to simulate models for engines, vehicles and any other associated functions of the vehicle. Currently we focus on software validation and we can also do prototyping of ECU functions before it gets into production by building a production ready code without the hardware,” he explained.

Going forward, the company is also looking to expand its test rig facility by installing battery management systems, power train ECUs and BCMs, and electrical test systems to validate electrical cars. Jayakumar said, “The physical battery is required to validate it, so we have developed the required interfaces to command and control the equipment in conjunction with our simulators. Parameters like voltage across the cell, current being drawn, current outsourcing capabilities, current state of charge and various other such tests can be done in the facility. We are working on this for some time and now plan to have this facility by end of this year.”

Globally, Alten works with a few commercial vehicle manufacturers, and now in India it sees huge potential. By 2015, the company plans to enter into the commercial vehicle and construction equipment sectors to propel it to grow further. It will mainly focus on the powertrain, body computer controls and validation, since this requires more skill sets. In the aftermarket area, the company is involved in technical publishing, technical documentation and manual preparation.


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