Dmitry Vereshchagin - stock.adob

How India’s DICV is tapping smart manufacturing

Daimler India Commercial Vehicles has deployed augmented and virtual reality, advanced sensors, data analytics and other technologies to improve manufacturing processes and customer fleet management

At Daimler India Commercial Vehicles’ (DICV) manufacturing plant in Oragadam, Chennai, designers in a high-tech studio are using augmented and virtual reality to create and test products, reducing the time and cost involved in physical prototyping.

The company also uses semi-automated warehousing systems to manage inventory, support operations and optimise the use of space. Advanced sensors and testing equipment have also been deployed to conduct rigorous analysis and testing of vehicle components to ensure product safety.

Those are just some of smart manufacturing capabilities, in addition to product lifecycle management and product data management tools, that DICV has deployed to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve overall product quality.

“At DICV, we believe in upgrading our skilled workforce and embracing smart manufacturing to ensure safe, efficient and defect-free products are produced in our Chennai plant,” said Abhinav Srivastava, CIO of DICV. “We are committed to revolutionising the transportation industry by creating a world-class integrated IT and engineering environment.”

Outside its manufacturing plant, DICV has developed the Truckonnect mobile app that enables customers to track their vehicles in real-time and monitor key parameters such as vehicle speed, fuel level, vehicle health and driver behaviour to optimise fleet performance.

Taking things further is BharatBenz, one of DICV’s commercial vehicle brands, which is offering a simulated driver-training programme at the company’s regional training centre in Chennai. The programme uses a virtual BharatBenz cabin equipped with software interfaces for driver training management as well as e-learning modules.

“By creating a simulation that allows drivers to practice and learn different applications, the programme guides them towards effective and safe driving habits. Through this innovative training approach, we are committed to ensuring that our drivers are equipped with the necessary skills to operate our trucks safely and efficiently, ultimately contributing to the success of our customers' businesses,” he said.

The results of DICV’s digitalisation and smart manufacturing efforts are already showing up in the rear view mirror.

“In India, our BharatBenz vehicles have earned a reputation for providing customers with the best total cost of ownership. To further enhance our customers’ profitability, we have introduced an uptime assurance programme called BharatBenz Rakshana that promises to provide service and deliver BharatBenz trucks and buses back to our customers within 48 hours, ensuring business continuity.”

In addition, Srivastava said DICV has been able to optimise logistics and reduce costs in supply chain management through advanced analytics tools for demand forecasting, inventory optimisation, and real-time shipment tracking.

What DICV has achieved so far in its smart manufacturing capabilities will pave the way for more advanced technologies like the industrial internet of things, robotics and digital twins. “These technologies have the potential to significantly improve our manufacturing processes, increase efficiency, reduce downtime, and enhance quality control,” Srivastava said.

“We have conducted extensive research and have been in discussions with leading experts and vendors to identify the most appropriate solutions for our specific needs. We are currently in the process of piloting these technologies in some of our factories to test their effectiveness and validate their impact on our operations.

“The pilots will enable us to assess the benefits and challenges of these technologies in a real-world setting and help us make informed decisions about how best to scale them across our operations,” he added.

DICV’s Oragadam plant is the latest addition to the global Daimler truck plant network. Designed based on Daimler’s global production processes, it produces trucks that weigh between nine tonnes and 55 tonnes, along with BharatBenz buses, in India.

In 2022, the company crossed the production milestone of 200,000 vehicles at its Oragadam facility and recorded its highest annual vehicle exports, parts sales and domestic vehicle sales that year.

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