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VE Commercial Vehicles (VECV) is modernising the core IT in line with the business strategy

Under Digital Enterprise, in line with the enterprise business strategy, VECV has setup an Integrated Data Management (IDM) platform which delivers end-to-end digital continuity alongwith digital twins for virtual validation (digital mockup) and virtual manufacturing validation and planning

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VECV is a joint venture between Volvo Group and Eicher Motors Limited (EML). The company majorly manufactures trucks and buses. Pre-pandemic and going into the pandemic period, the company has invested heavily into digitalisation. Rajesh Mishra, SVP and CDO, Business Processes and Systems, VECV speaks with EC.

Edited Excerpts :

Does VECV have plans to ‘Modernise the Core’ IT system for the trucks and bus business?
We have divided our platforms into 3 areas – Digital Customer, Digital Business-Connected Services & Digital Enterprise.

Core systems modernization provides an opportunity to transform business processes in line with Enterprise Business Strategy and create a strong foundation for future capability & innovation.

Under Digital Enterprise in line with the enterprise business strategy, we have setup IDM (Integrated Data Management) platform which deliver end-to-end Digital Continuity (CAD-EBOM-MBOM-SBOM) alongwith digital twins for virtual validation (digital mockup) and virtual manufacturing validation and planning. The shopfloor activities are digitalised with Integrated MES Solutions and opportunities identified for digital improvements and process enhancements being carried out.

Similarly in spare parts business we have completely modernised the ecosystem with digital intervention of Advanced Warehouse Management, Consumption based Parts Planning and Fulfillment. Currently, we are working on advanced analytics to address the unique parts requirements. Also in the domain of supply chain and other backend functions, a comprehensive digital transformation roadmap is in place.

What is the progress on launching predictive maintenance? How will it help the existing VECV customers as well as the VECV ecosystem?
VECV has always been at the forefront of utilising best in class progressive technology to enhance after sales services. Being the first player to have launched a range of 100% connected vehicles with differentiating EicherLive+ and MyEicher platform. 

VECV launched Uptime Centre in March 2020 to provide specialised support to all VECV vehicle owners. Among the various services offered by our Uptime Centre, predictive maintenance is one service that will ensure cost efficiency for fleet owners. Predictive maintenance will serve as an asset to our existing VECV customers as it helps in reducing downtime and ensures improvement in asset efficiency. With the latest version named Uptime 2.0 VECV has stepped up its ante and moved ahead to offer predictive vehicle maintenance by utilising telematics. The data sourced is put into the rule engine software programme and subsequently analysed to predict vehicle behaviour as well as avoid product failure by dynamically organising service plans.

The Uptime 2.0 takes the journey further ahead with predictive tools analysis to alert the owner well in advance about any possible product failure coming up. The fault codes are analysed with rules by domain expert people to arrive on the probable failures faster even before the vehicle becomes stationary. This is done in three categories – 

  1. Predictive customer care where the customer can carry out repairs under Do-It-Yourself mode
  2. Predictive Workshop visit cases when intervention is required but not on an immediate basis
  3. Predictive Critical when the driver needs to immediately stop the vehicle to avoid incremental repair costs and high downtime.

What is VECV’s progress on launching the Uptime Centre? How will it use technology and benefit the technicians, customers, etc ?
As mentioned earlier, VECV’s Uptime Centre at Pithampur was launched in March 2020 and has been serving customers for over a year now. It offers service support with a team of diagnostic experts offering Remote Diagnostics, Predictive Diagnostics and specialised field support to all BS-VI Eicher vehicles. This is in addition to the 24×7 Eicher On-Road Service (EOS) to provide highway assistance across the country. The team of experts are equipped to communicate in various languages including English, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.

To cater to the need of strengthening the ecosystem, the company has added new competence development centres and mobile training facilities taking the total to 18 such training delivery points. In addition, ‘Uptime Enablement’ of all workshops in the network is progressing rapidly under Retail Excellence initiative to ensure the availability & adequacy of people, process & infrastructure to work effectively and deliver a superior Uptime to customers.

In the last one year we have served more than 2500 customers from Uptime Center and it is continuously on an upward trend.

It’s very important to bring about the IT-OT integration in implementing the Industry 4.0 technologies. How did VECV achieve progress on that front ?
Traditionally IT and OT functions have remained independent of each other however, with digital transformation the line between them is getting blurred. Today one needs to converge these functions as IT and OT teams are using the same infrastructure components and applications. This is especially required in case of Industry 4.0 technology as most of the functions are inter-related to each other.

We have experienced the first wave of convergence and exploited it in a good way to address manufacturing quality improvement, Operator Skill management and critical process improvements.

With Sensor and technology becoming cost efficient, we have initiated a second wave of convergence which is driven through Sensors, Integration and Ingestion Layer, DataLake, Data Analytics on Open Source Platform. Some of the use cases initiated are in the area of Asset Tracking, Predictive Maintenance (OLE,OEE), Machine Utilisation and Energy Management. This enables us to optimize and have better management of data thus increasing productivity and efficiency.

In the area of organisational excellence, how is VECV using technology to empower the HR, employees in general?
COVID has caused various disruptions in the normal way of working. With the changes in the way of our working, WFH has proved to be a better tool and it has improved the productivity of the employees. Most of the companies are deploying cloud technologies to process large amounts of data in a short time. The advanced IT infrastructure such as use of engagement bots not only enables employees to work efficiently but also helps in real-time feedback along with controlling cost and making the entire process more flexible and seamless. An innovative, technology-led data-driven system is ultimately resulting in better decision-making. To further enhance productivity the company must ensure that the employees are aware of the corporate objectives.

Being an employee-centric organization, the company’s focus on employee learning and development remained unhindered, with a delivery of more than 10500 man-hours of online training through internal and external trainers covering over 3000 employees. Overall employee performance related processes were completed in time with a closure rate of 95-100%, which was a testimony of the effective productivity and engagement level of employees. It also showcased that the engagement levels in the organization did not dip during the current pandemic.

Please list out the steps undertaken by VECV to enhance customer experience?
Traditionally the transport business was driven by physical connect with customers and with the onset of lockdowns this was a major hindrance for effective customer engagement.

Various digital initiatives were kicked-off for enabling digital sales and contactless aftermarket operations. Eicher introduced a new way of customer connect through virtual platforms for digitally engaging with customers and create awareness and consideration at the customer’s end. A host of digital solutions like payment gateways, WhatsApp for business were enabled for ease of doing business with VECV and promote self-serviceability.

With the introduction of My Eicher and Eicher Live + platform, we have digitally enabled 30+ connected, aftermarket and value-added services for our customers. We have addressed the various persona needs of customers (owners, fleet managers and drivers) to provide them a unified Digital experience which is seamlessly integrated with physical customer touchpoints.

We have enabled Predictive Uptime services with overall uptime management. Through Analytics based Predictive service alerts on upcoming scheduled services, customers are benefited through reduction in unplanned stoppages and reduction in vehicle maintenance cost. Various self-serviceability features are enabled through MY Eicher platform enabling customer personas for effective fleet management & operations. Digital knowledge centre gives customers access to an intuitive repository on vehicle tips, self-help guides and our lifetime Support Solutions.

Last year, VE Commercial Vehicles Limited (VECV) started operations at the new truck plant at Bagroda, near Bhopal for the assembly of new engines for the Pro 2000 series. This manufacturing facility is built to meet the Industry 4.0 standards. Please share more details about the plant. How will this help the company in achieving robust production processes and high utilisation rates
The opening of the plant, with an investment of over Rs. 400 crores, is a major step towards reiterating the company’s Make in India vision and meeting its robust/ promising growth plans. In line with VECV’s vision of modernizing the CV industry, this plant is a fully digital facility complete with advanced technology such as MES control, automated manufacturing process & integrated command center, which allows us to achieve robust production processes and high utilisation rates.

The plant will be able to deliver world class engines for its wide range of EUTECH6 enabled BS VI trucks and buses and will export vehicles to over 40 countries across the globe. With a total production capacity of 40,000 units per annum, the plant can ramp up the production on need basis to approximately 1,00,000 units basis land availability.

Is VECV working towards adoption of cloud technologies?
Our Digital Business-Connected Services and Digital Customer Experience Platforms are already on the Cloud Platform. We have taken a direction of PAAS & Open Source technologies which enables innovation and customisation as per business process maturity. We are currently in the process of transforming our CRM & Channel Platform on Cloud to improve performance, scalability & business continuity. We have devised a robust plan to move other On-Premise workloads to the cloud in a phased manner.

With the help of digital technologies, what is the amount of work VECV has done to strengthen the channel network?
At VECV we believe in inclusive growth and dealers are an essential part of our ecosystem. We are helping our dealers’ network become digitally enabled so that they can service the customer even during the pandemic.

With a robust frontline enterprise platform (UDAAN) in place and supported by an integrated digital ecosystem, Eicher has been able to drive the retail organization capability transformation.

“Retail Excellence” transformation program was initiated with an objective for building an efficient and competent retail network in the frontend. This was supported by a strong customer centric backend organization on Uptime for workshop responsiveness. Various digitalization tools powered by Analytical framework and leveraging mobility solutions in a simplified manner were rolled out at dealerships to drive the enablers. Processes high on manual interventions were digitalized in an innovative manner which led to overall productivity improvement.

Overall competency framework was revamped, and role based structured learning program was rolled out for dealer technicians for timely competency fulfilment. This was enabled through new methods of learning like Byte size, tech contest and self-eLearning content supported by guided learning management platform. To ensure best in class support for dealer’s customer we are also providing technical support to the vehicles on-road 24×7 through our UPTIME centre, using remote diagnosis and video conferencing.

Analytics driven service planning system was rolled out at dealerships to increase the share of preventive maintenance services and thus reducing unplanned visits. Using machine learning algorithms and Telematics data, we are accurately forecasting the periodic service reminders for customers. With appointment and bay booking we have been able to streamline the daily service inflow and improve service responsiveness.

Implementation of these initiatives has laid the foundation of comprehensive service marketing and planning which is driving new uptime benchmarks to customers & profitable working of dealers.

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