KOHLER is one of the World’s leading manufacturers of engines for agriculture, farm, automotive, construction, genset, industrial and marine applications. Sudipto Mukherjee, General Manager – Marketing, KOHLER Engines India (Lombardini India Pvt. Ltd.) speaks about company’s history, products and future plans.
Over 80 years, Lombardini, now a KOHLER group co., has been making important contributions to the development of the diesel engine. Would you like to share the successful journey of Lombardini in India?
Lombardini srl. Head Quartered at Reggio Emmila in Italy, has been one of the global leaders in lower HP range diesel engines and now part of Kohler Co.’s Global Power Group. Lombardini started business in 1922, when Adelmo Lombardini, along with partner Pietro Slanzi, produced their first engine. In 1933, together with brothers Alberto and Rainero, Adelmo decided to start his own business and founded a company called, “Officine Meccaniche Fratelli Lombardini”. To do so, he bought an existing mechanics firm and its foundry, which were located outside Reggio Emilia.
After the difficulties of the Second World War and, during post-war reconstruction, Lombardini was ready to meet the increasing demands of the market with the company’s line of engines (both diesel and gasoline), marine engines, and a wide range of tractors and motor-driven pumps.
Two fundamental milestones in the life of the company were reached by the end of the 1950s: In 1957, Lombardini began producing the LA line of engines (single-cylinder air-cooled diesel engines), and in 1959 the product line was expanded to include the first tracked agricultural tractor, the Castoro model.
The resulting success was so great that the production facilities on the Via Galliano, that in 1963, the company decided to build a new factory, which is the current facility in Pieve (near Reggio Emilia). At the same time, the company began to take on a true international dimension with the opening of its first foreign branches: France (1964), Spain (1965) and Germany (1967). In 1986, the special independent Lombardini Marine division was founded to manufacture marine engines. It was felt that such a division could produce better results. Lombardini’s continuous effort to raise the technological level of its products, the company was able to launch a line of water -cooled diesel engines in 1988:
• FOCS (Fully Overhead Controlling System)
• CHD (Compact Heavy Duty).
In the early 1990s, Lombardini acquired the Acme Company in Valdobbiadene near Treviso, which specialized in producing gasoline engines and the production of the CHD hi-tech, water-cooled diesel engines was concentrated in Slovakia.
Because of the company’s constant effort to improve quality, Lombardini was certified as complying with ISO 9001 already in 1995. And in 2002, for meeting the environmental quality standard and the specific QS9000 standard.
In April 1999, the company became part of the American group called Mark IV Inc. The initial results of the acquisition were obtained that same year with the important purchase of Ruggerini Motori, Lombardini’s traditional competitor in the Reggio Emilia area. The final phase of this program saw the acquisition of a factory in India in August 2001. This is when Lombardini India Private limited came into existence. Its manufacturing facilities presently include special & automated assembly lines for single- and multi- cylinder engines air- and water- cooled both for diesel and petrol/gas engines as well as machining of critical components.
In 2007, Lombardini was acquired by Kohler Co., a US$ 5 billion company Head Quartered at Wisconsin, U.S. and having global presence of its different businesses. Kohler offers a wide range of products, from kitchen and bath fixtures to fine furnishings, and five star diamond resorts to engines and generators. Lombardini – the European leader and world’s 3rd largest producer of diesel engines up to 50 kW – joined Kohler’s Global Power Group and contributed to its growth.
What are the major achievements for KOHLER Engines in various sectors?
When we talk of the various major achievements of KOHLER Engines globally it would associate with the various engines that have proved their mark in the market.
Agriculture & Farm
KOHLER Engines is the unquestioned leader in providing low and medium horse power engines for different agricultural machineries, helping the end users to improve their performance and cost efficiency. Some of the new introductions have been low HP engines for the Mini Tractors and Power Tillers.
Applications of KOHLER Engines in agricultural machineries include Tractors, Power Tillers, Power Weeders, Mini Harvesters, Power Sprayers, Fruit Picking/Harvesting, Lawn Mower, Motor Cultivators, Rotary Hoes and other farm machineries.
Construction market has become one of the strategic targets of KOHLER Engines. Taking advantage of its new, complete line of air-cooled and liquid-cooled engines, the company has been able to take up engine supplies to a variety of construction equipment with leading OEMs on their markets, particularly in applications involving road compacting, earthmoving and road maintenance. Thanks to their advanced technology and reliability, KOHLER Engines engines offer performance that is perfectly suited to a market that requires quiet, vibration-free products that improve the comfort of the ultimate user. One of the new introductions in the European market in the concept of the Sileo engine: a soundproofed unit that drastically reduces noise. Some of the new introductions in the Indian market recently have been low HP diesel engines for compactors, mixers and light towers.
KOHLER Engines have quite popular globally in equipment for construction industry like: Asphalt cutters, Tower lights, Cement mixers, Compact shovel loaders, Dumpers, Mini-excavators, Mini-dumpers, Compressors, Plate vibrators, Roller-compactors, and Elevated work platforms.
Gensets & Industrial
The company’s new line of modern, technologically advanced engines meets today’s highly stringent international standards and has enabled KOHLER Engines to supply important customers in a host of different businesses, such as the Gensets, Wielders, Forklift and various other industrial applications. Some of new introductions in the Indian market in the recent past have been diesel engines for 5kVA or below Gensets and also for variable speed gensets for telecom towers.
Engines supplied to the equipment in this segment include: Generators, Wielders, APU for Trucks, Refrigeration units, Motorized sweepers, Fork Lifts and other industrial applications.
The European leader in engines with power ratings of up to 50 kW, KOHLER Engines has long been developing technology that centers around on full respect for the environment and for public health. This mission has led the company to become increasingly involved in the design of engines for mini-cars since 1976. Engines designed for mini-cars are more and more environmentally friendly, quiet, light and compact, and can easily be combined with “zero emission” systems such as electric vehicles or reduced-emission systems such as natural gas and LPG.
The recent introductions in the Indian market had been the engines for “last mile connectivity” vehicles – Diesel / Petrol / CNG – both 3- & 4-wheelers manufactured by some of leading names in Indian Automotive sector. KOHLER Engines is now the leader in engines supplied for 0.5 Ton payload 4-wheel commercial vehicles plying on the Indian roads.
KOHLER Engines offer engines for City car (engine-driven or hybrid), Leisure vehicles, Mini cars, Mini buses and small commercial vehicles.
Our new line of modern, technologically advanced engines meets today’s highly stringent international standards and has enabled KOHLER Engines to supply important customers in a host of different applications in the marine industry. We manufacture engines for Inboard, Sterndrive and Sail Drive marine vehicles.
What are the major advantages of your products?
When we talk of the advantages of KOHLER engines, to point out a few will be as…
• Fuel efficient
• Compact and light weight
• Latest technology
• Low emission
• Longer life
What is your opinion about the construction industry in India in terms of performance?
Studies and reviews state that the Indian construction equipment market recorded strong growth until 2007, before the global economic crisis and subsequent reduction in the availability of credit in India caused the market to decline. As a result of this decline, the market recorded a CAGR of just 2% over the review period. In 2009, the construction equipment turnover stood at US$1.5 billion, which represented a decline in comparison to the value from the previous year.
However, the construction equipment market has shown signs of recovery since the last quarter of 2009 with the easing of the lending activities by the banks. Over the forecast period, the growth of the market is expected to accelerate as a result of the resumption of delayed projects and new investments into construction projects in the country. Therefore, we expect the Indian construction equipment market to register a CAGR of 20 – 25% for next 5 years.
What is your outlook for 2011?
With the onset of the new decade we look forward to high growth and development in terms of technology and research. A completely new energetic team has been put in place to bring around a lot of new products and applied engineering work. The focus for our Indian team is to penetrate further into all the sectors of our interest in India – Agri & Farm, Auto, Construction, Gensets & Industrial and Marine.
Is there any new technology or product you are going to launch?
KOHLER Engines always endeavors to remain at the cutting edge of technology to provide the engines with superior performance and lower running costs. We have plans to introduce Common Rail engines in near future for the Indian market in most of the application sectors of our interest.
Also, our global R&D is the process of introducing engines beyond 50kW and we are also evaluating the market, especially Construction and Industrial applications for the business potential of these possible new introductions. When time is right for achieving the economy of scale, these new high HP engines will be made here in India to make these more affordable for the domestic local market.