Technology company Continental is celebrating its tenth year producing systems and component for safe, clean and intelligent mobility locally in India. All together, Continental has been serving the Indian market for almost 50 years. On this occasion, the international automotive supplier, tire manufacturer, and industrial partner announced its plan to invest on a high three-digit crore rupees level within the next two years in India. This sum entails the extension of capacity of all its divisions as well as greenfield investments, spanning across key automotive hubs. The company will also ramp up headcount in India, and plans to reach the 10,000 mark in two years.
“The global automotive industry is at the cusp of transformation; the largest it may have seen in its 130-year history. As a technology company we are at the forefront of innovation. This requires technological prowess, R&D focus, business agility, and adaptability”, explained Frank Jourdan, Member of the Executive Board of Continental AG and President of the Chassis & Safety Division, who is the Country Sponsor for the Indian market within the board of Continental. He added, “We are making investments where it matters. India is an important market and R&D hub for Continental, and it is in our strategy to bet big on this market.”
Additionally, Continental TCI, the Corporation’s in-house R&D centre, is on the fast lane, ramping up headcount aggressively in several technology areas. The R&D centre, which supports all automotive divisions of Continental globally, is well on its way to become a centre of competence for different technologies, for example Artificial Intelligence and ADAS technology.
TCI is also engaging actively with the ecosystem. Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras for advanced research in Machine Learning, for Continental’s ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) business. The joint research is for the application of bio-inspired neural networks to expand the scope of what assisted driving functions can accomplish.
Prashanth Doreswamy, Head of Continental India, said, “Continental has a rich legacy in India. We have been growing steadily in terms of business volumes, manufacturing & R&D footprint and technology achievements. With competent resources and proven Continental technologies, the timely investment will propel our localisations efforts for safe, clean and intelligent mobility, for both passenger cars and two wheeler segments.”
Ten years of existence as an independent entity in the Indian market
The 147-year German technology company has been present in India for close to 50 years, through technology partnerships (Continental Tires since 1974) and joint ventures for its various businesses. The first Indian independent legal entity was formed in 2008, following the acquisition of Siemens VDO globally. Today the company operates across India – with over 8,000 employees across 15 locations, including eight plants that cater to the Indian market, and a Technical Centre in Bengaluru that supports Continental's global R&D activities.
Industry 4.0 for future readiness
According to Doreswamy, future-readiness is a priority consideration for the manufacturing sector. “When the industry takes giant leap driven by technology, manufacturing has to be at the same pace. Technology adoption is the key”.
In view of Continental’s production strategy in India, he said, “Continental India is upgrading to Industry 4.0 to ensure smarter, more efficient production processes and practices. Our Central Electronics Plant at Bangalore has just deployed the first Collaborative Robot (COBOT), to work in a human-machine team environment.”
Unlike traditional industrial robots, the COBOT works hand in hand with operators, sharing mutual work spaces. It is intended to assist with complex and repetitive tasks, thereby relieving operators to focus on more precision jobs and quality aspects of production. “We are currently at the first phase of deployment of COBOTS. Once complete, this will be a benchmark in smart automation,” he added.
Clean, safe and intelligent vehicles are the future
According to Continental, safety on the roads, comfort and convenience while driving should not be seen as luxury. The more mobile the world's population becomes, the more important it is to make this mobility clean, safe and intelligent.
“Among our areas of focus in India are safety technologies and powertrain solutions that range from the current legislative requirements to more advanced technologies, electric drives, and products that transform vehicles into digital companions. As electronic content in vehicles increases, a number of new and advanced features and technologies may be introduced by the help of Continental, which could be a game changer for the Indian auto sector”, said Doreswamy.