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15 January 2009

ContiTech in India: Air Spring Production is Going Local

The share of the rail vehicle market has increased by 50% since 1994, and manufacturing operations are due to expand significantly by 2013.

In order to meet growing requirements in India for air spring systems, including those for rail vehicles, ContiTech is planning to produce air spring systems in Sonepat, near New Delhi. “The Indian railway market is one of the fastest-expanding markets in which we are active,” explains Friedrich Hoppmann, head of the ContiTech Railway Engineering segment. “We are localizing our manufacturing operations to be in a better position to cater for the demand. We are also planning to increase annual output substantially.” The company already supplies about half of the air spring systems for rail vehicles in India.

Activities will be increased at the existing plant in Sonepat, where ContiTech India already makes high-grade products for the car and commercial vehicle industry, among others. “We will be using the existing resources in order to manufacture and assemble air spring systems in India to the usual ContiTech quality level,” stated Hoppmann. The production site will be expanded step by step. “Later, there will be a middle two-digit number of employees working here.”

India’s railway services are currently undergoing massive change, with railway tracks and rail cars being extensively modernized. ContiTech is benefiting from the upswing, thanks to its dominant market position and eleven years of being present in the market. In collaboration with the Indian railway’s own research institute RDSO, the air spring expert will be replacing the cars’ largely obsolete suspension and damping technology with modern systems in the next few years.

At present, local transit system trains in Bombay are being modernized with the help of ContiTech. With Resistoflex, ContiTech’s local partner, they will supply a significant number of air spring systems for the Siemens electric multi-unit (EMU) trains. In an initial conversion phase, these air spring systems will be installed in existing carriages, and in a second phase, they will be integrated into new vehicles.

ContiTech also supplies original equipment to the Indian train company, RCF, and the manufacturer, Integral Coach Factory (ICF). The RCF’s fleet, for example, consists of more than 40,000 passenger carriages and around half a million freight cars. RCF has been equipping passenger carriages with air spring systems since 1997.

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