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GE Transportation - Engineering tomorrows locomotives at the JFWTC, Bangalore Print E-mail
Written by George Cheriyan   
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Bangalore: Vageesh Patil and his team at GE's Transportation Engineering division in India is leading the development of new technologies in the field of locomotives at the John F. Welch Technology Centre (JFWTC) in Bangalore.

Engineers from the center were actively involved right from the conceptualization stage to the final production stage of GE's Evolution Series Locomotive. The center’s engineers also played a key role in the performance simulation for GE's PowerHaul engine, rotor dynamics design for the turbo-charger and finite element analysis (FEA) of some critical engine components.

At the JFWTC, GE transportation is involved in all the engineering, detailing, design, development and validation. "We do everything, concept to drawing. We release the drawing directly from here to the manufacturing plant in the US. We also have a locomotive simulator here," explains Patil. The team also does part prototyping, in certain cases, when a part is sourced from India.

GE Transportation's team in India, which is nearly 400 strong, consists of around 300  engineers at the JFWTC in Bangalore, around 15 people in the sourcing team and nearly 60 people in the commercial team based in Delhi.

"Our team has designed and engineered locomotives for America, Europe, South Africa, Russia and China. Each customer is different and has different requirements, but our designs are modular so we try to find out how much is the commonality between these platforms," says Patil. His team has made successful concept designs for India locomotives and successful interlocking of product, people, process configuration designs for India applications.

Sourcing and Manufacturing

The GE transportation division, whose manufacturing setup right now is in the US, sources a lot of components from India. According to Patil, 40 or 50 million dollars worth of components are outsourced from India.

"If you look at locomotives, we source a lot of engine components, cooling components and cooling system components here. If you look at signaling system, we source PCB making here,"  says Patil. The sourcing team is also located in Bangalore and has qualified SQEs, whose job is to go and audit the supplier - their capability, capacity, competency & process - and then do a qualification for all that.

"There are supplier qualification metrics that we use, so every supplier that we qualify goes through those metrics, which include certifications, policies, code of conduct and a whole lot of others. GE has established, over many years of experience, a great quality process and it is advisable for every manufacturing supplier that GE has, to adopt and meet quality requirements " he said.

Speaking about the cost advantage of manufacturing in India, he said that they had achieved 15% - 30% deflation on a range of components. Each component drives it's own percentage of advantage as it varies from very complex components to very simple components. It depends on the productivity of the supplier.

Patil feels that the low labour cost is only one part of the reason for the cost advantage. "The supplier base and manufacturing base in India benefits from a competing advantage, cheaper labour and an already installed base of machine tools that would help manufacture components," he said.

Patil, whose experience has been with suppliers all over the world, feels that the suppliers should keep quality standards while they focus on delivery. "Any miss in quality is going to come back and bite them pretty badly," he says. "We audit them regularly and make sure that everybody in their factory understands what is expected when GE accepts a part that is supplied to us. So quality and reliability are the most important for any supplier to be successful with their supply to GE."

Vageesh Patil has been with GE for the past 8 years, before which he spent 8 years at the DRDO working on the LCA project.

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