Global leader in filtration technology and thermal management, UFI Filters recently inaugurated its 18th facility worldwide in Bahadurgarh, Haryana
In India, the group has two entities – UFI Filters India and Sofima India. While UFI Filters India is a direct subsidiary of the Italy-headquartered major, Sofima is a brand the group has created specifically for the automotive aftermarket.
The new industrial site under the Sofima brand is the first dedicated global facility that will specifically focus on manufacturing filters for the aftermarket segment, while serving local as well as export markets. Auto Tech Review spoke to Hridesh Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, UFI Filters India, to know more about the company’s plans to expand its foray into the aftermarket.
UFI Filters supplies a gamut of products to the automotive sector – air, oil, fuel, cabin, hydraulic and coolant filters along with thermal management systems. Further, the company carries extensive experience of serving a wide range of sectors – aerospace, specialised industrial and customised hydraulic applications, among others. The group has committed a total investment of € 10 mn in a phase-wise manner for the new Bahadurgarh plant that is spread over 5,000 sq m area and three floors.
The company has planned an initial output of six million filters annually in a single shift, which will gradually scale up to eight million units, while working at full capacity. During its initial stages, the plant will roll out various products for passenger cars, starting with air filters and cabin filters for Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors. The company plans to manufacture around 300,000 air filters and 250,000 cabin filters on a monthly basis.
On the revenue front, UFI Filters India currently contributes 20 % of the group’s global revenue of € 424 mn. With the new emission regulations coming in, the company already has developed Multitube, a patented system which replaces the traditional panel filter found in diesel engines. This system ensures increased filtration performance based on its tubular structure, thereby delivering greater engine power in a reduced space, claims the company. Multitube offers modularity as it carries a flexible design that can be adapted to the individual vehicle model, while offering better fluid dynamics and ensuring a linear flow, in terms of air passage. UFI Filters is already supplying Multitube to Porsche from India and will also be available locally, starting with BS VI emission norms. Hybrid cars have limited space as electric devices and mechanical systems are present in the engine compartment itself and this is where UFI comes into play, in terms of offering design flexibility, claims the company.
UFI Filters India has been an OE supplier to Maruti Suzuki, DICV, Hyundai, Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors, among others, and has been exporting filters developed in India to the Volkswagen Group and Porsche. Although the company is set to lose business on account of its decision to stop catering to smaller diesel engines, it is now betting big on the commercial vehicle segment with diesel expected to stay in business even with BS VI CVs.
UFI Filters accords high priority to research and reinvests over 5 % of its revenues in R&D globally and has 168 engineers managing its R&D activities. Apart from the innovation centres in China and Italy, the company also inaugurated the UFI Innovation Centre in Aerocity, Delhi in the middle of 2019, where it has deployed 32 engineers for developing advanced technologies. The engineers employed at the centre conduct various simulations that serve local as well as global markets.
Tackling the counterfeiting problem in the aftermarket is a major issue and UFI Filters believes that the demand for quality products in the aftermarket is going up, despite the fact that 50 % of the market is bombarded with fake products. With the new plant, Sharma aims to double its revenues from the current ` 50 cr over the next four years. Additionally, the company aims to expand its footprint to 300 touchpoints, from the current 160 dealers over the next five years. The company is also aiming on augmenting its market share from the current 7 % to 10% over the next three years.
UFI Filters has come a long way since it started its Indian operations in 2008 from its Bawal facility (with capacity of 15 mn units). The company also operates a plant at Belgaum that manufactures four million units for meeting its export requirements. UFI Filters aims to develop the Bahadurgarh plant for Indian as well as aftermarkets in Europe and Middle East in a planned 60:40 ratio, while operating at its full capacity. Equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, the plant will meet European standards for processes as well as quality. The new plant will also adhere to the same quality standards it maintains in the OEM business.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja