The end of our tour through India

What a finale for our tour of India. Our car met his creator!

About a hundred people were there to welcome us as we arrived at the Mercedes Benz Research and Development headquarters.

Most employees were amazed when they learned that (what felt like) their own car, improved with iglide bearings, of course, were being sent on such an exciting world tour.

We visited Mercedes on our way back from Chennai. Chennai is located in Eastern India along the Indian Ocean. Imagine you are in a sauna. Now, in this sauna, there is not only 100% humidity, but there are a few million other people living there along with you.  That’s a pretty accurate description of the climate in Chennai.

We took off from Bangalore at five o’clock in the morning to make sure we had time to make the six hour drive, as well as stop along the way to visit customers as well as find some good spots to shoot some photos. In this entry I think I’ll omit the customer visits and show you more of our travels.

Up on a hill, overlooking the entire city is a small church. Five or six hundred feet past the church square  you have a stunning view of the city, and the parking lot there is the highest you’re allowed to travel by car – any higher requires a special permit.

We went into the church to meet with Reverent Father Aeja, who runs the church. Father Aeja works closely with Make a Difference, the Indian charity we have decided to sponsor on our tour through the country (we are donating 100 Rupees, or about $1.65, for every kilometer we drive in India). While he wasn’t interested in our bearings, Father Aeja, while not interested in our bearings,  did share a connection with us through our shared fondness for helping children. Not only did he give us the special permission necessary to drive up past the car park to the church, he also came along for the ride!

The next day we were up and off at five again. Being on the East Coast, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get a picture of the car against the sunrise.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the car as close as we wanted to the water, so we continued searching for a better spot. A few miles west of Chennai is a small fishing village where we tried our luck again.

We took our time there as an opportunity to remind you that our bearings are able to endure not only heat and humidity, but also sand and salt water!

It was still quite early when we took off for our second stop of the day. A colleague told us about a hill with stunning views overlooking a valley. Initially, we though about stopping there shortly before continuing to Bangalore, but we were so delayed by traffic that we decided to stay the night. The hotel wasn’t the greatest, but the morning view certainly was!

I can hardly believe that our trip through India has come to an end. The last five weeks flew by so incredibly fast! The time has come for me to say goodbye. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to my Indian colleagues and friends. With your great hospitality and support, you made my experience here one I know I will never forget.

In the plane on the way here from Germany, I sat next to a man who already traveled there four times previously. When I asked him about India, he only said one sentence: “Once you go to India, you always go back!” I agree with him on this for sure. I know I will come back to see all the friends I’ve made, and to explore more of incredible India!

The next time you guys hear from me, I will be writing to you from China. I’ll be taking a few days off from the blog-writing business in the meantime. See you guys in Shanghai!

Sascha

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles)

Currently, we are in Bangalore, where the igus India offices are located. We drove straight through from Pune to Bangalore, which took us a total of 17 hours, our longest leg of the trip so far

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles)

Bangalore is the capital of the state of Karnataka, and is the third largest city in the country, after New Delhi and Mumbai. Although its further South than Pune, it’s a little cooler here in Bangalore (not cool enough that I didn’t get a sunburn!). Since we arrived later than planned at our hotel on a Friday, we kept things slow with our customer visits. One of those we visited was Dynaspede.

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).2 Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).3

Dynaspede manufactures electro-mechanical components, as well as custom machines. Just tell them what kind of machine you need, and they can build it for you. We had the opportunity to get an inside look at one of their machines, an engine tester for a major Indian Auto manufacturer.

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).4

The machine needs to be able to fix, and therefore move, the engine. For this, the engine is mounted on four shafts embedded in beadings. At this time, Dynaspede regularly had problems with scoring on the shafts. Scoring is surface damage produced by the movement of the shaft of the bearing. To reduce the problem, the shaft had to be regularly lubricated and even hardened.

In order to eliminate these inconveniences, Dynaspede changed their traditional bearings for a DryLin R-FJUM 001-30 flange bearing, which, like all our products, is self-lubricating and maintenance –free, resolving the scoring problem for the engine test machine.

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).5 Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).6

Inside the testing station, there is a shaft to put on the gear-shifter of the engine. The shaft is then able to shift the engines gears throughout the test. Through this, they are able to measure the engine’s performance. The shaft is guided by iglide J, which has a low wear and a low friction coefficient.

We could also see our Energy Chain on the machine, they are used to guide and protect the machine’s moving cables; most of Dynaspede’s machines are equipped with them.

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).7

The last few days have been all about driving and visiting customers. We made it more than 600 miles and have visited about 25-30 our our awesome customers. Yesterday, I checked our mileage gauge for the whole trip – 2485 miles!! –  and another 400 or so tomorrow as we travel on to Chennai, the automobile hub of India.

Today I have no exciting trips through the jungle or across the desert. Just highways that seemed to be in pretty good shape. I can’t even tell you about Bangalore, I haven’t had time to explore it – it seems to be a very nice, modern city as far as I can tell, however.

Next time I’ll tell you more about our travels. We’ll have some time to explore Chennai a bit and show you some of the highlights.

Pune to Bangalore (2500 miles).8

Daman to Bombay To Pune

Traveling between customers, from the desert near Pushkar to the seashore at Daman, we’ve already made it more than 1,000 miles north to south. I’m seeing that every 60 miles or so we travel further south, the food changes. Actually, I usually don’t know what I’m eating these days, to be honest. I don’t mind as long as I can see my colleagues are willing to eat it, and as long as its tasty – and it always is! There is such a huge variety in food that I’m wasting something new each day.

Along with the food, the language also changes every few hundred miles. Its’ not just the accents – my colleagues from Delhi aren’t able to understand the locals a little more than a hundred miles away. The climate and surroundings are changing as well – driving South we saw the desert slowly turn green, with palm trees sprouting up more and more the further we traveled; everything around us became a green, tropical environment.

Daman to Bombay To Pune Daman to Bombay To Pune.2

Right now, I’m on the way to a customer visit in Pune. Pune is the automotive hub of India, as well as one of the main educational areas. The University of Pune alone has 811 colleges across India – 811(!!), at least according to the Times of India. If you’d rather get your information from Wikipedia, we’re talking almost 500,000 students. Comparatively speaking, Germany as a whole had 2,500,000 students in 2012/13. In particular, Pune is renowned for engineering, which is working hand in hand with the major automobile manufacturers in the area like Mercedes, Tata, Volkswagen, and more. Mercedes, if you’re reading this, I think you should manufacture and sell our car! So many people have asked us about the price and told us they’d like to buy it that I’m thinking we’re kind of trendsetters and soon everyone will have a small orange car!

Ok, now only the last few days. On our Ahmedabad route we traveled to our customer PWS.  The company has been around for 100 years, and is a mid-size company, with about 100 employees, but they lead the Indian market in the manufacturing of filling machines for things like juice and packaged food. We found them outside the city a ways, the factory and office together in a very old building next to a fancy five-star wellness resort. At first glance you’d never expect a high tech company be hiding there.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.3 Daman to Bombay To Pune.4

As the company is working in the food industry, they require products that are corrosion-free to operate safely. Of course, in this industry, machines need to be cleaned thoroughly and regularly, requiring a need for chemical resistance as well.

igus supplied PWS with a lubrication free, corrosion free plastic liner in a stainless steel housing that they use for linear movements. Our plastic liner has fulfilled PWS’s requirements of being corrosion free and resistant to chemicals, and additionally, they’re easy to assemble, and maintenance-free. The liners enable the filling machines to have a smooth up-and-down motion for putting lids on containers.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.5

After our customer visit, we jumped on the highway and headed for Daman. It total, the journey was only about 250 miles, but it took AGES. We were stuck in a traffic jam, so we were very late to arrive at the coast. For me, this was a big step on our tour. This was an informal reminder that we’ve made it to the half-way point in our trip through India – the first leg of the world tour.

The next day was Sunday, which means no customer visits. I wanted to spend the day getting some nice photos of the iglide car, so we went to the beach and split up to find a good spot to shoot.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.6

When I got back to the group, it was a strange scene. One of the backup drivers had the glorious idea to park his vehicle (a very big one, let me mention), not on the street, but ON THE SAND. How do you get a multi-ton car out of the sand? Well, only with a group effort.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.7

Eventually, after several tries, we got it free. We were able to get the car back on the road to continue the journey, next stop Bombay!

The trip to Bombay was awesome. The whole journey was through stunning landscapes. A modern highway leads you through a mix of desert and jungle, with mountains on one side and traditional villages on the other. Just amazing.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.8

I was bummed we didn’t have more time in Bombay. We arrived late at night, and had to leave for Pune the following day, so I had no time to explore the city, which we all know from the movie Slumdog Millionaire. The glance I got, the city seemed to be a booming metropolis, with very modern looking buildings and skyscrapers, construction on every corner. I learned after we left that Bombay is the financial hub of India.

Daman to Bombay To Pune.9 Daman to Bombay To Pune.10

I’m in Pune now as I write this. Tomorrow we’re driving back to Bangalore (500 miles), which will wind down our Indian tour. From there, the just have a few more visits.

As usual, I’ll keep you up to date.

Sascha