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Gobind Coach Builders, Bhadaur, Punjab: Keeping Up With the Times

 karamjeet Singh Gobind Coach Builders Bhadaur Punjab

Karmjeet Singh, Managing Director, Gobind Coach Builders, opens up about how technology and constant innovation has helped the company to keep pace with the changing times as well as  dynamics of the bus industry in India. 

When I first stepped into Gobind Coach, I was mesmerized by not only by the sheer size of the set up but also by the professionalism that greeted me. I had been in the small town of Bhadaur for the last two days and had been to quite a few bus body builders, but the very first impression of Gobind Coach assured me that there was something special about the company. And as I found out later, I was right -- it is not only one of the best bus body builders in Punjab but also a forerunner in the Indian coach building industry. 

For the uninitiated, Bhadaur is a small city in the Barnala district of Punjab. What makes Bhadaur stand out in the map of Punjab is its impressive bus body building tradition. With about 30 bus body builders dotting the sylvan suburbs, the otherwise nondescript city is home to some of the best bus body builders in the entire country. 

“Bhadaur has a rich heritage of bus body building,” stated Karmjeet Singh, Managing Director, Gobind Coach as he walked me to his office. “Back in the 80s we were fleet operators. Since there were no builders around at that time, we were compelled to build the body of one our our own buses once. It was in the year 1987, and the whole process was a big success. Soon, other bus operators started coming to us with orders. Honestly, that’s how the whole bus body building industry of Bhadaur took shape,” he added.

Today, armed with ARAI accreditation, ISO certificate and AIS 052 type approval for bus bodies, Gobind Coach has made its mark in the Indian bus body building industry with its range of luxury buses, STU buses, school/college buses and special purpose vehicles. 

karamjeet Singh Gobind Coach Builders Bhadaur Punjab

Technology is the Back Bone of Gobind Coach Builders

As we walked through the factory, sound infrastructure and the technological prowess that Gobind Coach buttresses its operations on was pretty evident. The factory sprawls across a wide area and is systematically segregated into different departments -- structure building division, panelling unit, designing unit, R&D department, a modern painting booth, a state-of-the-art shower testing unit, etc. There was also a separate building that houses the company’s ABS thermoplastic polymer works.

“We are among the very few builders in India, and the only one in Punjab, that manufactures our own ABS, which we use exclusively for our interiors. ABS has high tensile strength and is very resistant to physical impacts and chemical corrosion, this ensures that the finished product can withstand heavy usage and adverse environmental conditions -- something that is of utter importance in public transport,” says Karmjeet Singh.  

Apart from cutting edge bending machines, rolling machines, power presses and many other special purpose machinery, I was fairly surprised to see a slew of what could be clearly distinguished as indigenously developed machines. “We have a lot of machinery that we have designed and fabricated in-house to execute simple tasks. This helps us save time, cost and efforts as well as  minimize human intervention, thereby allowing us to as maximize performance and quality,” Singh proudly states.

karamjeet Singh Gobind Coach Builders Bhadaur Punjab

Bus Body Design and Quality Assurance

Personally, I hold that the aesthetic appeal of a bus is the primary factor that distinguishes a bus body builder. True that strength and quality are the main aspects of a bus body from a safety point of view, but at the same time, we all have to agree that it is the ‘the look’ that succeeds in turning heads and raising questions.

While aesthetics are subjective, Gobind Coach’s latest luxury model Tourista has been successful in embossing the gold standard by which bus designs are measured today. A brilliant mix of aerodynamics, muscularity and delicacy of details, Tourista is the best expression of the company’s current design language.

“The traffic in India is very dense and to design a bus body that turns heads, it is an uphill task that demands immense perseverance. We read the market and the customers keenly and talk to engineers and designers, and combine their inputs with our with our DNA to come up with new designs that are practical and visually rich at the same time. All designs are executed on cutting-edge softwares like Coral Draw, Autocad and Catia,” explains Singh.

Gobind Coach Builder's Tourista range is available for both seater as well as sleeper coaches. Apart from Tourista, the company's new models include Gold Star and Shine HD, the latter only available for sleeper coaches.

Despicable road infrastructure is an ever-present malady of the Indian sub-continent. As a result, bus body builders in India are compelled to double check the strength of body structures. At Gobind Coach, precautionary measures to ensure this start right from the beginning when the the structure is developed. “We utilize only the best grades of raw material to ensure a solid overall product -- 310 YST grade steel, equivalent quality aluminum, reputed seat brands like Grand Slam, Harita, etc. We also  provide gussets to reinforce the body. Moreover, our models are built only as prescribed by ARAI, which ensures that nothing but the best is delivered to our clients,” adds Singh. The company also has recently installed fixture system to improve the overall quality of buses. 

karamjeet Singh Gobind Coach Builders Bhadaur Punjab

Core Markets and Future Plans

Gobind Coach has a very strong market in the northern part of the country. Within this region, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh has traditionally been the company’s stronghold and still remains so. However, over the last few years, the Gobind Coach’s aggressive designs and sturdy quality has paved its way into newer markets like J&K , Assam and Maharashtra.

“The Tourista model was exceptionally well received, both look and quality wise. And we have been aptly rewarded for all the time and effort we dedicated in designing this model. It has helped us to expand our footprint into the states of  Maharastra, Jammu and Kashmir, and even the North East,” states Singh happily.   

As a whole, the bus industry is India is going through a sea of changes. With new rules, new players and a new breed of consumer, the bus industry is constantly changing in India. The modern passenger is aware and very vocal about his demands. The pressure of meeting his growing demands trickles down to bus body builders, who are compelled to exercise routine innovation and maintain an upgraded product basket.

“Times have changed. The young passenger base demands the latest in comfort and facilities in a bus, and it’s ultimately us who has to fulfil it. Many new players have entered the market and customers expect unique designs at competitive prices, there is a lot of pressure on us at the moment. On the other hand, there has been no significant support from the government either,” says Singh.

But as is often told, every cloud has a silver lining. A growing base of aspirational consumers and stiffening competition are clear indicators of a market that is constantly growing. As the competition increases, all stakeholders of this industry are compelled to ante up their offering, resulting in an overall increase in quality and efficiency of the entire industry itself, propelling it to the next level. 

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