Hoping for the best
The biggest trade fair for the construction and infrastructure industry is round the corner. From November 25-29, every company playing in this sector will gather at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) which is expected to attract over 800 exhibitors and 32,000 visitors from across the globe. With the economy playing truant last couple of years, the industry is banking on the 8th international construction equipment and construction technology trade fair, Excon 2015, to bring in some respite from lagging sales and a slowing assembly line. The event is being organised by CII.
Sorab Agarwal, executive director, Action Construction Equipment (ACE), says, “We are hopeful of a highly positive response at Excon 2015 in Bengaluru as the market shows signs of improving. Positive interaction with most of the customers at this juncture should yield good outcomes in times to come.”
The exhibition provides a sizeable opportunity for equipment manufacturers (global as well as domestic) to exhibit their breakthrough products. It also provides a platform for component manufacturers to showcase their technology to the world. The infrastructure and construction equipment industry accounts for almost 2% of the nation’s GDP and the industry is poised for further growth. Industry experts are anticipating rapid growth in the construction industry. More projects in the construction (and mining) industry will create a demand for new technology advancements to drive the next wave of growth in our industry.
Going with the estimates that emerge from various agencies, Asia’s third largest economy will become the world’s third largest by 2050; a need for more robust and vast infrastructure is inevitable. Spanning from roadways to airways, ports to airports and power production facilities, Indian infrastructure segment is the thrust for the development of the nation and hence enjoys intense attention from top-grade policy makers of the country. But this has been more on paper than in action. Even the largest construction and infrastructure equipment makers are reeling under inventory not sold, with some even taking recourse to running one assembly line on a single shift. This, obviously, cannot spell good news for the economy and the companies.
And so, when a trade fair as big as this comes along, hope springs in their hearts. For the last two years, if not more, companies have spent on intensive R&D that will enable them to showcase the best technologies at the fair. They need to make a point. Considering that most equipment vendors in India have backing from international players, they are promising to launch the best of the equipment that was hitherto not available here. “The challenge is to constantly innovate and that is what we are doing. It reflects in the products we offer the market where the average age of machines is less than 2.5 years. With continuous innovation, we are able to bring in new technologies to achieve our goal of offering products which meet the customer requirements in terms of productivity and operating costs,” says Ramesh Palagiri, MD & CEO, Wirtgen India.
Sometimes, the new technologies are not merely confined to importing sophisticated equipment. Global companies with a footprint in India are taking recourse to an increasing product localisation that would enable them to offer after-sales service and also enhance local manufacturing, thus feeding the Indian economy.
For instance, Atlas Copco Construction Technique believes in strategically timed innovations based on genuine market needs/demand. The company has been able to upgrade its products to meet market needs. “By promoting our existing products from our local manufacturing hub and the global product portfolio we are able to offer world class products. We have been working towards product localisation, with local features added in, and have progressed in our aim to manufacture most of our construction equipment locally at our fully equipped plants in Chakan (Pune) and Nashik in India,” says Nitin Lall, general manager, Atlas Copco Construction Technique Customer Centre.
Besides the R&D cost, this trade fair is also costing the companies a pretty penny. The cost of the stalls, maintenance, people movement, and logistics of moving equipment to the exhibition centre can set back a company as high as Rs 10 crore to Rs 30 crore. In times like this, it better pay off.
This year, going by the buzz among equipment makers, visitors to the fair can expect a considerable improvement in technology advancements in the range on display. For instance, Scania, in line with its commitment to offering sustainable transport solutions, will showcase its Ethanol-powered green bus, an unmatched innovation in the Indian market. In the recent past, the company also launched the Scania R580 powered by V8 engine, which was certified as ‘India’s most powerful on-road puller’. Besides that, the company will display two premium trucks exclusively for the mining sector – the P410 8×4 tipper with SSAB rock body and the P410 8×4 with coal body. Both the tippers are equipped with Scania Opticruise — a fully automated gear changing system to realise the best possible fuel efficiency and ease of driving.
Agarwal of ACE says, “We will showcase new technologies for the field of civil construction and launch our topless models of tower cranes TC 5040T and TC 5540T with 50m and 55m jib lengths. This would make us the first company in India to indigenously produce topless tower cranes, which are common and prevalent in most developed economies. Apart from this, we will also put on display a hydraulically operated spider mounted concrete placing solution with boom length of up to 21m and a full 3600 continuous slew as a standard feature.”
Wirtgen India has taken up a stall space of 1,890 sq-m and will display 15 machines. It is launching the Kleemann MS 953 Screen manufactured at its Pune facility, in addition to Wirtgen cold milling machines, Wirtgen slipform pavers, Wirtgen cold recycler, Vogele asphalt paver, Hamm compactors, Kleemann jaw crusher and Kleemann cone crusher. Since the company does not believe in working through dealers, it networks directly with customers. It has application specialists at project sites to work closely with the project managers and supervisors. This ensures maximum output from the machines.
The leader in backhoe loaders, JCB will showcase its entire range of equipment that includes backhoes, excavators, wheeled loaders, compactors, loadalls, skid steers and gensets along with a range of attachments, parts and consumer products. It is also introducing new variants in excavators and wheeled loaders. The company has launched a state-of-the-art technology, the JCB Livelink. It is an advanced telematics technology introduced in the Indian market in July. Fitted in its range of machines, it enables customers to remotely manage and monitor their machine performance on service, maintenance, operations and security parameters.
P Ravishankar, executive VP, sales, marketing & aftermarket, VE Commercial Vehicles, says, “Everyone is banking on Excon 2015 to be a huge success this year. With the construction equipment industry’s revenues estimated to reach $22.7 billion by 2020, we hope there will be significant intake from the sector be it in earth moving and road building equipment, material handling and cranes and concrete equipment. This year, along with Volvo Trucks India and Eicher Trucks & Buses, we have over 1,700 sq-m of pavilion where we will introduce new range of vehicles for the construction and mining industry both from a VTI as well Eicher perspective.”
Volvo India, on its part, will be present with mining equipment, specifically trucks & engines. Rama Rao AS, senior VP, sales, marketing & aftermarket, Volvo Trucks, VECV, says, “We introduced I-shift for mining, a new introduction with new FMX which ensures that the engine’s capability reaches to the ground effectively and efficiently. This is particularly important in rough conditions. Drivers at the wheel in the mining sector need to indulge in much gear shifts and this adds to fatigue. Due to the shifts happening smoothly and automatically, I-Shift results into lesser strain on driveline components.” Apart from trucks and service, there would display of Volvo engines by Volvo Penta.
Apart from I-shift, it has launched Dynafleet Online which is Volvo Trucks’ telematics solution for efficient fleet management. Through its two services available in India – Fuel & Environment and Positioning, the customer can see in real time vehicles’ performance data and the current location of their vehicles that are critical to have control on their fleet. It was undergoing field validations and would be commercially made available soon.
Just selling construction equipment does not complete the work of manufacturers. There is a dire need to follow up with after-sales and an effective aftermarket support. Rao says, “After sales is an important criterion. Customers want overall solutions. The market is moving toward total cost of ownership and overall usage experience rather than just initial prices or spare parts prices.”
VE Commercial Vehicles has over 269 touch points for customers across the country, besides genuine service processes and competent manpower enable execution as well as support service offerings. Most companies selling trucks also provide driver training and have crafted special programmes.
And going by the large arena of the BIEC, we gather that almost all the 800 participants will have something new on display. It’s now the government’s turn to act and ensure that this sector gets is much-needed boost.