Construction equipment is going places
Construction equipment are being put to novel uses as India sees new kinds of infrastructure development
Road construction has been the key demand driver last couple of years. ‘The miles to go’ seemed positive and equipment makers could not have been more happy.
Construction equipment are becoming more versatile every day, thanks to the variety of needs that emerge at jobsites and the completion deadlines against which the contractors have to work. With massive changes in the way construction is happening (buildings, roads, inland waterways, ports), numerous kinds of equipment is being put to innovative use. VG Sakthikumar, MD, Schwing Stetter India; convenor for membership committee, ICEMA; chairman of mechanisation committee, BAI, says, “Each of our equipment is a unique solution in mechanisation for a contractor who has to build with speed, timeline and scale of the project to be implemented. Stetter concrete transit mixers, Schwing concrete placer boom, Stetter concrete batching plant, Schwing separate placing boom, Schwing truck mounted concrete boom pump are even used on barges in bridge projects like Mumbai Trans-Harbour link, Bogibeel, Koli-Bhumora, Brahmaputra, etc. This enables to do underwater concreting for bridge foundations and constructing the entire bridge easily even on water.”
Innovative equipment are being openly accepted by concreting line of customers who also have related and allied works in these segments.
If one only considers a hydraulic excavator, the most visible application other than earthwork excavation is rock breaking. A breaker attachment and the associated pipelines mounted on a basic machine have created a new field of application almost the size of an industry. Today, one cannot imagine a blue metal quarry without several rock breakers working there. Vivek Hajela, GM & head, CEB, L&T, says, “Look at the optional attachment section of any spec-sheet and one can discover the myriad applications that the machine can be put to use. Trenching bucket, spade bucket, de-weeding bucket, ditch cleaning bucket are very common to name a few. Super long attachments configuration of 8.3m boom, with 6.4m arm and 0.5m3 bucket is also used in special applications and can be seen working in a metro rail project site. Attachment configurations for tunnel application are made for different basic machine sizes. Bucket crushers are becoming popular as a recycling tool at construction job sites.”
The government continues to place priority on building roads and bridges—allocating budget to build 35,000km of road under phase one of Bharatmala, along with allocations for urban rail and airport expansion projects. The drive to improve infrastructure will unquestionably facilitate further growth in the economy and the construction equipment industry. Ramesh Palagiri, MD & CEO, Wirtgen India, says, “Recycling & reuse of construction waste is becoming a necessity in our country day by day because of increasing scarcity of aggregates, thus increasing construction cost. Wirtgen milling & recycling machines are playing a critical role in recovering and recycling the construction waste and in turn depleting the raw material demand. We also offer equipment with advance technologies (like fleet management, process planning and optimisation) for reducing the downtime of the machine and ensure maximum utilisation.”
In the new Budget 2019, the government has announced slew of steps to scale up India’s infrastructure. There is a massive push to all forms of physical connectivity through PMGSY, industrial corridors, Bharatmala and Sagarmala projects, Jal Marg Vikas project and UDAN schemes. Ajay Aneja, brand leader, CASE India, says, “Construction equipment is being used in multiple infrastructural developments. Apart from regular construction and mining activities, CE can be used for multipurpose CSR activities. Involving equipment in environment-friendly activity plans like ‘Ganga Rejuvenation” and ‘Swach Bharat’ are some of the innovative ways where CEs are being used.”
Most of the projects are national highway construction and need highly productive products to speed up the construction activity. Dimitrov Krishnan, VP, and head of Volvo CE India, says, “Our products like pavers P6820C, P7820B; soil compactor SD110; Excavators EC200D, Ec210D, EC300D; are suitable for highway construction. We recently launched the DD100B, and this tandem compactor will help contractors achieve high level of quality and productivity.” Also, Volvo’s new EC200D excavator has a high swing torque and low cycle time and is the fastest machine in the 20-tonne excavator class.
Surat Mehta, head, SDLG India, says, “Motor graders have become one of the fastest-selling equipment as contractors look to speed up project schedules and the government road building. After the recent election, there was a record amount set aside for infrastructure development, so that should mean demand for CE will thrive.”
Apart from hauled machines, there are other compact machines built according to the job work. Compact machine/mini equipment is used to do smaller job work but give lesser output as compared to heavy-duty ones. Two of the mini equipment CASE India has are skid steer loader SR130 and 450DX mini compactor. These two are reliable, productive and fit for smaller job applications, says Aneja.
Contractors are under pressure to meet construction deadlines so having reliable equipment can make a real difference. SDLG launched the G9138 motor grader to meet demand for road building equipment. The model gives contractors a lighter and economical option to beat project deadlines. The operation of the grader is enhanced with its swing frame that delivers flexibility in a variety of scenarios. The articulating swing frame’s movements allow the blade to generate more power and carry a heavy windrow.
Most companies are directly engaged with various levels of mechanisation across segments of construction sites for both the corporate and retail customers to offer customised solutions that satisfies the requirements of project implementation. Sakthikumar says, “We are focused on operating and ownership cost, and also helping them reduce it through components such as fuel efficient engines. This is the reason concreting at site has not changed last few years. However, the scale has gone up substantially which brings higher expectations on machine outputs.”
As far as automation and control systems are concerned, Schwing Stetter is moving ahead with latest technology and today offers ERP solutions, fleet management, remote access and proactive maintenance. Sakthikumar says with a sense of pride that his company is the only one with an inhouse electronics and automation for concrete batching plants.
Speaking about advancements within their own vehicles, Nair of Hyundai Construction Equipment India says that excavators from his company have always been at the forefront of innovation and path-breaking technology. “Our excavators come loaded with multiple features that help our customers achieve high efficiency and productivity. Some examples of the advancements include the arm regeneration system that helps recirculate hydraulic energy, provides smooth operation of arm preventing cavitation and increasing performance of machine. The one touch deceleration switch on the joystick lowers the engine RPM. Engine speed is recovered to its preselected RPM when it is selected again. This system saves fuel by regulating the pump and engine.”
Similarly, Volvo CE India demonstrated its infrastructure strength by launching The Volvo G-Series L90Gz loader with Z-bar linkage, which is powered with a BS-III certified engine, to offer high torque at low rpm and low fuel consumption. Krishnan says, “The wheel loaders feature maximum power of 175hp at 1700rpm, maximum breakout force of 168.7kN, max. static tipping load of 10,380kg at full turn, and is available with buckets ranging from 2.4m3 to 4.5m3. The powerful Volvo engine is part of the machine’s ideally-matched all-Volvo powertrain, designed to work in perfect harmony for optimised performance. Volvo’s unique Eco-pedal helps guarantee fuel consumption.”
Palagiri believes that India has roads & highways designed on parameters that are popular in developed economies. “These roads are designed for longer life sustainability and high axle load, thus demands for thicker layers of aggregate i.e both unbonded & bonded. We have been developing products that offer better efficiency and this helps in sustainable development and less carbon emissions. We introduced the cold milling and cold recycling and these two are well accepted. The Cement Treated Base or subbase (CTB or CTSB) not only reduces aggregate requirement, but also ensures stronger foundation and reduces layers.”
Considering the numerous equipment that makers have, it can safely be said that India is well poised to consider novel projects in infrastructure considering it has the budgets to go ahead.