Excavators and Motor Graders: Digging deep
Excavators and motor graders are the most important equipment in roads and highways construction. They should see a surge in demand
One of the most important equipment in road building early on is the excavator. Motor graders come at a later stage. The construction equipment market depends upon infrastructure projects in the country. The government of India’s initiatives in infrastructure development projects and regular budget allocations has widened the mining & construction equipment market in India. Going forward, the government’s execution of road projects will see more demand for construction equipment market in India.
For long the government and ICEMA have often spoken about lending a helping hand. Puneet Vidyarthi, brand leader, CASE India, says, “The government is trying its best to take appropriate measures and tackle this unprecedented situation. Nitin Gadkari made some announcements which have reassured that the sector will reinvigorate soon. MoRTH has ensured that it will reduce the build-up of arbitration cases and NHAI has asked project managers to cancel portions of the proposed contracts in case of any hurdles in the land acquisition process. The government is also trying to ensure doubling of roads & highways construction projects in the upcoming period.”
Dheeraj Panda, director, customer support, sales & marketing, Sany India, says, “ICEMA has always worked closely with the government. Lately, they have been able to extend the BSIV deadline from October 2020 to another six months has come as a relief to us. Similarly, GST on construction equipment was sealed at 28% and it’s only when the association intercepted that it was brought down to 18%.”
MoRTH is the nodal ministry for investments in the road sector. Road sector was the primary driver for growth in construction equipment demand last five years. Their vision to increase construction of highways from 30km per day to 60km road per day can only be realised by encouraging mechanisation and using the best-in-class equipment to deliver safe, serviceable and sustainable roads. Vivek Hajela, GM and head, CE business, Larsen & Toubro, says, “Road construction will revive the demand for manpower, material and equipment. The rebooting of the road sector post lockdown will revive the sagging economy and provide substantial employment to migrant labour and activate the equipment lying idle across various projects pan India.”
What’s to be done now
The pandemic has created a new normal for the people. It is more true in case of corporate and manufacturing units. Companies need to think of new ways of functioning. VG Sakthikumar, MD, Schwing Stetter India; member of governing council, ICEMA; chairman of Mechanisation committee, BAI, says, “We are moving towards more automation, digitalisation which will help us to manage new norms effectively. Besides, we have already identified customers pain points created by absence of labour at the construction site and we will be launching new products to improve productivity at construction sites.”
BEML is indigenously developing and manufacturing high quality mining & CE as per requirements that are suitable for Indian conditions. Deepak Kumar Hota, CMD, BEML, says, “With growing demand for coal production in India, coal companies are planning for higher capacity opencast mining projects; which will require deployment of higher capacity mining equipment with latest technology. In order to meet this demand, BEML has developed mining equipment using latest technology: BH150E Electric Dump Truck with payload of 136 MT; BH205E Electric Dump Truck with payload of 186 MT; and BE1800E Electric Hydraulic Excavator (180 Ton Class Excavator).”
Post COVID-19, most believe there may be more adoption of technology in the construction industry to improve efficiency. Dimitrov Krishnan, MD, Volvo CE India, says, “Technologies like Volvo’s CareTrack telematics system are designed to help customers improve productivity and uptime services. Currently, most of our equipment can be supplied with the CareTrack telematic solutions, which can track utilisation, diagnostics and remotely monitor fleet performance.”Dimitrov Krishnan.
Companies always think about the customers and that is why most keep coming up with new products and ideas. Rahul Joshi, head - PP, marketing and PMO, Mahindra CE, says, “Our products are focussed at India and Indian contractors which is not limited to pandemic lock downs. Post pandemic, the customers would want sales, service and spares at their doorstep than going out to dealerships. The communications with customers will now be contactless hence there will be a thrust towards using digital pitching tools for sales. And the enhanced use of internet/mobiles demands connecting with customers and prospects more through online media than offline.”Vivek Hajela.
Surat Mehta, business head, SDLG India, says, “Stronger & focused digital discussions will be the new normal. We are developing tools for a virtual walk around of the factory, virtual machines walk around, virtual training sessions, etc. Telematics will get more focus in terms of reduced physical interface between man and machine.”
We are in the midst of fighting COVID 19 challenge, an unexpected and unimaginable event disrupting business activities and personal lives of people. It has brought in real challenges for the CE Industry, which faced sluggish demand last fiscal too. Hajela says, “MoRTH has assured to increase pace of road construction activities and award 4500km highway construction contracts during the year, through various agencies like NHAI and NHIDCL. There is a huge national infra pipeline worth Rs 100 lakh crore to be completed by 2025. Hence, we are confident that if all these projects are implemented as assured, demand for CE will soon rebound and start growing. We expect demand for hydraulic excavators to revive from Q3 onwards.”
Krishnan says, “We are seeing growing demand for medium excavators like the Volvo EC200D, which offers exceptionally high swing torque and unique lifting capabilities. With the powerful Volvo D5E Tier 3 engine (with an output of 123 kW at 2,000 rpm), and compatible hydraulics, the EC200D is designed to operate fast and with short cycle times.”
Hota says, “BEML is indigenously manufacturing various capacity hydraulic excavators ranging from operating mass – 7.5 MT to 180 MT. Small capacity hydraulic excavators generally find application in infrastructure projects or small mining projects. For the first time in India, BEML designed & developed 180 tonne biggest eco-friendly electrical excavator which serves as import substitution and helps promote the cause of green mining.”
Globally, Sany expanded their ultra-large excavator product portfolio with the introduction of three new machines – 78.6-tonne SY870H, 95.8-tonne SY980H and 125-tonne SY1250H, all of which are said to offer exceptional performance and excellent quality, reliability and intelligence. The SY980H excavator is powered by a high-pressure, large-flow, electrically controlled hydraulic system with reduced fuel consumption, dynamic response engine, which offers stable operations for various heavy-load excavation applications in quarrying and mining, whilst the machine’s superior control technology is said to increase efficiency by 30% compared with the previous generation.
Motor graders have importance in mainly road building. They have travel speeds of up to 35-40kmph which enables them to manage long stretches of road. Joshi says, “For working long hours, the graders have cooling systems for engine and hydraulics. The graders of today are fitted with sensors. Enhanced operator comfort and proper training helps increase productivity as well as productive hours. To ensure Mahindra graders can perform long stretches, we do thousands of hours of testing. Our RoadMaster graders outperform customer expectations.”
Hajela says, “Komatsu GD535 motor grader uses the Komatsu 107 series engine which is also used on its PC210 excavators. These engines are designed to continuously work for long hours and these engines can comfortably work for 18-20 hours a day and there are plenty of instances of 15-20 thousand hours of operation before overhaul. For motor graders with inherently lighter duty cycles, engine remains very safe during extended operating hours. The rugged powertrain consisting of a proven countershaft transmission with a torque converter with lock up mode – eight forward and four reverse speeds provides the torque and speed necessary for powerful grading and finishing operation. High oscillations available in the tandem and the front wheel with articulation steering and leaning mechanism keeps blade deviation to the minimum essential for providing good surface finish. These features encourage the operator to take long passes enhancing productivity.”
Sakthikumar says, “Schwing Stetter India sells and service XCMG motor graders of GR1003, GR150II and GR1605 which are specially innovated strategically chosen to suit the Indian market. The motor graders are ARAI certified. The motor graders adopt a front wheel and articulated frame steering. The articulated frame with a maximum steering angle of ±27 degrees and a minimum turning radius of 6.6 m helps the operator to efficiently manoeuvre the machine.”
Vidyarthi says, “Our motor grader range is equipped with FPT industrial engine, which helps in saving fuel cost and increasing overall efficiency of the equipment. To handle the shock caused by uneven surface of the sites, CASE India’s grader range comes with added accumulators which act as a shock absorber so that the shock doesn’t get transmitted to the structure or operator hence increasing operator safety. To handle tough terrain conditions, our motor graders are equipped with a hydraulic pitch control feature which helps operators to control mold board pitch adjustment from the cabin itself.”