Backhoe loader: Small and swift

Backhoe loaders have come of age. But how is the market treating them?

Backhoe loaders, Action Construction Equipment, Sorab Agarwal, Puneet Vidyarthi, CASE Construction, Eagle Eye, Telematics

With increased demand for productivity, next-gen backhoe loaders are being integrated with hydraulic systems in the engine, which provides faster operational movement and greater digging with higher power. Transformations in infrastructure frameworks and a burgeoning engineering and construction industry are likely to increase the demand for backhoe loaders during the projected period.

Backhoe loaders are used in various industries such as construction, agriculture, mining, and in other infrastructure activities. Design of backhoe loaders facilitates several construction activities including landscaping, breaking asphalt, light transportation of building materials, powering building equipment, small demolitions, digging holes, excavation, and paving roads.

Small construction project are expected to increase demand for backhoe loaders due to their efficient use in material handling and digging applications across the world. Initiatives by governments across the world to boost development of infrastructure such as roads, airports, railways, and seaports, are projected to drive the market.

The new ways
Backhoe loaders have always had high demand in the construction sector owing to their versatility. It is a multipurpose machine fitted with a loader and a backhoe attachment which makes it suitable for various applications. Puneet Vidyarthi, brand leader, Case Construction, says, “Our backhoe loaders can perform a variety of tasks on-site such as digging, dosing, levelling and lifting.  They are built to provide flexible usage and reduce the time and efforts for customers. For versatility in different Indian operating conditions, the machine is also designed with heavy duty structures, tanks, fenders and rims.”

The infrastructure and real estate sectors have been experiencing tough times and the scenario is likely to remain grim till the overall health scenario improves. However, the long-term story of the sector remains intact as the government is committed to building a world-class infrastructure in the country. This is evident from its initiative of setting up NIP - the national infrastructure pipeline of projects - involving investments of Rs 111 trillion over five years up to 2025. The green shoots of recovery can already be seen in various equipment classes such as the backhoe loader that has grown by 32% y-o-y in July 2020 and by 10% over the previous month. Devendra Kumar Vyas, MD, Srei Equipment Finance, says, “An important focus point for this year would be on used equipment because there are a lot of resources which are under-utilized and lying in different pockets. So, people would like to own that equipment as it will reduce their cost of acquiring new equipment.”

Good news come our way?
The infrastructure sector, just like other sectors, has taken a beating because of the pandemic. The work progress and revenue generation has gone down significantly in the last quarter. Even in the current quarter, the work is progressing at a slow speed due to migrant labour issues and the monsoons. On a whole year basis, construction activity is expected to go down by at least 15%. The only way to rev up the infrastructure sector post the monsoons would be to ensure increased investments into the sector, which is also necessary to turn the wheels of the economy and ensure economic growth.

The domestic construction equipment industry started to move in the negative direction in the fourth quarter of last year and declined further in the current financial year, particularly during the second quarter. There has been a massive slowdown in award and execution of infra projects in the first three months of 2019 because of general elections, unfortunately that continued even after the election and led to volume drop by about 20-25 per cent in key product categories. Besides, the purchase of construction equipment is a capital expenditure that easily gets impacted whenever overall economy or GDP declines. The overall economic sentiment which has been down for a while now has also led to erosion in numbers.

Sorab Agarwal, executive director, Action Construction Equipment, says, “I think that demand for construction equipment will start picking up after September. Growth will not come quickly, but maybe by March 2021. The government is doing a fine job by fast-tracking construction and infrastructure projects. Considering that we have been following Atmanirbhar Bharat and Vocal for Local since our inception, we hope it will be some good times for us in the future. Funding for construction equipment buyers at the front end has not been an issue rather, the sector suffered because the project companies at the backend did not get enough cash on time which halted the execution and thereby delayed the purchase of machinery and construction equipment.”

Backhoe loaders are designed to serve multiple purposes with equal efficiency thereby reducing downtime and increasing productivity. CASE India backhoe loaders are replete with advanced features to ensure the same. Vidyarthi says, “Our loader backhoes are powered by an FPT Industrial S8000 engine which delivers powerful performance and fast response time. They’re re-engineered from the ground-up to deliver industry-leading backhoe breakout force and higher loader lift capacity/reach. The heavy-duty front axle with double effect steering cylinder ensures all wheels remain in contact with the ground even on the roughest terrain, ensuring exceptional stability and reliability. Our loader backhoes also feature state-of-the-art Eagle Eye telematics solution to enhance performance and efficiency. This Asset Monitoring System combines internet, cellular and GPS technologies to keep an eye on details such as the real-time location of the machine, operating hours and cumulative hours, and sends warning text alerts.”

JCB India, country’s largest manufacturer of construction equipment and related machines such as backhoe loaders, excavators, compactors among others, had sold more than 43,000 machines in CY2018, which was its best year ever. The company has about 90,000 machines on the field pan India. They are digitally connected so that it can be monitored according to their utilization levels.

New norms
CEV BS-IV norms, which will come into play on 1st October 2020 for construction equipment and tractor segment, is nearly as stringent as the BS VI norms for auto. This is applicable for engines bigger than 50 HP. We are also manufacturing few such engines in-house.

The cost is going to increase substantially for any machines using engines more than 50 HP and there would be an impact of anywhere in the range of Rs 1 lakh-5 lakh on key products categories.
For instance, the price increase for machines less than 74 HP would be somewhere around 5 per cent and for bigger machines the impact would be between 5 per cent -8 per cent.

CASE has always been a technology and future-oriented brand. The current range of our backhoe loader machines is laden with the best in class components and features. Vidyarthi says, “In this segment, we have 770 EX OL, 770 EX PRO, CASE 770 EX Magnum PRO and 851 EX PRO. The PRO series in Loader Backhoe is powered by an FPT Industrial S8000 engine which delivers powerful performance and fast response time. The series is re-engineered from the ground and provides backhoe breakout force, higher loader lift capacity/reach and best-in-class cab visibility. It has a robust, robotically welded two-piece structural frame design which results in great stability, performance and serviceability. The S-styled backhoe boom delivers excellent breakout forces. It has a superior working range and reaches deeper than any other backhoe loader. 770EX- Magnum has an optional 15 feet backhoe; one foot longer than what is available in the market. It also has a bigger pump for more flow and speed which means higher productivity for the customer.”

The loader backhoes are also equipped with Eagle Eye Telematics System, a real-time vehicle tracking and communication system based on GPS technology which keeps a track of your machine’s performance, security and efficiency.

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