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Skid steers, though in the concept-selling stage, has immense prospects.

BY TEAM CW

 

At a time when construction equipment is just beginning to realise some returns, the skid steers that are a step above the backhoe loaders is still at the concept selling stage. In case of skid steers, the versatility with its ability to work in confined spaces stand apart which is unheard of in the case of other machines.
Ajay Aneja, national head of sales, CASE India, says, “By definition, skid steers find application in confined spaces such as industrial areas or alternatively in multiple utility applications where these machines offer great versatility owing to an array of attachments available. India, being predominantly an agriculture country, with a lot of focus on rural roads, skid steers are finding increased usage.”
Going by industry sources, the market for skid steers is expected to grow by over 23% by 2018. The market demand for this machine was 500 units in 2014 and this is expected to grow to 500 units by end of 2015. Little wonder then that manufacturers of this equipment are looking at innovative ways of selling. In congested cities and metros, more contractors can be found using this equipment at construction sites. Moreover, one of the advantages this construction equipment has is its ability to use a wide range of attachments, such as buckets, pallet forks, cold planers, brooms, rock saws, sweeper collector, auger/earthmoving borer, industrial grapplers, backhoes and much more, thus making it the perfect, safest all-rounder.
Consequently, CASE India has started offering its globally renowned SR 130 model in the most popular segment of skid steers. This comes with a host of attachments such as 4-in-1 bucket, pallet fork, augur, grapple, angle broom & grader, etc. With help of these attachments and the built in terms of dimensions, it calls this the most versatile construction equipment offering.
Umesh Pandey, deputy general manager, sales, Terex Equipment, says, “The skid steer loaders portfolio is growing at a healthy pace. Industry updates are showing growth of 27% increase in number of sales as compared to last year during the same span of time. Further the demand will continue to grow by rental companies and general construction contractors. Skid steers as a machine is a perfect profit earning tool and emerges as a valuable machine for jobsites of any size, and for almost any job, from loading, site clean-up, recycling, farming, landscaping, mining, quarrying, public utilities and many more.”
As far as market conditions of overall construction equipment Industry will move toward improvement no doubt these little champs with innovation in design and durability will make their position stronger and influence the buying decisions of customer and emerge as winner.
Interestingly, the hiring segment for skid steers is a step above other machines in its range of applications. As the affordability of this machine becomes more attractive with respect to other machines, its popularity is bound to increase. The major hirers (and buyers) for this equipment are the civic bodies, residential developers, and process industries to name a few. Predominantly, the machines are being sold with standard loader bucket thus limiting its application.
Early this year, JCB India introduced a skid steer (SSL 135 and SSL 155), both of which will be built in India. Amit Gossain, executive vice president, sales, marketing and business development, JCB India, says, “The Indian built SSL is known as the Robot. It is regarded as the safest SSL in the world. Given its compact size, this machine is most useful in solid waste management and general construction in restricted areas.”

Speaking about the HEMAN 175 skid steer loader, Pandey says that this is an engineering marvel in the earthmoving equipment industry, complete with compactness, manoeuvrability and versatility. The finest quality of the machine is its dexterity, which is made possible by 4-wheel drive system. The drive system is hydrostatic and has a set of wheels on either side connected to an independent drive motor, through a gear train which provides slip free drive to the wheels. The perfect geometry, correct balance, ground clearance and proper weight distribution enables HEMAN 175 to manoeuvre quickly and efficiently in confined areas, and ensure a smooth operation on all surfaces from clay, marsh and gravel to rocky ground. The ergonomic design of HEMAN 175 makes its simple in operation and easy
in maintenance.
Coming to the engines, Gossain says that JCB engines have the best-in-class fuel efficiency and are known for performance, reliability and efficiency. The ecoMAX engine regarded as a highly fuel efficient engine delivers high torque at low rpm engine. Some of its features are lighter in weight; minimum gaskets with a rear mounted gear train; waste gate turbocharger; high operating range thermostat; high pressure cooling system – 14.5 PSI; and easy handling and serviceability. All this leads to better fuel efficiency and lead to savings for customers.
At JCB, product improvement is a continuous process. “We add innovation and hard work to our customers’ valued feedback – the result of which is the launch of industry changing products time and again. Safety of the operator is of utmost importance and every OEM is now designing machines which not only have safe features but ergonomic features as well,” says Gossain.
The single boom with side door design in JCB skid steer loaders makes it the safest in the world. The unique side door entry allows operator to enter and exit the machine without having to climb over attachments or an unsupported boom. The cabin has also been equipped with grills on both sides and servo isolator switch for operator’s safety. Also, JCB Robot has three emergency exit options instead of rear window option in the traditional twin arm machines.

In terms of manufacturing, CASE India imports the HEMAN 175 from its plant at Wichita, USA. Built tough with more power and torque, CASE skid steer loaders boost productivity and increase operator comfort. The new CASE skid steer cab is 25% larger than on the previous 400 series, offering superior space and comfort for the operator. With larger windows and a new ultra-narrow wire side-screen protection, the cab offers improved all round visibility. With a tilting cab on the skid steers, CASE takes access even further, allowing the technician to rapidly reach hydraulic and transmission components for service work. Ergonomically positioned controls, industry-first side lighting and improved reliability help customer get more productivity on daily basis. “We have one of the best machines in this segment. The volumes of this product are improving but are overall not enough for us to produce everything locally. To suit the Indian customer as well as to be light on his pocket CASE can offer customised local attachments for this product,” says Aneja.
The way forward depends upon the rising demand of skid steer loaders. The more customers start perceiving value in the versatility and manoeuvrability of these machines the more interest it will generate and consequent demand.

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