The road building and repair equipment industry believes in innovation for better quality of roads.
BY KAVITA JOSHI
It’s a well-known fact that road building and road repair in India happens just before the monsoons. There are no questions asked and hence no answers. Moreover, the last three years there has been a general laxity among officials in the road construction department to take up building new roads or repair existing ones.
Little wonder, why companies dealing in road construction equipment have been put into hibernation. Going by a recent news piece, all this is soon set to change. In a big push for infrastructure development, the government plans to award Rs 3 lakh crore of road projects this year as it looks to more than double highway construction to 30km per day. The first people to heave a sigh of relief were the equipment manufacturers. Because road equipment is one segment among construction equipment that will drive up demand and buoy company outlook.
Ramesh Palagiri, MD & CEO, Wirtgen India, says, “There has been a lot of upgradations in road construction equipment, specially the asphalt pavers and there are continuous innovations in the features of machines, to improve productivity, ensure quality, etc. With our new range of Vogele Dash 3 pavers, we are at least a generation ahead of the competition.”
Features like ErgoPlus 3 operating concept with colour display, side rain and wind protection, enhanced screed console and a host of other improvements allows total control over the machine and the paving process. EcoPlus low-emissions package has several features that ensure low noise emissions and a substantial reduction in fuel consumption. Also there have been innovations for the Wirtgen Cold Milling machines, Cold Recyclers, Slipform Pavers, he adds.
Wirtgen Group offers a 360o solution for road building and road rehabilitation. It has the Kleemann range of crushing and screening plants for aggregates, the Vogele range of pavers, the Hamm range of compaction equipment and the Wirtgen range of cold milling machines and hot and cold recyclers. This is primarily for top layer of roads which are the wearing courses. The cold recycling machines can be used in situ like the WR 240 or in plant like the KMA 220, and these machines are used for the structural correction of roads, which goes beyond the top layers. An advantage here is that these machines reuse 100% of the aggregates. So this is a green technology with little need to get fresh aggregates.
New and advanced technologies are coming into the market and are getting the required customer attention and acceptance. Hiten Kapadia, business line manager, road construction equipment, Atlas Copco India Ltd, says, “Our Dynapac machines are designed for the toughest conditions and have several unique features. In terms of lowest operating cost, the Dynapac CA255 soil compactor has advanced compaction technique to achieve end result in minimum passes. The Dynapac CC385 tandem roller offers 25% lower fuel consumption and more than 25% higher productivity as compared to the same class of machines in India by ensuring a perfect surface finish and minimum rework which lowers the cost of operation.”
Atlas Copco also has planers that have milling widths from 0.35-2m with smart manoeuvrability and effortlessly achieve a depth of 200-300mm. The small cutting radius of only 230mm makes the high performance Dynapac PL1000 compact planers very flexible for milling even around manholes and so on. As a portfolio, the company also offers soil compactors from four tonne class to 27T class, asphalt compactors from one tonne to 18 tonne, pneumatic tyred rollers of six tonne to 30 tonne, paver finishers ranging from 1.8m to 14m paving width, milling machines from 0.35mm to 2m cutting width, and all these are delivered from their state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Sweden, Germany, Brazil, China and India.
Other than the economic and administrative parameters of project sanctions, funds inflow, land acquisition and interest rates superior products can help the road equipment industry. Last year, CASE India introduced a water cooled engine on its popular Case 752 tandem compactor. The 10.5T Case 752 vibratory compactor with water cooled engine, results in a substantial temperature reduction, benefits customers with the engine’s longer life and lower fuel consumption. The machine layout with the new engine also provides better access to components for servicing, reducing downtime and maintenance costs. CASE furthered strengthened its two decade long number one position in the Indian compactor segment by launching 1107DX soil compactor in 2014.
Kapadia of Atlas Copco says the compactor segment is witnessing technological advancements in terms of: Compaction metres and compaction analyser to get the relative compaction achieved at each and every point of the surface. For asphalt compactor new technological advancement is compaction with high frequency.
Most Indian road building and road repair equipment manufacturers offer the same class of machines that is offered in the global market and for most of these technically advanced machines, they are well accepted in India. However for standard products like compactors, Wirtgen India produces machines as per the requirement of the Indian market.
Equipment uptime is one of the major factors that customers consider while deciding on the machine. Time bound projects need reliable machines. Ajay Aneja, national head of sales, CASE India says that its graders feature an FPT industrial 6.7-litre engine with triple horsepower ranges on the 865B model and dual horsepower on the 845B to match the power requirements of various applications and deliver optimum fuel efficiency.
It is also the responsibility of the manufacturers to check the quality of machines before they are shipped. Most of them already have stringent quality checks in place to maintain a uniformly superior finish and no defects. Each component, be it produced in-house or at a vendor location is produced under specific guidelines to ensure negligible deviations. After the machine is fitted with these components, each sub-assembly and the machine is tested in all forms of running conditions. Last but not the least the machine is then sent to the quality control area where it is thoroughly examined again before it reaches the doorstep of our customer.
For instance, CASE India has an extensive R&D facility with a design centre located within the manufacturing plant at Pithampur. The design team of over 30 designers is spread across verticals such as product engineering, validation, value analysis, product platform, hydraulics, engines and drivelines.
A point to understand here is that most companies are MNCs that have come to India with advanced machines. Most companies located in India globally offer many products that have features relevant to the Indian market.
When ground breaking ideas are transformed into cost efficient solutions and reliable machines with a line-up of new features, the road construction equipment industry will be able to maximise customer confidence.