3DX eco Xcellence Backhoe Loader

Buoyed by the recent spell of burgeoning demand, backhoe loader manufacturers are taking holistic initiatives to make product positioning more competitive, along with broadening their market network and making service support more customer- oriented. P.P. Basistha reports.

No doubt, there's been substantial improvement in offtake of backhoe loaders in 2016 compared to 2015 due to renewed spurt in the infrastructure activities. But the manufacturers are no longer eager for any comfort zone. They're of the view that demand will keep rising, and the acquisitions will be characterized by stiff competition. This is all because the customers will keep on looking for optimum utilization of the equipment and the total lifecycle costs as margins on the return of investments might not be lucrative and may not show drastic improvements soon. According to industry estimates, the market size of backhoe loaders during 2014 was 22,500 units. Demand went down to 21,192 units in 2015, followed by sharp recovery in 2016 with 28,000 units. Demand till 2020 is projected to be 31,000 units.

Taking cognizance of the emerging demand scenario, market leader, JCB India has been introducing newer products for varied and niche applications. Today, the company offers the widest range of Backhoe Loaders in India in 7 variants – 2DX, 3DX, 3DX Xtra, 3DX Super, 4DX, 2DXL, and 3DXL to suit different user segments for different applications.

Jasmeet Singh
Explaining the strategy, Mr. Jasmeet Singh, Head Corporate Communications and External Relations, JCB India Limited, says, "Our new 3DX ecoXcellence range is the latest addition in the next generation backhoe loaders. The machine is 10% more fuel efficient with 30% less maintenance cost. This range is fitted with the new generation JCB ecoMAX engine, and provides high productivity and enhanced performance in any application. With highest digging force and faster excavation cycle in time, it works 25% more per litre giving the best performance in all strata with fuel savings worth Rs. 8 Lakhs in 3 years."

He adds, "This new range of backhoe loader is designed keeping Indian excavation and loading requirements in view. It can load conventional and high bodied rigid dump trucks. The other competitive attributes of the loaders are their new designed spacious cabin with 20% more leg space for the operators. Moreover, they feature ease of access to the engine and cabin for carrying out periodic maintenance."

Mr. Singh says, "Our JCB 2DX backhoe loader, the smallest one from our portfolio, has been specifically designed to suit rural applications. The product has been gaining popularity in unique applications like plantation, construction of rural roads, fibre optics laying, truck unloading, tractor trolley loading. Our 4DX, the most productive backhoe loader in India, has been finding encouraging response in mass excavation and digging in hard strata."

JCB India will look to expand and consolidate its market presence, backed by its wide range of backhoe loaders, featuring advanced technology. The strategy of the company is to ensure higher availability of the products. Mr. Singh informs, "To ensure optimum utilization of the products, we have extended the drain out intervals of the engine lubes and filters replacement to 500 hours. Various operational parameters of the machines can now be remotely monitored real time, based on our advanced 'Livelink' telematics system. To leverage product support and equipment availability, we are making concerted efforts to be close to our customers. We are now expanding our footprint in Nepal, Arunachal Pradesh in North East India, Leh and Kargil in J&K. The expansion will enable us to have 700 outlets by the end of 2017." JCB currently has over 650 outlets and 63 dealers across the country.

Sachin Nijhawan
Mahindra is providing value additions to its backhoe loaders through a series of attachments. Mr. Sachin Nijhawan, Vice President & Business Head, Mahindra Construction Equipment, informs, "We now have a large set of attachments for our customers to choose from. We will also be making some more attachments for our backhoe loaders to enable them for varied and newer applications and thus making them a truly versatile machine. We are also carrying out various technological enhancements through improvisations in few key aggregates to enhance fuel efficiency and increase the productivity of our machines thus helping them deliver even higher output."

Mr. Nijhawan further adds, "We are going to provide new remote monitoring 'Digisense' GPS enabled software to improve the services by taking proactive actions thus improving the turnaround time of our backhoe loader. Optimum utilization of the machines is also being warranted by faster parts availability and support through our dealers and also from the dealers of other businesses in Mahindra. Our new ongoing service improvement project will further help our customers to leverage our services." Mahindra manufactures SX and VX backhoe loaders under the EarthMaster category of earthmoving equipment. The Mahindra company's CE business is supported by a wide network of 60 dealers catering to more than 400 districts across the country.

Mahindra Backhoe Loader

Rajinder Raina
Escorts Construction Equipment (ECE) introduced its new 4x4 backhoe loader, Jungli, in October 2016. Explaining the rationale behind launching the new Jungli backhoe loader, Mr. Rajinder Raina, General Manager-Marketing, Escorts Construction Equipments (ECE), says, "Backhoe loaders in India were launched by Escorts in the mid 80s primarily for excavation of good earth in basements, canals, trenches & minor irrigation canals etc. The haulage equipment then were mostly tractor trolleys. With the passage of time, the application areas of the equipment kept on getting wider. Backhoe loaders were used in river bed sand mining, hauling and loading at project sites. To push the market, backhoe loaders started getting sold for tough applications that they were not designed for. This led to abuse of the equipment resulting in failure of bucket and structural items in particular. The versatility of the machine's usage has continued, while owners have also started using the equipment in newer applications for longer hours. Taking cognizance of the such application areas, our new, robust, Jungli backhoe loader has been designed for rough terrains, excavation of morrum soil, rock breaking, working in slushy underfoot conditions, river bed sand excavation, overburden excavation in stone mines etc." Mr. Raina adds,

"The structure and the bucket of Jungli is redesigned for tough applications with high dumping and ground reach & digging depth. Also the bucket and loader break out forces are much higher than that of the competitors. This ensures high productivity in rough terrains and minimum failures. The 4-wheel drive makes the machine suitable for all types of underfoot conditions. The engine is turbocharged with an inline fuel pump. Not the least, the eye-catching combat color of a battle tank manifesting a rugged look, makes the product an attractive and competitive value proposition. As the going gets tough, Jungli gets going." "To ensure higher availability of the product, we are moving about in a strategic manner to ensure that service commensurate to 'Jungli applications' is available near the application sites. Each machine sold is closely monitored, through Equipment Monitoring System (EMS) to ensure that the desired deliverables are in line with the expectations/promise made to the customers," informs Mr. Raina and adds, "The initial response to Jungli has been extremely encouraging and we at Escorts are quite optimistic about Jungli carving a niche segment for itself."

Escorts Jungli Backhoe Loader

Amar Chauhan
Terex is keen to expand its presence in rural areas. "We will continue to focus on the customers involved directly in infrastructure development, besides commensurately expanding our market in the rural zones. Our 57 dealers located across the country, mostly at strategic locations, have enabled us to achieve wider sales of our backhoe loaders. We have been highly successful in pushing our machines in markets like Nepal," says Mr. Amar Chauhan, Head Marketing & Dealer Development, Terex Equipment India Private Limited.

Terex Backhoe Loader
He adds, "Our TLB 740S, with 76 HP Engine, TLB 844S with 90 HP Engine, TLB 818 Centre Mounted machine and TLB 818 S, Perkins engines fitted, side shift backhoe loaders that deliver high break out force, are ideal for functioning in the toughest strata. They also score on faster digging and loading. The four wheel drive machines are also superior in delivering total lifecycle costs to the customers, owing to their high strength steel structure. We will continue to develop products in sync with demand from markets with possibilities for newer applications and high growth potential."

Terex backhoe loaders are manufactured at the company's plant in Gautam Budh Nagar, Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Chauhan informs, "to ensure higher availability, the machines will be available soon with GPS enabled remote monitoring solutions system. This delivers value for customers with larger equipment fleet."

Ajay Aneja
"We have completely revamped our engines. Our backhoe loaders are now fitted with our proven, highly fuel-efficient, FPT Engines. This has gone towards minimization of cost of equipment ownership for our customers. To enhance productivity, we have increased the size of rear loader buckets between 0.18-0.30 cum and 1.0-1.2 cum for the front buckets depending on the model. The size of the buckets has been enlarged to synchronize with the new engine horse power and the hydraulics," says Mr. Ajay Aneja, Head Sales & Exports, Case Construction Equipment (India) Pvt. Ltd. (CASE India). Backhoe loaders manufactured by CASE India at its Pithampur plant in Madhya Pradesh consist of 76 hp770 EX, 86 hp 770EX Magnum, 96 hp-851 EX.

He further adds, "For lowering equipment operating costs and optimum utilization, our Backhoe Loaders are now equipped with 'Eagle-Eye' GPS-enabled software to pass on inputs on the operating parameters of the backhoe loaders. Inputs such as machine location, engine operating hours and other critical parameters such as fuel status, hydraulic filter, engine oil pressure, transmission temperature and coolant temperature can be made available on the android phone or laptop of the owner/operator. In case of heavy line products like motor grader, using the EST tool, customers can download the parameters like working hours, fuel consumption/fuel average etc. related to the machine performance."

Case Magnum Backhoe Loader

According to Mr. Aneja, CASE India is starting a host of support initiatives. "To strengthen product training for higher equipment availability, we have started four regional training centers in Alwar, Ranchi, Hyderabad, and Guwahati in addition to the Pithampur Training Centre. Dealers located in regions within the radius of the training centers can send their sales and service engineers for training, instead of sending them to central training center at Pithampur. Dealer's personnel can also avail tailor made training courses at these centers. To shorten lead times for parts availability, we have started regional depots, supported by our central warehouse at Indore. We are closely reworking on our parts distribution network strategy to shorten lead times further. To ensure faster attendance to a customer's complaint, we have started a dedicated toll free call center wherein calls are channelized to our service team and time taken to service the equipment is tracked to see that the time taken is minimal." CNH India has 65 dealers for product sales and support.

Amit Bansal
"Caterpillar products along with backhoe loaders are known for their outstanding reliability, durability, and productivity globally. The Cat 424B backhoe loader has been designed to deliver superior reliability and durability with lower maintenance cost and best in class fuel consumption, all of these enable the customers to optimize their owning and operating costs. We continuously adapt to changing market demands and going forward, we are looking to offer the latest and more advanced technological solutions for our esteemed customers," says Mr. Amit Bansal, Regional Sales Director, Building Construction Products, Caterpillar India.

Cat Backhoe Loader
He elaborates, "We have engineered our backhoe loader with some exclusive features which directly improve customer economics. The competitive features comprise load sensing closed centre hydraulics. We are the sole manufacturer to offer load sensing closed centre hydraulics in backhoe. This delivers superior performance at optimal fuel consumption. The pump works as per the job demand and keeps the wastage to minimal level and the engine load at optimal level ensuring lower fuel consumption. In this system, the wear and tear of components is very low which improves the service life of components. The transmission of the backhoe loader is equipped with Cat Power-Shuttle transmission. The gear ratios are engineered to deliver higher rim pull in the first and the second gear. This ensures better loading and dozing performance. Highly fuel efficient engines, reliable and durable drive train, structures, pins, hoses, spacious cabin and ease of maintenance, backed by adequate product support, allow the customer to have higher uptime and productivity through our backhoe loader."

Mr. Bansal informs, "We are in the process of some newer application areas, where our backhoe loader can deliver best in class performance with minimal fuel consumption, overall meeting the customer needs with enhanced profitability".

In a bid to make product positioning stronger, Tata Hitachi is carrying out engineering improvements in its two existing backhoe loader models. "We are carrying out extensive upgrades in our TH76 and TH86 models, focusing on improving reliability and optimizing the operating cost. Upgrades revolve around the central theme of improving the profitability for machine owners," says Mr. A. Krishna Kumar, Vice President– Sales & Marketing, Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery Company Pvt. Ltd.

Tata Hitachi Backhoe Loader

He further adds, "Our backhoe loaders are supported by our genuine spare parts at competitive prices to keep our maintenance and operating cost low. Our central warehouse in Nagpur with 1,30,300 sq.ft stocks more than 30,000 items. Strategically located in the central part of the country, this facility ensures that it feeds the dealers warehouses situated throughout the country in the shortest possible time. Our new warehouse facility at Dharwad has been opened to better serve market demands in southern India."

Sorab Agarwal
ACE Backhoe Loader
Looking forward to a bigger pie in the growing backhoe loaders market, Delhi-NCR based construction equipment conglomerate, Action Construction Equipment (ACE) is banking on its AX 130, Digmaster backhoe loader. Mr. Sorab Agarwal, Executive Director, ACE, says, "AX 130 is an extremely reliable loading and excavating, fuel-efficient machine with two and four wheel drive options. We may look to offer the product as a package along with our road construction equipment, which we have perfected along with our backhoe loaders over a period of five years, to make them attuned to various application requirements of the contractors."

Mr. Agarwal further adds, "We will promote and support the sales of our backhoe loaders with our strong network of 100 dealers across the country. These outlets are fully equipped to provide genuine spare parts and services by our company-trained engineers in Faridabad."

Amarnath Ramachandran
Looking towards increasing its backhoe loader population in the highly competitive backhoe loader market, characterized by high levels of brand substitution, Leeboy India will be looking to add value in its 699 backhoe loader. "We will launch specialised attachments to the 699 backhoe loader this year for the Indian market. The attachments will be indigenously manufactured at our state-of-the-art new plant in Bengaluru," says Mr. Amarnath Ramachandran, President, Leeboy India Construction Equipment India Pvt Ltd. Leeboy's manufacturing facilities are in Lincolnton, North Carolina US, Bangalore, India and Canoas, Brazil.

Mr. Amarnath says, "Our 699 backhoe loaders are packed with competitive features that will enable us to drive business."

Leeboy Backhoe Loader
He explains, "Backhoe loader is a utility machine with multiple attachments and applications. However, as project timelines get more stringent, the buying trend in India is shifting towards specialized high performing machines with lesser cost of operation. LeeBoy 699 backhoe loaders are powered by turbo-charged after cooled, 99 hp, fuel efficient Cummins engine which has been field-proven on 14t excavators on very heavy duty cycles and tough operating conditions. Hi-performance power-shift transmission from ZF, Germany ensures that when the machine is on a grade, the wheels do not lose power during a gear shift which will occur in all synchro-shuttle models. Closed-centre hydraulic system and variable displacement, axial piston pump delivers high fuel efficiency as opposed to gear pumps and open-centre systems used by other common players. 4-section, side-by-side aluminum heat exchanger, joystick controls, fully enclosed cabin with very high visibility, return-to-dig, high quality flashing beacons, work-lights and back-up alarm are just some of the added features working on European components like AKG, Safim, Cobo, Hella, Walvoil, Casappa, delivers higher productivity, ergonomic comfort. These features are akin to the recent demand trend, where customers are looking for high performing, safe machinery."

According to Mr. Amarnath, "699 has been received very well in export markets like South Africa, UAE, Zambia, Nepal, Thailand, and others".

Mr. Amarnath says, "Looking forward to leverage our product support, we have recently launched the LeeBoy help desk for customers to report and resolve complaints. Our vast dealer network in India offers swift post-sales-care support to all our customers. Spares are stocked at strategic locations across the country to minimize lead times."

The aggressive marketing strategy of backhoe loader manufacturers for deeper market penetration augurs well for the Indian infrastructure sector, as it will also broaden product offerings. However, the challenge will be drawing product support packages to meet the diverse customer requirements, and present brand substitution by the customers.

NBM&CW February 2017