Vivekanand Vanmeeganathan
Caterpillar: “We are expanding our operations as per the emerging opportunities and requirements of the market. In line with this, we have been making investments as well as launching new products in India as the Industry foresees a huge demand for equipment in coming years,” says Vivekanand Vanmeeganathan, Country Head and Managing Director, Caterpillar India

In the first three quarters of this year, the CE sector has shown a phenomenal growth of over 40%. How sustainable do you think this growth is and where do you see CE market in coming years?

There is definitely improvement in many sectors, especially in the roads and highways sector. At one point in time, 2 kms of roads per day were being built; the aspiration was to get 20 kms a day and now it is being reset to 30kms a day.

With the focus on irrigation and rural development in this year’s budget, these projects will spur construction activities and the demand for construction equipment is also expected to improve in the coming months. A point to note is that, a general purpose machine cannot be used for all applications. It is important to look at specialized solutions for specific tasks and projects. From that point of view, Caterpillar has a diverse product portfolio and offers specialized solutions to customers in increasing productivity and speeding up the process time.

How is digital revolution helping to control cost, improve efficiency, productivity, and safety of construction equipment?

Every jobsite has its own unique challenges; customers need technologies and services that can be combined and customized in ways that make the most sense for them and their business. Caterpillar offers technology solutions to help customers succeed. For example, Cat Connect enhances jobsite operating efficiency with its comprehensive jobsite technology. This technology guarantees intelligent construction through real-time monitoring of the equipment, schedule, quality, and safety of a project.

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Cat Connect contributes to four key areas according to their respective functionalities: equipment management, productivity, safety and sustainability. Productivity and customer’s bottomline depend on moving material accurately, quickly, and safely in the first attempt.

Maintaining consistent grade is difficult, labour-intensive, and challenging for even the most experienced operators. By combining digital design data, in-cab operator guidance features, and automatic blade controls, Cat AccuGrade grade control system enhances grading accuracy, and virtually eliminates the need for survey stakes.

For enhancing productivity, Cat AccuGrade realises intelligent construction. By using the measuring techniques and sensors on the machine, Cat AccuGrade locates the position of the bucket or blade and then adjusts it automatically according to the requirements of the digital design. These cutting-edge techniques help in improving construction efficiency while reducing fuel and material consumption.

Tell us about your plans for strengthening your portfolio, network, and customer support services.

Caterpillar has been operating in India for over 40 years and we have been making investments in India to expand our business operations in all areas. We follow a strategy to grow with the market. That is, expanding our operations in line with the emerging opportunities and requirements of the market. We intend to continue with this strategy and are committed to invest to expand our business here, in line with the requirements of the sectors we support such as mining and quarry, power generation, construction, road works, petroleum, natural gas and rail.

Increasingly, many customers are looking for a collaborative partner to help them achieve the most efficient and productive operation possible. At Caterpillar, we are very excited about various initiatives taken by the Government of India. These initiatives will spur growth in various segments of infrastructure like ports, airports, roads and highways, and also projects such as Swatch Bharat (Clean India), Clean Ganga, and Make in India. Caterpillar, with its advanced equipment and technological solutions, can contribute to these sectors.

There is skilled and unskilled manpower crunch in the industry to handle sophisticated equipment. What can be done at the macro and micro level to overcome the problem and what are Cat’s initiatives to tide over this problem at its end?

Skill Development has been an integral part of our entire operations as we make a complex product. There has been a great deal of skill development from the time we have been present in India. Requirement of precise training from the product perspective was an utmost necessity. We have been doing it for a long period of time now and the thrust on Skill India has been positive. Caterpillar designs highly complex and productive machines. The machines perform tasks to an optimal level only when it is operated by a skilled person.

It is not possible to skill everybody given the population we have and hence we need an initiative like Skill India to generate necessary traction. If traction continues to stay the way it is, which I believe it will, there is greater scope for enhancing people’s skills. Apart from precise investments, the success of this initiative lies in the fact that with the right skills, people can operate the machine in a way that it attains the functional efficiency.

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The government is aspiring to double the production of coal and double the pace at which roads are getting constructed. A part of this implies adding more equipment or going for a different technology. Significant amount of this exercise depends on skilling of people and Skill India is definitely going to make a big difference to the pace of project development.

What will be the company’s focus during bauma Conexpo India?

Bauma Conexpo (BC India) is a forum that provides an opportunity for Caterpillar, and our dealers Gmmco & TIPL to strengthen and build relationships with our customers and understand their needs and expectations. We will showcase our offerings and solutions that ensure that our customers can complete their projects meeting the quality standards they are measured by, within the time constraints that they face, and profitably. Such avenues for interaction would definitely be of help to our customers as they target new projects and opportunities.

Our message at Bauma Conexpo is “Built for It”. From our Cat dealer network to the services offered by Cat Financial Services, along with our employees and stakeholders who go the extra mile, to our machines and engines that stand the test of time, BC India is an excellent opportunity to tell the Caterpillar story. Whatever the job, we’re up for it, and whatever the challenge, we’re ready for it. Together, we’re built for it.

NBM&CW December 2016