Increase in road construction activity is driving motor grader manufacturers to deliver quality and reliability, and strengthen their dealer network. Report by P. P. Basistha.
Large scale expansion of road network has given a shot in the arm to motor grader manufacturers (barring the present aberration as a fallout of GST). According to industry estimates, the market size for motor graders during 2016 was 830 units, and demand projection for 2017 is close to 1000 units. Manufacturers have been working out well-crafted strategies to push sales across categories, and create brand value for their products.
Demand for motor graders in India chiefly comprises two categories: higher capacity graders of 170-180-200 hp and lighter units of 140 -150 hp. The former is generally used for grading requirements of 160-200 cum/hr while the lighter units are for 100-120 cum/hr. Demand for higher capacity units has been rising as road contracts are going up following the government decision to construct 40 kms of roads per day and many more expressways. Contractors are also keen to complete projects before schedule to earn bonus points, while incurring lower operation costs and achieving higher profitability.
Case India is looking forward to broaden its business foot print in motor graders based on the technological attributes of the products.
According to Mr. Shalabh Chaturvedi, Head Marketing, Case India, “Operating and maintenance cost of Case Graders is best in its class backed by host of competitive operating features. To elaborate, our graders is equipped with variable horse power FPT engine renowned for its fuel efficiency. This also delivers robustness and reliability especially for Indian working conditions. Case graders are equipped with power shift ZF Transmission with torque converter and lock-up system. This delivers better fuel efficiency and appropriate quality of work. The machine has a multi curvature mould board which reduces the resistance coming on the engine and hence reduces fuel consumption and increases productivity. The added features are structural stability and ease of maintenance featuring ease of engine compartment access along with daily service checkpoints for quick and efficient maintenance of equipment.”
Case offers two models of motor graders for the Indian market, imported from its plant in Brazil. This consists, 845B and CASE 865B. 845 B comes with variable, 150-173 hp and 865 comes with 193-205-220 hp. The graders comes with 12-13 moldboard length and optional air conditioning provisions.
Case India is looking to leverage its product support based on its network around 70 dealers with over 300 touch points across the country. Mr. Chaturvedi says, “We believe the long-term growth potential of the Indian infrastructure sector and consequently a huge opportunity in the construction equipment segment. Based on the strong demand fundamentals, we have plans to further enhance our product offering and the dealership network to serve their customers at the best possible levels.” Case India provides parts support, through its centralized warehouse in Indore.
He says, “Looking forward to leverage our product support, we have introduced Customer-Driven Product Definition (CDPD) process wherein they invite equipment users to participate in defining and improving new products. This further helps to understand the customer needs in order to develop and test new models basis customer specifications. To keep the operators and customers up to date with latest practices and techniques, we also have dedicated training centres which organizes training programs all-round the year.”
“As product support value proposition we, have factory trained technicians at our Indian manufacturing facility, ensuring top-notch service professionals are working on equipment maintenance needs by providing a thorough service for the everyday wear and tear of the machines. Through Case India customer care centres and dealers, the customers have access to world-class equipment and aftermarket support along with industry-leading warranties and flexible financing,” adds Mr. Chaturvedi.
Caterpillar India would like to showcase two models of its motor graders: Cat® 120K2, (145 hp) and 140K2 (175-190 hp) graders, powered by Cat engines. These graders are imported from Caterpillar’s China production facility. Mr. Andy Dhanaraj, Director - Sales, Global Construction & Infrastructure Division, Caterpillar India, says, “We have close to 40% market share in this segment in India and we plan to increase the share, given the superior technology of the products that deliver reliability, scalability, about 30% higher level of productivity and cost advantage.”
The motor graders come with a unique ‘Cat AccuGrade™’ Caterpillar sensor that is based on two-dimension technology so that the moldboard angle can automatically adjust itself on the gradients to be graded. The automated technology solution optimizes the operator’s job, which is critical as most road projects have very constrained schedules. It also curtails deployment of extra people to measure the gauges, contributes towards fuel savings as the job can be completed in shorter passes. This enables the operator to prepare the grader for the next level of compaction followed by grading of the sub base.
According to Mr. Dhanaraj, the graders, designed for both road projects and mine haul roads, offer value for money. “Although a Cat machine may be more expensive than other brands, it is a good buy, as it delivers a high Total Lifecycle Cost (TLC) along with having resale value,” he says.
Our Cat dealers GMMCO and Tractors India ensure prompt service within 24 hours, and provide extended warranty through critical components remanufacturing.
Due to very fierce competition on contractual rates being quoted, construction companies are looking beyond initial equipment cost & delivery and concentrating on the actual cost of ownership. Taking cognizance, Mr. Amarnath Ramachandran, President & Director, Leeboy India, says, “Leeboy has designed its motor graders using the latest components from globally renowned suppliers like Cummins, ZF, Oerlikon Graziano, Casappa, Walvoil, Safim, Apex Auto, Hella, Cobo and FW Murphy. Features that optimize productivity and fuel efficiency are built into the standard configuration. The best-in-class graders have a fully automatic power-shift transmission, variable fan drives, lock up-clutch, an electronic pump controller, advanced electronic diagnostic and display, telematics for remote monitoring, and advanced safety interlocks to prevent misuse.”
Leeboy markets its standard design graders for the domestic and export markets, and offers two models in India: 78xxl-2 (13.5 t, 150 hp) and 985 (15.5t, 173 hp), manufactured as per US technology at its Bangalore facility and designed for Indian jobsite conditions. Key components like axles, transmissions, control valves, brakes, pumps and motors, seats lights, gel batteries, and electrical components are imported from Europe, while the steel structure and metal work are fabricated in-house.
Says Mr. Ramachandran, “We have a clear roadmap on technical modifications based on the driveline, electronics, hydraulics, labour trends, industry requirements like higher completion rates, and more precision work. The 785i grader was the first model we launched in India, and it has already been upgraded three times over the last four years. The third series - the 785xl-2 - is in the market currently. Upgrades include cabins, tandem axle and better ergonomics. Similarly, the 985-series 2 is being launched very shortly with a new CRDI engine, heavy-duty circle gear system, and circle rotation gearbox with a built-in clutch. This machine will perform with high fuel efficiency in the Eco mode, and its boost system will make the grader deliver the same torque at a higher rpm.”
He adds, “This year will also see the launch of two new graders: an 18t and a 22t, which will have a MOSFET driven power distribution module system to eliminate fuses and relays, and enable better diagnostic and troubleshooting of electrical faults by interfacing with the main display. A few other models will have the option of being powered by an electronic engine for a more superior performance. We are also upgrading the basic telematics system to have advanced diagnostics like monitoring temperature for water glycol, charge-air, transmission oil, hydraulic oil, engine oil, and individual hydraulic circuit pressure. This will reduce the need for skilled technicians in the field, as we can troubleshoot from the head office, and thereby curtail operational costs.”
Leeboy India has 12 dealers offering sales and after-sales service in Kerala, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. Training is provided to dealers, operators, sales and service teams at the company’s training school in Bangalore, and onsite too, when required.
Liugong India has a wide portfolio of motor graders ranging from 150hp to 280 hp. The higher capacity from 180 hp on wards are manufactured at the company’s Chinese facility. But with demand growing for 150 hp products, it is carrying out complete local production of these units at its Pithampur facility. According to Mr. Nischal Mehrotra, Director Sales & Service, Liugong India, “Complete fabrication is done in-house, power packs are from Cummins India, hydraulic components and tires etc are also sourced locally. The motive behind localization to adapt India government’s Make in India directives.”
“There is almost 90% localisation of these units, which goes towards delivering lower initial owning and operating costs,” says Mr.Mehrotra. “This goes on towards making the products cost competitive. Hence, the rental agencies and sub-contractors, to whom the main contractors offload their plants, machinery and other assets and jobs, are able to get decent profit margins. With higher capacity machines, since the initial capital investment is almost 40% higher, it is well likely to offset the profit margins of the rental agencies due to higher payback.”
Despite low initial costs, Mr. Mehrotra claims that Liugong’s graders are high on productivity and reliability. Fitted with Cummins engines, Meritor axles and Rexroth valve, and ZF transmissions, Liugong motor graders assure high efficiency and reliable performance. Its 150 and 180 hp graders are equipped with mechanical engine while the higher capacity equipment are equipped with Cummins electronic engines.
The Chinese construction equipment conglomerate has been looking to tap the Indian mining sector for grading the haul roads. “We have been customizing our products to make them suitable for mining application as per the norms of the Directorate General of Mining Safety. In accordance with this, our motor graders come with standard ROPS and FOPS cabins imported from HQ, rear view camera, fire resistant hoses, and automatic engine shut off valve in case of fire, black spot mirror and For delivering lower maintenance costs, the graders working at mines have a centralized lubrication system,” informs Mr. Mehrotra. Liugong India has 17 dealers in India, besides Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Action Construction Equipment (ACE), has increased its focus on road construction business this year and is promoting its AG 176, 173 hp motor graders for road construction and mining. Mr. Sorab Agarwal, Executive Director, ACE, informs that along with setting up a dedicated sales and service team for their road construction business, they have also realigned their crane business team to promote and provide product support for motor graders and vibratory rollers. “We have an edge over other companies in our pick-n-carry cranes with close to 65% market share and coordination with the cranes business channel will enable us to drive sales of our graders as most of our EPC customers are involved, directly or indirectly, in road construction as well.”
Sharing details of the broader strategy, he says, “We are working on a strategy of placing the right product, closely attuned to the applications, based on right price and service backup. Conforming to the strategy, we are delivering our grader featuring very high levels of performance and reliability backed by the right aggregates.”
According to him, ACE motor graders, powered by Cummins India engines, deliver 5-10% higher level of output per litre of fuel. With advanced engineering, AG 176 delivers a high drawbar pull of 9540kgs and blade down force of 7140kgs. ACE grader comes equipped with air conditioned cabin as standard fitment and dozer blade and ripper are available optionally. The graders are produced locally at the company’s Faridabad facility with complete in-house fabrication, locally sourced components, hydraulics and hoses, and are competitively priced. Power configuration at 173 hp makes them suitable for dual application of road projects as well as mining, thereby giving value for money to the customers.
The company is considering producing 220 hp units in future. It has around 250 active units of motor graders in operation, 100 service locations across the country, and also provides operator training at site or at in-house training centre based at Faridabad. The company is looking pass on customer value through the grader based on its higher productivity, lower owning and operating costs.
Mr. Agarwal adds, “We draw great pride, and presumably the respect of peers and customers alike, from being a 100 per cent Indian Manufacturing Co, enabling us to provide competitively priced product.”
Sany India is offering SAG 120-5, 120 hp, SAG 160-5, 160hp and SAG 200, hp motor graders for road construction and mining haul roads According to Mr. Sanjay Saxena, VP-Sales & Marketing, Sany Heavy Industries India, “The motor graders use components of reputed manufacturers. Rippers and dozers come as optional attachments. SAG 120-5 has a Euro 3 Cummins engine with auto preheating function. Hydraulic drives, enables step-less speed change and simplified operation.” SAG-160-5 also has a Euro 3 Cummins engine, while SAG 200 is powered by Dongfeng Cummins engine, with features of the other two models. Sany India have commenced sales of these new models after homologation.
Mr. Saxena comments, “Our competitively priced products deliver high productivity and reliability.We have recently forayed into road construction in India, and will be building up a dedicated sales and service team with channel partners in strategic areas.”
Contractors are under pressure to meet construction deadlines so having reliable equipment can make a real difference. SDLG machines are known for their reliable operation, robust performance and fast return on investment. “We pay attention to every detail of the machine and look for ways to maximize its productivity. The G9138, for example, is highly maneuverable. Through a fully digital instrument panel that includes electronic monitoring, the operator has precise control of the machine and can easily navigate it through a variety of work scenarios. The integrated access panel also offers straightforward inspection and maintenance,” says Mr. Dimitrov Krishnan, VP, Volvo CE, India.
“The operation of the motor grader is enhanced with its swing frame that delivers greater flexibility in a variety of work scenarios. The articulating swing frame’s movements allow the blade to generate more power and carry a heavy windrow. It also allows the unit to make turns at more acute angles for close-quarter work or work on smaller roads. For greater durability and easier operations over its lifetime, the swing frame’s composite bearing is lubrication and maintenance-free,” he adds.
SDLG India offers the G9138 and higher capacity G9190 motor graders for the Indian market. The graders are manufactured at SDLG’s facility in Linyi, China. G9190 is powered by the 148kw Deutz TIER III engine. It features a hydraulically-controlled movable blade. This according to the company delivers ultimate precision and performance on any terrain – from highways and airports to construction and agricultural applications.
The G9138, is powered by a 111kw Deutz TIER III engine. Its blade can cut depths of up to 575 mm and create bank slopes of up to 90 degrees. The sliding range of the blade is 500 mm, while it can be inclined up to 47 degrees forward and 5 degrees backward. Maximum gradeability in travel is 20 degrees.
“There is a wide range of projects in India, from airports to highways to road developments in rural areas. These two machines satisfy the demand of both large-scale infrastructure projects and rural developments,” says Mr. Dimitrov.
The SDLG motor graders are supported by Volvo CE India present dealer network. “We have an extensive network of experienced and established dealer partners across India. We are working hard with them to ensure we have the parts and the processes in place to provide necessary and timely support when our customers need it. We will look to strengthen our after sales and parts support both during warranty and in the post warranty period along with leveraging our operators training initiative,” says Mr. Dimitrov.
Promotion of wide range of motor graders offering, closely indexed to varied applications augurs well for the industry. However, it will be vital for the manufacturers to attune their service and technical support to the equipment working at varied applications based on their attributes. This will enable them to deliver the right value of the capex to the asset owners.