Amit Bansal, Director Sales & Marketing-BCP Division, Caterpillar India
What cutting edge, tech-rich products have Caterpillar introduced recently?
We have launched the Cat® 303 CR Mini Excavator (which is already working outside India) after closely observing the Indian market for several years. There has been an upsurge in the Mini excavator segment, particularly in the 2.6 to 4-ton category.
We prioritize Safety, performance and economical total Cost of Ownership on all of our Cat Machines. Our Mini Excavator comes with a big bucket of 0.12 Cu.m. The machine is designed to be rugged so that it lasts long and has lesser breakdowns, which reduces maintenance costs (making it highly affordable). Joysticks make it easy for the operator to work for long hours without fatigue and standard ROPS/TOPS canopy certified as per ISO standards, gives safety to the operator. Our CAT C1.1T engine produces gross power upto 18.4 kW@2400rpm of power, and it is highly fuel efficient.
It’s power on demand (POD) Mode operation optimizes engine and pump characteristics over standard mode using Caterpillar innovative technology. With this engine, Cat® 303 CR Mini Excavator meets EU Stage V emission standards, something unheard of in Indian excavator industry till this year.
Adding on it, we have introduced the stick steer & cruise control travel mode for long haul dozing applications, which also make moving around the job site very easy. The machine is easy to service since all the serviceable parts are clustered at a single position, which makes access easy, and saves time. We have installed a next generation LCD monitor in operator’s line of sight that provides critical machine information and access to additional controls . With all these features, customers can complete their projects faster, safely, and economically.
As a standard feature on the 303 CR, Product Link™ systems track and transmit crucial operating data via VisionLink® to help improve fleet management. Product Link notifies key company personnel of machine fault codes, service reminders, fuel levels, machine utilization, hours and location.
We have also launched the new Cat 120 GC Motor Grader which is highly configured with some of the best industry defining features. Customers can expect increased productivity, improved fuel efficiency, and increased dependability from the new Cat 120 GC Motor Grader which has been designed keeping customer preferences in mind and with the possibility to customize the machine to specific uses.
The mini excavator is being used a lot in South India, Bengal, and Assam. Do you see its demand rising in other parts of India, especially in urban areas?
As per the latest off-highway research report, 35% of the market for the mini excavator comprises of the plantation and agricultural sector primarily in the South, while the remaining 65% is the general construction & industry, which is spread across the country and growing day by day.
In terms of buyers’ profiles, generally plant hirers, who provide machines on rent, buy nearly 70-75 per cent of mini excavators and end-users directly purchase the remaining 25-30 per cent for their own work.
In confined places like basements, manual labor is still being used, but it is time consuming and getting qualified / skilled manpower is becoming a challenge recently. There are examples of applications where mini excavators have proved to be more productive in terms of efficiency and cost over manual labour. People are therefore shifting to mechanization, so, I believe, the mini’s usage will spread across regions as more and more people see its benefits. Furthermore, inter-site movement of mini excavators is also easy as they can be transported on a small truck/tractor trolley as compared to backhoe loader.
Considering all major urban areas having congested areas where space is a major constraint, we see lot of potential, for mini excavators in general construction activities such as foundation work, indoor applications like basement digging or renovation work, demolition, pipe and cable laying, trenching, tunnel works, ditch and river cleaning. Some machines are also used for golf course maintenance.
Moreover, mini excavator also finds applications in industries such as steel, aluminium, and sponge iron factories for cleaning around the furnace in tight spaces.
We therefore, are very optimistic of increase in demand for mini excavator all across country.
Do you see the backhoe loader market being cannibalized by the mini excavator?
The mini excavator has its own niche application areas where the backhoe loader cannot be used. Application areas of the mini are construction of small buildings, rubber and tea plantations, indoor applications like basement digging, pipe and cable laying, trenching, tunnel works, and working in confined spaces. For those reasons, I believe cannibalization chances are very minimal.
The CE market has been very vulnerable since the Covid lockdown and has gone down by 8%. How do you think FY ‘23 will pan out in view of the Government’s huge investments in infra development projects?
It is difficult to predict the market, but the future looks promising. India’s population is growing; it comprises largely of young individuals aspiring for growth. There will be rapid urbanization, which will require affordable housing, modern transportation systems, and commercial spaces. Government is also intensely focused on developing infrastructure through various projects. Considering all those factors, CE industry is poised for long-term growth.
How does Caterpillar plan to grow its market share in India?
We believe that the customer deserves the latest technology. Our latest machine Cat® 424 Backhoe Loader is fitted with the CAT C3.6 BS V engine. We provide ROPS and FOPS cabin which no other brand is providing currently. We provide machines of global quality standards for better productivity and durability, and we deliver the right product for specific jobs so that people see the value it brings.
In fact, technology is at the forefront of all our products as customer satisfaction is our prime focus. Every Cat machine is designed according to its requirement and applicability. Our engineers analyze the job, the jobsite, the load to be dealt with, and the time frame, before designing.
The purpose of Caterpillar Finance is to give the best solutions to the owners of Caterpillar machines. We go the extra mile to help customers by giving them tailormade or customized solutions after analyzing their requirements. In fact, we assist them through the entire lifecycle of their machines, including maintenance and spare parts.
We have about 200 touch points that are well-equipped with parts and technicians. Another provision is the CVA (Customer Value Agreement) where the customer gets assured support for a certain period and customer will have a trouble-free experience. The CVA is customized according to the uptime that the customer expects; it includes spare parts and an extendable warranty. We also give our dealers a mobile app (made by us) to connect with their customers.
We believe that our range of products along with their value additions, backed by efficient services and support, will surely grow our market share.
Is the customer in India actually using features like IoT provided in the equipment?
Most of us have smartphones and I have seen many of our customers spending time on our app for monitoring their machines. But yes, we’ll have to look for the unutilized features and create more awareness of their functions and benefits.
We are also providing operator training and skills to enhance their capabilities. We are making them aware of the new features and technologies so that they can use the machine optimally. Our dealers also have certified operators who go to job sites to train the customers’ operators. So, this way, awareness and knowledge of the advanced features in our machines, and their uses and benefits will spread amongst the users, which would increase adoption and usage of IoT features.