Excavator makers have been busy introducing products targeting newer application areas, backed by requisite services support. P.P. Basistha takes a look.

Black clouds in the Indian construction industry have shown some silver linings recently which gave a sigh of relief to excavator manufacturers in India to take a consistent relook on their product lines and to carry necessary facelift, along with altogether introduction of newer products. With competition intensifying, due to contraction of demand to 8,000 units in 2014 from 14,000 units in 2011, amidst generation of fresh enquiries, this is a game plan excavator manufacturers are adapting. The strategies are beneficial towards passing value to customers resultantly delivering fair sales to manufacturers. The sales of excavators have been moving south from 2012 onwards from 13,000 units to 10, 400 units in 2013 with further retrogression in 2014.

Jasmeet Singh
According to Mr. Jasmeet Singh, Head Corporate Communications, JCB India, "To pass value to our customers, we have recently launched two advanced models of our rock breakers- HM980HD and HM2180HD which are suitable for 12, 14 and 20 tons excavators. To ensure better integration of the excavators with the breakers, we have the option of factory fitted piping work, guards and re-enforcements to perform in difficult operating conditions. Further, all our excavators can also be retro fitted with breakers in the field."

He adds, "To make the excavators better perform in Indian quarrying and general excavation applications at remote job sites, we have made the structures stronger coupled with induction of more efficient filtration systems for handling susceptible fuel quality."

JCB JS205

For higher availability of its excavators, JCB India has recently launched "Livelink", an advanced telematics system that helps in remotely monitoring the machines. The automation customers remotely manage and monitor their machines. Mr. Singh explains, "Our machines are now fitted with this state of the art technology and customers can get SMS alerts on their mobile phones or smart devices regarding service alerts, operations and security of their machines by using geo fencing and time fencing features. All these information is available to the customer on real time basis."

To expand product portfolio above 22 T class excavator, JCB could look for option of importing the equipment in near future from its global excavators portfolio, based on fair demand. Featuring manufacturing of the heavier products in India would be considered only on demand attaining critical mass.

For making headway in excavator sales, JCB India will bank on its existing distribution network along with envisioning expansion to have better customer proximity. According to Mr. Singh, "We have over 600 outlets and 60 dealers spread across the length and breadth of India. Our dealers have made strategic investments in technology and trained manpower to ensure that our customers get the best in class support."

He mentions, "We are carrying out concerted efforts to be close to our customers. Our product support network is equipped with service centers and mobile vans which primarily work on the concept of "workshop on wheels". These vans are fully equipped to handle most service and repair jobs on JCB machines."

JCB India's excavator population is 10,000 units in India which comprises, products with operating weights between 3T JS30 mini excavator to the 8T, 12T, 14T, 20Tand22T JS 220LC. The products are manufactured at JCB India's heavy line facility in Pune.

Nischal Mehrotra
Liugong India is banking on its dealership network for existing business retention and sales expansion for excavators. According to Mr. Nischal Mehrotra, Director Sales & Service Liugong India pvt ltd "Our present 15 dealers operating across India fully ensure that our excavators reach our customers in any part of the country. The dealers are our biggest assets for business promotion. As part of our expansion strategy, the number of outlets will continue to expand so that we are available 24x7 for our customers in near future." Liugong has 150 excavators working in India.

The company has drawn bigger plans to tap the Indian excavators market, through introduction of 'made in India' excavators in near future within the 22 tons operating weight class segment. According to Mr. Mehrotra, "the product will have fully localized contents and will be marketed and supported through seperate LIPL Team."

Liugong 920D

Liugong India hopes to strengthen its brand in India through what it claims as its advanced engineered excavators. Mr. Mehrotra claims, "Liugong excavators perform better while digging and loading at lower operating costs. The excavators promoted in Indian market are being manufactured at our plant in Pithampur with partial local content. The products are maintenance friendly and have been developed to suit Indian job site applications. Our excavators come with tougher, stronger boom and arm. Heavy-duty under carriage have been introduced to achieve longer service life working in tough terrains. Improved protected hose routings and other hydraulics are designed in segments to achieve lower replacement costs and longer uninterrupted working."

Liugong India expects to promote sales further by making its excavators technically well positioned for niche applications. Comparative aspects like tonnage to weight volumes are also being evaluated for the optimum performance of the equipment in the Indian working conditions. Further, we are continuing to research for better integration of the excavators with various attachments involving the breakers, cutters or buckets of various configurations. Business from special applications for Liugong India has been promising and we see further growth in the segment." Liugong has its full fledged R&D facility in Pithampur.

Mr. Garg
Sany India is looking forward to expand its excavators business targeting numerous application areas. According to Mr. Garg, CEO, Sany India, "we are now completely well-positioned in India with our excavators portfolio with operating weights of 8-14-20-21-22-24-38-48-75 tons for applications ranging from coal handling, allied mining, quarrying to general excavation. To make the products competitive in the Indian market, we have been carrying out phase wise localization of the products according to the volume of demand. The localized content comprises engines, pumps, cylinders, tracks. Our 14-21 tons units are fitted with local Cummins India engines, while 24-75 tons are powered by Mitsubishi and Isuzu power packs. We are exploring alternate possibilities to power the excavators with locally sourced engines."

Mr. Garg mentions, "Sany excavators are made to suit Indian job site operating conditions by strengthening of frames, arms, booms along with featuring higher fuel efficiency and lower operating costs."

Sany

Targeting the quarrying and rock breaking segment, Sany India is aggressive to promote its 14-24-26 tons excavators. "Our SY 240 comes with much stronger bucket and undercarriage, making it ideal for quarrying applications. Backed by attractive pricing, we are able to promote sizeable number of units to quarries in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and UP. Our SY 260 HD is ideal for rock breaking applications. The equipment comes with large initial cost advantage as it can perform the job of rock breaking carried by 30 tons class excavators. For better integration of the excavators with the rock breakers, we have appropriate control valves fitted in the excavators. Further, looking to pass value to customers involved in rock breaking, we are providing piping kits as an option in our 21-38 tons excavators."

The Chinese construction equipment conglomerate is getting aggressive towards promoting the higher operating weights excavators. "We have got encouraging response of our 38-48-75 units. We have sold almost 40 units to Coal India's Central Coal Fields. SY, 380, 38 tons class excavators with high fuel efficiency, faster cycle times, suited for mining, is also ideal for handling, pulling, and loading granite blocks. We have supplied 12 units to granite quarrying sites near Udaipur," mentions Mr. Garg.

The company has recently set up workshop for engine repairing and looking forward to ramp up its sales and service support. "We are presently having 23 dealers, carrying out restructuring in the sales network and cutting down our low performing dealers along with introducing new ones to fill up the gap, so as to have 90% of geographical coverage. Our target is to have touch points in every 100 kms. We are also looking to graduate our dealers from 2S-3S. This will include offering sales, services and complete parts support," says Mr. Garg.

Sharwan Agnihotri
Hyundai is looking towards building up sales and strengthening service backup for its Robex series of excavators, essentially through scaling up of operations. According to Mr. Sharwan Agnihotri, Head - Marketing, Hyundai Construction Equipment India Pvt. Ltd., "We will increase our coverage of sales and product support through our existing 27 dealers and 130 outlets spread across the country. Although, we will keep appointing new dealers at strategic locations to enhance sales, the overall thrust will be towards utilization of our existing infrastructure & focus on share of business from strategic customers. We have sufficient capacity to cater the requirement of domestic market & export to nearby countries; the facility at Pune has capacity to manufacture 3500 units which is expandable to 5000 units annually." Hyundai expects to complete the year by manufacturing around 2400 units.

The Korean equipment major derives 40% of its equipment sales in India from its repeat customers whereas remaining sales comes from first time buyers. The company has delivered 10,000th machine manufactured in India from its Pune Plant.

Hyundai

The focus is also on making base price competitive to drive sales. "Vital components involving Engines, Structures and buckets are from local sources making up almost 40% indigenization. We will continue to increase the ratio further." Hyundai imports control valves and pumps from its parent company in Korea.

The Korean manufacturer is also targeting newer applications, backed by its expanded product portfolio. It recently introduced 9-series excavators covering 14-20-39 tonne class units. "Equipped with heavier undercarriage, strong bucket, with added value elements for fleet management, the equipment is for the growing demand from marble, granite and quarrying applications," mentions Mr. Agnihotri.

He adds, "Our other recent launch was indigenously manufactured Robex 390LC-9 specifically designed for Granite, Marble & Quarrying application. The machine offers best in class lifting capacity, reinforced undercarriage & specially designed bucket for marble/granite blocks. The machine is also fitted with integrated fault diagnosis and fleet management system "Hi-Mate" which could offer flexibility to the customer for accessing critical performance & operational data and remotely monitor the health of the machine". Hyundai manufactures 8-11-14-21-22-30-39-50 tonne class tracked excavators at its Pune facility.

Sajay Kumar
Doosan Infracore is going to launch four excavators with operating weights between 3ton, 21ton, 36tons and 50tons during Excon 2015. According to Mr. Sajay Kumar, Head-Product Management, Doosan Infracore, "The new excavators score on fuel efficiency, high productivity and low operating costs. The excavators will find applications in mining, quarrying, general excavation, Agriculture and rock breaking."

Mr. Kumar says, "We will refrain from aggressive business promotion of our excavators in India through price discounting. Rather, our emphasis is to earn decent margins on our products by promoting our brand backed by continuous improvements in customer support to have enhanced equipment availability through our dealers. This is the reason, we are carrying out an extensive restructuring in our organisation and for our dealership network. The new network, which will be in place by the end of this year, will ensure towards expanding our footprint and also ensure shortest time of service to customers on call."

He continues, "One of our recent initiatives towards product support is of setting up Doosan's exclusive fleet depot at Dhanbad in Eastern India along with Udaipur and Chennai. The fleet depots have been set up to serve our large population of equipment working in the regions."

Doosan plans to broaden market base for the excavators by targeting newer applications through total product packages. "We have best in class attachments which are developed based on customer requirements. Attachments includes Demolition excavators, Amphibious excavators, Material handling, mobile bucket crushers and Hydraulic Breakers. Our drilling attachments are much suited for granite and other quarrying applications. The attachments integrate well with the excavators. They are being promoted with the excavators as a valued selling proposition. The broader initiative is to position ourselves as a total solution provider through a single window" mentions Mr. Kumar.

The ongoing business expansions by excavators manufacturers through broadening network and introduction of product line is essentially being driven on the firm demand fundaments of the market. However, the initiative will have to be consistently backed through appropriate services support, packaged according the customer's need. This will ensure brand visibility and sales promotion and retention in the ever getting cyclic construction sector in the long run.
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