Demand for mainstay 20-ton class excavators, which constitute 65 percent of the Indian excavator market, is likely to see a temporary slowdown owing to the general elections, with growth estimated to be between 12-15 percent in 2019. The transition phase and beyond, which is likely to be stable, will be characterized by increased competition, forcing manufacturers to take a relook at their production capacities and marketing strategies, and consider introducing new products and new application areas to drive sales. Since, the 20-ton is indexed to road and quarry applications in India, manufacturers are carrying out technological advancements such as higher breakout force, faster cycle time and higher fuel efficiency in their excavators.
Tata Hitachi uses its core strength in hydraulics to enable smoother operations, higher productivity and fuel efficiency for its hydraulic excavators, as seen in the company's Optimum Hydraulic System (OHS) in the EX Super+ Series. Sandeep Singh, MD, Tata Hitachi India, avers: "With minimal but innovative use of electronics we have upgraded its auto idling and auto deceleration features; and have dramatically improved its hydraulics with regeneration for better digging and crowding performance and fuel efficiency. Our tech-rich ZAXIS GI series is also superior in performance, fuel consumption, operator comfort and reliability. Our "Human & Intelligent Operating System" using cutting-edge electronics has been married to our superior hydraulic capabilities to raise the performance of all our machines significantly."
He informs that use of precision manufactured, high-quality Japanese aggregates gives years of trouble-free performance. Long drain oils and high-performance filters lower the cost of operations and ensure a high ROI for customers. Key design parameters of machine weight, engine power, bucket size, reaches, flow, pressures, resulting forces and speeds must strike a balance. "Tata Hitachi's machines have been designed and validated keeping this balance in mind."
The modified tooth points in the 20-ton and 45-ton class have an improved metallurgy and design and are competitively priced. They offer customers a higher lifecycle with minimized downtime and low operating cost. Tata Hitachi's Supremo grease increases the machines' greasing intervals three times and increase life of the pins and bushes by 30-40%. Range of attachments for excavators include rock breakers, quick couplers, augers, and crushers.
Kobelco has incorporated regenerative hydraulics, load sensing feedback systems, and operator efficiency enhancing ergonomics, and it upgrades its products regularly. "The advanced technological induction has given us a competitive business edge," says Vikram Sharma, Advisor (India & South Asia), Kobelco Construction Equipment India. "To deliver higher operational efficiency, we have carried out advancements in the drive line and structures and have made some upgradations in our Series 10 and in the XD Series."
Hyundai Excavators' features include an advanced arm regeneration system that helps to recirculate hydraulic energy. This provides smooth operation of arm, preventing cavitation and increased performance of the machine. The one-touch deceleration switch on the joystick lowers the engine's RPM and engine speed is recovered to its pre-selected RPM when it is selected again. This system saves fuel by regulating the pump and engine. The negative flow control proportionally regulates the pump flow with control lever stroke, which saves fuel by regulating pump and engine. Auto Idle function moderates the engine RPM to idle state when the machine remains idle for four seconds by enabling MCU to send a signal to the engine, reducing the fuel consumption and operation cost.
Affirms Anup Nair, Vice President & Business Unit Head-Hyundai Construction Equipment India, "Hyundai excavators are loaded with multiple features that help our customers achieve high efficiency and productivity. The highly acclaimed computer aided power optimization (CAPO) system allows operators to set their own preferences for boom and swing priority and power mode to suit the requirement of the job. This further ensures that the machine is working at optimum efficiency."
According to Vivek Hajela, General Manager & Head, Construction Equipment Business, Larsen & Toubro, Komatsu excavators are known for high productivity, deliver best-in-class breakout forces and faster cycle time. "With flow on demand, a load sensing hydraulics system and six selectable working modes, Komatsu excavators are the ideal machines for deployment in road construction. Also, their strengthened structures – revolving frame, arm and boom - ensure reliable performance in tough applications such as quarrying, granite and marble mining. It makes them highly versatile and suitable for multiple applications."
He adds, "A spacious cabin with a large-capacity automatic air-conditioner and ergonomically-designed seats, make Komatsu excavators one of the most comfortable operator cabins in the segment. Improved all-round visibility, comfortable operating temperature, operator weight adjustable seat, cabin mounted on low noise and vibration damper mounts, and soft touch controls reduce operator fatigue and increase productivity."
"We intend to come up with more products in the 20-ton segment so that our customers can undertake more specialized jobs," says Dheeraj Panda, Director and Head, Excavator Business Unit, SANY India. He informs that Sany has recently added two new models: SY215 and SY230 in the 20 - 24T category, thereby widening their offerings. "With the additions of these two models, we now have six machines in 20-24-ton range, which will enable our customers to choose the most suitable combination of hydraulic systems and engines offered in various models."
The company has made qualitative improvements in its excavators such as in the hydraulic circuits (9 series control valve) and a higher diameter of bucket cylinders to make them more efficient in terms of pressure and flow handling capabilities. More reliability has been built in with a reinforced boom, arm, forged rods in the cylinders, and a more rugged undercarriage for longer life of the components. With the integration of electronic controller, the synchronization of engine and hydraulic system has further improved and enhanced the machine's flexibility in different applications and load requirements. "Such initiatives have made Sany excavators more productive and fuel efficient, and thereby positioned them more competitively in the road construction and in overburden removal quarrying applications," avers Panda.
Sany India is offering its 20-ton excavators with factory-fitted rock-breaker piping kit with return line filter for better life in breaking operations along with a special breaker mode. "We are soon coming up with hydraulic quick couplers for ease of changing bucket and breaker with significant reduction in unproductive time," informs Panda.
"Doosan excavators are delivering the highest levels of reliability and productivity when compared to competitive products. This is because of their fuel efficiency backed by Doosan's own CRDI engines," avers Ajay Mandhr, CEO, Escorts Construction Equipments India (ECEL). He also attributes the excavators' operational efficiency to the more advanced designs of the rigid structures comprising of boom, arms and undercarriages. "The excavators, in many instances, have clocked 12000 hours of work. Backed by our dedicated support network, we have been getting almost 50% repeat orders," he says
ECEL, the exclusive distributor of Doosan products in India, is eying demand for the mainstay excavators of 20 tons for quarry and road construction applications. However, the company will also target demand for its 30, 36, 40 and 48 tons for use in mining and in marble block handling.
Liugong India is expanding its offerings in the 20-ton class and is targeting quarrying and road construction applications. "Presently, we have 3 models in the 20 T class viz. 21 T, 22 T and 25 T. 21 T has more customers from the hiring segment, especially for road application, while the 22 T has end-users for quarry work and other heavy-duty applications. Our new offerings will leverage our position further, and the machines will be competitively priced," says Nischal Mehrotra, Director Sales, Liugong India.
He informs that the latest range is designed with negative flow hydraulics, which optimizes the main control valve and cylinders to improve speed and reduce the hydraulic system's pressure loss, resulting in higher fuel efficiency. The synchronization between the pilot valves and main control valve enables precise control. The complete hydraulic system has been designed and manufactured by Kawasaki Japan and has been calibrated as per the engines fitted in the excavators.
Volvo CE India's new EC200D excavator is getting many orders due to the positive customer feedback. Formally launched in India during Excon 2017, it is giving high productivity, offers ease of use, has a high swing torque and lifting abilities that help achieve a low cycle time during mass excavations.
Says Dimitrov Krishnan, VP & Head, Volvo CE India, "The EC200D is well indexed for general construction, road construction, earthworks, material handling, sand mining and irrigation projects. It has all the hallmarks of Volvo quality, productivity, fuel economy, and an advanced design. With high swing torque and low cycle time, it's the fastest machine in the 20-ton excavator class. Configured with a 5.7 m boom, 2.5 m arm and 0.92 m3 bucket, it offers the option of a 2.9 m and a 0.8 m3 general purpose bucket, along with compatible hydraulics to provide a maximum breakout force of 116 kN.A. Its Tier 3 Volvo D5E engine delivers 123 kW of power at 2,000 rpm. The ergonomic design of the cab provides comfort and all-round visibility to the operators."
Volvo CE plans to further strengthen its footprint in the excavator market with its HB 38, hydraulic rock breaker attachment as a packaged offering. Informs Dimitrov, "The low-noise HB38 hydraulic breaker attachment, which we showcased at Bauma Conexpo 2018, is available with the EC380D excavator. Volvo hydraulic breakers provide consistent power, durability, and high breaking force. Contractors in India can now choose from 10 of these state-of-the-art hydraulic breakers with designs that feature Volvo's trademark quality and reliability. They can handle even the toughest breaking and trenching jobs in mining, quarrying, demolition and construction. The range runs from the HB75 with an operating weight of 6,923 kg and a length of 4,355 mm, down to the HB14 with an operating weight of 1,012 kg and a length of 2,285 mm."
Banking on Design & Manufacturing Capabilities
Manufacturers are banking on their design and production capabilities to remain competitive. They are incorporating advanced booms, arms and tracks so that their excavators will work with greater efficiency and stability; manufacturers are also ensuring better integration of the attachments for higher performance and flexible application of the machines.
Says Sandeep Singh, "Tata Hitachi's excavators are designed based on the company's vast experience and expertise through the collaboration between Hitachi and our design and development team in India. We have the latest CAD, testing and analytics software; and our factory is equipped with state-of-the-art machines. After visual, manual and computer-based and ultrasonic inspections, all the components undergo stringent performance tests under extreme conditions. The machine undercarriage parts are critical for assured performance and the operating cost. Since performance requirements are different in different applications, Tata Hitachi first identified its customers' need and then developed special quarry tracks for its excavators."
Operator comfort and safety is a priority at Tata Hitachi. Its excavators have cabins with a wide-open access, roomy seating, high visibility, ergonomic controls and climate-controlled air-conditioners for better performance in the hot tropical weather conditions. The non-AC machines come with a removable front glass and an openable rear sash for better ventilation.
Vikram Sharma informs that the cab designs of Kobelco excavators are similar to the ones used in Japan and the US. "The focus is not only on the sitting comfort of the operator, but on the whole environment, for example, the cab has all-round with front and rear ducts, and the operating levers have been ergonomically improved to reduce effort and fatigue." Kobelco India exports its cabins from India to its manufacturing locations in various parts of the world.
According to Jasmeet Singh, Associate Vice President - Corporate Communications & Corporate Relations, JCB India, JCB excavators can address a higher quantum of work as they have been designed and structured to enhance reliability and are backed by a timely and world class support at site. The company has crafted an advanced product design, with strong manufacturing and testing facilities, to deliver product longevity and durability." We have made improvisations based on our engagement with customers and their feedback, and our in-house research capabilities. This can be seen in our JCB 220, a 22-ton excavators; our JS 215, 21.5-ton excavator comes with 20 percent higher fuel efficiency. Our Live Link Telematics are providing real -time analysis of our machines. The eco–excellence range of Backhoes is almost 30 percent cheaper to maintain."
He adds: "Our unique production system featuring 'no fault forward process' in engine manufacturing and state of the art processes for overall assembly of the machinery ensures that our excavators are reliable and have minimum downtime." For better integration with the attachments so that the machines deliver higher productivity in road construction and quarry applications, our excavators come with the robust structurals.
JCB India is exporting its machines to over hundred countries the world over, and has over 60 dealers and 700 outlets to cater to domestic demand.
Vivek Hajela informs that Komatsu excavators are equipped with the advanced ecot3 (Ecology & Economy – Technology 3). Since the components are developed in-house, there is total quality control and the excavators are well designed to provide versatility, high productivity and economical performance.
"Komatsu excavators are designed and manufactured for tough applications. Strengthened arm and boom with cast-end fittings give excellent structural rigidity and load bearing capability, thereby enabling the machines to handle tough and demanding applications with ease. Komatsu's flagship 20-ton Class Excavator PC210-8M0 is available in both Standard and LC (Long Crawler) options with 600mm or 800mm track shoes. Based on the underfoot conditions, customers can choose the right track configuration to ensure higher efficiency and travel performance," he elaborates.
Dheeraj Panda informs that the boom and arm of Sany excavators are reinforced for high torsional resistance, imparting greater strength for longer life and durability. HN bushing gives durability and helps in extending greasing period. Bucket profile is designed for ease of excavation and smooth material loading and unloading. Tracks are made up of high strength alloy steel with greater wear resistance and durability.
According to Anup Nair, Hyundai excavators undergo constant design improvements to make them sturdier and more reliable in order to meet the requirements of the demanding worksites. "We have added reinforcement in the idler area to ensure machine durability in challenging Indian environments. The feature makes the machine robust and more stable while operating in harsh terrains. Our forged ring body in lower frame enhances the durability, structural integrity and increases machine life. Further, boom internal baffle plate and steel casted bearings enhance the life of the boom and arm by maximizing impact strength. To enhance operator comfort, Hyundai excavators have ergonomically placed joysticks to maximize ease of usability; the cabs are spacious and sport a fully adjustable seat.
Digitization for Higher Equipment Availability
Excavators are using IoT to access real time data and derive the best efficiencies and reduce downtime drastically. By enabling a crucial link between customer and CE manufacturer, it is passing on machine performance data to customers for preventive and predictive maintenance.
Hitachi ZAXIS GI series excavators are equipped with Global e Service – a platform developed by Hitachi, Japan. On this is layered a premium offering called Con Site, which is offered as standard with all GI machines. Con Site uses years of experience, comparative data of similar class machines operating in the region, to provide insightful advice and recommendations to improve operations. There is also an alarm service which uses machine events and is an intelligent filter to communicate machine breakdown and raise alarms with due recommendation to the customer and the dealer for appropriate action.
"Our consultative approach in examining and advising customers on the health of their machines is a major value-added support to our customers. Con Site is our home grown IoT solution that provides key operational, maintenance, location, and health data of the machine to the customers and Tata Hitachi," says Sandeep Singh.
Volvo CareTrack telematics system gives equipment owners access to a wide range of machine monitoring information that help save time and money. The system generates a wide range of reports with data fuel consumption, operational hours, geographical location and so on. These reports are available via a web portal or can be received via SMS or email alerts. CareTrack can also be used to manage the machine's servicing and wear parts. This allows fleet managers to reduce fuel costs, optimize machine and operator performance, as well as proactively manage service and maintenance to maximize uptime.
"CareTrack is offered not as a standard practice but as a specialized package designed to enhance customers' business. It supports customers with maintenance, invoicing, fleet management and operator training. Customers can monitor load efficiency, number of cycles, overload percentages and identify operator training needs. For example, CareTrack can tell owners what time the machine operation starts, takes a break, and ends. What's more, it allows owners to tap into a wealth of actionable data including fuel consumption, idle time, machine location, fluid levels and service alerts," informs Dimitrov.
The advanced KOMTRAX (Level-3) of Komatsu has a revolutionary new way to monitor equipment- anytime, anywhere. It monitors machine's health, watches performance and provides economical operation guidance to the operators. Besides basic data like machine location and operating hours, it provides vital information on fuel consumption, mode selection, energy saving and guidance, tracks maintenance schedules with timely alerts. "Machine usage, load condition, eco-guidance and summarized information on all the parameters can be logged, -in anytime and anywhere," says Hajela.
Hyundai excavators come with an advanced display cluster and instrumentation panel. Apart from indications like working RPM, engine and hydraulic oil temperature, the display features self-diagnostics, service history as well as intervals and information to troubleshoot any problems. This helps minimize machine downtime to a great extent. The excavators other digitized attribute is the Hi-Mate machine management system that helps customers with live monitoring of their machines including working hours, idling hours, fuel consumption and rate, geo tracking as well as geo fencing.
Liugong provides GPS navigation, road side assistance, remote diagnosis and fleet management in all it ranges. "We can track the actual working time, ideal time, HMR and the fuel consumption for the whole working day, and also trace the life time working. In case of any fault or error in the machine, a notification is sent to the owner. A special feature in the telematics shows if there is any instant drain of the fuel," informs Mehrotra.
Sany excavators can be monitored with a remote monitoring system called 'EVI Remote Monitoring System'. It remotely monitors excavator functions and accesses real time operating information of the machine. This is made available to the customers via a mobile app. Connected machines and data helps service teams to deliver the best experience to customers, and thus play a big role in customer servicing.
"We are in the process of developing a service mobile App for customers to access real-time data themselves and get the best service experience. Moreover, our machines have preventive failure signals to facilitate timely action by our service teams," informs Panda.
Kobelco machines are assisted by an IT-supported system, that shows preventive maintenance and operational improvements. "These are very helpful tools for overseeing the efficient usage of the machine. We are moving towards aids which give terrain scans and general mapping to help improve productivity. The current system provides regular inputs on usage, and predicts servicing," says Vikram Sharma.
Product Support Initiatives
Excavator manufacturers are initiating a more proactive engagement with customers for sustained support and service throughout the lifecycle of their equipment. Feedback from customers will also help them in carrying out further product advancements.
At Tata Hitachi, the Customer Support Division is driven by three principles, viz. right product and services at the right time, fix it right the first time, and deliver quality services. The company offers annual service contracts, post warranty services, mobile workshops, field diagnostic vehicles, REMAN, customer and operator training, besides full maintenance contracts for its mining equipment. Tata Hitachi has introduced call center services to facilitate prompt action by service engineers. In addition to the central warehouse at Nagpur, regional warehouses have been set up at Dharwad and Kharagpur for faster availability of parts. Also available are customized filter kits, value kits and value plus kits for easy scheduling of periodical maintenance and replacement parts.
Volvo CE is constantly strengthening its dealer network and providing training to its dealers, operators and technicians. Events such as the Master's Competition, Demanding Skills Competition etc are organized regularly to test technicians on their knowledge of the equipment. Boots-On training updates dealers on segment knowledge, machine models and product differentiators. The company offers aftermarket support in the form of uptime, safety, fuel efficiency, financial and productivity servicers. Its financial services have made it easier for buyers to invest in a Volvo machine. For smaller contractors or those buying directly from the company for the first time, Volvo offers attractive financing options through its Volvo Financial Services arm with an attractive interest rate of 2.2% for 24 months on select pre-owned Volvo remarketed machines. Extended warranties and attractive lease options are also available. This enables buyers to add a high-quality equipment, which is almost comparable with a new one, at an affordable price.
Kobelco India periodically offers customer support schemes that provide a longer service back-up assurance. These schemes not only result in a longer usage life of the machines, but also ensure closer interaction and relationship building with the customers. The company also has in place a safety net for parts replacement through special packages for customers.
L&T, backed by Komatsu, offers Suraksha-9000, a 3-year or 9000-hour extended power train warranty program covering engine, hydraulic pump, motor & control valve, for Komatsu PC210-8M0 Hydraulic Excavator. According to the company, this is the first and & unique in the CE industry. Besides the long-term warranty, Suraksha-9000 provides free and value-added services such as energy saving operation training, follow up on Komtrax reports, preventive maintenance checks, and KUC (Komatsu undercarriage inspection). L&T has also introduced L&T Equip-Care - a tracking and fulfilment program for customers across the country to register their requirements for service, parts and sales on a single number (1800 833 9990). Equip-Care handles all customer requests and renders timely information / service and gives constant updates on the progress to customers via SMS facility.
Liugong India has over 60 touchpoints pan India, besides which it renders support to its machines working in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka through its 23 dealers in India and one each in these countries.
Sany is building up end-point connectivity for a more thorough after-sales support and is investing in building 3S touchpoints. It will soon be introducing more attractive AMC schemes for further lowering the maintenance cost of the machines. It supports its dealers in running service vans for prompt response to reduce breakdown time of the machines. The company has 30 dealers and over 125 touchpoints across the Indian subcontinent.
Escort's Doosan excavators are backed by 65 dealers with125 touch points and 500 authorized service centers, which provide fast and efficient repair and parts, even to machines working in remote locations. The company has plans to strengthen the training curriculum of its service team and make them proficient in both predictive and preventive maintenance of equipment. ECEL's training center in Bangalore has imparted training to over 3500 personnel, including its customers' operators and its own service personnel.
Hyundai supports its excavators through its 200 touchpoints. The company claims to offer one of the most competitive MTR (Mean Time to Reach) and MTTR (Mean Time to Restore) for its machines. The company has established a network of central and regional warehouses, which are further supported by its dealers' delivery channels for quick delivery of essential spare parts.
Product advancements and newer offerings are likely to make the excavators widely productive and suit to varied requirements. However, for the optimum performance of the equipment, OEMs require to engage in proactive basis with customers enabling them to carry out further product advancements.