The surge in road construction, and increased activities in quarrying and irrigation projects, is projected to pull demand to more than 25,000 units of excavators up till December 2018, according to industry estimates. With competition set to increase, manufacturers are ramping up their production capacities to enhance availability of their machines, bringing value engineering into their product lines, and making improvisations in the existing products. They are also strengthening their distribution channels.
Tata Hitachi: Enhancing featuresTata Hitachi is promoting its range of 2 to 40-ton hydraulic excavators for the Infrastructure sector; 45 to 120-tons for the mining sector; and the ultra-large 190 to 800-ton for specialized heavy-duty mining. The excavators are part of the company’s EX super series, the recently launched EX Super + series and the technologically advanced ZAXIS GI series.
Says Sandeep Singh, MD & CEO, Tata Hitachi India, "Our two-pronged product strategy addresses both the value and premium segment of customers. For the value segment, our EX Super and the recently launched EX Super + series combine advanced technology with low running costs to give higher return on investment. These excavators can work in various applications and in different geographies across the country, and command best in class resale value. For the premium segment, our ZAXIS GI excavators are fitted with industry leading hydraulic technology, and they have high fuel efficiency and durability. The highlight of this series is the optimized hydraulic system and highly reliable engine along with hydraulic oil of 5000 hours (long) replacement. Both the series have class leading cabin space, ergonomics and air-conditioning for operator comfort and safety, and strengthened structures – front attachment and undercarriage, which enable the excavators to work in tough conditions. With easier access to critical maintenance areas, reliable and fuel-efficient engines, and standard pre-cleaner fitment, they can work efficiently in dusty conditions."
Variants are available for specific applications such as for granite mining and blue metal quarries, wider track shoes for salt farms or soft ground conditions, and come with rock breakers of various capacities, long reach attachments, amphibious undercarriage, and drills. The company has also introduced factory-fitted piping kit for easier fixing of front attachments like rock breakers, quick couplers, grabs etc, and a return line filter that prevents contamination of the hydraulic oil and enhances performance."
Tata Hitachi has placed ConSite on its ZAXIS GI excavators; it utilizes Information Communication Technology (ICT) to deliver monthly reports on the operation of the fleet owner’s machines and detailed information on individual machines, while INSITE on its EX series is based on a globally-recognized product platform for giving customers insights into the working of their machines.
Adds Singh, "We have also introduced a remote fleet management system with our Global e – Service, which allows customers to access real time information on their machines onsite, and thereby increase machine productivity and reduce downtime. This is a convenient and simple system designed to give customers valuable information regarding the operations, maintenance, system parameters and any warning on their machines."
Customer education programs are conducted at Tata Hitachi to help users infer the data and take necessary steps to improve site efficiency, and thereby, their profitability.
JCB India: Targeting specialized applicationsJCB India is well positioned with its JCB 380 Quarry Master excavator for the quarry sector. The machine has advanced hydraulics and robust structurals for greater efficiency and faster cycle times for higher capacity crushing plants. On the other hand, the company is eyeing specialized applications for its compact 3-ton excavators also.
"While the JCB 380 Quarry Master is meant for arduous applications, our mini excavators are suitable for urban renewal works in constricted sites," says Jasmeet Singh, Head Corporate Communications and Corporate Relations at JCB.
"Customers today evaluate products based on total lifecycle costs, we have packed a lot of Technology into our machines. Our Advanced Telematics Technology, Livelink provides real time data on the machine such as its location, performance, fuel consumption, etc. Time fencing and Geo Fencing can also be done."
"We are also looking at making the machines safer and more operator-friendly with air conditioning in the cabins as an option and are enabling higher fuel efficiency by using smart technology such as auto idlers etc. For optimum utilization of our excavators with attachments, we have the option of factory-fitted piping work, and a choice of long and short boom on our excavators."
JCB India manufactures excavators of 7,8,12,14,20,21.5,22,30, and 38 tons at its heavy line Pune facility. Jasmeet, however, feels that the market for mini and compact size excavators still has some time to grow into large numbers.
Sany India: Giving speed and power
Sany has a wide portfolio of hydraulic excavators with capacities ranging from 2-ton to 75 tons for diverse applications such as in plantations and for earthwork, road projects, irrigation, quarrying and mining. According to Dheeraj Panda - Head, Excavator and Mining Business Unit, SANY Heavy Industry India, the excavators deliver better productivity and fuel economy, and are extremely reliable as their robust structure ensures that they can work even in the harshest of conditions.
"Sany excavators are precision-engineered to deliver maximum performance. Features include advanced hydraulic systems synchronized with the engine, and reliable components. The intelligent Dynamic optimization matching control system (DOMCS) determines engine output power as per the external load demand, facilitating optimum control of the excavator’s external load operation system. Multiple working modes designed to match engine speed, pump speed and system pressure as per the application, provide versatility to the machine," elaborates Panda.
He adds, "The next-gen hydraulics ensures that the oil flow rate is directly proportional to the joystick operations and output pressure signal. It directs the flow exactly where you need it and when you need it, to facilitate smoother operation, greater efficiency and better fuel economy. The equipment works organically with a combination of speed and power. The regeneration circuits in the boom and arm function lead to faster movement by routing oil through a regeneration valve in the main circuit, prevents cavitation and enhances cylinder performance."
A GPS tracking and monitoring system through the company’s proprietary app shows real time data of the machine’s operation, location, operating hours and information on other operating parameters.
Liugong India: Making improvisations in designAdvanced hydraulic system, variable speed selection, fast swing and auto idle system are some of the design improvisations in LiuGong new-gen excavators, which also feature pump confluence, and re-generation circuits in boom, arm and bucket for greater efficiency of the attachments.
Says Nischal Mehrotra, Director - Sales, Liugong India, "LiuGong excavators are a result of intensive R&D and user feedback. The tough machine has a strong undercarriage box-type frame, tracks, and a heavy-duty reinforced boom arm, all of which add to its strength. Our excavators are fitted with the high performance and fuel efficient CRDI engines which help save fuel by about 10-15%. Additionally, the dual power mode, 10 variable speed selection and auto idle system also save fuel without compromising on performance. Our entire range has AC cabins with ROPS/FOPS mobility engineering. The newly designed spacious cabins offer 360-degree visibility and ergonomically positioned controls that allow the operator to work for long hours without fatigue."
The CAPC (Computer Aided Power Control) system in Liugong excavators synchronizes electrical, mechanical and hydraulic systems to boost performance and fuel economy, while their telematics ensure remote monitoring of the machines. The company works closely with its customers and makes improvisations based on their feedback.
Kobelco: Aligned to requirements
Kobelco excavators are competing in the market with their fuel efficiency, higher productivity, safety and reliability. Its latest XD series feature regenerative hydraulics and sensing electronics to reduce engine loads, and thereby improve fuel efficiency. For more safety, especially in the mining machines, the company has fitted cameras, sensors, and alarms on the excavators.
Kobelco’s sophisticated range of attachments are closely aligned to the application requirements such as urban projects that require more compact machines, or longer arms’ reach for digging and cleaning. "Metro rail projects require deep excavations, and the operator needs better visibility, so we have made modifications in the cab and to some extent customized our machines like adding auxiliary power sources," informs Vikram Sharma, ex MD & CEO, Kobelco. The excavators are IT-enabled and operate with GPS for remote monitoring and optimizing their utilization through pre-emptive maintenance.
Says Sharma, "The CE market has been on a growth path since 2016. Excavators that saw 30% growth in FY 2017, are already seeing 20% growth this half-year. Growth is being driven by the road sector, activity in waterworks and in some areas of mining."
Hyundai India: Upgrading its Excavators with technology
Hyundai India has upgraded its Robex-7 series of excavators to the new-gen Robex-SMART series in 2017, making them easier to maintain, more durable, fuel-efficient and productive, so that they deliver lower total lifecycle cost to the customers. Says Sharwan Agnihotri, Head-Export Sales & Business Development, Hyundai India, "Our excavators have about 25% market penetration in the quarry segment, so we are trying to make them more rugged by doing improvisations in the ring body which joins the super structure and the undercarriage. In contrast to many of the excavators manufactured with a welded ring body, which is more susceptible to breakage due to stress when working in quarry sites, we are manufacturing excavators with a forged ring body. This is a single molded steel component that improves the machine’s performance in harsh working environments. We have also added reinforcement plates in the boom, arms, buckets, idlers, and tracks, which will extend their life."
The new Robex-Smart series comes with fuel efficiency kit by which the excavator engine can sense the load on the machine and adjust the engine power, which helps save 5 to 7 percent fuel.
Agnihotri informs that advanced technology in the ‘SMART Series’ enables analytical capability of the machine such that they can monitor the fuel consumption, pressure and temperature etc, and pass on the vital information to owners in digital and analogue format for preventive maintenance. Advanced ‘Hi-mate’ Hyundai telematics enables remote monitoring of the machines through data available in the owner’s or operator’s smartphones app that can be downloaded from google play store.
Volvo CE India: Promoting higher capacity Excavators
Volvo CE India’s wide range of excavators for special applications feature a robust design and higher fuel efficiency. The EC210DL long-tracked version for quarry application provides greater stability to excavators working on crushed stockpiles. Special applications are enabled through attachments such as hydraulic rock breakers, clam shells, long reach arms, scrap handling solutions.
Says Dimitrov Krishnan, President, Volvo CE India, "We will continue to promote our higher capacity excavators of 48, 75, and 95 tons, all of which have been getting an encouraging response from the buyers." Volvo CE is promoting its EC 140D, EC 200D, EC 210D, EC 250D, EC 300D, EC 350D, EC 380D, EC 480D, EC 750D, and 950D models of excavators.
L&T - Providing versatile applications in CE SegmentKomatsu Hydraulic Excavators, marketed and serviced by Larsen & Toubro, are known across the industry for their highly reliable and safe operations. They incorporate advanced design to bring in versatility in applications with attachments suitable for long reach, heavy duty marble & stone quarry, tunnel application as well as mass excavation. These are in addition to rock breakers, quick couplers, demolition tools, piling attachments and amphibious undercarriages. A separate attachment mode in the hydraulic system delivers the right flow and pressure to suit the attachment mounted on the excavator.
Elaborates Arvind K. Garg, Executive VP & Head - Construction & Mining Machinery, L&T, "Komatsu excavators, renowned for their higher productivity, reliability, and efficiency, have improved their average working hours per month by 30% over the last three years. They are equipped with the patented HydrauMIND electronic closed centre load sensing system, which ensures higher productivity with features like no neutral loss, exact flow on demand and actuator speeds independent of load. The system can convert the engine’s HP to high productive output due to the superior pump engine mutual control system that helps in ensuring the hydraulic HP consumed is equal to the engine’s HP. This is complemented by the power mode, economy mode, breaker, lifting and attachment mode for the operator to choose from. Each of these modes adjusts the pump absorption torque to suit the type of job. High digging forces for crowd and bucket curl, coupled to the bucket design, ensure excellent fill factor in every bucket scooped. Our machines also offer standard features like powermax function, two-mode boom setting, and auto deceleration to provide more power, stability and fuel saving at the press of a button."
Adds Mr. Garg, "The features of Mechatronics and ICT (Information Communication Technology) continuously provide online eco-guidance to the operator for energy saving operations. For instance, if the load is light and operator is working in P mode, a message on the screen prompts the operator to choose E mode, or prompts to avoid excessive relief operation, while the eco-guidance gauge continuously displays whether the machine is running within the target fuel economy zone. While the operator gets the online support, such events are also captured in the Komtrax server so that operation can be analysed later, and proper corrective action can be addressed."
L&T has been instrumental in ushering ICT in the Indian CE segment with Komtrax-fitted Komatsu excavators to help monitor their performance and relay the information to the user’s/owner’s desktop on a daily basis. This technology is most popular in the PC210-8, PC300 and PC350 hydraulic excavators as it provides detailed operation data on where and when the machine is being used and its productivity, key machine parameters, besides total fleet management, fuel usage, and maintenance requirement.
ECEL Doosan: Taking on competition
Escorts under its construction vertical has an exclusive distribution tie-up with Doosan Infracore for their complete range of crawler excavators, mini excavators, wheeled excavators, wheel loaders and articulated dump trucks, in India. According to Manoj Agarwal, Head-Sales and Marketing, ECEL, "Escorts’ offering of Doosan Excavators is the best in the industry as the machines are completely imported with most advanced technologies. The highest level of performance (in terms of Lifting Capacity & Digging Force) and quality is due to the vertically integrated Group’s business of excavators with company-manufactured hydraulics and engines."
Doosan excavator features advanced technologies and includes the standard telematics for fleet monitoring and preventive maintenance, a heavy-duty structure, components guaranteed to give 20% longer lifetime than competing products, a sturdy, long-lasting undercarriage, and ergonomically-designed air-conditioned cabin for better operator’s comfort.
Leeboy: In the reckoning
Amarnath Ramachandran, President Leeboy India, says, "For better integration and optimum performance of attachments in the excavators, we have introduced an infinitely variable power limiter for the operator to exactly match his speed and work requirement. Most other manufacturers have a three switch setting. We monitor and fine tune all parameters as we work with Trimble and ensure that our customers can get maximum output from the machine."
He continues, "Leeboy 525 is a heavy duty machine weighing 24.2 tonnes. The standard GP bucket supplied is 1.2 cubic metre capacity. This comes fitted with a heavy duty Berco undercarriage, with 51 shoes per side and 9 bottom rollers. The cabins are fitted with HVAC, stereo and have excellent visibility. Kawasaki pump, swing drive, joysticks and foot pedals, Kayaba track-drives and control valve, Lincoln / Puma centralized lubrication system, and choice of either a mechanical or electronic Cummins engine makes the excavators best suitable for the tough Indian site conditions."
For better optimization and condition monitoring of the excavators, Leeboy offers calibrated weighing systems as an option as well as laser tracking solutions from Moba / Trimble for automatic dig depth control.
Ensuring timely supportManufacturers are ramping up production capabilities to meet demand in a highly competitive market.
Hitachi is upgrading its manufacturing facilities both at Kharagpur and Dharwad. Its stockyards have a ready supply of machines, as do its manufacturing locations, and its large network of dealers are also stocking enough equipment to supply machines at short notice to any part of the country.
Service and support include full or annual maintenance contracts, extended warranty, and Annual Service Contracts (ASCs) for pre-determined visits by service engineers to gauge the machine’s condition and offer preventive maintenance. Says Sandeep Singh, "With our full maintenance contracts for mining customers especially, they can avail complete onsite management of their machines backed by our service engineers. Higher availability of equipment is ensured through timely onsite parts support at affordable prices and fully equipped workshops."
The company has set up operator training schools at Kharagpur and Dharwad for its excavators and backhoe loaders, and skill development centers to provide hands–on training to new recruits and refresher courses for production and service personnel to sharpen their skills and keep them abreast of the latest technologies.
JCB’s Pune heavy-line factory (manufacturing excavators, wheeled loaders and compactors) is fully functional, as is its new, greenfield facility in Jaipur, which is producing backhoe loaders, skid steer loaders and mini excavators and exporting to over 50 countries. "The Jaipur factory is still in the process be scaled up" the Ballabgarh factory is the World's Largest Factory for Backhoe Loaders, it also manufactures Telehandlers, Diesel Gensets and Diesel Engines, all these products are exported to over 90 countries around the world" says Jasmeet Singh. JCB has over 650 outlets and over 60 dealers pan India. It has outlets in even the most remote parts of country.
Sany India’s manufacturing facility in Chakan has the capacity to take on any unexpected surge in demand. The company has also expanded its vendor base so that there are no bottlenecks in the supply of components. Says Dheeraj Panda, "The company has been meeting all its commitments for timely delivery of its machines. We also ensure availability of critical spare parts through our 100 touchpoints across the country. Our ‘8111’ commitment ensures that in case of any technical issue, our service engineer will reach the machine in 8 hours; we will solve the issue within 1 day, and we will provide 11 periodic services to our customers to reduce the downtime of their machines."
LiuGong maintains a ready stock for at least three months as per the demand projections. A dedicated team of service engineers ensure maintenance of the machines across the country, while support is also provided by the company’s 60 touch points. "Apart from the service calls from our customers, we keep a tab of periodic maintenance schedule of machine working across the country with the help of GPS/Telematics, and we organize free check-up camps in various regions," informs Mehrotra.
Kobelco is enhancing its production capabilities even though it has enough capacity. According to Vikram Sharma, a major challenge is streamlining the vendor supply chain, which has become a global problem during the last 2-3 years. "With most of the economies such as China, USA, SE Asia, including India, having picked up, there is a huge surge in demand. Many vendors who are exclusive suppliers of some items, are unable to meet demand fully. In India, we find that many vendors have either miscalculated the demand and not created the desired capacity or are unwilling to invest and risk the uncertainty. However, we have set up a strong dealer network who are supported by information technology tools to keep track of market trends and replenish their inventory accordingly," he says.
According to Sharma, Kobelco is the first company to provide hourly maintenance, which is especially beneficial for excavators in mining operations. All machines are monitored closely by technicians stationed close to customer site. An IT-enabled kit supports the engineers and mechanics to diagnose the health of the engines etc, for speedy and accurate servicing, and without dismantling the machine.
Hyundai had upgraded its Pune manufacturing facility in 2017 to ramp up production capacity to 6000 units per year from 3500 units in 2016. It plans to produce 10,000 units by 2021-22 by adding a separate assembly line. The company has an active fleet of 18,000-19,000 excavators of 8 to 50tons. It has added three new dealers in Telangana, Jammu and Rajasthan taking the total number to 33, and is also expanding dealer outlets to 200 this year, up from 165 in 2017. "This will enable us to provide timely support to our customers," says Agnihotri. "We have a 60,000 sqft. centralized warehouse in Pune for stocking spare parts. We provide extended warranties on our products, and operator training for carrying out operation and maintenance. This ensures higher availability of our machines and curtails maintenance costs."
Volvo CE India has completely ramped up its production capacity and has no constraints for timely supply of its machines. "Our objective now is to strengthen our product support through our 16 dealers and 135 outlets. We have launched EOS (Efficient Operator Service), and we will continue with our Gold and Silver service contacts for maintenance," says Dimitrov.
Komatsu and L&T are working towards reducing delivery lead times by adopting the latest manufacturing processes and technologies for scaling up volumes. The company ensures reliability, availability and durability of its excavators with timely maintenance and service contracts for annual/full maintenance, and site support agreements. All mandatory services are carried out under the supervision of trained engineers. Energy saving training and tips are provided to operators and the maintenance team. Regular inspection of the Komatsu undercarriage and critical parameters are carried out and the report is shared with the customer along with the PM report.
Informs Arvind Garg, "Our latest Suraksha 9000 machine care programme covers the powertrain components up to 3 years or 9000 hours of operation, whichever is earlier. When a customer signs up for it, he agrees to use Komatsu genuine oils, filters and spare parts and in return gets superior reliability and life . Almost 80% of our PC210s sold come under this scheme."
Escorts’ Doosan CARE Program offers comprehensive after-sales service for optimum utilization of the machines with provision for spare parts at customer site. "With this program, targeting the realization of Doosan’s unique customer care philosophies, we strive to optimize our relations with customers by delivering the complete solution along with prompt support services. We would ensure this through our dealership network across the country who are equipped with an adequate stock of spare parts and have a skilled team of engineers. That apart, we’re also offering heavy-duty option package for heavy duty application," says Manoj Agarwal.
Ramachandran says, "Production of excavators is governed by the capacity of key suppliers like Kawasaki, Kayaba, Berco, Rexroth etc. These suppliers of pump, track-drives, undercarriage, pumps, valves and swing motors have now got lead times in excess of 6 – 8 months. Engine suppliers also cannot handle sudden spikes. Companies who build machines for stock can easily sell now as most players have a lot of order backlog. LeeBoy is targeting export markets in Africa, Southeast Asia and in the CIS region as we get much better price realization in these markets."
He observes, "Owing to high reliability of key aggregates, many manufacturers have started offering up to 3 year warranty schemes and also full-fledged maintenance contracts."
Forecasting demandManufacturers are eyeing the October- March peak season when demand may cross the projected 25,000 units. However, the forthcoming assembly and union elections could impact business adversely, leading to piling up of inventories and (eventually) price wars, as witnessed earlier, with competition intensifying and even brand substitutions by customers.
However, manufacturers are optimistic of sustained demand given that the seasonal pattern of demand has not changed much over the years." As Arvind Garg at L&T says: "Most of the excavator OEMs in India have adopted state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and technologies that are flexible and adaptable to quickly scale up volumes, and most of the OEMs have doubled sales in the last five years with the right forecasting of growth and preparedness. The hydraulic excavator market in India has grown by 20% yoy over the last five years from about 9000 units to over 20,000 units, and this momentum is expected to be sustained this year as well."