“Kobelco views Excon as the paramount construction and infrastructure show, recognizing the significance of exploring new technological innovations in the industry. Excon serves as a platform to showcase to the world the opportunities available with Kobelco. This year we aim to be perceived not merely as an equipment manufacturer and seller, but also as a solution provider for the industry's application challenges. This approach requires considerable effort from Kobelco to present our capabilities,” informed Moses Eddy, Director & Executive Vice President, Kobelco India.

The primary drivers in today's landscape revolve around environmental factors, with a keen emphasis on sustainability. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations hold substantial importance for Kobelco. The company remains committed to maintaining a strong focus on ESG principles, underscoring its dedication to responsible business practices.

the world the opportunities available with Kobelco

Simultaneously, Kobelco directs its attention towards understanding and adapting to emerging applications in the industry. These dual pillars—ESG commitment and a focus on applications—are considered integral to Kobelco's strategy. Kobelco believes that prioritizing these aspects will naturally lead to profitability, encompassing both top-line and bottom-line growth. This strategic approach aligns with Kobelco's vision for sustainable and prosperous business operations.

“If you see, Kobelco’s theme at Excon this year "Think Beyond Excavation," indicates our emphasis on moving beyond the traditional perception of excavators as solely for digging and considering the versatility of the base machine for various applications. While presenting an excavator is relatively simple, we invest extra time to assemble and showcase these multifunctional machines,” said Moses.

“Therefore, going beyond digging, our excavator with different attachments can do multifunction like pile driver for pushing the pile sheet into the ground. This multifunctionality allows one machine to handle various jobs. In addition to sheet pile driving, we also displayed our excavator featuring a clam shell bucket capable of unloading wagons carrying coal or minerals. Expanding on this multi-attachment capability, we've the tele-dipper, which reaches deep into pits to load materials with the aid of a video camera, ensuring 100% safety for operators and surrounding. The cabin slides forward, providing better visibility into dark pits and enhances operator comfort and safety.”

Kobelco has introduced attachments like magnets to handle steel scrap, and the array of breakers and demolition crushers showcased are examples of these new applications in demand. “Our goal is to provide comprehensive solutions from every angle. No doubt, the advanced technology comes at a cost. Indeed, there are attachments that cost twice as much as our basic machine, and the fact that people are willing to invest in them reflects the trust they place in our brand. We are not content with being just another excavator player; our ambition is to be a clear solution provider; and we are committed to thinking beyond mere excavation.”

“Furthermore, we also displayed our proposed 8-ton machine -SK80, that will extend our reach by another 9 to 10 percent. Currently, we are reaching around 85% in the premium class, and this addition will broaden our reach by an additional 5%. Our aim is to continually advance and provide versatile solutions across a wide spectrum of applications.”

the world the opportunities available with Kobelco
Added Moses, “At this stage, it is economically unviable for any Indian manufacturer to undertake local manu- facturing of these attachments, hence we have opted for global sourcing. Our Japan team, along with the design and technology teams, identify reputable manufacturers and after a thorough selection process, we sign agreements with them. Many inputs contribute to this process, enhancing the overall quality of our offerings. For the customer, it consolidates into a single-machine service provided and managed by Kobelco.”

“Safety is a driving force in our business. It necessitates a change in the way tasks were traditionally performed. Secondly, there's a growing concern on labour shortage. In the past, deploying a team of 10 individuals to perform tasks such as scooping was feasible; but this is no longer sustainable. We need to replace technologies that are gradually becoming obsolete. At Kobelco, we anticipate these changes and are positioned to adapt to them with our future-ready solutions.”

Moses informed that Kobelco has a dedicated training division under the Skill Council of India to train or upskill operators and issue certificates. “We receive support from our vendors who supply additional/special equipment and conduct initial training sessions for our technicians and our customer operators.”

According to him, doing business in more developed countries is relatively straightforward as they have already reached an advanced level of technological adoption. Similarly, conducting business in developed countries with established emission norms is easier, as it provides a level playing field due to the uniformity in machine technologies.

However, the challenge arises when doing business in India or other developing countries, where emission norms may not be clearly defined. Presently, in the market, there are excavators which are old generation alongside machines with the latest model of engines. This lack of uniformity creates an uneven platform for competition.

“As an industry player, we address our customers’ concern on the costliness of emission-related upgrades by adding value to our machines and upgrading them technologically. Unfortunately, in Indian construction equipment industry, still the economy models are dominant, but we have many corporates who have the trust placed in us and believe that a premium, high quality machine would be more viable financially in the long term. There are even some small and medium contractors, who prioritize technology, which encourages us to go for capacity building.”

Kobelco currently has 12,500 units of equipment and the number is steadily increasing. To enhance the value of its entire fleet, the company has started acquiring used machines, and is refurbishing them for markets in underdeveloped countries where Japanese technology is well-known but unaffordable. Numerous such machines have been exported to Bangladesh.

“We aim to augment our capacity by adding value. Training operators and technicians is important for extending our reach and building capacity. We are well-equipped to undertake production and build substantial capacity for the export markets.”

“Our strategy for growth is to introduce new models time and again, as they can contribute to our growth by 9 -10%. To ensure customer satisfaction, we keep introducing new technology and attachments. We anticipate achieving 7-8% growth in our top line.”

As regards localisation of Kobelco machines, Moses said, “We believe that components like the engine, hydraulics, and electronics, cannot be compromised as Kobelco machines are valued for their fuel savings and as the most economical in TCO in India. “Altering the engine would jeopardize our USP. We retain the heart, soul, and brain of the machine while implementing minimal changes to the skeleton. The shape of the machine is the only aspect contributed from India, resulting in a minimal reduction in cost. Despite our efforts, we cannot achieve more than 45% indigenization in our products due to the major components and technology from our globally manufactured products.”

As regards use of alternate fuels like electricity for construction equipment, Moses said, “The Japanese are of the opinion that electric vehicles (EVs) are not the ultimate solution since charging an electric vehicle requires continuous power consumption. A more sustainable technology would be hybrids that generate their own power without the need for constant plugging in. Though for the short-term (the next 10 years or so) electric solutions may be viable, but the long-term solution is likely to be hydrogen.”

“We are on the right track, emphasizing a transition phase rather than focusing solely on batteries or electric vehicles. We stress the importance of prioritizing long-term sustainability for the business rather than short-term goals.”
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