Motor Grader manufacturers are banking on their product lines, couple of which was introduced in the market very recently along with plans to launch newer offerings to cater to the requirement of the government's ambitious plans to construct 30 kms of road per day in the next two years. P.P.Basistha takes a look.
There is a heightened business confidence among motor grader manufacturers in view of the government's renewed focus to kickstart stalled road projects along with awarding new ones. The proposed projects are well likely to provide business opportunities to the manufacturers. Contractors looking to participate in the new projects will require equipment that will deliver higher uptime as the government is focused towards avoiding time and cost overruns to the highest possible extent.
Mr. Gupta mentions, "Taking cognizance of the emerging business opportunities, we launched the Case 845B and Case 865 B Motor Grader in the Indian market in last fiscal. With an array of globally popular and leading features, the response from the Indian customers has been encouraging."
Mr. Gupta explains, "Case's graders feature an FPT Industrial 6.7-liter engine with triple horsepower ranges on the 865B model and dual horsepower on the 845B to match the power requirements of various applications and deliver optimum fuel efficiency. The graders are offered with an automatic ZF Transmission. The machines have a multi curvature moldboard which reduces the resistance coming on the engine and hence the fuel consumption. An exclusive multi-radii, patented design of involute moldboard lets the Case B series grader move more material with less horsepower and less fuel than competitive models. The moldboard can be made 90 degree vertical, thereby enabling the usage of machine for shaping embankments / canal cutting applications."
He adds, "For better control Case graders are equipped with a forward-mounted articulation joint and rear-mounted spacious cab, giving operators a clear visibility."
The focus of timely completion of projects is requiring graders that provides higher equipment uptime and product reliability. Quicker operation is the major consideration for contractors involved in time bound highway projects. Economical cost of operation is another major determinant behind purchase of the machines.
Liugong manufactures CLG 414 motor graders at its Pithampur plant near Indore. Expanding its portfolio further, the Chinese equipment conglomerate, is planning to launch heavy duty CLG 4215 motor graders during the third quarter of 2015-16. Mr. Mehrotra says, "Initially we will be importing the graders from China. Engines and steel structures will be sourced from India. We will increase the ratio of localization, once the equipment will prove itself."
Broad OfferingsThere are expectations of highway sector getting an allocation of Rs.45,000 crores. Larger allocation will result in execution of heterogeneous road projects in nature. Caterpillar like other manufacturers will look to take on the demand spurred by the colossal investments through its range of motor grader offerings.
According to Mr. Tipirneni, "Caterpillar has a number of grade control technologies available for customers to select, depending on the level of job infrastructure and completion requirements. Our Motor Graders can be factory fitted with an AccuGrade Ready option (ARO) which is the foundation for the addition of other machine control and guidance technologies. ARO includes the integration of all the wiring harness, switches and brackets required for fitting of blade controls technology." Caterpillar's Grade Control portfolio includes; 2D Cross Slope, 2D Sonic, 2D Laser, 3D GNSS: Global Navigation Satellite Systems, 3D UTS: Universal Total Station."
These solutions assist customers in improving profitability essentially through more efficient use of machines, resulting in saving time, improving job-site safety, better managing project costs, and providing precise job specification deliverables."
Service OrientationThe new road projects are likely to create demand of increased units of motor graders. However, demand will be characterized by intense competition as there lies sizeable idle fleet in the market. Contractors will opt for optimum utilization of the fleet, followed by decision of newer equipment acquisitions. Taking note, companies are looking to leverage service offerings to strengthen product presence to build up brand presence among existing customers, looking to acquire more number of units as well as to potential newer customers.
According to Mr. Gupta, "At Case we have a very strongly focused sales, service and parts network along with powerful and fuel efficient machines. For distribution reach, we have enhanced our touch-points with the customers by having entire India covered through more dealers with higher number of outlets. This ensures a standardized brand visibility for Case India and an opportunity for us to engage with our customers closer to their homes and work sites. We have an extensive network of over 65 dealers and 250 touch points. In addition to these, there are 20 Case marketing offices covering all regions. All dealer outlets have fast moving spares available along with availability of service engineers to avoid downtime of machines working at sites. There are training programs both classrooms as well as virtual throughout the year for keeping our team up to date." He adds, "Along with a more reliable product, we have further enhanced our service levels through establishment of call centers with toll free numbers and a focused customer relation management initiative."
Liugong India will look to increase its unit sales of graders and supporting service through its regional offices in 4 zones along with its 18 dealer across India. Mr. Mehrotra says, "Our centralized warehouse for spares will continue to ensure timely delivery of parts to customers and dealers. As part of product support, Liugong conducts training program for dealers and key customers for effective operation & maintenance of equipment. These are well supported by our key supplier partners. In pre-launch stages the customers are taken into confidence and well supported for the new products so that the unique learning can be addressed for mutual benefits and regular customers will be benefited for the performance and reliability of products and services."
Mr. Mehrotra mentiones, "For better returns on investment, we can offer extended warranties and annual maintenance contracts so that contractors can commit the quality output from the resources engaged." To strengthen its support presence, Liugong India is studying remanufacturing opportunities in India. "For hand on experience, on selective basis along with our vendors, we have been examining the options and statutory requirements of remanufacturing prior to undertaking the initiatives on full scale."
Mr. Tipirneni says, "To increase sales and strengthen support, we are continuously ramping up our services and distribution network across India. This will resultantly improve our capability to supply high quality service parts and highly skilled service engineers close to our customers. We have 8 territorial dealerships across India owned by GMMCO and Tractors India Private Limited. With 150 plus dealer outlets and still growing, these include branch offices, area offices, retail outlets, workshops and site support."
Advanced products for delivering higher uptime hold key for timely completion of road projects like any other infrastructure projects. However, appropriate product support is crucial to prevent equipment down time for machineries involved in road projects. This is precisely when there is ever increasing pressure on work margins, even extended payment schedules coupled with requirements of quality projects.