Road Equipment: OEMs See Extended Decent Returns Initially
Buoyed by the recent announcements of the government to put road projects on fast track, road equipment manufacturers are contesting hard to convince targeted buyers for avoiding brand substitution. P.P. Basistha takes a look.
Finally, there is a sense of joy in the board rooms of Indian road construction equipment manufacturers after a prolonged gloom. Top sales brass across companies, share optimism on positive projected demand. They speak with a strong assertive voice on fresh trade enquiries from contractors across the country, looking to take up projects that were aborted earlier, owing to paucity of funds. The senior sales executives expect that the earlier tangles of land acquisition and environmental clearances leading to curtailment of the projects will now be sidelined. Major instances contractors backing out of the projects, discovering the bid amount on which they have taken up the work were unrealistic, post taking over the work would also now be sidetracked with the government showing its keen interest to put projects on fast track.
However, in between, making broad statements on the projections and enquiries, the senior marketing officials, slow down intermittently, sharing eloquently that, the fresh project off-take would not be possible without serious competition. This is because OEMs will get tougher, vying for space afresh in the market in its nascent stages of opening, followed by not so late dormant phase in the backdrop of protracted demand slump. Given the market network, the manufacturers have built over the years, product selling may not be too tough altogether, if the projections are found to be appropriate, however, getting decent returns on the products could be an issue.
Enquiries by NBM&CW with the road equipment manufacturers could not wholesomely gather the volume of inventories with them at present. However, couple of important contractors contacted shared their upbeat mood in getting some best bargains from the OEMs, indicating that the market continues to be in a large extent the domain of buyers with manufacturers busy in pushing out inventories. Not hard to find, amidst a lull market, reputed asphalt batching plant manufacturer concluded some big deals very recently. Contractors in the deal claimed to have got some good discount packages.
According to Mr. Gupta, "Key to our product placement has been to reduce total cost of operation, notably through fuel efficiency and higher productivity. We will continue to build on our leadership position in the Compactor segment. To provide efficient service to our wide base of Compactor customers across the country, we have set up a CASE Customer Assistance Toll Free No 1800 3000 9770 and increased our dealership network to 59 dedicated CASE Dealers with over 200 touch points.
Complementing with localization of the products, to make them affordable, Volvo CE has been carrying out engineering improvisation for making its products attuned to Indian road project sites. Mr. Muralidharan informs, "To make the machines perform optimally, we are carrying out tropicalisation of our compactors and pavers. In order to take care of spurious fuel, an added filter has been provided in the engines."
Volvo CE will bank upon its 18 dealers to promote fresh products as well as to provide product support to its 5,200 units of compactors working in the market. The Swedish entity provides remanufacturing support through upgradation of the hydraulic systems in its road construction equipment.
Product positioning & support requirementWhile manufacturers are looking forward to promote volume sales based on the range of offerings to suit the emerging demand requirements, brand retention will largely depend on addressing the emerging complexities of the road construction projects in India, through the equipment offerings and product support.
As plant and machinery constitutes 6-10% of the investment component for typical road construction project, contractors are of the view that OEMs can add value to the business by making them run the plants efficiently. This is more so in present period of compressed margins and escalation of project cost. Though OEMs have no jurisdiction to curtail project cost escalation due to various external factors however, there is a definite room for fine-tuning the plants to the expected site conditions, so that chances of putting extra finance in operations are kept minimal.
Mr. Kapadia informs, "Our R&D team has carried out improvements on the new paver, focusing on enhanced operator comfort, advanced control systems, for delivering the highest quality and total cost of ownership."
He elaborates, "The Dynapac SD2550CS offers come with a new dashboard. Ergonomically positioned and designed based on recommendations from operators, it creates easy to understand analogue signs in a digital display. To make work easy for screed operators wearing gloves, the smart screed remote controls also have toggle switches for screed extensions and levelling cylinder function.
The easy-to-learn and operate intuitive dashboard is equipped with a camera system. This offers a 360 degree view, giving the operator even greater control over the paving job by monitoring the process on a high resolution display on the dashboard. The upgraded Pave Manager 2.0 operating system, with colour display, offers an improved operator interface as well as additional features. The new version incorporates direct access buttons to key functions on the main dashboard, improved display of screed control as well as additional paving functions."
He continues, "The other improvements include, equipment flexibility for achieving desired job quality. SD2550CS is suitable for highway paving up to 14 m, with a theoretical production capacity of 1,100 t/h. The heating system with a 60 kW generator and the screed heating system ensure faster heating up to the full working width. The big hopper (2.6 m deep with 15 t capacity), a 1.3 m wide material tunnel and a 500 mm diameter auger system provides the smooth material flow required while paving wide sections. The paver is also available with a big material hopper and, when used together with the new Dynapac MF2500CS material feeder, the paving performance can be 30% higher."
Mr. Kapadia says, "To meet varied job sites requirements of the road contractors, number of screeds can be fitted to the Dynapac SD2550CS paver. This includes, the Dynapac V5100/6000 TVE (tamper vibration) screeds, V5100/6000TVH (high compaction) screeds as well as the Dynapac R300TVE rigid screed." Mr. Kapadia explains, "R300TVE is a tamper vibration rigid screed with a basic width of 3 m that can be extended with mechanical extension boxes up to a maximum width of 14m. In order to operate with variable paving width, the screed can also be offered with hydraulic extensions at the end, which are 1.3m wide and would extend to 2.6m maximum width. This screed is designed to offer a smooth surface finish owing to its rigid construction." Enhanced business volumes are also looked by Atlas Copco through its Dynapac PL350, PL500 and PL1000 which are compact cold planers having milling widths between 0.35 to 1m. Mr. Kapadia informs, "Available as 4 wheeled units, these models are highly user-friendly and offer high performance, excellent manoeuvrability, and an impressive level of reliability. Dynapac compact planers effortlessly achieve a depth of 200 to 300 mm. Powerful engines deliver higher output than engines of planers in similar sizes."
He continues, "The planers are well positioned in terms of providing best operators comfort with their ergonomic design. Controls and instrumentation are positioned facing towards the operator for ease of operation and all-round visibility, particularly for viewing the cutting areas. User-friendly control concept guarantees fast response times and high performance operation. This is important for patching work, when the operator has many small, independent jobs to handle.
The patented hydraulically operated front sealing of the cutter housing, adapted to the shape of the cutting drum, minimizes accumulation of the milled material, thereby reducing labour time at the end of the cutting track."
The other features of PL350, PL500 and PL1000 planers according to Mr. Kapadia are, "Flexible quick-change system for drums, four wheel operations, small cutting radius of only 230 mm, allowing the machines to perform at crammed job sites and ease of maintenance." He points out, "To make the planers numerous for varied applications, we have made drums available for demarcation work. Smaller drums with an adapted scraper blade and a side cutting wheel are available as options for both new models."
Mr. Kapadia says, "The Dynapac machines are designed for toughest conditions and have lowest operating cost. The compactors have most advanced compaction technique like high frequency. Our asphalt rage rollers are capable of delivering required quality in minimum passes. The pavers are equipped with unique fully floating screed to achieve the specified surface finish."
He says, "To make ownership and operation of the plants economical for our customers, we have been emphasising on innovation and development. This has been dually through promotion of products from our global portfolio by making them attuned to suit Indian requirements and also through sourcing of plants from our local plant at Nasik." The company has a refurbishment centre in Pune to support its entire range of Dynapac road construction equipment. The products are delivered from the company's manufacturing facilities in Sweden, Germany, Brazil, China, and India.
He adds, "Our Hamm compactors can also be offered with intelligent compaction systems like Hammtronic and HCQ system as an option."
Expanding its product range for wider market accessibility, Wirtgen has recently introduced the Vogele Range of Dash 3 Pavers for road construction. Mr. Palagiri says, "These innovative & eco-friendly asphalt pavers are based on user-friendly Vogele state-of-the-art technology. The machine concept of the "dash 3" generation focuses entirely on "lower consumption – lower emissions – lower costs." The "VÖGELE EcoPlus" low-emissions package combines a number of individual measures distinctly reducing the fuel consumption and noise of "dash 3" pavers."
Mr. Palagiri says, "Ensuring our products are economical to own and operate and deliver the desired quality, we provide total solutions to our customers, once a machine is sold, right from Commissioning the machine, be it a slip form paver, a recycler soil stabiliser or asphalt paving, depending on the nature of the job. We have "Application Specialists "at our Project sites to work closely with the project managers and supervisors. This ensures a maximum output from our machines." Wirtgen will be shortly extending its Reman support to pavers, which was restricted only to surface miners.
Mr. Gossain says, "our intention has been to make available road equipment attuned to the Indian road site requirements. JCB's 9T Tandem Roller VMT 860 is designed to offer high productivity and reliability with maximum operating economy. Powered by robust, fully topicalised, low fuel consumption JCB Engine ecoMAX, the ideal combination of static weights, centrifugal forces and amplitudes makes this asphalt roller perfect for a wide range of both soil & asphalt applications, from rolling sub-base to finish rolling."
Catering to applications for highway construction, dam sites, canals, land development, runways JCB India offers VM 115, 11T single drum soil compactor. Mr. Gossain says, "VM 115 is designed to offer high compaction and greater output at the lowest fuel consumption within the category of machines. It is powered by turbo charged, water cooled 4 cylinder JCB ecoMAX engine, generating output of 114 HP. The VM115 Compactor develops high amplitude for deeper compaction, an optimal centrifugal force for a higher density and correct frequency range to get the best re-location of the soil particles during vibration."
To expand its presence in road construction business, JCB India will bank upon its 59 dealers and 600 outlets stocking products. Mr. Gossain says, "To ensure that prompt service is provided to our customers, our dealers run a service van which offers 24x7 assistance to our customers in case of a machine breakdown in any part of the country." He adds, "Based on our dealership network, our objective will be to make further market penetration and be closer to our customers."
He explains, "Being the leader in the Industry, we will refrain from entering those areas where product placement based on rudimentary technology is high; instead we intend to bring high technology for quality conscious and productivity seeking contractors. Technologies like Bomag intelligent compaction which is GPS enabled optimizes operation. It stores operation data and allows the operator to rationalize normal operations and ensures best in class compaction and data recording. Based on our Bomag 'Ecomode', we will target special application areas & projects where better stability is required by the compactors. The contractors using the compactors will get appropriate quality with better fuel efficiency."
According to Mr. Varghese, "Post launching of our total high-tech range of Bomag machines involving rollers, milling machines and pavers at bC India 2013, we have a wide range of products for India. Our range is almost complete now in India from asphalt batching plants to pavers - compactors and maintenance equipment. The 800 tph pavers with upto 12 mtrs screed size deliver 98% compaction, highest in its class as compared to offering from other manufacturers." He mentions further, "We are well positioned to cater diverse paving requirements based on our offerings of 5-7.5-9 meters pavers. The pavers are engineered to pave normal asphalt mix as well new age mixes in trend these days, delivering best in class efficiency, productivity and performance.