Road projects need advanced machines that can deliver higher uptime for timely completion of the projects. Adequate product support and service by the manufacturers is equally important to prevent equipment downtime. Motor grader manufacturers are therefore, upgrading their products to meet customer expectations, amidst the current volatile business scenario. NBM&CW reports
Buyers of motor graders including rental agencies are opting for manufacturers who assure them higher productivity and minimum cost of operation and maintenance of their machines. As a base equipment used in road construction, the demand for motor graders remains firm. And with the Union Road Transport Ministry planning to construct 12,000 kms of highways this fiscal, demand will be more for the higher capacity graders of 140 hp to 200 hp as they will cover more areas in lesser time. However, the lighter units will also be in use, especially by the small hirers and sub-contractors.
Easy access to the engine compartment enables daily service checks for quick and efficient maintenance of equipment. Heavy duty components like auto transmission, efficient hydraulics for higher machine durability, air conditioned cabins with good visibility, a unique trip meter on operator dashboard that continuously monitors the fuel consumption, number of hours operated, and operating temperatures, are the other features of the CASE 845B and 865B motor graders.
Vidyarthi informs that Case motor graders have a unique moldboard ranging from 12 to 14 ft, which is recommended as per the application requirement and the strata where it will be used. Since it is hydraulically controlled, the operator can adjust the pitch of the angle of the moldboard from the comfort of the air-conditioned cabin - thus saving time. Secondly, the multi-radius moldboard ensures that the maximum amount of material is rolled off in each pass, which increases productivity, as the number of passes are reduced.
“Since the long stretches of road projects will require assured availability of machines with quick servicing, our motor graders are fitted with ‘Site-Watch’ telematics (electronic indicators connected to the operator dashboard) to provide real-time information on the operations, safety and service alarms. Site-Watch enables the owner and fleet manager to remotely monitor the machine for data regarding the working status of the machine, including fuel consumption, location, alarms for servicing and maintenance etc, so that we can maintain our machines well on time, as we believe that timely servicing and maintenance will extend the working life of our graders and reduce their downtime for greater availability at all times.”
He adds, “Motor graders being capital intensive machines, we give our customers loan extensions and warranty support, especially in unprecedented situations like the Covid-19. We offer our customers optional extended warranties on major components so that they can use the machines more confidently, plus they have CASE’s assured back-up and support throughout the machine’s lifecycle. For fleet owners, we offer maintenance contracts with a dedicated service team which is available at site to ensure our machines’ uptime. We have a wide dealer network and a good stock of spare parts at key locations for ready supply. In fact, we are delivering parts and undertaking servicing - even in these challenging times – while adhering to all the safety norms.”
Saxena informs that, Sany India motor graders come with both manual and automatic transmission. Quality output is delivered through their superior blade down force and drawbar pull, and a three-dimensional operator seat provides better visibility. Further we are in the process of launching an automated grading system that will augment the productivity and performance of the machine in terms of quantity and quality of grading. It is pertinent to mention here that, our graders are adaptable to latest automatic levelling systems. The result is a combination of precision and speed which together ensures efficient use of machines. He further adds, “It is pertinent to mention here that technology plays a vital role to increase the productivity of work. Right from the basic switching of the machines to the IOT, there are many different technological advancements done in the machines. For instance, IOT enablement of the machines is aimed at capturing the run hours, machine location, technical parameters of the machines, alarms etc. This is a milestone of sorts in improving customer engagement”.
Speaking about their commitment and support system, he adds, “It has been our constant endeavour to work closely with our customers to understand their project needs and design our machines to suit their requirements. Likewise, our wide-spread dealer network and trained service professional ensure fast deliveries of spare parts and support across the country.”
He informs that their LiuGong’s centralized warehouse for stocking spares ensures timely delivery of parts to customers and dealers for its graders and other equipment, while product support is provided by over 23 dealers pan India. LiuGong conducts training programs for its dealers and key customers for effective operation and maintenance of their equipment, which are supported by key supplier partners. The company offers extended warranties and annual maintenance contracts so that contractors can commit the quality output from the resources engaged and get good returns on their investments.
ACE motor graders are powered by 173-hp Cummins 6BTA5.9 turbo-charged diesel engine with high torque that enables better performance of the graders, giving higher productivity. Says Gautam, “Productivity is high due to the higher drawbar pull of 9450 kgs and blade down force of 7140 kgs. The graders’ higher operating weight gives better traction and load for all kinds of surface application. ACE graders are rugged, robust and strong due to their engine, operating weight, drawbar pull and blade down force. The productivity of our Grader is around 200 cum per hour with an average fuel consumption of 11-14 ltrs/hr.”
“ACE graders have a unique feature of adjustment of the moldboard through hydraulic cylinders. The blade position can be set by the operator automatically from within the cabin, leading to uninterrupted work. Rock grade heavy-duty 14x25, 20 PR tyres give better grip and longer life on any kind of surface. As already mentioned, the 173-hp Cummins 6BTA5.9 turbo-charged diesel engine is incorporated into the ACE graders, which make them one of the best in class in terms of fuel efficiency,” says Gautam.
Product improvement and product development is a continuous process at ACE with the company working incessantly to meet the needs of the customer. Understanding the need of the hour and to keep up with the modernization of road making equipment, ACE provides the option of Telematics to helps machine owners to remotely monitor and supervise the various functional parameters of the machine and remain updated of its health for timely maintenance so that the machine gives optimum performance. Gautam informs that the company will be adding a few more features in the telematics system in the BS4 model, which will benefit customers even more.
“Product support and customer satisfaction is not only of prime importance at ACE, it is in fact, our biggest strength and pride. ACE has over 100 sales and service locations across India and we are (usually) able to provide same day response. Similarly, high priority is accorded to the ‘real needs’ of our customers, be it with respect to product features, maintenance or support.
Apart from this we come up with various seasonal financing schemes to benefit our customers. We are currently running a ‘Monsoon Scheme’ on financing our backhoe and road-making segment of machines,” he informs.
Mahindra is presently offering two motor graders - the RoadMaster G75 with a 79 hp engine and the G90 which comes with a 91 hp engine. While the G75 is designed for PMGYS/rural roads and district roads, the G90 is specifically designed for state highways and NH expansion projects.
Says Joshi, “To deliver higher profitability to our customers, we have optimized our product performance and its owning and operating cost to give one of the lowest per cubic meter grading cost amongst all other motor graders being sold in India. Today, the operators and site conditions in India are not suitable for automation, hence, we are holding back from automation for the time being till the eco system becomes even more advanced, by which time, the technology would also have evolved and become more cost-effective.”
To deliver lower cost of operation, Mahindra’s graders are powered by the company’s in-house manufactured Mahindra DiTEC engine. “The same engine family caters to many of our high HP international tractors, which work with the same “low speed high torque” requirement. Based on lakhs of hours of testing for performance, we are bringing to our customers graders that provide higher productivity and lesser fuel consumption. In fact, the G90 probably delivers the lowest fuel consumption per unit productivity at an average of about 8-9 liters per hour, amongst all other motor graders sold in India today.”
To ensure higher availability of its motor graders, they are supported through Mahindra’s ‘Remote Care.’ This is available with its backhoe loader EarthMaster and most of the above features are already incorporated in its upgraded telematics unit DiGISENSE
“Mahindra motor graders are supported by 1-year unlimited hours warranty,” says Joshi. “Other manufacturers are offering a warranty capped at 2000 hours. We are also offering customized product options, several finance options, and even rental services to corporates through our rental arm “Hello Machine”. We also offer extended warranties covering all major aggregates and have extended the warranties for products under warranty in the “lockdown phase”. From an aftermarket, product support perspective, we have initiatives like “Parts Express” (parts delivery to doorstep at certain locations), Saral Seva (dedicated on-demand service), and many other specific initiatives apart from the industry’s standard aftermarket practices.”