Tipper trucks across verticals peaked at 70,000+ units ending January 2019; up from 58,000 units during 2017-18. According to manufacturers, the uptick in sales is due to the numerous upcoming road projects that require boulders and crushed granular sub base materials to be hauled to road construction sites. With the tendering process of Bharatmala road projects getting streamlined, demand will increase further. Implementation of BS V1 norms by 2020 will also impact sales positively for tipper trucks fitted with complaint engines, and lead to increased competition.
Says B. Dinakar, VP - Sales & Marketing and Aftermarket, Volvo Trucks India, Volvo Commercial Vehicles, "In 2018, we launched the FM380 8x4 tipper (23 CBM box & 19.5 rock body) and FM420 6x4 tractor (tip-trailer). The response to the performance has been encouraging from our key customers who have bagged some large construction projects. The FM380 is the right answer for those 'Who want More in Construction'. The new Volvo FM380 8x4 is a construction truck that exudes toughness and robustness in a distinct Volvo way. It has a character that looks right in Road Construction, Irrigation and Quarry. The all familiar Volvo elements are there; they've just been enhanced and improved to meet our customers' demands. Volvo Trucks is committed to be an integral part of the Construction business and provides customers with solutions that will accelerate the progress of their business. The FM 420 6X4 tractor too has a powerful engine, superior transmission, and a weight optimized design. These products have been developed based on critical application feedback from customers. They ensure overall efficiency and productivity in operations by carrying more load per trip while using less fuel, have a better turnaround time, reduce the number of trucks required, and improve safety at site and driver performance."
Adds Dinakar, "With the government keen on improving the rate of road construction, we expect that demand will be for trucks that give higher productivity and are more reliable. We have brought digitization into our trucks for analyzing data on their performance, fuel consumption etc., so that we can take timely corrective action and make the trucks available for use. Volvo's Dynafleet is one of the most advanced telematics systems for fleet management. Our back-end team analyses the information that the system throws up and works with the customer to identify areas that need improvement and plug gaps. If required, we also take the necessary corrective action, provided it is within our domain of expertise, as we want to give our customers every support possible."
According to him, the BSVI emission norms that are to be in place in 2020, will bring a big change in the way of working for manufacturers and customers. "A change in emission norms must be viewed as a change in the entire ecosystem that supports manufacturing, operations and maintenance, as BSVI will have a ripple effect on all of them. In Europe, Euro VI emission norms came into effect about 6 years ago. The technology has stabilized over the years, however, for us, it calls for some customization in our trucks so that they can be as productive as they are currently. In fact, Volvo trucks are gearing up to implement BS VI emission norms and they will be introduced in April 2020."
Preference for Multi-Axle Tippers
There is a growing preference for multi-axle tippers as they are multiple utility trucks that can do both hauling and dumping, for shorter and longer leads, with a combined mode application. Depending on the site and the nature of work, they can give more output per day, and can travel about 600 kms as against the earlier 400 km. They also give fleet owners the flexibility to reduce fleet size as they can carry more load, giving customers better cost per ton/km. The stricter overloading regulation enforced by the states is also favoring multi-axle tippers given their higher load carrying capacity. According to the industry, there is an upward shift for higher payload to 31 tons - up from 25 tons in mining, and 31 and 37 tons - up from 25 tons in surface haulage, while 16 tons is giving way to 25 tons.
According to Mr. Rama Rao, Executive Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Aftermarket, Heavy Duty Trucks, Volvo Eicher, "Eicher is continuously working to provide application/segment-based products. When Eicher pioneered the use of intelligent technology in its tippers, it brought a significant improvement in their quality, efficiency and productivity while meeting all the regulatory and market requirements. Our 18-35-ton tippers and 35-42-ton haulage tippers can undertake various quarry and transportation jobs and are powered by the fuel-efficient 5 and 8L engines that deliver up to 330HP power and up to 1200 torque. So, these tippers are offering best in class performance in terms of fuel efficiency, power and torque, all of which are key requirements in quarry operations."
He adds, "Our tipper trucks come with a robust driveline for higher power/torque for giving better performance in terms of tractive effort and efficiency. They have a wider and more stable chassis frame, an optimized wheel base for better load distribution, and load bodies with lower CG for stability while carrying heavy loads in tough operations."
Making its foray into highly competitive intermediate commercial vehicles is Mahindra Trucks and Buses (MTBL), which recently launched its Furio range. According to Vinod Sahay, CEO, Mahindra Truck and Bus and Construction Equipment Divisions, Mahindra & Mahindra, "Mahindra Furio is designed to meet the unaddressed needs of ICV customers looking for a truck that can deliver higher earnings, with lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), the highest warranty, lowest maintenance, and have world class, no-compromise safety and comfort. Mahindra Furio, with its unmatched package of value propositions and a very competitive initial price offer, is all of this. We guarantee higher profits or will take the truck back! This is a defining moment for the trucks' industry. Furio offers best-in-class mileage, the highest payload of 49 tons, lowest TCO with rugged aggregates, ensures safety and comfort in a segment which has the maximum high-speed applications among all CV segments in India.
Adds Sahay, "The new Mahindra MDI Tech Furio engine is equipped with the patented Mahindra 'Fuel Smart' technology to optimize fuel consumption. The highlight of this technology is the multimode switches to optimize fuel consumption and engine power availability as per load and road conditions. Apart from this, the MDI Tech engine is lightweight, and low friction that enhances its efficiency. It offers high torque at low RPMs, leading to higher performance in both inter-city and intra-city traffic conditions. Furio is rugged and durable for longer vehicle life and offers the highest payload in the entire segment to carry more and earn more."
The Furio range has been designed by Pininfarina for Indian road conditions with features that provide the truck drivers with more comfort and safety and enables higher productivity. The walk-through cabin with flat driver resting seat is an example of the intelligent use of cabin space. It has a provision for storage as a standard OE fitment, and a provision for seating 3 persons, including the driver. With the design expertise of Pininfarina, the Furio cabin has better air flow inside and a lower rake angle, which ensures the lowest cabin temperature. This results in a cooler cabin (at least 5 degree cooler than other ICVs), which improves driver comfort in the hot Indian tropical weather even in non-ac mode. The truck features a sleeper berth in a day cabin – an industry first - and corner lamps for better night driving visibility.
Mahindra Furio 12, 19 ft hsd variant and Furio 14, 19ft hsd have been developed with an investment of ₹600 crores. The trucks have been rigorously tested for over 30 lakh kms across various terrains. They will be manufactured at Mahindra's world-class facility in Chakan, and will be supported by the company's wide service and spares network.
Banking on the success of its previous range of Blazo Trucks, Mahindra has recently launched its Blazo X heavy commercial vehicle. Says Vinod Sahay, "Blazo X has greater fuel efficiency and will further strengthen our position in the market. With 21,000 Blazo trucks already on Indian roads, our Blazo brand is well entrenched in important segments such as car carriers, tankers, cement bulkers and the coal industry, giving value for money, mileage superiority and low cost of ownership.
"MTB is well on its way to becoming a formidable force in the Indian CV market and is the number 3 player in certain segments and markets. Going forward, we intend to be the number 3 player in the overall HCV segment. We are seeing an increase in the share of modern trucks such as Blazo that have a higher power to weight ratio, better aggregates, and comfortable cabins. Going forward, such trucks will be in demand as they can carry additional loads, given the new axle loading norms. They can also make faster trips in the borderless era of GST and deliver higher fuel efficiency and need less maintenance."
Sinotruk of China is bringing newer and sturdier products for India's mining and construction work. Its mining truck Howo Mine King, introduced in India in 2018, combines higher capacity with ease of operation in tough mining conditions. An Allison automatic transmission (4600 ORS), MAN engine (MC13.48T30) and axle ratio (15:04), produce more torque.
Says Jeet Kasar, Country Manager, India, Sinotruk, "We are entering the Indian market not by cutting price but by offering the best quality truck with a superlative performance. Over the last few years, Sinotruk has made various upgrades in Howo Mine King's engine, transmission, capacity and cabin design, making it the best-in-class for Indian mines. Plus, its width has been increased and the length decreased. This reduces chances of toppling on the congested and uneven roads at mining sites, and operators get better turning radius. Plus, it offers low maintenance cost and higher productivity."
He adds, "In Indian mines today, most of the trucks being used are on-road trucks. Even if they are heavy-duty trucks manufactured in Europe and imported into India, they are 31-ton trucks hauling loads up to 50 tons. In comparison, our mining truck is of 100 tons and carries weights up to 70 ton with a 30 cum body."
Sinotruk is also offering a 32, 34 cum body for coal and over burden applications, and a new 8x4 Construction truck is in the pipeline for the Indian market. For large construction works like airports or seaports, and also for Mine Developer and Operator (MDO) projects for coal blocks, it has an off-road vehicle.
"Sinotruk products are sturdier and last longer. In case of construction of roads, buildings and commercial places, we do plan to bring a truck model. In fact, our strategy is to bring what is not available in the market as we have a large variety in our portfolio. So, for the Indian market, we are selecting products like the 8x4 Construction trucks with higher payload capacity to reduce the total cost of ownership, and LNG trucks that are beneficial for the environment as well as for huge cost savings for the fleet owners," says Kasar.
Service & Artificial Intelligence
Tipper trucks manufacturers are realizing the benefit of deploying trucks with better power to weight ratio and with technologies such as automatic transmission, telematics, advance safety system, driver assist etc, giving customers better fleet utilization and competitiveness. Telematics is not just about monitoring but also bringing transparency in business processes and efficiency. Remote diagnosis and assistance help owners in getting improved uptime/turnaround time, while CV manufacturers benefit by reduced warranty costs through preventive actions and customer satisfaction.
Rama Rao says, "Eicher has been offering Eicher Live - an advanced Telematics system in tippers for more than 3 years; it offers three different services: Fuel Management, Uptime and Fleet management, to help contactors in better utilization of their fleet. Together with the fully equipped Eicher service network, this ensures preventive and corrective maintenance of the truck, thus delivering superior uptime. Eicher Live services gives the owner and our aftermarket teams a thorough view of vehicle performance, utilization and uptime, so that the truck spends more time generating revenue. Features like Dynamic Service Reminders allow users to alter their trucks' service plan."
He informs that to leverage their onsite support services, Eicher is focusing on products that give maximum profitability and a differentiated aftermarket experience. "Today, customers want total cost of ownership, product reliability and performance, service and parts support. As the lead time for construction is getting tighter, they want trucks that are reliable and work round the clock. To maximize truck utilization, we offer onsite service support solutions along with parts stocking at site and customized service agreements. We also provide driver training. We have 284 authorized service centers, 140 EGPs, 2500+ retail centers for parts, a network across cities and national highways, and convenient touchpoints. Over 225 GPS-enabled Eicher Service Vans provide round the clock enroute assistance to vehicles. Eicher Dial A Part is a unique and convenient service that helps drivers with all the necessary information on parts availability by simply dialing a toll-free number."
Dinakar informs that, in mining, Volvo trucks have an average availability of 90% over 3 – 4 years of operation i.e., with daily running of 20 – 21 hours. "Our site-based service model ensures that we are at customer's doorstep to ensure that our availability percentages stay high so that they are able to extract maximum output from our trucks. In large infra projects, the trucks should match the pace of work and run continuously without unplanned stops. Volvo trucks are designed with rugged components, better technology and coupled with unique site support model. Volvo trucks offer the advantage of higher uptime, which helps execute the work as per plan, and finish on time. More uptime means no need to plan for back up vehicles, savings on maintenance investments and less manpower requirements. Volvo offers uptime assurance as part of the aftermarket packages."
The Volvo EMS (Engine Management System) - an electronically controlled system- provides precise and efficient engine control. The engine control module takes in data from several sensors on the engine and the vehicle; it compares current readings with stored parameters and adjusts fuel quantity and injection timing accordingly, throughout the engine's operation. Volvo has been actively working on the autonomous truck technology and has conducted many on-road trials.
In January 2019, Volvo Trucks set up 'Volvo Uptime Centre' to identify a potential breakdown and to ensure that repairs are attended to immediately. "With a central monitoring centre in Bangalore and regional centres planned in 10 key locations, we are proud to bring this 'industry first' concept to life in India. This initiative is expected to deliver a 'delightful' customer experience and highlight our commitment to prioritize customer interest always," avers Dinakar.
Vinod Sahay informs that coinciding with the launch of its two trucks, MTBL has announced the setting up of its express North-South Service Corridor on the 3,800-km stretch from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. It comprises of 41 service touchpoints (one every 100 kms), with a guaranteed service reach of 4 hours or ₹500 compensation for every hour of delay. This is the second such corridor after the Mumbai-Delhi service corridor which caters to nearly 30% of truck movement.
Mahindra Truck and Bus has expanded its after-sales service and spares network and now has 93 3S dealerships, 149 authorized service centers, 32 M-Parts Plazas, 2900 roadside assistance points and over 1600 retail outlets for customer outreach on important trucking routes. The company claims to offer India's first multi-lingual 24x7 helpline NOW, manned by technical experts to provide instant support to customers and drivers. The NOW mobile service vans and mobile workshops add to the reach and agility of the support network. The company claims to offer six years or 6 lakh km of transferable warranty (again an industry first), besides a very cost-effective AMC, the lowest cost of ownership, and a powerful insurance package called MCOVER.
Says Jeet Kasar, "Since our mining trucks will be running 22 hours and 7 days a week, we are building our own technical team in India, which will train the technicians and engineers internally, and also provide service support and spare parts. Sinotruk is also providing value-added services like driver training, and trouble-shooting training to its service team and technicians of customers for preventive maintenance. We have made service agreements to work closely with customers to improve vehicle utilization. Our products are providing the promised uptime with superior return on investment."
Higher capacity, advanced tipper trucks will earn more profits for owners as they will incur lower operating costs. However, the onus will be on manufacturers to provide timely service and support when required and ensure availability of their trucks in order to justify the higher initial cost incurred by the buyers.