Continuing with the trend of 2013, the market size of tipper trucks seems to remain retrograded in 2014 as well. However, manufacturers have seen some exceptional gains in the present fiscal. Encashing on the unfolding business trend, tipper truck makers are now vying hard to retain the growing sales. Partha Pratim Basistha takes a look.
The ongoing fiscal is exceptionally surprising for tipper truck makers. OEMs across all segments have reported growth and in certain cases it has been sizeable gain in market share. All this kept happening, when overall business sentiments remained subdued owing to continuing legislative ban on iron ore mining sector coupled with tardy liquidation of coal stocks from domestic sources taking a deep toll in business. Retrograded demand for moving construction aggregates, owing to tardy execution of road construction projects on higher end also slowed down movement of bulk materials from real estate construction sites on the lower end of the construction value chain.
Percentage of volume sales reported by manufacturers ranges between 15-30% as compared to 2013. However, indication of the gradients for developing business continues to remain steeper owing to subdued market conditions, unit sales in 2013 for the dominating 16 tons, 4X2 was 13,600 units as compared to 25,000 units in 2011 and 17,700 units in 2012. The mass category registered sales of 7,800 units till September 2014 with likely maximum projections of demand closing between 10,000-11,000 units. The higher 25 and 31 tons multi axle capacities between 6X4 and 8X4 registered a growth of 27,000 units in 2013 down from 34,500 units in 2012 and from peak 40,000 units in 2011. Sales in the higher category segment have been reported 21,000 units till September 2014. In total, this figure is definitely less as compared to 2011-12 when gross demand was 62,000 units up from 48,000 units in 2010-11.
Carrying on the past strategy, manufacturers have been aggressively developing products, targeting potential segments with appetite for newer product variants to build up share. "We have gained significant volumes sales between 25-30% this year as compared to 2013 when we sold 8,800 units. Gain in market share has been to the tune of 4-4.5 percent in 2014 which was chiefly contributed by our new multi axle 6X4 'Captain' series of tipper trucks. Besides, our 'U' trucks launched in recent past also contributed towards increased sales. With new elaborate product and strengthened portfolio in 8x4 segment, we expect to close the year by selling 11,000-12,000 units," says Mr. M. Surendranath, Head Product Sales, construction and mining verticals business, Ashok Leyland.
The 'Captain' series of the tipper trucks comes in 25 tons 6x4 with model configuration of 2523 and 3123, 31 tons, 8x4 wheel configuration. The tippers are available with options of single and hub reduction axles. The trucks are powered by 230-240 hp Leyland Engines. "We have carried out valued engineering improvisations in the two new products by equipping them with 9 speed gear box, air conditioned cabins for drivers comfort, yet making the pricing competitive enabling them to compete with the premium segment offerings," mentions Mr. Surendranath.
The captain is being promoted by Ashok Leyland for the movement of bulk materials for long haulage required in construction. It is also being promoted for hauling materials at deep (200-250 ft) mining sites from the surface level. The trucks are available with rock and box body configurations between 14-16-22.
Ashok Leyland offers 9-31 tons tipper trucks for the mass segment between 160-200 hp. It also offers 49 tons tipper trucks for mining segment. Its 'U' range of 16-31 tons tippers with 4x2 and 8x4 axle configurations 6.5 cum-22 cum body configuration is for transportation of road construction materials, iron ore, coal, sand and blue metal, ore fertilizer and coke. U 2523 tipper trucks can also be made available with 14 cum rock body and 16 cum box body for marble stone quarry and over burden hauling.
The company has 170 dealers with 470 branches across the country for sales and product support. According to Mr. Surendranath, "The dealers are well placed across the country, however we are planning to appoint more dealers in unexplored territories. We will make our dealership network strong in Madhya Pradesh, Eastern and North Eastern states of India. Expansion of dealership network in Eastern India is expected to raise our market presence from existing 30% covering states of West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, and Meghalaya." The southern based truck conglomerate has recently appointed a dealer in Meghalaya. For ensuring on site support to our tipper trucks customers, we have 20 and 40 feet on site container workshops supported by a service engineer." Roughly 65% of Ashok Leyland's tipper trucks are from construction segment whereas remaining are from mining segment.
Tata Motors has also begun export of its 'Prima' trucks. The company has formally launched the brand in Qatar, UAE, Sri Lanka, and East Africa. It will shortly launch the brand in Nepal where the company has recently showcased, the Prima B-cab, a first for the medium truck segment.
The company does not foresee sizeable competition into the tipper trucks segments from the prominent foreign companies with tried and tested technologies. Explaining the competitive positioning of the company, Mr. Sahay says, "Tata Motors has been in the Indian Commercial Vehicle (CV) space for 60 years. Over this period, we have developed a very deep understanding of the Indian market, with the widest portfolio of CVs to cater to the requirements of every kind of customer, a pan-India sales and service network, which is further growing in terms of enhanced experience levels and touch points."
Tata Motors will be banking on its network of 120+ dealer principals for promoting sales. It will be looking for product support and services from its large network of sales points. Mr. Sahay mentions, "Tata Motors has the widest service network with a touch point every 50kms on highways, with an unparalleled parts network constituting 38000+ sales points."
He says, "Through our dealers, we provide various offerings including 24x7 onsite support service through mobile service vans, along with ensuring quick services through our widest service network of dealers and Tata Authorised Service Stations (TASS) across India."
The truck manufacturing major is also looking to leverage its brand through its range of onsite support, crucial to have enhanced availability of tipper trucks. Mentioning about the range of services offered backed by requisite infrastructure, Mr. Sahay mentions, "We provide various offerings including 24x7 onsite Support Service through mobile service vans, along with extensive driver & mechanic training. We also ensure quick services from our widest service network of dealers and Tata Authorised Service Stations across India."
He elaborates, "Some of the salient features of our services include, positioning team of Tata Motors trained supervisors and technicians posted at project sites, stocking of all necessary fast moving and critical spare parts / consumables kept at the site. Preventive checks and routine maintenance by technicians along with corrective measures on a daily basis, preservation of service and repair records of all vehicles and necessary actions for optimization and training support to all drivers on safety and economical driving."
Mr. Sahay explains, "The benefits of our onsite support are numerous. This includes, optimal performance and increased life of tippers. Routine maintenance & repairs. 100% adherence to preventive/ routine & scheduled maintenance services of your Tippers at site. Most importantly, availability of Tata genuine parts onsite thereby no frequent failures, increased vehicle uptime, saving on time and fuel thereby more productivity & revenues."
Tata Motors have partnered with Driver Training Institutes which are operational at Muktsar in Punjab, Dimapur in Nagaland, Silchar in Assam and Ajmer in Rajasthan. Mr. Sahay informs, "The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India has sanctioned Driver Training Institutes in the following States to Tata Motors under the XI Five Year Plan – Tripura, Maharashtra, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Over 9500 drivers are trained by Tata Motors in a year at the various Service Training Centres located across the various plants."
Tata motors perceives dealership and vendor support is quite critical to promote sales and product positioning in the highly volatile market, where it will continue to support the verticals. Mr. Sahay mentions, "With regard to our strategy to counter volatility in terms of sale, we at Tata Motors have a strong plan for our CV business, based on our HorizoNext philosophy and its four pillars of strong product focus, world-class manufacturing, great customer sales experience and consistent customer service. We will continue to work according to this plan and remain passionately committed to providing best vehicles and experiences to our customers globally, while ensuring we continue to work for the betterment of all our stakeholders.
Expansion of business is looked by Mahindra Trucks & Buses Limited (MTBL) through carrying out improvisations in its tipper trucks. "There is a proposed investment of Rs.200-300 crores towards strengthening the existing product lines and over Rs.300 crores for development of the new range of ICVs and MCVs. There is a huge opportunity that we are eager to exploit in this segment," says Mr. Nalin Mehta, MD & CEO, MTBL.
He says, "After completing our range from 25T to 40T HCVs, we have launched custom applications like tipper w bogie suspension, haulage tipper, cement bulker, reefer etc. One of our proposed new launch will be 9 speed bogie suspension tipper for heavy duty applications. At par with launching newer products, we will continue to focus on increasing our geographical presence, adding products & variants in more segments and building a strong service organization to support customers."
He continues, "We are continuously working on bringing down the cost of operation for all our trucks including tippers through slew of initiatives. This has included, enhancement of standard product warranty (from 3000 hrs to 4000 hrs). We also have an option of extended warranty (additional 2000 hrs). Increased oil change interval to 750 hrs – will soon become 1000 hrs. Several customers are recognizing the far superior earning that our tippers are delivering due to their heavy duty performance leading to quick turnaround. Since introduction, we have made a conscious effort to understand their business needs and provided them with various tips to enhance the vehicular performance. We have also been helping customers towards optimization of their earnings by improving load optimization, tips on better management of their fleet among other initiatives."
Having sold above 1865 nos of tipper trucks which also includes 31 tons units sold for coal haulage mostly to the construction aggregates and minerals sector, product support and services is a key area for MTBL to avoid brand substitution. "Based on the size of our tippers population, we offer on-site service support through dedicated technicians for the site. We also have 62 MTBL dealerships, active today. Moreover, we have leveraged group synergies and already added 364 authorized service points, drawn from the Mahindra Automotive and farm sector network," says Mr. Mehta.
He adds, "We supplement product support through our mobile workshop vans and mobile service vans with each dealers. Further as part of product support, we have added nearly 1598 roadside assistance points to our network and spares network of 730 retail points to further improve the reach for customer on important trucking routes. These trained mechanics located in the assistance points have been selected carefully to build our presence on vantage points on important trucking routes for immediate assistance. We also have 24x7 customer service call-centres wherein all queries are handled by trained diploma engineers in 8 languages namely English, Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi and Gujarati."
MTBL will enhance sales based on its active 62 dealers and also 28 exclusive Mahindra & Mahindra light commercial vehicle dealers. "To leverage our presence, we are continuing with dealer expansion plan. However considering the state of economy, we have reduced the pace. Building deeper geographical reach through branches is more important for our business today," says Mr. Mehta
Mr. Ramasubramanian mentions, "We have an elaborate product portfolio to meet varied application requirements with trucks ranging from 16 to 49 tonnes available in body sizes of 8.5 cu.mtrs to 24 cu.mtrs. The tippers are fitted with Euro III engines that deliver 180/235 / 280 HP and a maximum torque of 1100 Nm. Heavy duty double acting shock absorbers and integral power steering with double UJ ensure a smooth and stable ride."
Asia Motor Works has its integrated manufacturing facility at Bhuj in Gujarat with a planned capacity of 50,000 commercial vehicles per annum.
Addressing New Demand ShiftExpanding footprint in the higher capacity tipper segment, VE Commercial Vehicles (VECV) will shortly launch 8x4, 31 tons, new 'Pro' series of tipper trucks powered by five & eight litre engines in 180-280 hp range. The trucks will be marketed for movement of bulk cargo including coal and construction aggregates over long distances. VECV unfolded its "Pro" series of trucks and buses in 2013 and the products were introduced in a phased manner starting from February 2014. The Eicher 'Pro Series' of tipper trucks comprises Eicher Pro 6000 with 16-31 tons gross vehicle weight and Eicher Pro 8000, 25-49 tons GVW tippers, trucks and tractors.
According to Aggarwal, "The new Pro series of tippers is a game changer for the tipper industry in India. It will deliver higher profitability throughout its lifecycle with best in class fuel efficiency, good driver comfort and better drivability, higher uptime, superior reliability, optimized maintenance cost, and higher resale value. The attainment of higher vehicle uptime will also be ensured through genuine and timely products and services support from VE Commercial Vehicles." The appropriate after sales support has contributed towards building up of our market share from 7.8 percent in 2008 to 13.8% in 2013 and further in 2014.
Aggarwal elaborated, "Following our JV with Volvo, significant improvements have been made in the "After Sales" infrastructure, so as to ensure higher time. This includes specially trained technicians, right infrastructure, Eicher special tools and genuine spare parts at the company's 300 plus workshops. According to the company, 90% and above uptime is also ensured and 24x7 parts availability across 365 days. In addition, the company ensures parts availability through 400 plus exclusive counters throughout the year. Uptime is also ensured through the company's modular workshops and 350 service vans to make the vehicles operational within 48 hours across India."
He continued, "Enhanced vehicle performance is also ensured through company's annual maintenance programme and the drivers training. Other support services to be offered by VECV for enhanced truck mobility are customized annual maintenance contract services and availability of skilled drivers. VECV claims to have made colossal investments towards developments of drivers. The drivers available with the dealers are trained to deliver best in class fuel efficiency."
Consolidating business position in the multi axle heavier tipper truck segment, Man Trucks India has also extended its product portfolio to compete in this segment. Leading the pack is the new CLA 25.220, 6X4 on road construction tipper. According to the company officials, "With the introduction of this model, the range of vehicles offered by MAN Trucks India has become truly formidable. This model is not only fitted with new aggregates but also allows MAN to address a mass market, not explored so far." They mention, "The vehicle is accompanied by attractive fuel consumption figures, low wear and tear, and sustained value. With top class features like – higher engine power, best in class oil change interval, sealed front axle and exhaust valve brake; all the segment of MAN vehicles including the newer ones always stand superlative among its competition."
Officials inform, "MAN offers CLA series of trucks in 16 to 31 ton range fitted with 220 and 280 hp engines. These trucks are equipped with tipper bodies with capacities ranging from 8 CuM to 18 CuM. The established and proven 280 HP mining tippers are offering lowest possible life cycle cost for 'over burden' removal and even for material mining against high cost-high horse power imported; typically known as 'deep mining tippers'. MAN CLA 31.280 tipper with 18 CuM RAEX body is surely a tough competition to these imported, deep mining tippers particularly in green field projects."
MAN's haulage range application includes 25 to 49 ton category trucks fitted with 220 and 280 hp engines." Trucks manufactured by MAN in India have localization level of 95 percent. The CLA series of trucks made by the company is for Indian as well as for exports to Asia, Africa and CIS countries.
The trucks are manufactured by the company at its integrated plant at Pithampur near Indore with an in- house facility for axles and engine assembly. The plant has an installed capacity of 12,000 trucks per year with further room to ramp up capacity to 24,000 trucks per year. Presently, the plant is producing 7500 vehicles & 8000 engines per annum. The company has its corporate office housing an R&D and test centre in Pune.
The company is looking to strengthen its brand and expand footprint based on its network of 70 dealers, which includes both 3S and 2S dealerships. Officials mention, "For future, we are targeting minimum 100 outlets to cater to sale and after sale support needs of our customers in India." They say, "We are also looking to leverage our brand presence based on our state-of-art MAN Training Academy at Pithampur imparting training to drivers and technicians on fuel efficient driving, preventive maintenance, engine, EDC, Transmission, axles, suspension, steering, gearbox, brakes and electrical systems. MAN Trucks India also offers onsite/on job trainings to customer drivers and vehicle familiarization training to customer's technician and service team."
Officials mention, "To reinforce the parts supply process, as part of product support, MAN Trucks India has set up four regional warehouses. This ensures timely supply of spare parts to dealerships and customers. MAN Trucks India also offers a complete service package through numerous offerings like – annual maintenance contracts'), 'extended warranty program', 'onsite support of parts & service' and 'customized service support' based on customer requirement." The German truck manufacturer has sold 12,000 trucks in domestic market since its inception in 2006 out of which approx. 80% are tippers, both in construction and mining segment.
Thronging of space in the multi-axle segment 8x4 and higher capacities is a newer trend. This is primarily attributed by tipper truck manufacturers to the desire of road construction contractors and coal mine operators to graduate to a higher category from the 4x2 segment, for getting the commercial benefits.
After two tough and challenging years for the heavy duty market, we have seen improvement in business environment since May this year with new government pushing for reforms and working on execution of stalled infrastructure projects, faster clearance of coal projects by removing the hurdles on clearances etc. We hope HD truck demand is on the recovery path and look forward for a strong growth in 2015.
According to Mr. Rao, "Apart from growing requirements of coal from surface mining, we are also exploring various other mining segments like granite and limestone for the cement industry and port applications to market our high end tippers. Our endeavor has been to offer total technological solutions (end to end) to the mining customers. In accordance with this, we have been customizing the tippers taking into account the critical facts like the need of the operators, contract sizes and most importantly the operating conditions of mines. The strategy for Volvo Trucks is to make total cost of ownership economical for its customers. That is how the total value proposition is offered to the owners. The trucks are highly fuel efficient from the nearest competition. Further, they are cost competitive per cubic meter." Volvo Trucks sold 700+ units during 2013 which comprised 8x4 and 10x4 segment class. Till September 2014, the Swedish Truck major in India sold around 650 vehicles this year.
Mr. Rao claims, "Volvo Truck's share in the premium segment has remained above 65% (High end mining). We have been able to retain the market share, through our well benchmarked customer after market support, ensuring vehicle availability close to the tune of 95-98%. Support is ensured by us at sites through timely availability of parts and components in container workshops and trained technicians for maintenance and operating support." The company is looking forward to expand higher capacity tipper trucks based on the emerging applications of the market and will keep importing critical components like drivelines and engines from Sweden.
According to the industry estimates, the higher capacity tipper trucks market has registered a growth of 20% this year (calendar year) and Volvo trucks will retain the market share of 65% by the end of the year. The market is expected to close between 1250-1350 units till December 2014.
Improved Offtake for Vendors
Developments in coal mining and exploration of the manufacturers to expand into other mining areas apart from the earlier mainstay, iron ore business, have yielded dividends for the tipper truck manufacturers. However, the momentum will require to be sustained through proactive support from the government ensuring developments of newer mining areas, liquidation of stocks and development of newer construction projects.