Components & Spares: Vendors Witness Rising Demand from Crane OEMs
Business strategy towards increased indigenisation by foreign crane manufacturers in the country and simultaneous production capacity expansion along with developing newer product range by home grown manufacturers is resulting in growing business opportunities for suppliers of spares and components. Taking cue, components manufacturers are carrying out major investments towards strengthening their research and development and altogether production channels to create products that meet the standards and critical performance criteria of the individual crane manufacturers.
Indian hydraulic cylinder manufacturing major, Wipro has been carrying out strategic investments at its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities at Chennai and Hindupur plants near Bangalore. The plants are equipped with state-of-the-art production machines comprising skiving and roller burnishing, honing, friction welding, computerised numerical controls, centre less grinding and induction hardening machines. Both the plants, according to company sources are equipped with over 50 testing rigs to determine the function, reliability and endurance of the cylinders.
Wipro has recently bagged a major order for supplying hydraulic cylinders to Kobelco India's (CKE-i) series of crawler cranes manufactured at its Sri City plant near Chennai. Wipro's customers for hydraulic cylinders includes Tractors India Limited for the mobile cranes manufactured by the Kolkata based company under license from Manitowoc Grove. Hiab, Kalmar Industries, Multilift and Toyota Material Handling are some of its key materials handling global customers using the cylinders.
Hydraulic cylinders are the most critical components for crawler and lattice boom cranes as it directly support the functioning of the boom, which is subjected to varied dynamic loads and pressures based on the volumes of load it has to lift across varied working radius based on the site conditions. To cater the load requirements, hydraulic cylinders are required to be designed taking into account efficiency, applications, stroke, operating pressure, application terrain, pressure setting and overall the crane safety requirements. Further, it requires taking the growing requirements of extended repair intervals precisely based on extended working hours coupled with harsh usage of the crane in India lifting loads more than the prescribed limits. Mr. Madhusudhan, Director Marketing Wipro Infrastructure Engineering says, "Our hydraulic cylinders are designed taking into consideration all major operational parameters of the cranes. Since we are supplying the cylinders for the cranes working in harsh conditions in defence applications, our design and processes are adept to the market requirements and safety norms globally."
Mr. Madhusudhan adds, "Wipro has been offering its own market proven design to customers for the last 4 decades. The design synchronises well with the set standards of the OEMs. Onsite and condition monitoring support for better preventive maintenance of the cylinders is a major area Wipro Infrastructure has been emphasising on. In India, we offer the customers' service supports based on requirements. We also periodically support them with essential training for preventive maintenance and troubleshooting solutions. However, this is taken care of by the OEMs themselves in Europe."
Standard SynchronisationBonfiglioli Transmissions is a fully owned subsidiary of Bonfiglioli Italy having its R&D and manufacturing facilities in Chennai to cater to the requirement of Indian subcontinent and exports 30% of the products to the world markets.
He adds, "Our tailor-made gear boxes and drives meet structural and duty characteristics, precisely the safety requirements of varied nature of wheel mounted, crawler cranes, access platforms, tele handlers, scissor lift platforms, tower cranes, and reach stackers. As a total drive solutions provider, we cater for travelling, hoisting & slewing requirements for materials handling equipment. We partner with the OEMs for designing the required solution and support in their quest towards localizing and expanding the product range of the cranes. After market is not our business area."
According to Mr. Kennady, Bonfiglioli has an elaborate R&D and manufacturing process in place to manufacture the desired gear boxes and drives by the OEM for their cranes. The process for designing gear boxes and drives for cranes systems takes into account parameters such as compactness, efficiency, the lifting capacity of the crane, speed and field conditions in which the cranes will be working.
He elaborates, "We have an extensive selection process that starts with our questionnaire and aims at capturing all the essential application details including hydraulic, mechanical and duty cycles details, required for selection of an appropriate solution. Next phase of the process involves selecting the solution and theoretically simulating the machine performance. In case of specific customer requirements, we validate our designs by carrying accelerated life tests. Validating our drives in the field and testing them under actual running conditions is an important step in this process. Once the testing is completed, the gearbox is sent back to our facility where a strip down analysis is carried out. Only when the drive has met the expected criteria of performance, the concluding step of this process, the signing of application with the OEM takes place. It is only after all the necessary processes are followed and precautions taken, the drive is released for mass production."
Meeting the ever changing critical performance criteria of crane manufacturers involving speed, gradability, lift capacities, braking requirements etc and constraints in terms of dimensional, hydraulic, cost is a major challenge for component suppliers. However, Mr. Kennady reckons, "Our job as a solution provider is to work under these constraints to achieve the best possible performance for the machines. Enabling us to achieve this, we have an R&D centre in India. The centre works closely with OEMs to provide most appropriate solutions, some of them are specific for Indian market, offering the best value proposition."
Co-engineering for designing winches and gearboxes is emphasized by Italian cranes components manufacturer, Dinamic Oil India at its plant at Bahadurgarh in Haryana.
While designing the winches, site stress conditions, load bearing capacity and gear life calculation are extensively taken into consideration."
Dinamic has been supplying winches to JCB for its 'Liftall' series of mobile cranes, Escorts's Hydra and Rough Terrain, ACE range of mobile cranes, Chowgule's truck mounted stiff boom cranes and tractor cranes and also to ABG crawler cranes. Dinamic has also been supplying winches to Tractors India Limited's new 'Pixie' mobile slew crane.
Dinamic has localized 80% of the components of the winches made in the country. The company imports safety and critical parts of the winches.
Mr. Burato says, "While demand for winches and gearboxes has been rising, the key challenge for producing the winches has been to ensure reliability, cost effectiveness and compactness during design stage.
With the cranes becoming compact, the winches supported by the hydraulic motors, braking systems, planetary reduction gear, lowering control valves, drum and support structures have to be placed on the limited space available at the boom. However, our R&D team in close association with cranes OEMs is able to select and design the appropriate sizes of winches to meet all customer requirements." Dinamic makes available winches between for line pull from 1,5 tonn to 50 tonn. The company makes available bigger capacity winches through imports and on a project base it can also indigenize the products in order to be more cost effective without compromising the quality standard.
It supplies its winches directly to crane OEMs. Gearboxes made available by Dinamic comprise planetary rotary & slewing gearboxes for tower and mobile cranes as well as for several industrial application. It has supplied its gearboxes to Action Construction Equipments, ABG Cranes, Putzmeister and several OEM in the cement business. The gearboxes are imported by Dinamic from its plant in Italy. Dinamic plans to carry out investments at its Bahadurgarh plant to enhance production capacity in near future.
Although capacity expansions and improvements in product range presents components manufacturers with growing business opportunities, however, the key challenge will be to fulfill the critical performance criteria as set by the crane OEMs.