CASE India enters new product segment; launches its well tested 20-ton Made in India Excavator

Neil Woodfin, VP AMEA and CE Global Alliances, CNHI International SA, and Raunak Varma, Managing Director, CNH Industrial (India)
The CNH Group is doubling its investments in India and consolidating its market presence by offering a value proposition to its customers. Neil Woodfin, VP AMEA and CE Global Alliances, CNHI International SA, and Raunak Varma, Managing Director, CNH Industrial (India), discuss the Group’s commitment to the Indian market with the launch of their globally accepted 20t excavator; commissioning of a new production facility; exports from India; and plans for a digital hub.

Why did CNH take so long to launch its excavator in India where it enjoys a good brand recall?
Neil Woodfin: India is quite a different market that wants quality with affordability. Our aim was to produce the best excavator in the market by observing and learning from the experiences of our competitors. With our newly launched 20-ton excavator, we have produced the best product at the lowest cost possible in terms of ‘value for money. It may not be the cheapest in the market, but it’s the best performing excavator which is available at a very competitive price, and it will generate the best returns on customers’ investment to give them total cost of ownership.

CASE India enters new product segment

What are the important design features of your newly introduced 20-ton excavator that set it apart from competitors?
Neil Woodfin: Let’s understand it this way: CNH has partnered with Sumitomo- Komatsu, which is the world’s first excavator manufacturer, from whom we have got a very established product design, which we have brought to India. The important thing for us now is to make sure that we do not compromise on any performance parameters of this product and are yet able to meet the cost targets so that we can compete in the market.

We have placed our own 6-cylinder FPT engine in it, which gives 5% more fuel efficiency, as compared to the 4-cylinder being used by other manufacturers, making it the best in the market. Since all our engines are electronic, our excavators achieve better fuel efficiency, even when the machine is applied in any kind of strata.

In fact, our machine is 15% more productive than our competitors, and we have done tests to prove this. The hydraulics and the motors that we are using in it is helping us cut through the earth faster while digging. This is because we have got the right software to match the engine to the hydraulic system; which means that when the operator is returning from unloading the bucket to the dig position, he can stop the machine at the exact position where it needs to be, and the digging can be started without having to wait for the machine to stabilize. This is the most important part that most manufacturers don’t get right.

What upgradations have you done in it, including the engine, to meet Indian working conditions?
Raunak Varma: We have strengthened the structural integrity of the machine by reinforcing its undercarriage, the boom and the bucket, to meet the Indian market conditions. Our focus predominately is on the machine’s digging and breaking applications. These are the product’s strengths that we want to bring to our customers, other than its comfort and overall finish.

Adapting our engines to Indian fuel quality is one of the fundamentals that we need to meet and is the biggest challenge. But we are confident, given our two decades of experience in the construction equipment segment. We have spent almost a year in validating this excavator for different applications, including in quarries, marble, granite etc. In fact, our machines that are being used in India’s rural/agriculture sector also have the FPT engine.

Neil Woodfin: The Next 6 engine family that we are using in our graders are working around the world in very diverse conditions where the quality of the fuel is not Tier 4 standards, which India will have to comply with, going forward. This means that India will have to improve the quality of its fuel. Our engines are also working in countries like Siberia which are still at Tier 3 standards, so we have no concerns about our machines performing well in India.

CASE India enters new product segment

What are your long-term plans and strategies for the excavator segment in India?
Raunak Varma: The 20-ton excavator market is the biggest in any part of the world, with 60% of the market using it, including India. It is suited to any application from road construction to open quarry and also in general construction, residential and commercial building construction. It comes with various bucket sizes and breakers that are required for different jobs such as road renovation, demolition etc.

Our strategy to capture the premium segment of users with our well-established product is quite deliberate. In the excavator range, we have the 13t, 20t, and 35t, which comprise the major class of competitors. In fact, we will have a full range available for India, with machines of other tonnage coming from either Japan, China or Indonesia. However, for the 20t, we will start manufacturing in India and later on will be looking at the 13t and the 35t too.

When will production of the 20-ton start in India and what is your sales target for the machine?
Raunak Varma: Full-fledged production of the excavator in India will start by April this year. We are looking at an initial production and sales target of 500 to 700 machines. The first few months will be critical for the ramping up phase of our product development as we want to ensure quality products with all the feedback integrated into them. Post that, we will scale up production. The current capacity is for 2000 machines and we can expand to 5000.

We have achieved 60% localization already, having set up a local supply base from scratch early on in India. Today, the company is on a level playing ground with other manufacturers in India, especially in the premium class.

As the market is categorized into low cost and premium – where do you place the CASE brand?
Neil Woodfin: We offer premium quality excavators that give premium performance as we do not compromise on quality for the sake of lower pricing. If some other company is offering a competitive product but at a lower cost, then something’s missing, because we cannot make it cheaper. We are using our Indian supply base wherever possible, though certain components like the hydraulics have to be brought from outside India, usually from Japan.

Today, 50% of the market is using mechanical engines and the other 50% is using electronic engines. We expect to see a shift from mechanical to electronic engines with the emission norms changing, due to which the cost will go up automatically.

To bring costs down, manufacturers will certainly have to compromise in certain areas to achieve a certain price point. But it’s the customers’ choice if they want to sacrifice quality and performance over price, or if they are prepared to take the long-term vision and look at the total return on their invested capital that they are going to get.

CASE India enters new product segment
How well are your products equipped with IoT for better connectivity and services to your customers?
Raunak Varma: We are integrating telematics in every machine in our product range so that they are inter-connected. We are also in the process of building a platform where there will be connectivity with our customers and connectivity of the customers with their machines.

CNH is not only doubling its investment in India for equipment manufacturing but is also building a digital hub here, which will not only test such platforms in the country, but will help the group build similar platforms across the world.

By extracting the data from the machines, we can use the tools to design better products, and improve our aftermarket services by reaching our customers before problems occur. Through constant monitoring of their machines, we can send alerts to the users, dealers and to our technicians. In this way, we are well-prepared to deal with any problem (such as fuel quality, over heating etc) before it escalates, and thereby minimize machine downtime.

What plans do you have for exporting the 20-ton excavator from India?
Raunak Varma: CNH already has export orders lined up for the 20-ton excavator, which is well-established and well-accepted outside India. Russia, Africa, Middle East and SE Asia are its export main markets, and going forward, CNH will look at European markets once they are able to provide Tier 4 and Stage 5 complaint machines.

Do you see the current slowdown in India’s CE industry improving soon?
Neil Woodfin: We are confident that the Indian market is going to bounce back. Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the commitment and resolve of the Indian government is to kickstart the economy. We have had a loss of momentum in the economic growth, which has driven down consumption, however, we believe that investment in sectors like infra development is the fastest way to kickstart the economy - put money into the system and increase the consumption! He also said that road development would be a priority. So, we wish to capitalize on that and make a strong comeback in the Indian market with our new and existing products.

NBM&CW March 2020

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