JCB India - Vipin Sondhi, MD & CEO

Vipin Sondhi, MD & CEO
Vipin Sondhi, MD & CEO

“Continuous advancements in equipment by incorporating the latest technologies and manufacturing processes will propel the CE Industry to new heights of growth. Due to the numerous innovations made by JCB, the company, today, is seen as a pioneer of many new machines in India, so much so, that there is a JCB available for every user and for almost any application.”

By introducing no less than 30 ‘first-of-its-kind’ innovations in 2017, JCB has raised the bar for new product developments; what will JCB be showcasing at bauma CONEXPO INDIA 2018 to meet the industry’s expectations?

JCB India is delighted to be a part of Bauma CONEXPO 2018 and, as always, will present an exciting line-up of innovative machines and the integration of smart technology, especially in our larger excavator category: JCB 38T, JCB 380LC, JCB 21.5T, and JCB 215LC, among others. Our objective is to reinforce JCB’s position as a full-range infrastructure equipment partner with leading products that exhibit innovation in design, performance, efficiency and safety, including Telematics.

Some backhoe manufacturers are bringing in heavier and more powerful backhoes with more digging depth and higher loading reach, which would ‘up’ the competition for JCB, and also slow down growth of the compact excavator market. How does JCB India plan to counteract this?

Healthy competition is always beneficial for the industry and the customer. Every manufacturer aims to offer the best-in-class products to the customers, thus giving them options to choose from. Looking at the Backhoe segment, JCB has been a pioneer of this concept which it introduced almost four decades ago. Till date, the machine continues to find great use at almost every construction site, in both urban and rural India.

JCB380LC Xtra

Over the years, the product has gone through various stages of development and JCB has continually invested a lot in the product to ensure that customers, at all times, get the most technologically advanced and innovative machines. Presently, we are offering the widest range of Backhoe Loaders in India in 5 different variants – the 2DX, 3DX, 3DX Xtra, 3DX Super, 4DX. This range has been developed to suit different user segments for different applications, so we have one for everyone! We see this multipurpose machine being used in almost every project in sectors ranging from Roads and Highways, Railways, Irrigation, Rural Roads, and Housing, to General Construction, and Maintenance.

In December 2017, we introduced 30 new innovative features, including 15 industry firsts, and five of the world’s first, including an Automated Manual Transmission called Easy Shift in our Backhoe. The machine also has an SOS switch, Economy and Power Mode, Guide Me Home, and Smart App machine Diagnostics.

JCB 116

The Automated Manual Transmission called Easy Shift allows gear shifting to take place with no operator effort through a rotating knob below the steering wheel thus, replacing the gear lever. This facilitates ease of operation, a rested operator and ensures better productivity.

The Smart App Machine Diagnostics app enables the service engineer to focus on the area that requires repairs. Through a bluetooth dongle paired to a smart phone, information on the malfunction can be sought within no time, thus saving time and leading to subsequent increase in revenue for the customer and operator.

The Backhoe Loader and the Compact Excavator are two different segments of the construction equipment industry and are used in different applications. The Backhoe Loader is a multi-functional, versatile equipment used in various general-purpose applications while Mini Excavators are a niche segment and used for different applications such as Urban Development projects or an in projects where space is restricted. With infrastructure being developed in many constricted urban areas, the Compact Excavator is finding great utility.

What drives JCB to innovate continuously and in such large numbers?

Innovation is the core pillar of JCB’s business philosophy. Our continuous innovation in products and services is all aimed towards customer satisfaction. JCB has made significant investments in bringing out a world-class range of products, and today, it offers over 50 class leading products in 8 product categories.

Customers want machines that provide value for money and come packed with advanced technology features. JCB Backhoe Loaders exhibit features that have been designed and engineered to meet customer expectations and requirements. JCB has also taken cognizance of evolving customer needs and has come up with solutions pertaining to reduced Cost of Operation, Enhance Reliability, Performance, Ease of Use, Safety, Serviceability and Design in its new ecoXcellence range of Backhoe Loaders.

JCB has many firsts to its credit. To make compaction operation as efficient as possible, JCB India has come up with a new concept known as ‘Intelli-Compaction’ in its JCB116, which is another industry-first from JCB India. The in-built Compaction Meter ensures uniform compaction as the operator exactly knows where to stop and the number of passes that are required to achieve the desired density. This leads to savings in fuel and time as it helps in reducing the number of passes and avoid over compaction. The Relative Compaction value helps in achieving consistent and uniform compaction throughout the patch. The digital display shows high/low frequency and amplitude values for compaction control. This versatile system is suitable for both Asphalt and Soil Surfaces.

Similarly, the IntelliLoad in the JCB455ZX Wheel Loader helps in real time monitoring of individual weight of loaded bucket, Total Accumulated Weight, Tare Weight, and number of loaded buckets. This is also a first in the industry from JCB India.

With construction projects becoming more complex, people need to be adaptable to new technologies. According to you, what are the essential factors a buyer should consider before buying construction equipment?

India presents significant opportunities in creation of infrastructure, both in rural and urban areas. Government’s thrust on building world-class infrastructure in the country has spurred demand for our machines in both these segments.

Today, customers are looking at a higher Return on Investment over an extended period of time. Product reliability, productivity and product support are key factors in the purchase decision. JCB’s class leading products offer the best in each parameter.

A significant focus at JCB is to improve the operating cost of the equipment, for instance, the ecoXcellence range of Backhoe Loaders is more fuel efficient in duty cycle alongwith providing an additional savings in yearly maintenance cost. It also offers higher uptime due to quick identification of the problem with Smart App Machine Diagnostics. With the help of a blue tooth dongle which is paired with a mobile device, the service engineer can now zero in on the fault. This greatly improves the equipment’s uptime as lesser time is spent in locating a fault.

In our Excavators, the high bucket breakout force makes it easy to remove any thing that comes beneath, thereby improving productivity. Higher productivity of the equipment contributes significantly to the owners’ ROI.

Another parameter to improve productivity of equipment is in creating a comfortable Operator Environment. Over the years, JCB has made significant investment is designing machines which offer the best-in-class operator environment. For example, the 455ZX Wheeled Loaders comes with air conditioning as standard, a large cabin interior with an excellent entrance, stylish, modern central dash display that combines analogue dials and a color LCD screen that displays the health status of the machine, service requirements and operating information. A comfortable operator will be able to use the machine better and safer.

How does JCB view artificial intelligence, IoT, robotics, and R&D in making equipment more productive and superior in quality?

Digital technologies such as ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Big Data’ have ushered in a new era of innovation in the Indian business landscape and today, they touch our lives in more ways than we can imagine. The Indian Construction Equipment industry is fully embracing this convergence of digital and traditional technologies, with JCB India pioneering the way.

JCB India’s commitment towards this digital innovation is demonstrated through advanced telematics technology, Livelink, which has radically improved customer experience with our machines. Livelink also provides an opportunity to customers to maximise their returns on investment through better management of their assets.

3DX Xtra New App

With the advent of digital technologies, users can now control their entire fleet in real time and all the critical machine information is available on their smart devices in the form of digital applications such as JCB Livelink app, JCB Smart Serve App and Smart Machine Diagnostics app.

Lean manufacturing principles, automotive footprint and robotics are driving the manufacturing excellence at JCB India. For instance, JCB has a ‘No Fault Forward Line’ at its Engine facility in Ballabgarh, which means during assembly, in case of an inconsistency, the system senses the mismatch and the line does not move forward until the issue is resolved.

How has 2018 been for JCB India? Despite ongoing growth and good prospects, what are the challenges in India’s CE market?

2018 has been a positive year for the Earthmoving and Construction Equipment industry, and JCB India will surpass its retail numbers of 2017. The continual thrust from the government on building world-class infrastructure is continuing to drive demand for our machines. Moreover, big ticket infrastructure projects such as Sagarmala, Bharatmala, Jal Marg Vikas and Urban Rejuvenation are expected to further boost demand.

Roads and Highways will continue to be a leading growth driver. The government’s thrust on large scale projects such as expressways, dedicated freight corridors etc. have led to significant growth in the CE Industry. Sectors such as Irrigation, Railways, and Water Conservation have shown potential and we are hopeful that they will start driving demand in the coming times.

It is now important to bridge the skill gap between the demand and supply of skilled workforce in the industry. The requirement for skilled operators and technicians is set to increase as safety and productivity at work sites becomes a priority, especially with the revolutionary technologies that need skilled manpower to successfully operate the machines. Hence, it is imperative to make investments in regular training and upskilling of people. Through the IESC (Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council) our Industry is now focusing on the various skilling programs for operators and technicians.
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