Leyland Deere Leveraging on its Backhoes' technological competence

Leyland Deere: Leveraging on Technological Competence

P Ravishankar
"We offer our customers two key value propositions, superior performance and sustained cost savings over the life-cycle of the product. We will continue to focus on initiatives that will enable our customers to increase both productivity and profits" states, Mr. P. Ravishankar, CEO, Ashok Leyland John Deere Construction Equipment Company Pvt Ltd in an interview with S.A. Faridi and S.K. Khanna.

What were your offerings at Excon and how are they placing you ahead of your competitors?
As a background, our first product, the 435 Backhoe Loader, was well received in the market as it delivers high performance combined with unmatched reliability and durability. We have delivered over 1200 machines as on date and feel encouraged that around 18-20% of our customers have already placed repeat orders. This is a strong validation for us in the market segment that we operate in. However, there is also a huge market of hirers where most of our competitors operate in. We decided to leverage the 435 platform with its established performance and reliability/durability and create a product that ideally matches the requirements of the hiring segment.

At EXCON 13, we have now launched our second offering to the market, the 435E Backhoe Loader. The 'E' in the 435E stands for efficiency. This machine delivers a best-in-class efficiency in terms of fuel consumption, operating, maintenance and repair costs. The 435E saves 0.5 litre of fuel per hour due to the fuel-efficient AL H-series engine and the superior hydraulics system. This alone gives our customers a saving of Rs.2 lakhs in 2 years. Together with the savings in operating, maintenance and repair costs that work out to Rs.36 per hour, the 435E saves our customers over Rs.4 lakhs in 2 years and provides them with a tremendous advantage in these challenging times.

Therefore, we are now providing two value propositions to our customers- solid performance with the 435 BHL and solid cost savings with the 435E BHL.

Recently, you were also focusing on attachments. What is the progress in that direction?
We have recently made our machine compatible with rock breakers which are growing in terms of utilisation in the industry. As we move forward, we will make our machines capable of seamlessly integrating with the commonly used attachments in the industry.

So what are your other dream machines?
It will be a bit premature for me to make any public announcements at this stage. John Deere has a broad range of construction equipment and we will leverage our association with Ashok Leyland and John Deere to offer Indian customers a world-class range of products as and when justified by market conditions.

What financing options are you providing to your prospective customers?
We have tied-up with all the leading financiers on a pan-India basis. Within our group, we also have two financing entities, namely Hinduja Leyland Finance and the IndusInd Bank. So there is a wide range of financing options available to our customers. Moreover, we are also planning to work with public sector banks which have a strong reach in the deep rural hinterland.

By virtue of being part of a large conglomerate with in-house financing entities, Leyland Deere is in a better position to indigenously finance CE for its customers.

A Word about your pan-India presence and after-sales and availability of spare parts.
We are present across the country except the Northeast because in that region the requirements are principally four wheel drive machines. Once we introduce a suitable product, we will expand our presence in the Northeast too.

There are two important aspects that we consider while expanding our channel partner network- infrastructure and a culture of service excellence.

Leyland Deeree Construction Equipment

On the infrastructure part, we are trying to leverage upon the dealer network of both our partners as well as a range of well-known dealership brands with more than 10 years of experience in the dealership space. Now, in totality we have 40 channel partners and 155 customer touch-points across the country.

Moving on to the service culture, we make sure that every channel partner has one service engineer for every eight machines that he/she supplies, and we plan one quarter in advance. For instance, if we forecast that a channel partner will supply 32 machines, he/she should have eight service engineers one quarter in advance. All these engineers are trained in Chennai at our service training facility. We ensure that our channel partners create the required infrastructure in their respective areas and make certain that spare parts are available all over the country supported by a team of engineers trained in our service culture. Due to this, we are able to offer a same-day restoration for most running repairs and maintenance to our customers.

How training is being imparted at your service training centres?
To begin with, we do a pre-test of the candidates to gauge their knowledge of the machines based on their past work experience. Once they clear the test, the engineers undergo structured sessions wherein they are exposed to our machines and spare parts. Systematic knowledge is also imparted with respect to hydraulics, engine and other key areas. Once this module is over, we conduct a post-training test to gauge the increase in the knowledge level of engineers. Our average improvement in score is quite significant. Once this exercise is over, we send them for an on-the-job training where they are under the guidance of our area service managers. All of this ensures that we have got a seamless competency built into our channel partner teams wherein classroom concepts and practical knowledge are blended holistically.

How the company encourages new talent?
We are currently focused on engineers with a prior work experience. At the moment, we are looking for those engineers who have worked on equipment in adjacent spaces. But from 2015 onwards, we will rope in freshers as well.

Do you think that the participation in Excon 2013 has been beneficial?
It definitely has been very beneficial. We have witnessed visits from our existing customers who are keen to know what the next offering from Leyland Deere will be and from a large number of prospective customers who are interested in joining our growing family. It has been a fruitful experience.
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