Hafeez Khan, Managing Director
Hafeez Khan, Managing Director, informs that the company is well-equipped to meet the higher anticipated demand in FY23-24 with its versatile material handling solutions, value-based services, and strategic partnerships with rental companies.

What will be the highlights of your product display at bauma Conexpo India 2023?
Bauma is the perfect platform for showcasing Manitou’s comprehensive product portfolio. Manitou is known for its Innovations and customized solutions; this is because the company invests a lot in R&D and in adopting new technologies.

Our indigenous products MXT Telehandlers, MBL Backhoe Loaders, and Skid Loaders are designed to provide Safety, Productivity and Reliability. In the last two years we have launched two models of our Telehandler, a new Skid Steer Loader, and the all-new MBL series of Backhoe Loaders.

Our Telehandler range, which is one of the safest for Material Handling jobs, comprises of two models: MXT840 and MXT1740. They have been manufactured keeping challenging jobsites in mind and to give high productivity and faster ROI to customers. Whatever the application, their in-built safety system, hydraulic cut off, and other safety allowances ensure that the machines with loads are always within the safety parameters. Braking on all 4 wheels, equal tyres, and battery cut off, are other safety features that make our telehandlers the best in the industry. Handling of loads in restricted, cramped, and narrow areas has been made very simple with the different steering modes viz. Crab mode, 4 Wheel steer, and 2 Wheel steer.

The MT- Fixed Telehandlers, MRT- Rotative Telehandlers, and MHT- Heavy Telehandlers are manufactured in our Europe facility. We also offer a wide range of attachments such as the Multifunction Grab, Man Baskets (with and without winch), Big Bag Handler, Concrete Skip BBH 500, Bale Clamp CB 4-1, Brick Block Grabber, Tyre Handlers, Cylinder Handlers, Cable Reel Handlers, etc, which deliver versatility during applications in Construction, Agriculture, and Industrial projects.

The all-new Manitou Backhoe (MBL) now has a new facelift with more safety and operator comfort features. The MBL series are fitted with BS IV engines, and are available in both Straight Boom and Curved Banana Boom variants and in different models. Our new Skid Steer Loader 1340R is a 49hp machine with a Yanmar engine, and an operating capacity of 612 kg. Attachments include Sweeper Collector, Grapple Bucket, Pallet Fork, Auger, and Rock Breaker.

Hafeez Khan, Managing Director

How is Manitou gearing up for higher equipment demand in FY 2023-24 in view of the ongoing and upcoming big ticket infra projects?
India is at the cusp of a growth cycle and on track to become the fourth largest economy in the world with an ambition to reach $5 trillion in a few years. India is also considered to be the third largest construction market in the world. Equipment sales will continue to grow alongside this strong economic growth outlook. However, there are some challenges due to the change in engine norms from BSIII to BSIV in 2021 and another change from BSIV to BSV is likely to happen in 2024. These two big changes happening within a short span of time will impact product developments, their market positioning and sales, as customers will take time to accept machines with the new emission norms and their resultant price hike.

Having said this, there is, at the same time, a strong commitment to fast track implementation / completion of major infra projects, which is the main motivation for equipment manufacturers to launch new products and give more options to customers.

We are confident that Manitou’s wide industrial footprint in India can meet the anticipated increase in equipment demand in FY23-24. Our focus has always been on providing versatile material handling solutions that give operational efficiency and low TCO. We will continue to strengthen our value-based services and build strategic partnerships with our customers.

What progress is India’s CE industry making in developing autonomous machines, smart equipment with electrification and digitalization, ensuring zero emissions, and reducing energy consumption through alternative fuels like hydrogen? What are Manitou’s initiatives towards this end?
Use of alternative fuels and electrification of vehicles is still at a very nascent stage, especially in the Construction Equipment industry of India, but at the global level, there is an observation that the next big thing will be Electric for mobility and productivity of construction equipment. This is why Manitou has already started launching fully electric Telehandlers and Access Equipment in Europe and in some other parts of the world.

The shift to electric is also expected to be seen in India, for which (apart from the change in mindset) we will require the infrastructure for installing charging points, etc. Plus, we will have to consider the cost implications, and the industry will have to adapt to Government policies and frameworks. All this will happen in due course of time before electric comes to be viewed as a reliable source of energy.

As regards CNG and Hydrogen, even though their demand is emerging, it is limited to a few pockets where there is abundance of gas available. Their suitability for India’s jobsite conditions will also have to be observed. The impact on the productivity of the machines using alternate fuels, their design, and engineering will have to be tested rigorously; site challenges are very dynamic and the machines’ responsiveness will hold the key to their productivity.

Manitou Group’s R&D team is working relentlessly to give form to fuel alternatives. Its CSR goal is to contribute to the global efforts in containing global warming. In fact, its target to reduce direct and indirect carbon emissions and its low carbon initiatives have been validated by an independent body led by four international organizations.

Hafeez Khan, Managing Director

Machine performance versus cost: can OEMs strike a balance between the two to attract buyers?
Due to the dearth of skilled workers in the CE Industry and the increasing cost of hiring skilled manpower, is making mechanization inevitable. The OEMs are undertaking extensive R&D to develop new products/technologies to support the industry, which is seeking greater operational efficiencies and safety in projects.

There is also a growing focus of the customers on OPEX (operational expense) over the acquisition cost of equipment. The major factors for lowering OPEX are safer equipment, following safety norms during operations, delivering versatility with maximum machine utilization across applications, low dependency on labour, high machine uptime, and low operational / maintenance costs.

Manitou machines, with their safe, reliable, and versatile attachments, offer higher productivity. Versatility leads to one machine multiple applications and higher machine utilization.

Manitou connected machines technology vide Manitou Easy Manager (a standard fitment in all machines), and the back-end monitoring and tracking machine health, provide the all-important aftermarket value to customers. Connected machines enable fleet planning and remote access to live machine usage and critical information like Total Running Hours, Fuel Consumption, Working Functions, Maintenance Alerts etc.

Our customers are further supported by our dealers and Manitou SSPs (Sale & Service Points), which are fully owned and operated by Manitou. The SSPs are also training hubs for operators and maintenance teams.

Rental companies are feeling the heat with some OEMs entering the rental business; how do you look at this concern of the rental companies who are your major buyers or clients?
OEMs strategies are never detrimental to its partners or clients. The country, with its mission to become a ‘Self-reliant India’, is on a path towards achieving economic supremacy. The Construction and Infra Sector is seeing humongous investments in projects, and the resultant high demand for equipment – both through direct purchase and through rental. With the increase in business opportunities, there are also gaps in adequate representation of OEM’s products and solutions. The entry of an OEM into the direct rental business is to address the project site requirements, which are (possibly) not being catered to by a rental company.

Manitou Group is partnering with rental companies in India and is committed to work closely with them. Our goal is to collaborate with our rental partners in presenting to customers our broad range of products and solutions that include Rotating Telehandlers, Low / Middle / High Lift Telehandlers, Agricultural Telehandlers, Heavy Telehandlers, Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) etc, and thereby open more windows of opportunity through deployment of our machines at project sites.
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