Volvo launches highly productive two excavator variants for Indian market

Volvo New Training Initiatives

Muralidharan
"Volvo Construction equipment and CSIR-CRRI are partnering together to train workers in road construction technology. Within the next five years we plan to train almost 2 million machine operators and engineers in order to improve the standard of machine operators in India," says Mr. Muralidharan, President, Volvo CE, in an interview with S.A. Faridi and S.K. Khanna.

Recently, Volvo has joined hand with CSIR-Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) to promote global standards in Road Construction Technology and to train machine operators and engineers in India. Would you please elaborate on it?
Volvo Construction Equipment has joined hands with CSIR-CRRI to train machine operators and engineers in global standard of road construction equipment handling as well as to act as advisors to various industry bodies like IRC, NHAI, BIS, and NRRDA on the need for proper benchmarking in machine technology and overall operational and cost efficiency in machine usage.

Volvo CE & CSIR-CRRI will act as consultants to these industry bodies providing them with detailed specifications and performance benchmarks in construction machinery trends to increase efficiency and effectiveness of field engineers during the work.

This initiative will address the criticality of right technology and right equipment in executing road projects meeting standards and the need for skilled personnel in road development in India. The road machinery sector is set to witness erratic but assured growth of 46% in next 4 years with anticipated spent of $90 billion under 12th Five Year Plan. Also India to see mega cities/corridor projects by 2021. These ambitious projects set the need to adopt and standardize improved construction method also setting challenges to train 2 million operators in 5 years' time.

Why didn't you approach the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)?
We have also been talking to NSDL, not as Volvo but on behalf of iCEMA at the industry level. As a technology leader, we want to contribute in whatever way we can in the development of the industry.

Volvo imports many critical components from its mother plants. It might be turning out to be an expensive proposition against the weakening Rupee. What is your focus on localization?
It's both ways. Honestly speaking, when the fluctuations are too quick, you won't be able to change the localization plans that quickly. But in our country, things are that flexible and it takes time for everything to materialize. But yes, given the increasing dollar rate, we won't be able to hold on to our localization plans for long. In fact, we are increasing the speed of localization.

The ongoing recession has made many CE manufacturers apprehensive. How has Volvo perceived this slowdown as a good opportunity to reinvent itself?
Be it India or abroad, the CE industry follows a particular cycle. In fact, many companies have left this industry because of this cyclic nature. In India, we are right now at the bottom of this cycle, but still the picture is not as bleak as it's portrayed. The industry is operating at 70 – 80% of its potential contrary to the perceived 10 – 20%. In fact, what's hurting the industry at the moment is the unabated capacity expansion which is based on a long-term look. However, it's making the market very competitive. Same is the perception at Volvo. Nevertheless, we are very positive and confident that the Indian market will once again bounce back and surge to new heights. We say this with utmost surety because roads are the lifeline of a nation and road construction will continue in leaps and bounds in India.

In the last few months, a lot of projects have been cleared by the Centre. What is your view on the Mining Sector and what does it hold for CE and allied sectors?
In fact, I'm very optimistic when it comes to mining. Coal, which is one of the major verticals of the Mining Segment, has maintained a steady pace and there has been a healthy increase in business activity especially in overburden removal. A lot of contractors are reaping benefits of this sector. Volvo's machines are being used at quite a large level. Moving on to other minerals, all are in a good state except iron ore. But it won't be long before iron ore also starts witnessing a brisk pace of activity.

Vovo Excavators

In your opinion, how promising is the Indian market, and how are you planning to materialize your growth plans here?
We believe that India is indeed a very lucrative market. Right now, the economy is going through a lean patch, but the future holds a lot of bright prospects. Though the market has been slow over the last two years, we still need to have infrastructure in this country. We need to have more infrastructure in big cities, and also there's a growing need to develop small cities as well. What we have done is that we have launched the D Series of excavators and have also upgraded our existing products. So we have a complete portfolio and we keep on expanding thereby becoming a complete solutions provider.

We are proud to say that the D Series of excavators have had a dream run, obviously for us as manufacturers, but more so for the customers thereby maximizing efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Back in 2011, we launched 360D and 460D series of excavators, and today these machines have completely revolutionized the Indian market. In the mining segment, we have delivered world-class products which are highly efficient and have a productivity level which is 20% higher than the other machines available in the market.

In continuation to our commitment to India, we have launched two models in Excon 2013 which are 220D and 300D. These machines too score high on efficiency and productivity, and are ideal in mining and quarrying. We are highly focused on fuel efficiency and plan to increase it by 5 percent more than what we are already offering in India. The new machines are much easy to operate and handle, are more productive, and equipped with better features and hydraulics. In fact, we have also upgraded the existing excavators with respect to fuel efficiency and productivity. When it comes to our wheel loaders, we have been able to sell to the marble and granite segment.

How are you strengthening the connectivity with customers?
Well, apart from the product up-gradation and expansion, we also continue to add the customer experience in our products. Apart from ensuring easy availability of spare parts and after-sales service, we also have a rental business through our dealers, and have signed an agreement with SREI under which the company will finance all our machines for two years. We also work with the other leading financiers in the country.
NBM&CW January 2014
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