The ninth edition of the largest construction equipment and construction technology exhibition in South Asia, EXCON recently concluded in Bangalore. This edition of EXCON focussed on the theme of ‘Smart Technologies: Fuelling the Next Generation Infra.’ We take stock of the developments in this sector, and highlight some of the prime introductions.
Infrastructure development continues to be the key growth driver in the Indian economy. The common sentiment among participants was that while the country is making strong progress in infrastructure development, there is still much to be done. In line with these expectations of progress, a few companies also announced their investments plans aimed at being ready for future growth.
Ajax Fiori announced expansion of its operations at its plants in Doddaballapur and Gowribidanur, near Bangalore with an investment outlay of Rs 100 crore. The expansion will include a new manufacturing facility at Doddaballapur, along with expansion of its existing manufacturing facility at Gowribidanur. The new facility will be dedicated for the manufacture of self-loading concrete mixers, and will house the Ajax Fiori School of Concrete that will focus on training of operators, technicians, supervisors and engineers on concreting techniques.
Additionally, LiuGong, which completes 15 years of business in India, announced that an investment of $ 5 mn (about Rs 32 crore) is being made to enhance the company’s installed production capacity. The company has its manufacturing facility, supported by its R&D and training centre, at Pithampur. The company manufactures machines for road construction, mining, hydropower sectors and pipe handling works.
JCB launched the world’s first backhoe loader with an automated manual transmission (AMT), as well as its largest tracked excavator made in India, with a capacity of 38 tonne. The company also said it is now leveraging digital platforms by integrating Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and mobile applications in its products and services. JCB said it has updated its other machines to combine technology and digital innovation, so as to meet the demands necessary to build India’s next-gen infrastructure.
The JCB backhoe loader is the first to feature an AMT called Easy Shift, and allows gear shifting through a rotating knob below the steering wheel, thus replacing the gear lever. This facilitates ease of operation, leading to a rested operator and also better productivity. The backhoe loader also comes with four other world-first features such as an SOS switch, Economy and Power modes, guide-me-home lights and smart app machine diagnostics.
The new 38T tracked excavator was launched in two variants –JCB 380LC Xtra and JCB 380LC Quarry Master. The JCB 380LC QM offers 16 % higher lifting capacity owing to a combination of high hydraulic power and high operating weight and provides 6 % more output, while handling blocks. It comes with the JCB Dieselmax engine that returns a 3 % increase in fuel efficiency. The JCB 380LC Xtra excavator can be operated with a wide range of heavy duty buckets, and be used as per different applications and strata to maximise output from 1.4-2.3 m3.
Another highlight at the event was the launch of what is claimed to be the country’s safest pick-n-carry crane, CT Smart 15, along with the 3212 12 T soil compactor by Escorts Construction Equipment. The company said it is targeting double-digit turnover by 2021 with exports based on indigenous R&D. The current domestic infrastructure surge is also expected to see them take the market leadership position. It also said it has identified corporate customers as the new growth driver for construction equipment.
At the expo, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd expanded its backhoe loader range with the introduction of the EarthMaster SX90 higher horse power variant, which is claimed to feature best-in-class hydraulic forces. The Mahindra EarthMaster SX90 is powered by a 90 hp 4915-IA-CEV engine developed by the company, and has a one-piece structure, extended banana boom and longer loader arm. It is also equipped with a spacious cabin for easy access and an ergonomically-designed cluster for better accessibility
The Mahindra EarthMaster range, including the SX90 is also equipped with the company’s innovative DigiSense telematics technology. Apart from SX90, other EarthMaster models displayed included standard VX variant with joystick operation, SXL front-end loader with extended arm, and new concept DrillX, which is a unique solution for piling application.
Construction, heavy machinery and renewable equipment manufacturer SANY launched six products in the heavy equipment and excavator segments at EXCON 2017. New launches included four heavy equipment pilling rigs, one each of rough terrain crane and truck crane, concrete pumps, a compactor and excavators. The company said the event provides it with a good chance to highlight its might as an end-to-end provider of construction equipment in hoisting, mining, earth moving, port and concrete solutions. SANY India is said to be taking a step further to play a larger role in expanding the Indian manufacturing and construction sector, and improve offerings along with demands.
Meanwhile, Volvo Construction Equipment announced the celebration of its 20th anniversary in India, and globally debuted its EC200D excavator that has been specifically-designed for general construction work. It has a rating of 20 T, and is powered by a 165-hp, D5E engine from Volvo Penta. The excavator has a bucket breakout force of 123 kN and an arm tearout force of 96 kN, which help it deliver high job site productivity and fast cycle times, the company noted. The other machine showcased was the EC210D, which is also a 20 T rated machine that has been tailored for more heavy-duty applications like mining and quarry work.
Greaves Cotton Ltd launched new construction equipment at EXCON 2017 in association with Japan’s Mikasa and Italy’s Roxar. Through its partnership with Roxar, Greaves Cotton has brought to India 4-70 T rock breakers, with features including short tie rods, underwater applications, nitrogen cushion chamber, auto grease systems and blank fire protection. The company has also introduced tamping rammer, reversible compactor, vibration controller, plate compactor, concrete cutter range and concrete vibrator from Mikasa.
Tata Hitachi, which is a joint-venture between Tata Motors Ltd and Hitachi Construction Machinery Company Ltd, unveiled its all-new backhoe loader, the Tata Hitachi Shinrai. This backhoe loader has been designed to offer Industry-leading reach, dig force, new front end loader geometry and a design built for attachments, the company noted.
Global heavy machinery equipment maker Caterpillar expanded its product portfolio with the introduction of a range of products that included backhoe loaders, wheel loaders and excavators at EXCON 2017. These new products, along with existing products are said to be well-positioned to meet the demands of the Indian market, overcoming challenges pertaining to unfriendly topography, weather conditions, tough terrain and high altitude.
Another global construction equipment manufacturer LiuGong, which is claimed to be the largest manufacturer of wheel loaders, launched a new excavator and compactor. LiuGong’s new 921D I excavator is powered by a Cummins 6BT 5.9 engine that is made in India, featuring negative flow hydraulics for increased fuel efficiency, as well as an advanced auto idling system. Meanwhile, the 611 compactor features an environmentally-friendly Kirloskar engine with low noise levels, with skid high back seat for more comfort, three-grade absorption rubber for reduced vibration and ergonomically-placed controls for the operator.
Schwing Stetter India, a prominent concrete equipment manufacturer announced their product portfolio realignment in line with the growing Government infrastructural requirements, and launched a number of products at EXCON. The company introduced products across concreting, non-concreting, industrial and environmental technology solutions, in order to be able to participate across all Government projects that will be announced. The new launches included concrete pumps, concrete paver, batching plant, plastering pump, tower and crawler cranes, milling machine, motor grader, rotary drilling rig, aerial work platform and horizontal directional drill.
Shandong Lingong Construction Machinery Co Ltd, one of China’s leading manufacturers of construction equipment, which produces under the SDLG brand, unveiled new compact wheel loaders at EXCON 2017. SDLG launched the L936 and LG946L wheel loaders, in line with expectations of high demand for smaller-capacity wheel loaders continuing in India. The 3 T L936L has a maximum bucket capacity of 1.8 m3, and maximum dumping distance of 1.2 m. The LG946L wheel loader has a 4 T rating with maximum bucket capacity of 2.5 m3 and maximum dumping distance of 1 m.
An important step in the road towards skill development was taken at EXCON 2017, with signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Crane Owner Association of India (COAOI) and Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC). This MoU will see COAOI being responsible for providing labour to the companies that are a part of IESC. Post training, IESC will provide certificates approved by the Government of India to the employees that have been trained at various companies.
Eicher Trucks & Buses, part of Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV) showcased its service support solutions in the areas of mining and construction, with the announcement of new initiatives for on-road service and on-site support. The company introduced its ‘Think100% Uptime’ offering for the construction segment that is based on the philosophy of offering reduced downtimes, and thereby maximising profitability. It also launched the new EOS app that would help customers log in emergency calls from their smart phone and also track the response of the GPS enabled EOS vans.
The company said that the commercial vehicle industry has picked up speed, and revolutionary reforms like Smart Cities mission and Make in India are pushing demand for heavy duty trucks and tippers. It also noted that intelligent systems with high levels of safety are the focus ahead, with Eicher Trucks and Buses also carrying out development of electrified powertrains.
Similarly, global automotive components supplier ZF showcased construction machinery systems, chassis components, latest mixer drive technology and electric drives for off-highway applications at the expo. ZF’s product range had a high level of localisation. The company showcased its power-shift driveline technology for construction machinery, which reduced emissions significantly and fulfils the new TIER 4 emission norms. It also showed intelligent mechanical systems and how the company is able to enhance existing mechanical drivelines with electrified components, as well as assistance or safety functions like GPS, radar, sensor and camera systems.
EXCON 2017 saw conferences taking place on the topics of smart technologies for smart equipment; scalable and sustainable infrastructure building in an era of disruptive technology, as well as on green construction trends and technologies. An infrastructure summit was organised by CII at the trade fair. This summit focused on three aspects – ‘reinventing the public private partnership wheel,’ ‘enhancing infrastructure financing’ and ‘the future of smart urban infrastructure.’
Organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with the support of the Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association (ICEMA) as Sector Partner for the event, EXCON 2017 saw the participation of over 900 companies, and the presence of 12 country pavilions. The five-day trade fair was attended by over 40,000 business visitors.
Participants at EXCON 2017 were very positive about the state of infrastructure projects in the country currently, and believe next-generation technologies would be the answer to cater to these needs. OEMs and component suppliers alike also expect the construction equipment industry to grow further for the rest of this financial year, with most hurdles already having been passed. EXCON 2017 was in all essence an event offering technological advancements for future infrastructure growth.
TEXT: Naveen Arul