Excavators to march ahead on infrastructure demand
With the re-elected NDA government reiterating its commitment to infrastructure development in the country, construction equipment makers are gearing up for a good year
With the re-elected NDA government reiterating its commitment to infrastructure development in the country, construction equipment makers are gearing up for a good year. Within construction equipment segment, hydraulic excavators, which are the most widely used earthmoving equipment in heavy duty operation, are expected to experience much faster growth than other sub-segments.
Excavator market is one of the largest growing construction equipment segments in India.
According to an Off-Highway Research report, sales of crawler excavators in India is expected to reach 34,000 units by 2021, from 20,062 units in 2017, indicating a growth of 69 per cent in the 2017-21 period. There is no surprise on this growth considering the ongoing infrastructure developments and the revival in mining. Hydraulic excavators are the most widely used earthmoving equipment in heavy duty operation.
As an equipment with the widest applications across the infrastructure development value chain, it is imperative for hydraulic excavator perform with maximum efficiency and be productive. Which are the factors that support productivity of excavators? What are the new technologies and operational practices that excavator OEMs are offering? Sandeep Singh, Managing Director, Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery Co explains, “As with any asset, what is important is using the machine the right way, thereby improving the return on investment (RoI) for its owner. The machine must be engaged in productive operations – to ensure that the machine runs for a shorter time, but is more productive. And this is where ConSite (available in our ZAXIS GI series) and Insite (available in our EX Super+ series) comes in. Using technology to help identify wasteful machine usage/idling hours and advising on how the machines can be used to be more productive and efficient.”
According to Dheeraj Kumar Panda, Director – Sales, Marketing and Customer Support, Sany Heavy Industry India, there are three major reasons why optimum utilisation of hydraulic excavator is important. They are: Timely completion of critical infrastructure projects; best possible return on investment and its direct linkage on profitability; and reduction in carbon footprint of the machine.
From general construction work to specialised applications that require precise control and power, excavators have been a key equipment. Anup Nair, Vice President and Business Unit Head, Hyundai Construction Equipment India, highlights, “At Hyundai, we understand that the expectations from excavators in terms of productivity as well as efficiency are always increasing. These expectations are due to the completion pressures on the projects without any cost overruns. This means that the equipment has to work for extended hours while maintaining the operational efficiencies and reliability.”
Being the widely used and primary equipment at construction and mining sites, hydraulic excavator’s availability, its optimum utilisation and reliability are key factors for successful completion of any project on time. With a wide range of jobs being undertaken by the excavator, it is essential that the machine capability is understood, operator is trained and the machine utilisation is optimised based on site condition and working environment. Vivek Hajela, General Manager & Head – Construction & Mining Machinery Business, Larsen & Toubro elaborates, “Komatsu excavators are equipped with load sensing flow on demand hydraulics, strong and rugged structures and Komtrax health monitoring system. These enable clear mapping of load, operating mode, operator efficiency with productivity to optimise machine utilisation.”
Factors impacting efficiency and productivity
When any machine put into work, the top priority will be how efficient and productive is the machine, that decides the operational economy and return on investment to the owner. According to Singh, the factors influencing efficiency and productivity are the machine speed and forces which are governed by the hydraulic technology used.
Panda highlights machine design and machine operation as the two major factors that impact the efficiency and productivity of the excavator. In design, synchronisation of engine and hydraulic systems is important: better the synchronisation, more efficient the machine is. As far as operation is concerned, the efficiency and productivity of hydraulic excavators is largely affected with skill set of operator, application and geographical conditions, maintenance practices of the customers etc.
According to Nair, the quality of the components and aggregates, maintenance as well as the proper use of the machines on the worksites is the key factors affecting excavators’ efficiency and productivity.Hajela says, “Technology, product quality, reliability and aftersales support apart from worksite conditions and operator skills have significant impact on efficiency and productivity of hydraulic excavators.”
Role of technology
Technology leads to productivity and efficiency of a machine in different ways of saving fuel, preventing from over-working, prolonged life of components etc. Singh explains, “We use regenerative hydraulics that reutilises the returning pressurised flow through a regenerative circuit and channelises this to areas with high demand of oil. This helps to deliver greater flow to circuits that are performance-intensive without spending more power. This improves the productivity of the machines without incurring additional fuel expenses.”
Technologies to monitor and control the machine operations also add to the productivity of the machine as Singh adds, “We have ConSite in our ZAXISGI series of machines and Insite in our EX Super+ series of hydraulic excavators. These give recommendations and help
identify the areas for improvement in production by pointing out wastages in operations and in power utilisation. This helps in improving productivity and reducing fuel consumption.”
According to Panda, use of Information Technology tools like GPS and remote machine monitoring systems, and use of AI and IOT in modern excavators with cameras and sensors placed at components to get real-time actionable data help achieve better productivity in an excavator. New generation of hydraulic systems are driving optimum utilisation of pressure settings and hydraulic oil flow, which ultimately leads to significant improvement in productivity of excavators.
Hyundai excavators use a combination of features that make them productive as well as efficient and reliable. Nair explains, “Our arm regeneration system helps to re-circulate hydraulic energy providing smooth operation of arm preventing cavitation and increasing performance of machine. The one-touch deceleration switch on the joystick lowers the engine RPM. Engine speed is recovered to its pre-selected RPM when it is selected again. This system saves fuel by regulating the pump and engine.
The highly acclaimed Computer-Aided Power Optimisation (CAPO) system that utilises the engine and hydraulic horsepower in unison, allows the operator to set their own preferences for boom and swing priority and power mode to suit the requirement of the job. This ensures that the machine is working at optimum efficiency.”
Komatsu excavators are equipped with the advanced ecot3 (ecology and economy – technology 3). With in-house developed components and total control system, these excavators provide versatility, superior productivity and economical performance, according to Hajela. He adds, “The latest version Komtrax (Level-3) provides a revolutionary new way to monitor Komatsu equipment, anytime, anywhere. Komtrax not only helps optimal control of machine, but also monitors machine health and performance, and provides economical operation guidance to the operators. Starting with basic data like machine location and operating hours, it provides vital information on profitable working of machine, machine safety, machine health, tracks and alerts maintenance on time, machine usage, load condition, eco-guidance and summarised information of all the parameters in one log-in anytime and anywhere.”
Market growth trend
With respect to the wide scope of utilisation in general construction and special applications, hydraulic excavators will find more demand in the market in the coming years. Panda elaborates on the trend, “The hydraulic excavator market is continuously growing with sales reaching its peak in the last decade to about 25,000 units in 2018. This market is continuously growing due to government’s emphasis on infrastructure projects and is expected to reach to about 35,000 units by 2022.”
According to Samir Bansal, General Manager – India, Off-Highway Research, demand for hydraulic excavators in India is overwhelmingly dominated by crawler excavators (machines over 6 MT operating weight) while wheeled machines have negligible demand. He adds, “Crawler excavator is the second most popular construction equipment (after backhoe loader) in the country and constituted 25 per cent of the demand in 2018. Nearly 25,500 crawler excavators were sold in the country, while there was no demand for wheeled excavators in 2018.”
Hajela explains, “With intensified activity in the last four years in roads, general construction, aggregate quarrying and irrigation segments, the demand for 7T to 45T class hydraulic excavators in India has witnessed 26 per cent growth (y-o-y) while the demand for 20T excavator has grown by a CAGR of 33 per cent. Over the next two years (2019 and 2020), we expect the demand for 20T excavators to sustain a growth rate of around 25 per cent across the user segments.”
According to Bansal, crawler excavators are used in a wide range of applications for all types of projects. “Roads, urban and rural infrastructure development, and sand and stone quarries were the major demand drivers in 2018,” he observes. He further adds, “Rental market has always been a growth driver for crawler excavators and would flourish with the increase in construction activity. Further, implementation of GST has made India a single market with unified tax structure that allows free movement of machines throughout the country and therefore supports rental business, especially organised rental due to input tax credit.”
According to Panda, the increased focus by the Central Government on infrastructure development will drive the growth of hydraulic excavators. He adds, “It is expected that all large contactors will start demanding GST paid invoices to take advantages of tax input credit, which might force smaller contractors and plant hirers to register their businesses, which will help the excavator market grow in the medium to long term. The shortage of manual labour is another significant factor which will contribute to the growth of excavators in the long term.”
Gearing up for future
The long-term future looks positive for hydraulic excavators. Bansal highlights, “Off-Highway Research is bullish about the long-term future sales of excavators, but its market may decline 10 per cent in 2019 to 23,000 units mainly due to elections. However, demand is predicted to grow by 9-17 per cent, thereafter with sales peaking at 37,000 units by 2023.” Panda elaborates on the future plans of the company,
“Sany India has been the fastest growing excavator manufacturer in the last few years and we intend to continue setting up new benchmarks. We are bringing the whole range of excavators from 2T to 100T to cater to all application segments. Coupled with our pan-India service network, we are poised to reach the apex within the next few years. As a part of our digitisation strategy, we are coming up with remote machine monitoring system accessible through easy-to-use EVI app. We are also planning to come up with customised excavators to meet special application requirements by the customer.”
Nair points out Hyundai’s plans, “This year, Hyundai India will scale up its operations to meet the increased demand from the market. This would include various capital investments in terms of technologies and machinery. On the human resources front too, the company plans to add new as well as skill the existing manpower to ensure that the scaling up of operations is a seamless transition.”
With the new government taking charge at the Centre and indicating its plans to continue its infrastructure development efforts for the country, it is time for construction equipment market to gear up and realign for the emerging demand in future. Hydraulic excavators being the important equipment in infrastructure creation will have to play a major role with productive and efficient machines and operational practices in the coming days.
Article Courtesy: Equipment India
Demand for hydraulic excavators in India is overwhelmingly dominated by crawler excavators (machines over 6 MT operating weight) while wheeled machines have negligible demand.
Samir Bansal, GM – India, Off-Highway Research
The factors influencing efficiency and productivity are the machine speed and forces which are governed by the hydraulic technology used.
Sandeep Singh, MD, Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery Co
Over the next two years (2019 and 2020), we expect the demand for 20T excavators to sustain a growth rate of around 25 per cent across the user segments.
Vivek Hajela, GM & Head – Construction & Mining Machinery Business, L&T