Saturday, September 23, 2017

Interaction- Amit Bansal, Director Sales & Marketing- Building Construction Products India Region, Caterpillar India

Machine of Choice

 

Global major Caterpillar is among the few OEMs practicing ‘Make in India sell Globally.’ In an exclusive interview  AMIT BANSAL, DIRECTOR SALES & MARKETING - BUILDING CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS INDIA REGION, CATERPILLAR INDIA PVT LTD., talks to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES about the shift to TCO in the Indian market and their unique operating levers in “X” and “+.”

 

Your assessment of the backhoe loader market in India, what are the cost/quality equations, sector challenges, and growth prospects.

In India, backhoe loader is the first machine to enter any construction activity and is the last machine to leave. The versatility of the machine makes it more suited towards multiple applications across India. A backhoe loader can be used for various tasks; from general construction to landscaping, breaking asphalt, and paving roads. The backhoe loaders versatility, coupled with its affordability and ease of financing for small contractors has made it the ‘machine of choice’ in India. Cat® backhoe loaders provide superior digging, trenching, back-filling and material handling capability. In specific, Cat backhoe loaders are known to exceed in some of the toughest applications across India, ranging from laterite mining, tree/stumps removal, river bed mining, and other related industries. Customers in India definitely expect an acceptable cost solutions but not at the expense of quality. Cat quality is one of the main reasons which makes customers buy Cat products time and again. The backhoe loader industry shrank continuously from 2012 to 2015. In 2016 however, there was a turnaround and the industry witnessed a growth of about 40 per cent over previous year. It is estimated that the BHL industry reached an approximate level of 30,000 units in 2016. This growth is expected to continue for few more years though it will be not feasible to maintain the same growth rate.

 

Are you looking to launch any new variants to you existing product portfolio?

We continue to invest and improve on our 424B to better serve our customers in India which continues to be the largest backhoe market in the world. We always try to understand customer business economics and design and manufacture products around that to make our customers successful in their business. New product introduction and product improvements are a way of life in Caterpillar aimed at meeting customer’s changing expectations and demands. Based on customer inputs and market dynamics we assess the requirements for new products and introduce them at an opportune time.

 

 

What are the USP’s of your products vis-à-vis competition.

Cat backhoe loader is engineered with some of the best in class features like load sensing and close centered hydraulics, which has got much better hydraulic efficiency, thereby ensuring minimal wastage and better fuel efficiency at optimal performance. In addition to that the components are designed keeping in mind the machine duty cycle so as to deliver better product life that exceeds customer’s expectations.

 

 

Detail us on Safety features and operator comfort in your machines.

Cat 424B has boom lock, swing lock, and the loader arm braces designed in a way that installing it to lock the cylinders is very safe wherein operator does not have to lift the braces to install. Just the lock pin needs to be removed, brought down and locked again.

In addition to that, all the serviceable points are located in one side of the machine for easy machine serviceability audit and no serviceable point is near exhaust which ensures operator is safe thorough the machine operation and maintenance.

Cat backhoe loader comes with spacious cabin which gives more comfort to operators and all the clusters are within easy reach inside the cabin. Cat backhoe loader is the only backhoe in the Indian industry to offer backhoe operating levers in “X” and “+” operating style.

 

 

What are the trends driving purchase or hire of backhoe loaders market in India. To what extent is consumer behavior influenced by cost.

The purchase or hire of backhoe loaders is primarily driven by construction activities in the country. As one can see the current government is highly focused on infrastructure development, current projects are being expedited, and many new projects are being launched. Projects which were stuck for several reasons are being cleared speedily. In particular road segment is driving a sizable growth in backhoe loader market and other initiatives like Clean India are aiding it.

When customers get work, normally cost does not matter much, as most of the times these machines are financed.

 

 

Tell us about indigenisation efforts undertaken by the company to meet market requirements. What is the company’s approach to implementing the ‘Make in India’ drive?

We are the global leader in construction equipment and mining products and have developed world class R&D and product development center and factory operations here in India. Though Caterpillar has been serving Indian backhoe loader market since 2003, in April 2012, we inaugurated a new backhoe loader manufacturing facility in Thiruvallur near Chennai. This facility not only strengthens the company’s growing presence in India but also augments the distribution channel for this popular earth-moving machine by bringing in enhanced local production capabilities. We are now actively leveraging our capability in India to support our global business. For example we are manufacturing 426F2 in India which is a global product for exports world over.

 

 

Range of backhoe loaders offered by your company, in terms of types, capacities, and applications. Do you offer equipment finance to prospective buyers.

The 424B is designed to meet local customer requirements and last beyond customer’s expectations. We always try to understand customer business economics and design and manufacture products around that to make our customers successful in their business. As an example we have 424B for fuel efficiency conscious customers and 424B High Flow for performance oriented customers. 424B is more suited for general purpose applications and 424B High Flow finds favour for captive usage and high productivity applications.

Financing plays a key role in purchasing decision for BHL. Cat Finance has partnered with India’s leading financial institute Tata Capital to provide financing solutions to our customers.

Through this alliance we offer bundled solutions to our customers to help them buy a Cat machine on easy payment terms, at competitive interest and with complete peace of mind.

 

 

How do you expect the market to shape up for the backhoe loaders through 2017.

The 2017-18 union budget saw continued focus on the infrastructure sector which is evident in the total outlay of Rs. 3,96,135 crores that has increased by 10 per cent over the FY17 revised estimate. Based on the above allocations, better days ahead could be expected for road construction, railways, housing, and other infra sectors. India has been constructing highways at a rate of 27-28 km per day, with the aim of increasing the construction rate to 41 km per day within this year and further higher rates in the coming times. Some of the other factors that would help in the growth of backhoe loader market are speedy clearance of the projects, Clean India drive, skill development initiatives, upcoming GST roll out, etc.

 

 

Future outlook for the industry and from a company perspective

The outlook is definitely positive for the industry. We are a fast developing large economy and as the country moves towards urbanisation there is going to be tremendous demand for infrastructure, housing, power, sanitation etc, and the construction machinery will play a pivotal role in satisfying the developmental needs.




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