Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Interaction -Hemant Mathur, AVP Sales And Marketing, Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery

We have been in the Indian market for over 5 decades and have an in-depth experience of providing machines for almost all applications of the country.




The design philosophy at Tata Hitachi centres around the needs of the customer. Through innovative techniques, the company has always developed solutions that cater to the needs of Indian customers, working under tough conditions in a competitive market. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, HEMANT MATHUR, AVP SALES AND MARKETING, TATA HITACHI CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY, speaks about the mining equipment industry, his company’s offerings, after market services and a lot more.





Give a brief overview of the mining equipment industry and the sector challenges.


Mining as a sector, especially coal, iron ore and limestone among others, has been doing reasonably well during this pandemic. Some mining operations, especially those catering to the power sector, have been deemed as essential services. Therefore, the demand for mining equipment, barring a few months, has remained at stable levels. Coal mining contributes to over 75% of the mining equipment requirement. There have been periods of financial liquidity crunch, but overall, the industry has sustained itself.



What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your business and what are your strategies to overcome these sluggish market conditions and expand market share.


During the Covid19 pandemic the demand for mining excavators registered a small growth over FY19-20. We saw that government buying, which is primarily driven by Coal India, also went up. We received significant orders from several Coal India subsidiaries like Western Coalfields Ltd, BCCL and Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. This led to our being able to retain our market share in these segments.



Tell us of your various product offerings, applications and their demand in the Indian market. Any new products launched or enhancements to the existing product line, detail us on the same.


Our portfolio includes a broad range of mining excavators, some of which are made in our factories in India . Our mining range of excavators covers 2.5 CuM to 6.5 CuM bucket capacity. These are manufactured in India under the “Make in India” initiative of the Indian Government. Given our joint venture with Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCM), we also offer Hitachi Construction Machinery manufactured mining machinery. This range starts at 10 CuM bucket capacity and goes up to 45 cum with options for both diesel- and electric-powered systems. We also offer dumpers from Hitachi with the advanced AC drive systems. These are in 190-Tonne, 240-Tonne and 300-Tonne capacities. We are seeing the demand of such advanced mining equipment going up. The latest addition to our mining portfolio is the our range mining wheel loaders for the Indian market, starting at 7-Tonne capacity. Our initial orders are under execution.



Detail us about the cutting edge technology used in your machines. What are the USP’s of your productsVis-à-vis competition.


We have been at the vanguard of developing latest technologies, ascertaining customer needs, and working on incorporating the same in our equipment. Our latest machines come equipped with technology like telematics, IoT, AI and ML, that provide customers with a snapshot of the performance of their machines in their computers or smart phones. There by ensuring better, granular-level information for the customers, regarding aspects like machine health, its utilization and efficiency etc. This ensures an advantage to customers through better machine utilization, uptime and lower operating costs.



Factors such as safety, operator comfort, ease of operations are crucial in mining equipment. What are the steps undertaken by you for providing the same.


We have accorded special focus to areas like operator safety and comfort in designing our machines, not only for mining, but for other applications as well. Some of our standard offerings include inbuilt safety features Falling Object Protective Structure (FOPS) cabins, anti-slip pads, environment friendly engine, rear view cameras, safety belts, fire suppression systems, centralized lubrication system and handrails. Further, Cabin designs have undergone considerable change over time, with increased focus on safety and ergonomics from the operator point of view. With the advent of digitization and increased use of sensors on our hydraulic excavators, data collection, storage and wired/wireless transfer happen through systems embedded in the cabin and its environs.


Also, the Directorate General of Mines Safety DGMS has its standards and norms for mining safety of equipment. Our machines are compliant with these statutory norms. Extensive study and development work is happening in this field as we prepare for improved human machine interfaces that can capture inputs as well as display outputs to the operator that can be seamlessly transmitted, stored and retrieved remotely for monitoring and analysis.



To what extent are aftermarket services a strategic differentiator.


After market service is a key differentiator as far as mining machines are concerned, especially as the utilization of mining equipment is over 20hours per day, with very little room for downtime. In addition to the durability, the expectation here is high on reliability and low on running cost as well. We have customized options for after sales services like Annual Maintenance Contracts, Full Maintenance Contracts, Site Support Agreements, and more, which are offered as per the customer requirements. We at Tata Hitachi have been operating these contracts for over two decades and hence have extensive experience of ensuring high availability of spares at any given point in time.


We also have highly equipped and efficient parts depots at various locations in India, and always maintain sufficient inventory of spares for all our machines, which for mining machines is a major differentiator, and puts us ahead of the other players in the industry.


In addition, we have the highest number of touch points for any customer working in mining areas to ensure timely support for machine running with reduced downtimes.


We have been in the Indian market for over 5 decades and have in-depth experience of providing machines for almost all applications in the country. In India, the customers have matured to an evolved understanding of what constitutes the price of the machine, beyond the initial price of the machine.


Our long experience is incorporated while designing new products to ensure better reliability, and pricing them and related services that offer good value to customers. In that sense, our commitment towards reliability and longevity of machines, makes us a key differentiator in a price sensitive market. Additionally, factors like enhanced safety features, ergonomics, technology integration add great value for the customer.



Tell us about your manufacturing facilities and dealer network in India.


The core of our capabilities is driven by our manufacturing bases, one of the largest in the Indian construction equipment industry. We have two state-of-the-art plants at Dharwad in Karnataka, and Kharagpur in West Bengal.


Our plant at Dharwad is known for its high production volume capacity. Spread over an expanse of 118 acres, the plant caters to the Mini and Midi Excavator and Backhoe Loader segments. Today, 60% of our production in number of units, is rolled out from the Dharwad Plant.


Our plant at Kharagpur is one of the largest and greenest construction equipment plants in India, whose world-class production quality has also made it a designated export hub. This plant is a stellar example of world class manufacturing, state-of-the-art technology, and was conferred with the TPM excellence award by the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance. This 250-acre plant is counted among Asia’s biggest construction machinery manufacturing facilities.


The products manufactured by Kharagpur plant are Excavators (5T to 120T), Wheel Loaders (10T & 12T), Dump Trucks (35T & 100T) and Motor Graders. Some customized machines are also made as per specific customer requirements. Some examples of customized products are machines with High rise cabins, Long arm, and Short boom. The plant also manufactures machines as per the requirements of Indian Border Roads, Indian Army and various other customers.


Tying in all this is our robust network of dealers and offices, which ensures that customers are never too far away from our support centers. We take pride in our marketing and service network of over 240 touch points – one of the largest distribution networks in the country. We also continue to invest in after sales support through our dealers – in terms of diagnostic vehicles, workshops, mobile workshops & increasing numbers of outlets, so that our services are within easy reach of the customer in the shortest time possible. We also offer a range of reman products to ensure availability of important aggregates that can be exchanged at affordable prices for quick restoration of machines at site.



Emerging trends in the equipment finance and rentals in mining equipment. To what extent is consumer behaviour influenced by cost.


Equipment finance isbecoming a challenge. The industry sees transition of contractors with smaller resources and with construction industry experience migrating to larger and more resource intensive mining contracts. This has a bearing on the ability of the mining contractors to raise funds to buy equipment, and hence the challenge.


The financing community is India has by and large stepped up to the challenge, but depend in many cases on the equipment manufacturers for support and underwriting. This is not always possible and leads to changed the consumer behaviour. Some customers are willing to switch their brands which are ready of offer attractive commercial terms.


This is where we see tremendous scope in the rentals of leasing markets. We also see a huge scope for remanufactured products, and hence have invested in these areas, which we will expand focus on in the coming years.



What sort of support or policy changes from the government would you like to propel growth.


We seek support in terms of:


  • Providing financial liquidity for the running projects which will give the funding houses more confidence to fund equipment.
  • Longer term contracts to help mining firms bring in larger and more efficient equipment
  • Aggressiveness towards introduction of technology in mining, which helps global players to bring in their latest products., and
  • For companies like us who have invested in manufacturing, R&D and design, to provide incentives so that we can become a manufacturing hub from India for global players, thereby also enhancing our participation in the Atmanirbhar campaign.



Future outlook for the mining industry and from a company perspective.


The second wave of COVID 19 has made everyone defensive. Mining being classified under essential services will continue to progress. Despite this however, regarding future growth of the mining industry, we will be able to comment only after the current situation stabilizes, and we have all the numbers in place for making an enlightened assessment for future outlook.


However, the long-term story for Indian mining continues to be robust, and we stand committed to continually upgrading ourselves, our products and our range to keep up with the growth in the industry.



For more details visit: www.tatahitachi.co.in

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