15 November 2019

Interaction-Amit Bansal, Director Sales & Mktg-Bldg Consruction Products, Caterpillar India

Caterpillar has the widest range for road construction

 

Caterpillar has a rich history in India. The first machine the company sold in this country dates back to the 1930s. It currently has six production facilities spread across Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh. These facilities manufacture a wide range of machines and equipment. AMIT BANSAL, DIRECTOR SALES & MARKETING - BUILDING CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS, INDIA REGION, CATERPILLAR INDIA PVT LTD, talks to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES

 

 

Briefly give us an overview of the road construction equipment industry, the latest technology trends, and the current business drivers? What are the road equipment currently most in demand?

 

The sale of construction equipment witnessed a double-digit growth in 2017 despite a 6-8 per cent increase in the prices due to GST. Backhoe loaders, excavators, earth moving machines and pick-n-carry cranes accounted for the highest sales in volume. With the government increasing its budgetary outlay for infrastructure, mainly for road construction, from $1 billion to $5.97 billion, we expect a similar trend to continue in 2018. Reduction in GST for certain equipment in November from 28 per cent to 18 per cent has also pushed up sales. A similar reduction in GST for the remaining equipment will improve sales, going forward.

 

On the technology front, the integration of telematics, connectivity, software and analytics has transformed the industry by enabling real-time access to the equipment performance and operation. Technology adoption in the industry is driven by customers’ demand for safety, productivity and efficiency. Caterpillar has always been the frontrunner in embracing technology in the equipment industry. For instance, in fleet management our Cat® Product Link™ uses telematics to allow customers to access real-time data on the location, utilization and performance. Its easy-to-use interface, called VisionLink®, enables customized health and utilization reports and mapping and mixed fleet capabilities.

 

 

 

What are the products offered by your firm to support India’s road construction plans?Cutting edge technology featured in your machines. What distinguishes your equipment from the competitors?

 

Caterpillar has the widest range of construction equipment to handle any type of road construction. We offer a range of products to serve road construction industry like Backhoe Loaders, Wheel Loaders, Hydraulic Excavator, Track Type Tractors, Skid Steer Loaders and Motor Graders.

 

Our machines are built with foresight and the technology that is integrated into the machines and are determined by our assessment of how and where our machines will be working over the long-term. This is our biggest differentiator. In addition to Cat® Product Link™, some of the cutting edge technology featured in our machines are Cat® Grade, Cat® Compact and Cat® Payload.

 

Cat® Grade is a factory-integrated precision grading system that can help both new and experienced machine operators deliver dramatic improvements in grading efficiency over a wide range of applications. Cat® Compact technologies is an advanced compaction measurement technology that helps our customers meet their compaction targets faster, more uniformly, and in fewer passes, saving on fuel and reducing rework and material costs in both soil and asphalt applications. On the other hand, Cat® Payload technologies provide on-the-go load weighing to assist operators with hitting precise load targets every time, helping to reduce load times, optimize loading efficiency and increase jobsite productivity.

 

 

 

Give us an understanding of their key features in terms of safety, ease of operating your machines, operator comfort, cost efficiency etc. their specific advantages.

 

Every Cat machine is designed with utmost focus on safety, operator comfort, reliability, durability and performance. We always strive to make our customers more successful by providing a state-of-the-art Cat equipment with better deliverables and performance compared to a competitive offering.

 

As an example Cat® backhoe loader is engineered with some of the best- in-class features like load sensing and close cantered hydraulics, which has got much better hydraulic efficiency, thereby ensuring minimal wastage and better fuel efficiency at optimal performance. In addition to these features, we design our components to deliver a high-end performance and ensure a better product life.

 

The operator’s cabins have undergone several improvements to make them more operator friendly like the option of air-conditioning, suspension seat, ergonomic controls etc. Connected worksite solutions have also helped improve overall utilization and performance management of the equipment.

 

 

 

Are you looking to add new equipment to your existing product portfolio?

 

The launch of 4 new products last year were all intended to meet the industry’s demand and customer’s requirements like increased productivity, improved operator environment, betterfuel efficiency and reliability. Weexpect more product launches in coming months to cater to the growing industry and to meet changing customer expectations. We also want to upgrade our products to fill some ofthe gaps that exist in terms of what is being offered today. This is a starting point and more products in the future.

 

 

 

What are the trends driving purchase or hire of road construction equipment market in India? To what extent is consumer behavior influenced by cost?

 

The purchase or hire of road construction equipment is primarily driven by construction activities in the country. While India is in the midst of an infrastructural development–new project launches and speedy completion of current projects—there are more positive changes in the offing. For instance, projects that were facing bottlenecks are also getting a speedy clearance and these developments spell good news for road construction equipment.

 

Indian customers are shifting priority from initial price to life-cycle costs. With large investments currently being made in the infrastructure sector, the customer is keen today to complete the job quickly and efficiently to capture more opportunities. Caterpillar focuses on partnering with the customer, through dealers, to help them understand the options available, and the capability of the machines. What we offer are integrated solutions, right from the kind of purchase that is possible (outright buy, finance option or rental) to the support services needed. Furthermore, technology additions such as machine control and guidance system have clearly demonstrated greater productivity and increased the efficiency of the customer.

 

 

 

Tell us about the indigenization efforts undertaken by the company to meet the market requirements and approach to implementing the ‘Make in India’ drive?

 

We are the global leader in the 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 launched a new backhoe loader 424B 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 also manufacture other fast-moving products like 426F2 Back Hoe Loader, 216B3 Skid Steer Loader and 2021D Wheel loader in India. We are now actively leveraging our capability in India to support our global business. For instance, weare manufacturing 426F2 in India which is a global product for exports world over.

 

 

 

How do you expect the market to shape for your industry through 2018 onwards?

 

The Government’s focus on infrastructure development and upgradation of roads and highways will spur a lot of construction activities, as a result of which the demand for construction equipment will also increase considerably in the coming months. Our strategy is to expand our operations in line with the emerging opportunities and requirements of the market. In line with this strategy, we have been making investments as well as launching products consistently in India. We will continue the strategy and invest to expand our business here. In Caterpillar’s opinion, 2018 is the year when India will continue to register high growth and profitability.

 

 

 

Please provide details on your emphasis on technology, research, design and innovation? What is your focus on technological upgradation in respect of your products?

 

All our research, design and innovations are driven by our Enterprise Technology Strategy that focuses on four themes: Energy & Transportation, Machines & Machine Systems, Automation & Enterprise Solutions and Factory Technology Solutions. Each of the four themes includes bold, customer-focused goals against which development progress is measured. Research activities currently underway within these areas include efforts to:

  • Improve fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas
  • Reduce owning and operating costs
  • Increase uptime
  • Increase operator efficiency
  • Enable remote, autonomous and semi-autonomous operation
  • Improve novice operators to skilled level
  • Further, extend commonality
  • Increase worksite efficiency
  • Increase power density
  • Expand dual fuel and natural gas solutions



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