Buoyed by the recent spell of burgeoning demand, backhoe loader manufacturers are taking holistic initiatives to make product positioning more competitive, along with broadening their market network and making service support more customer- oriented. P.P. Basistha reports.
No doubt, there's been substantial improvement in offtake of backhoe loaders in 2016 compared to 2015 due to renewed spurt in the infrastructure activities. But the manufacturers are no longer eager for any comfort zone. They're of the view that demand will keep rising, and the acquisitions will be characterized by stiff competition. This is all because the customers will keep on looking for optimum utilization of the equipment and the total lifecycle costs as margins on the return of investments might not be lucrative and may not show drastic improvements soon. According to industry estimates, the market size of backhoe loaders during 2014 was 22,500 units. Demand went down to 21,192 units in 2015, followed by sharp recovery in 2016 with 28,000 units. Demand till 2020 is projected to be 31,000 units.
Taking cognizance of the emerging demand scenario, market leader, JCB India has been introducing newer products for varied and niche applications. Today, the company offers the widest range of Backhoe Loaders in India in 7 variants – 2DX, 3DX, 3DX Xtra, 3DX Super, 4DX, 2DXL, and 3DXL to suit different user segments for different applications.
He adds, "This new range of backhoe loader is designed keeping Indian excavation and loading requirements in view. It can load conventional and high bodied rigid dump trucks. The other competitive attributes of the loaders are their new designed spacious cabin with 20% more leg space for the operators. Moreover, they feature ease of access to the engine and cabin for carrying out periodic maintenance."
Mr. Singh says, "Our JCB 2DX backhoe loader, the smallest one from our portfolio, has been specifically designed to suit rural applications. The product has been gaining popularity in unique applications like plantation, construction of rural roads, fibre optics laying, truck unloading, tractor trolley loading. Our 4DX, the most productive backhoe loader in India, has been finding encouraging response in mass excavation and digging in hard strata."
JCB India will look to expand and consolidate its market presence, backed by its wide range of backhoe loaders, featuring advanced technology. The strategy of the company is to ensure higher availability of the products. Mr. Singh informs, "To ensure optimum utilization of the products, we have extended the drain out intervals of the engine lubes and filters replacement to 500 hours. Various operational parameters of the machines can now be remotely monitored real time, based on our advanced 'Livelink' telematics system. To leverage product support and equipment availability, we are making concerted efforts to be close to our customers. We are now expanding our footprint in Nepal, Arunachal Pradesh in North East India, Leh and Kargil in J&K. The expansion will enable us to have 700 outlets by the end of 2017." JCB currently has over 650 outlets and 63 dealers across the country.
Mr. Nijhawan further adds, "We are going to provide new remote monitoring 'Digisense' GPS enabled software to improve the services by taking proactive actions thus improving the turnaround time of our backhoe loader. Optimum utilization of the machines is also being warranted by faster parts availability and support through our dealers and also from the dealers of other businesses in Mahindra. Our new ongoing service improvement project will further help our customers to leverage our services." Mahindra manufactures SX and VX backhoe loaders under the EarthMaster category of earthmoving equipment. The Mahindra company's CE business is supported by a wide network of 60 dealers catering to more than 400 districts across the country.
"The structure and the bucket of Jungli is redesigned for tough applications with high dumping and ground reach & digging depth. Also the bucket and loader break out forces are much higher than that of the competitors. This ensures high productivity in rough terrains and minimum failures. The 4-wheel drive makes the machine suitable for all types of underfoot conditions. The engine is turbocharged with an inline fuel pump. Not the least, the eye-catching combat color of a battle tank manifesting a rugged look, makes the product an attractive and competitive value proposition. As the going gets tough, Jungli gets going." "To ensure higher availability of the product, we are moving about in a strategic manner to ensure that service commensurate to 'Jungli applications' is available near the application sites. Each machine sold is closely monitored, through Equipment Monitoring System (EMS) to ensure that the desired deliverables are in line with the expectations/promise made to the customers," informs Mr. Raina and adds, "The initial response to Jungli has been extremely encouraging and we at Escorts are quite optimistic about Jungli carving a niche segment for itself."
Terex backhoe loaders are manufactured at the company's plant in Gautam Budh Nagar, Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Chauhan informs, "to ensure higher availability, the machines will be available soon with GPS enabled remote monitoring solutions system. This delivers value for customers with larger equipment fleet."
He further adds, "For lowering equipment operating costs and optimum utilization, our Backhoe Loaders are now equipped with 'Eagle-Eye' GPS-enabled software to pass on inputs on the operating parameters of the backhoe loaders. Inputs such as machine location, engine operating hours and other critical parameters such as fuel status, hydraulic filter, engine oil pressure, transmission temperature and coolant temperature can be made available on the android phone or laptop of the owner/operator. In case of heavy line products like motor grader, using the EST tool, customers can download the parameters like working hours, fuel consumption/fuel average etc. related to the machine performance."
According to Mr. Aneja, CASE India is starting a host of support initiatives. "To strengthen product training for higher equipment availability, we have started four regional training centers in Alwar, Ranchi, Hyderabad, and Guwahati in addition to the Pithampur Training Centre. Dealers located in regions within the radius of the training centers can send their sales and service engineers for training, instead of sending them to central training center at Pithampur. Dealer's personnel can also avail tailor made training courses at these centers. To shorten lead times for parts availability, we have started regional depots, supported by our central warehouse at Indore. We are closely reworking on our parts distribution network strategy to shorten lead times further. To ensure faster attendance to a customer's complaint, we have started a dedicated toll free call center wherein calls are channelized to our service team and time taken to service the equipment is tracked to see that the time taken is minimal." CNH India has 65 dealers for product sales and support.
Mr. Bansal informs, "We are in the process of some newer application areas, where our backhoe loader can deliver best in class performance with minimal fuel consumption, overall meeting the customer needs with enhanced profitability".
In a bid to make product positioning stronger, Tata Hitachi is carrying out engineering improvements in its two existing backhoe loader models. "We are carrying out extensive upgrades in our TH76 and TH86 models, focusing on improving reliability and optimizing the operating cost. Upgrades revolve around the central theme of improving the profitability for machine owners," says Mr. A. Krishna Kumar, Vice President– Sales & Marketing, Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery Company Pvt. Ltd.
He further adds, "Our backhoe loaders are supported by our genuine spare parts at competitive prices to keep our maintenance and operating cost low. Our central warehouse in Nagpur with 1,30,300 sq.ft stocks more than 30,000 items. Strategically located in the central part of the country, this facility ensures that it feeds the dealers warehouses situated throughout the country in the shortest possible time. Our new warehouse facility at Dharwad has been opened to better serve market demands in southern India."
Mr. Agarwal further adds, "We will promote and support the sales of our backhoe loaders with our strong network of 100 dealers across the country. These outlets are fully equipped to provide genuine spare parts and services by our company-trained engineers in Faridabad."
Mr. Amarnath says, "Our 699 backhoe loaders are packed with competitive features that will enable us to drive business."
According to Mr. Amarnath, "699 has been received very well in export markets like South Africa, UAE, Zambia, Nepal, Thailand, and others".
Mr. Amarnath says, "Looking forward to leverage our product support, we have recently launched the LeeBoy help desk for customers to report and resolve complaints. Our vast dealer network in India offers swift post-sales-care support to all our customers. Spares are stocked at strategic locations across the country to minimize lead times."
The aggressive marketing strategy of backhoe loader manufacturers for deeper market penetration augurs well for the Indian infrastructure sector, as it will also broaden product offerings. However, the challenge will be drawing product support packages to meet the diverse customer requirements, and present brand substitution by the customers.