Breeding Innovation


The Indian market for ECE is now poised to become the test bed for setting up global benchmarks in technology for construction equipment. With major global brands available in the market, customers have become very demanding on both fronts - cost and quality. This is breeding tough competition and OEMs have to offer cutting edge technology in order to survive. The new Thumb Rule is, 'if a machine thrives in the Indian market, it will sell well in the global market.' 


India is emerging the biggest market for construction equipment in the world. Consequently most global OEMs in all segments of Earthmoving Construction Equipment (ECE) are present in this market. On the manufacturing side, India has a fully developed manufacturing ecology which is backed by a well incubated manufacturing base comprising Tier II and Tier III vendors of ancillaries and components available for OEM companies. It has end-to-end expertise starting from design and development of products, to validating them, to expert manufacturing execution systems, to aftermarket services like MRO and spare parts supply which are fully automated in many of these OEMs. Also the new focus on timely project execution (loaded with stiff penalties for time and cost overruns) has prompted a shift in customer preference to the TCO concept while purchasing an equipment. And their new demands are automation to speed up work cycle times, remote monitoring of equipment to ensure minimum downtime, and MRO analytics to ensure optimum equipment lifecycle management. Manufacturers are offering their latest innovations, which range from GPS and telematics for remote monitoring and maintenance to smart controls for ease of handling machines and better operator control. The other important tech trend is fuel efficient green machines with low emissions. And above all this, the 'Customer is King' now, who now wants the best quality at a reasonable price. The new shift to Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) means now Indian clients are willing to pay a price for good quality products backed by efficient MRO and aftermarket services. All they want is ease of maintenance and minimum downtime to speed up their project execution. To provide these needs of EPC contractors, most major OEMs in India are providing innovative and distinguishing feature on their machines.

With global OEMs playing in the Indian market, some technology-driven product features have become standard, such as; remote access devices, automatic controls to maneuver machines, more efficient (Tier III) engines, and cabin air-conditioning. These are gaining popularity among customers. Some recent product launches in excavators and backhoe loaders feature several additional functionalities, including service enablers such as the capability to send problem logs by sms to the nearest service point, and downloading historical data regarding engine status, hydraulic systems, fuel consumption, and the expected life of critical components. There are already numerous examples of very smart machines that can produce incredible results from graders that can self level a runway perfectly based on data being fed from readers at the front the machine, processed and sent as instructions to the back of the machine before it reaches the same patch of ground, to agricultural machinery that can deliver precise amounts of fertilizer and pesticide to every square meter of a field based on satellite data and ground testing.
We review cutting edge technology offered by some global majors in India:

JCB's ecoMAX and Livelink are a robust fuel saving engine and advanced telematics, respectively. The ecoMAX engine is available in the range of 76hp to 175hp, and is environment-friendly with low noise and vibration. The Livelink operates on the SOS principle - Service, Operation and Security. Currently available in the variants of backhoe loader – 3DX Xtra, 3DX Super and 4DX, Livelink will change the way companies operate loaders.

Caterpillar's Cat AccuGrade is a grade control system using measuring techniques and sensors equipped on the machine to locate position of the bucket or blade and then adjust it automatically according to the requirements of digital design. It helps in improving construction efficiency while reducing fuel and material consumption and sends real-time feedback to the operator to enhance job quality. It is a scalable solution and customers can choose products and solutions that best meet their specific needs and budgets.

Its Cat Connect enhances jobsite operating efficiency by means of comprehensive jobsite technology and solutions which guarantees intelligent construction through real-time monitoring of the equipment, schedule, quality and safety of a project. It contributes to four key functionalities of Equipment Management, Productivity, Safety and Sustainability.

Volvo CE's OptiShift is a unique technology on wheel loaders comprising two design elements. First is the torque converter with its Lock-Up function and a free wheel stator. This combination delivers the power that a wheel loader needs, while also ensuring smoother shifting through the gears and consistent performance even in changing applications.

Second feature is the unique 'Reverse By Braking' function that makes use of the wheel loader’s standard service brake, rather than the torque converter to assist in deceleration. This intelligent system makes for smoother deceleration and direction changes, while it also delivers fuel savings as the torque converter is no longer being used for this function.
OptiShift gives better performance to wheel loaders in all kinds of applications and fuel savings of up to 15 per cent, the company claims.
CASE's FIAT FPT S8000 engines in their new EX series loader backhoe offers a power range of 76, 86 & 96 HP which are low in maintenance and offer unparalleled fuel economy. Their 1107DX Soil Compactor has a water cooled engine for temperature reduction resulting in lesser fuel consumption and higher engine life. This, along with the water cooled engine on the 752 Tandem Compactor, gives it an edge in the Vibratory Compactor segment.

CASE graders feature an FPT Industrial 6.7-liter engine whose triple horsepower ranges on the 865B (178/190/205 HP) and dual horsepower on the 845B (140/163 HP) to match the power requirements of various applications and deliver optimum fuel efficiency. The Grader features an automatic ZF Transmission.

Wirtgen's AutoPilot Field Rover enables fully automatic, stringline-free concrete paving. The 3D control system is integrated in the machine and an intuitive control panel. Two GPS receivers mounted on the machine communicate with a GPS reference station on the job site. Paver technologies use this principle of automated machine 3D control systems, including the Navitronic automatic control system into the 3rd dimension in addition to grade control. Automated machine make it possible to control widths and paving directions on the basis of digital planning data. Nowadays the use of 3d control system such as laser, total station, GPS, is common.

SCHWING Stetter's MCI55 is a new control system for smaller capacity batching plants using the Siemens Micro PLC, which allows plant control in manual and auto mode. It also offers a SCADA software interface as an option. For Medium size plants the MCI 100 control system features PLC, SCADA, Data Transfer and Alarm Annunciation, SMS facility. For high end batching plants it offers the MI550 control system.

Electronic Dozing system for Shotcrete equipment features a PID based electronic dosing system, with an accuracy of + / - 0.2 liters, graphical representation for target and action value of admixture, etc. And its stationery pumps feature an integrated control system. It also offers a CAN-BUS (Centralized Automatic Network) for modern diesel engines, membrane key pad for pump operation, runtime status indication in graphical display and graphical display of engine RPM pressure, temperature, fuel level, battery status, etc.

Global benchmarks
India is already setting up global benchmarks for construction equipment, be it off highway vehicles, plant and process equipment or Manufacturing Execution Systems. Products doing well in India will do equally well in emerging markets of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, due to similar cost/quality equations in these markets. These benchmarks extend to R&D and Aftermarket Services also. Globally, the technology for next generation machines will be spawned in India, a testimony to its technological leadership and capability of evolving into a global manufacturing hub.
Make in India…whether technology or manufacturing, India is already the Best!