Coal continues to be the major demand driver in mining
How do you look at the construction and mining equipment market in India?
The Indian construction Industry registered a CAGR of over 5 per cent in the last five years despite two years of disruptions during the pandemic. The Government’s focus on growth driven by Infra development and manufacturing is aiding demand growth. In addition to the various ongoing infrastructure projects under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) valued at $1.4 trillion for the period 2020-25, the Government of India has recently launched the $1.26 trillion Gati Shakti - National Master Plan for multi-modal connectivity, an integrated infrastructure development plan for seamless connectivity for movement of people, goods and services from one mode of transport to another and to facilitate the last mile connectivity to reduce travel time for people.

Additionally, India is expected to have the second-largest metro connectivity globally by 2025, with 982 km being added to the existing 810 km spread across 15 cities. These projects will drive demand and support us in our growth story.

Coal continues to be the major demand driver in mining, followed by limestone and iron ore. India still imports a large quantity of coal and the demand for coal is expected to grow steadily till India has adequate alternative renewable energy options. Hence the GoI has taken the necessary steps to ramp up coal production to over 1 billion tonne by 2025. Coal India and its subsidiaries and commercial coal mining by MDOs are expected to drive the demand for Mining Equipment to new heights.

The capacity utilisation of cement companies is rising, and they are also going ahead with new capacity addition as per plan. The steel manufacturers are also going ahead with the expansion plans; hence, we see demand growth in iron ore mining.

Overall, we see a stable demand and good growth in both the construction and mining equipment segments.

How to ensure preventive and periodic maintenance and proximity to your customers?
After-sales support has been one of the forte for L&T. L&T’s Equip-Care, a pro-active after-sales support program, seamlessly integrates smart machines, Customers’ requirements, and a trained after-sales team support team across the country to provide unmatched support experience to our customers. Equip-Care continuously draws information from Komtrax on the machine to plan scheduled services and necessary interventions in case of any caution/abnormality/alert on the equipment in the shortest possible time.

Komatsu and L&T have pioneered the introduction of Suraksha, Kavach and Vishwas Machine care programmes. These are industry-leading initiatives from Komatsu and L&T under which certain equipment models are covered with extended power train warranties up to four years/10,000 hours (whichever is earlier) bundled with a host of value-added services like Komatsu energy-saving training and guidance, KOWA analysis, PM clinics, Komatsu undercarriage inspection and machine health reports. The programme ensures “True Peace of Mind” for customers by taking care of their operation and maintenance aspects of the machines on time.

We collaborate with mining businesses to offer comprehensive maintenance agreements like full maintenance contracts (FMCs) and site support agreements (SSAs), which include stationing our expert personnel at project sites and stocking spares to ensure high machine uptime. Currently, over 100 mining sites are under our care through long-term maintenance contracts.

Through such proactive maintenance practices and proximity to customers, we have ensured 60,000+ hours of operations for the first set of dump trucks we sold to Tata Steel, prompting them to place a repeat order recently. Many of our customers, including SCCL, NCL, BCCL and VPR mining, have machines with high availability and over 50,000 hours of machine operation.

L&T has established state-of-the-art service centres at six strategic locations across India. These are equipped with specialised bays, modern facilities and tools such as dynamometers, hydraulic test benches, and transmission test benches to overhaul and rebuild complete machines as well as their aggregates.

Sustainability has been the buzzword. What is your take on this in the construction equipment sector?
At the COP26 Summit, India committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2070. The entire ecosystem in India is working in this direction. Environmental protection and long-term sustainability are priorities for us in the CE sector. We currently offer a wide range of biodiesel-compatible Komatsu equipment, including hydraulic excavators, dump trucks, wheel loaders, crawler dozers, motor graders and water sprinklers.

We also pioneered the introduction of electrically operated excavators in India and the recently supplied Komatsu PC3000 electrically driven excavators for the mining industry in Central India. We have also started working on battery-operated CE and are exploring the introduction of Hybrid machines shortly. We will be exhibiting hybrid equipment at the upcoming BC India in Noida.

On our existing machines, our ICT tool – Komtrax, available on the Komatsu range of products, generates energy-saving reports with detailed insights into load conditions and modes which help customers to explore methods to improve machine utilisation and efficiency, which eventually leads to fuel savings.

Our organisation has also adopted inclusivity and gender diversity. Currently, batches of women trained by L&T are working at JSW and Tata Steel facilities, to name a few of them. We are taking many initiatives in this direction and will try our best to play our part in Environmental protection and long-term sustainability.

There is a dearth of skilled labourers in India. How is your company tackling this challenge?
Training has been an important focus area for L&T over several decades. L&T CMB is on a mission to ensure that no untrained person should touch a customer’s machine. We have six full-fledged training centres with a team of 16 trainers. We train about 6,000+ people every year at various levels right, from an operator to owners of equipment.

The GoI through NSDC has also driven many initiatives to skill up the workforce in the CE industry. We train and certify customers’ operators and mechanics in line with IESC, NOS and QPs. (National Occupational Standards and Qualification Packs) for NSQF Levels 3 and 4.

Since 2015 we have trained and certified almost 15,000 operators and mechanics under the Skill India Mission. Senior customer operators and maintenance teams are trained in energy-saving operations and maintenance. We have both fixed and portable simulators to hone operators' skills. We develop an operator pool from unemployed youth who want to make excavator operation a career. (203 youths have been trained) This is part of our CSR activity.

We have tied up with the Government of Odisha and NAC-Hyderabad to train youths mechanics in hydraulics. This makes them job-ready for the industry to employ readily.

We have been awarded as the best training partner under the NSDC on a regular basis. This year the “Trainer of the Year” trophy at the Equipment India Awards was presented to the Head of our Training Department.

In terms of performance, how has this year been for the company? What are your plans for 2023?
We expect to end FY23 with a healthy performance and are well-positioned to make the best out of the emerging opportunities during the next year as well.