Innovations by L&T
Since its entry into the construction and mining equipment industry in India, Larsen & Toubro has made rapid strides to become one of the leading companies in the industry with its products and innovations. Arvind Garg elaborates.

Seventy years ago, Larsen & Toubro made an entry into the construction & mining equipment industry in India. India was then a fledgling economy with an ambitious line-up of infrastructure development activities involving construction of major dams, steel plants and arterial roads. To fast track these works, there was a need to induct equipment that would build quality and shorten project completion time. It was in this context that L&T took up the distribution of dozers, scrapers, traxcavators , motor graders and pipe layers for the Indian market, which grew in popularity. L&T set up Service Stations across the country to support these machines for after-sales and repairs as well as to provide training,In 1973, L&T?s strategic move transformed the face of Indian construction equipment industry. L&T signed up with Poclain SA-France and introduced excavator technology to the Indian market. L&T also pioneered the launch of vibratory compactors in India in association with Albaret, France. With the construction equipment market showing signs of maturity, L&T could foresee a huge opportunity for future and struck a strategic alliance with Komatsu-Japan, one of the world?s largest manufacturers of Construction and Mining Equipment, for establishing a joint venture L&T-Komatsu Ltd and to usher in a new line of hi-tech products from the Japanese partner, known for its highly reliable and durable machines.

For the first time, the Indian market witnessed the launch of ergonomically-designed and premium-category machines viz, the L&T-Komatsu PC71, PC130, PC210, PC300 and PC450 models to serve the requirements of different classes of customers.

Arvind K. Garg, Vice-President and Head of Construction & Mining Machinery Business, Larsen & Toubro Ltd, says, ?At L&T, we feel proud to celebrate our 70 years of illustrious service to the construction and mining industry in India. Over the years, we have launched several products which have enabled us in building a strong and self-reliant India. We shall take this commitment forward and keep the customer delighted with superior-technology products that are more productive, cost-effective, safe and eco-friendly. We shall also step up efforts to drive indigenisation as part of the ?Make in India? campaign.? L&T has always strived to bring in cutting edge technology into Indian markets. Continuing its journey in this direction, L&T started the L&T - Product Development Centre located in L&T?s Coimbatore campus.

Product development centre
The unit was set up in the year 2005 to cater to the needs of product development and technology of the Indian customer. L&T - Product Development Centre has the domain expertise in developing state of the art technology construction, earthmoving equipment and industrial machinery for Indian conditions. The unit has good facility for design, proto manufacturing and testing, with a pool of young talented engineers. It is a recognised R&D centre under DSIR.

Main objectives of PDC is to design and develop new construction equipment and products with:

  • Suitability and adaptability for Indian conditions
  • Excellent performance and reliability
  • Manufacturing technology development
  • Indigenous components and import substitutions

With the proven experience in design, development, testing and manufacturing, PDC is geared up to offer services for product development, reliability and value engineering and such other functions. PDC has a team of 98 engineers who are driven by a common passion to excel through creativity and innovation. In order to constantly keep the learning curve surging upwards and to be abreast of latest advancements, specific development programmes - Technical and Leadership - are organised in PDC Coimbatore.

Young engineers are mentored and groomed on the job by the seniors so as to ensure the experience and expertise is passed on. Technical papers in the areas of Product Design and Development, Manufacturing Technology, Materials Engg, and Engineering Management have been presented in national and international technical conferences in reputed colleges and universities like, IISc, IITs, and PSG. Papers have also been published in international journals like Springer, International Journal of Aerospace Innovations, etc.

Innovative technologies
L&T and Komatsu pioneered the launch of information communication technology in Indian CE segment popularly known as KOMTRAX.

KOMTRAX is a machine monitoring system, that brings almost all the machine parameters and performance details to the office desktop/mobile/hand held device on a daily basis. This feature is available on Komatsu range of construction equipment. The feature is most popular on the PC210-8 M0 hydraulic excavator in the Indian market.

The KOMTRAX benefits can be broadly classified under three categories:
Full machine monitoring: To get a detailed operation data on how and when the machine is being used and how productive is it?
Total fleet management: To keep track of the location of machine at all times and get data on fuel usage.
Complete machine status: Receive cautions for maintenance planning and longer machine life.

What does KOMTRAX bring to the table for the customer?
Automatic record keeping: A daily summary of the machine working hours, actual working hours, idling hours, fuel consumption, E mode ratio etc, are measured and brought in based on which measures can be taken to improve machine utilisation and performance. This also eliminates the need for maintaining log books and a person to maintain log books and a person to retrieve the stored log books. The fuel consumption information along with the working modes and load cycles are tracked through-out the operating hours.

Live updates: Certain parameters such as location information and cautions and alerts are updated in real time. This allows access of the machine location at any time of the day. Cautions and alerts are notified as and when they happen so that necessary steps can be taken to reduce downtime.

Self diagnostics: This is one of the most important and useful feature of KOMTRAX. It completely eliminates the man power required in conducting a basic health check-up. The pressures at various points in the hydraulic circuit and speed of the engine can be monitored directly from inside the cabin. A health check-up can be carried out in seconds and problems, if any, can be attacked directly, thus reducing downtime. With all these, there is accurate knowledge of the fuel consumption, abnormality record and maintenance record. Control over economy mode adjustment, travel speed adjustment and attachment flow adjustment is also provided to derive a suitable machine performance.

Fleet Management: KOMTRAX provides a single window to access all your machines. This eliminates the need for calling multiple operators on a daily basis to enquire about the machine location and performance. Maintenance issues also can be addressed easily with a virtual calendar readily available through KOMTRAX for all your machines.

Inventory Management: With the accurate knowledge of when the change interval of certain component or oil is due. Parts inventory can be accordingly planned. This reduces the inventory costs incurred and helps you stock only what?s necessary. Improvement of Operator?s Efficiency: With KOMTRAX the working hours, idle hours and working mode of the machine is tracked and presented to the owner. This helps both the owner and the operator in effective schedule planning to achieve the targeted productions.

Utilisation in planned area: The LIVE machine location information helps you understand where the machine is currently being operated within the site, and correct the location of operation if any deviation is observed. This can drastically reduce the production time as large deviations from the excavation plans are avoided.

Reduced Downtime: With the marriage of the machines self-diagnostic abilities and KOMTRAX, periodic alerts and maintenance cautions are brought to your desktop as and when they occur. By taking necessary actions at the right time the machines downtime is reduced and performance kept intact.

Summary of KOMTRAX
So in a nutshell, KOMTRAX brings you peace of mind as the entire machine parameters are automatically tracked and recorded, allowing you to take right actions at the right time, and hence derive a long lasting performance. Today more than 3,000 customers in India are benefiting from the feature. With the introduction of this feature, L&T and Komatsu have been able to bring in the latest global benchmark technologies into the Indian market and have got the appreciation of it?s customers.

Vibratory Compactors
L&T 1190D - 11T Soil Compactor
L&T 1190D is a compaction equipment, used for increasing the load bearing capacity of soil by vibratory ramming made exclusively for the Indian customer applications. The higher operating mass and optimised exciter on the L&T 1190 D provides the best compaction results and productivity at lower fuel consumption. Best-in-class serviceability and operator comfort are key features, providing easy and safe operation of the machine. The machine is also profiled for safety and a rugged look. Its unique patented vibration mechanism provides a fuel saving of about 1 to 1.5 litre of diesel per hour of operation of the vibratory compactor.

Distinctive design feature of the product:
Novel Design of Exciter shaft (under patent) has the radius of gyration closer to rotating axis which reduces running torque. It draws less energy and produces higher amplitudes. The running torque depends on the radius of gyration, which is dependent on mass distribution. The innovative exciter demands low running torque with adequate eccentricity to give required amplitude to the drum. Lower running torque results in lower hydraulic pressures and hence lower energy consumption/fuel. Dual vibrating amplitude on the drum is created by adding/subtracting mass based on the rotation direction and the stopper position of the floating mass. Bidirectional pump gives different flows in either direction to achieve different frequencies/amplitude in a single control by operator.

The L&T 1190 D soil compactor recently won the India Design Mark award from the India Design Council.

Over and above, optimally selected pump and dual displacement motors combination provide the right forces for compacting various combinations of soils and aggregates. Also a third speed for negotiating higher gradients is available on the machine.

Optimum vibration isolation techniques on steering, platform and drum, ensures good operator comfort and longer hours of operation. Emergency stop with auto braking feature ensures safe operation. Fresh air draft created over the operator by engine suction fan enhances operator comfort. The operator?s seat can be rotated by 90? RH side along with control levers which are placed within zone of comfort and reach to reduce the strain on the operators. To reduce the hand and arm vibration, steering column is mounted on AVM. All replaceable and service points are located at accessible place from ground to improve serviceability. Unique features of safety interlocks are provided for engine re-cranking, neutral start and vibration interlinking with work mode.

L&T 990 HF 10T Tandem Compactor
This compactor is a construction equipment designed exclusively for Indian markets for compaction of bituminous/concrete, soil and sub-base layer of roads. Dense compaction is achieved by through vibration and ramming actions.

L&T 990HF is designed with higher mass, suspended frame, dual amplitude, patented exciter and higher vibration frequencies in its class, which provides higher productivity.

The vibratory mechanism in this machine claims as patented because it is differing from traditional method of manufacturing and creation of vibration. Normally an imbalance mass will produce excitation for which an eccentric turning is required in a shaft. In this case, the shaft is made without eccentricity and the imbalancing is achieved by fabrication of mass onto the shaft. This give a saving of 10-15 per cent in fuel consumption.

Among contemporary designs, the layout of L&T 990 HF machine has been highly appreciated by Indian customers. Suspended frame structure and independent mounting of engine competes with global machines at no additional cost to the customer. Availing a proven and established engine for power ensures caring service in case of need.

The L&T 990HF is ergonomically designed to provide best operator comfort, drum edge visibility and safety. Optimised power setting with good filtration system gives lower running costs and best sustainability. Machine styling imparts robustness and ruggedness L&T990HF has a patented exciter for developing vibration with lower power bringing good fuel economy. Best operator comfort is achieved through provision of AVMs on operator platform and steering controls. Operator station is swivel able for better visibility of drum/road edge. Uniquely designed suspended frame gives higher kerb clearance to work closer to medians and better serviceability of drums. Uniquely designed safety interlocks are provided for better equipment/operator safety. Machine profile/contour is selected for rugged look. Engine in rear chassis avoids unnecessary vibration to operator and also improves serviceability from ground. LLDPE tanks with flow regulation ensures continuous water spray.

CII Design Excellence Awards
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is India?s premier business association acts as the India?s strategic body for promoting and leveraging design towards sustainable economic growth for the last 15 years.

CII Design Excellence awards are the celebration of the very best of Indian design. These highly sought after honours coming from the country?s largest industry association, is the ultimate accolade for design excellence, innovation and originality of Indian Design.

It established new benchmarks of design excellence and showed how the profession of design is rising to the challenge of new technological opportunities and business needs.

The CII Design Excellence Awards discover the new paradigms of design in India which answers the call of making Indian industry and manufacturing more competitive and innovative. The India Design Council endorses CII Design Excellence Awards.

In the true CII fashion, these awards follow a rigorous and objective assessment process. The awards are given in four main categories of Visual Communication, Industrial Design, Interaction Design and Mobility Design and their 32 sub-categories. 10 Jury Members from wide-ranging disciplines from within India and overseas, assessed 154 entries, which entered the final round of assessment.

L&T was conferred with the CII Design Excellence award 2015 under the sub-category Capital Goods in Industrial Design for the L&T 990 HF Tandem Compactor. The award was given by Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, Government of India.

The Jury

Prof. Y S Rajan, Honorary Distinguished Professor, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) - Chairman of the Jury
Sonal Dabral, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra Group, India Christian Buttner, Senior Designer, Vorverk Group, Germany
Justin Knecht, Senior Programme Director, Luma Institute, USA
Dr Chandan Chowdhury, Managing Director ? India, DassaultSystemes
Xenia Viladas, Professor, Savannah College of Art & Design, USA
Jeroen Raijmakers, Senior Director, Philips Design, Health Systems Design Innovation, Netherlands
Chokenanad Bussracumpakorn, Head of Design Management, School of Architecture & Design, King Mongkut?s University of Technology, Thailand
Shashank Mehta, Principal Faculty, Industrial Design, National Institute of Design, India

LK Das, Former Head of IDDC, IIT, Delhi

The author is Vice-President and Head of Construction & Mining Machinery Business, Larsen & Toubro Ltd.