New Avenues to Growth
Earthmoving equipment, such as mining excavators, construction excavators and dozers, are heavy equipment that serve the primary as well as secondary sectors of an economy. One of the vital parts of an earthmoving equipment is undercarriage. Undercarriages consist of several components, including track shoes, final drive units, track rollers and other auxiliary components, to support the movement of earthmovers. Since the cost of new construction equipment is much higher than the cost of replacing existing components, operators tend to supplant earthmoving equipment undercarriage, bolstering the aftermarket trading of undercarriages.
Undercarriage components market is growing at a faster pace with substantial growth rates over the last few years and is estimated that the market will grow significantly in the forecasted period i.e. 2020 to 2027.
The major undercarriage components include links, pins, bushings, sprockets, rollers, idlers, shoes and frames. The market for track-mounted equipment is growing in India which contributes to the growth of crawler parts and components. Equipment such as crawler excavators, piling rigs, dozers, cranes, trenchers, pavers, milling machines etc are the major markets for undercarriage parts.
The construction industry across the globe is anticipated to present significant opportunities for construction equipment such as crawler excavators, dozers, compact track loaders, and crawler cranes. This in turn is expected to propel the usage of undercarriage components consequently driving their demand and sales. Moreover, growing commercial infrastructure is estimated to push undercarriage components’ demand.
Furthermore, an earthmoving equipment undercarriage represents a significant proportion of the equipment’s purchase price and upkeep and maintenance of undercarriages is not a short-term activity. Moreover, nearly half the overall maintenance cost of an equipment can be attributed in its undercarriage. During operations, undercarriages experience wear due to rough terrains. For the proper operation of an equipment, maintenance plays a vital role, which subsequently creates an opportunity for aftermarket maintenance and repair activities. The demand for earthmoving equipment carriages can be correlated with the growth of end-use industries, such as construction, agriculture, and mining. Therefore, significant investment, government initiatives, and subsidies elevate the sales of earthmoving equipment undercarriages.
Key players operating in the global undercarriage components market include DIGBITS Ltd, thyssenkrupp AG, Komatsu Ltd., L&T Technology Services Limitedl, Topy Industries Limited, Continental AG, DBA Group, MST, Verhoeven Group, Titan International, Inc., USCO SpA, International VMT, and Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. Prominent manufacturers are striving for product enhancement and introducing new products in order to broaden their customer base and gain a competitive edge over other players. For instance, in 2020, Berco, a brand of ThyssenKrupp, introduced a new Platinum Line, a specially designed undercarriage component line of products for the aftermarket. The Platinum Line product range is focused on improving undercarriage life in forestry applications.
Ankit Maheshwari, Senior Manager - Sales & Marketing, Trident International, says, “The undercarriage parts such as links, pins, bushings, sprockets, rollers, idlers, shoes and frames are assembled into a system to support and propel a machine. The interplay between the components and the operating conditions results in a complex mechanism that requires regular maintenance to keep the equipment operating costs under check. The condition of undercarriage and parts is therefore very important to ensure optimum equipment utilisation, low running and maintenance costs as these parts can represent 50 per cent or even more of the equipment lifetime repair bills.”
Italtractor ITM Spa (ITM) and DOZCO India announced the creation of a joint venture company called ITM DOZCO Pvt Ltd. The intention of this joint initiative is to create the leading manufacturer of undercarriage components in India to optimise service to local and global customers. The company will offer a full range of undercarriage components and complete track systems for earthmoving machines. The joint venture will cover the Indian market needs as well as requirements for global customers across all industries. This agreement follows years of successful cooperation between ITM and DOZCO.
"By leveraging on ITM's expertise in undercarriage production and design, and DOZCO's market knowledge and service capability, we will be able to offer our customers a significant improvement in operational efficiency and quality service. This reinforces ITM's position as a global player and key partner in the world of undercarriage," said Maria Cecilia La Manna, Chief Executive Officer, ITM.
"DOZCO, a reputed Indian manufacturer of mining and construction equipment, attachments, and components, joining forces with ITM, an international leader for manufacturing undercarriage components to meet the global demand, is a milestone in the honourable Prime Minister's Make in India initiative. This will be a boon to the customers who are starved of quality and critical components. The world will reap the benefit with the joining hands of two respected and renowned leaders in their field," said NG Bangur, Director, DOZCO.
The spread of COVID-19 is resulting in declining sales as the global construction industry is facing a downturn, which ultimately affects the sales of undercarriage components. The impact on the market is continuing to fluctuate as the sales of new equipment have come to a standstill.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about several changes for construction equipment manufacturers, and the industry as a whole. Manufacturers have temporarily shut down their plants, and the demand for undercarriage components is witnessing a downturn. The pandemic has also restricted the movement of goods from one place to another leading to disruptions in the supply chain. Furthermore, the market is continuing to fluctuate as the sales of new equipment have come to a standstill. This is impacting the growth of the market, as undercarriage components sales are contingent to the sales of construction equipment.
Moreover, companies are witnessing a decline in their revenues, which is also affecting production activity due to the high investment nature of the industry. This is likely to negatively impact the sales of new undercarriage components, owing to lower demand for new machines, in turn, limiting the growth of the undercarriage components market. As per the report published by Fact.MR, it is estimated that, the undercarriage components market will start showing positive signs by the second quarter of 2021.
Globally, the mining machinery and equipment market is being propelled by the prospect of an increase in the extraction activities for metals, such as copper and iron ore, and this market growth is primarily being impelled by new production expansions and projects across the globe. Demand for metal mining equipment is foreseen to grow owing to gains in the sales of coal mining machinery, such as excavators, coupled with ongoing efforts to mechanise coal mining operations in some regions.
Speaking on the demand, Maheshwari says, “ Internationally, there is a clear preference for tracked equipment over wheeled equipment, especially in the compact construction equipment segment which is a positive for undercarriages and parts. However, we are yet to see this trend in India.”
The growth in the agriculture and construction sectors is expected to propel the demand for heavy machinery. This, in turn, drives the demand for undercarriage components. Accelerated construction of road infrastructure across developing economies has hoisted the demand for construction machinery, such as track loaders, bulldozers, and crawler dozers. Rise in the incorporation of machinery in the agriculture segment, increase in the usage of small heavy-duty machines in the industrial sector, and surge in construction activities across the globe, drive the global heavy-duty machinery market. This, in turn, boosts the demand for undercarriage components. The availability of numerous machines that are driven on wheels and do not need tracks and undercarriage components is liable to inhibit the demand for undercarriage components.
However, the substantial initial price associated with construction equipment has triggered the trend of renting and leasing of construction equipment. Mid and small-level construction players are experiencing high-cost burdens while purchasing new construction equipment. In a bid to satisfy their infrastructure requirements, they are opting for rental equipment to avoid high costs of new machinery. This is likely to negatively affect the sales of latest undercarriage components, owing to lowering demand for brand spanking new machines, successively restraining the expansion of the undercarriage components market.
The presence of a large number of OEMs has led to significant growth in North America with the U.S. at the forefront of the market. Substantial manufacturing infrastructure powered by strong anticipated demand from other regions, such as ASEAN, Latin America and the Middle East & Africa, strengthen the U.S. earthmoving equipment undercarriage market. The Middle East & Africa earthmoving equipment undercarriage market is dominated by South Africa and Egypt. In the past three years, overall regional growth was flat; however, recent mining infrastructure plans in the region are expected to augment the demand for the aftermarket as well as OEMs.
Proposed iron ore extraction projects in Brazil and Russia are also expected to increase the need for replacement of earthmoving equipment carriages, further bolstering the market for mining equipment in these countries. The Chinese market is foreseen to have a positive outlook, which can be attributed to the voracious demand for minerals in the country. In line with this, hefty growth is expected in the sales of earthmoving equipment carriages in the upcoming years. In Latin America, most of the countries are endowed with a wide range of minerals and to boost productivity, mining companies import construction equipment from North America and Europe. Various macroeconomic factors fortify the demand for earthmoving equipment undercarriages. Some of the main challenges faced by mining industries across nations include environmental, health and safety regulations, high initial cost, and fluctuating currency rates, aggravated by lower commodity prices.
Trends and opportunities
The construction equipment market in India has become a front-runner in the global market space in the past few years. A lot of advancements and innovations are happening in the construction equipment space with more global players are entering the market to cash in the opportunities arising in the infrastructure development activities in India. Though the market has slowed down in the past one year, it can bounce back any time within the next year as a lot of activities are lined up in construction and mining segments in the country. The government is pushing hard with a slew of stimulus packages for the industry.
Track-mounted equipment find an important place in the Indian construction equipment market with the use of excavators, piling rigs, dozers, pavers and similar machines is growing over a period. With construction and mining activities are improving, the use of general equipment such as hydraulic crawler-mounted excavators is growing in construction and mining. While dozers are largely used in mining, there are many other track-mounted speciality machines used in mining and construction. Recently, the use of excavator-mounted piling rigs has been on the rise with many big scale projects like metro, bridges and sea-links are taking off. In a nutshell, the opportunity for track-mounted equipment is immense in the coming years. This is a positive scenario for undercarriages and parts manufacturers in OEM and aftermarket segments. Currently, the demand from OEM market is low due to the prevailing market conditions, but aftermarket is still a demand driver. The OEM market is expected to bounce back soon.
Needs to be on fast track In spite of the positive trends, the market for undercarriage parts and components needs to gain pace in the coming years. Compared to global market, the segment in India is still moving at a slow pace. Upgraded maintenance practices and developing advanced components matching the growing requirements of the OEM market can put the segment on fast track. While the global market prefers for tracked equipment, in India the tracked machines are limited to a few equipment segments such as excavators and crawler cranes. However, going ahead, there is a great chance of compact equipment with crawler base to work in difficult to reach areas and urban development projects.
- KARTHIK MUTHUVEERAN