Use of automation in road construction may increase
- Sandeep Mathur, Brand Leader, New Holland CASE Construction Equipment

Share insights on technological up-gradation that has happened recently or might happen in near future in the construction and engineering business. One of the ongoing evolutions in manufacturing machines that offer better fuel efficiency. There has been an increasing trend of manufacturing lower HP machines that also save operating costs. Electric vehicles are the new trend in the industry and manufacturers are working to build well-equipped machines that cater to customers’ needs. Soon, the industry will witness electronic vehicles at the disposal of customers, which will have various features to fulfill the demands of the customers. The construction and engineering businesses are adapting to the rapidly changing situations along with the government norms about electric vehicles. The government is also bound to make quick changes in the sector and these upgrades will be a part of the system in no time.

How do you look at the overall performance of the mining sector in India?
With the mining sector being one of the core industries of the economy, it has witnessed year-to-year growth. In terms of trends, there were positive signs in the manufacturing and mining activity that recorded a higher relative growth performance last year.

Besides, there is a tremendous rise in infrastructure development. The power and cement industries are supporting the growth of the mining sector. India is a huge market, holds the advantage of reduced manufacturing cost, which gives space for other expenditures in the industry. As per reports, the Ministry of Mines has handed over 152 mineral block reports to different state governments until November 2021.

Opportunities are booming with a few setbacks in the sector and the mining equipment industry is hopeful for a rise in demand due to new mining activities and government support in the infrastructure sector. However, there is a definite scope of improvement in the overall sector.

What is the current market size of your products? Which segments are driving the demand for these products?
In terms of market size, the loader-backhoe market is around 40,000 units a year while around 4,500 compactors are sold in India every year. Excavators are one of the largest manufacturing products in the country and are expected to grow more over the years.

One of the major demand drivers is an increase in demand for underground mining equipment and a rising need for mineral fertilisers to improve agricultural yield. As the industry is governed by a federal system and various policies are introduced in the system, the demand affects the basis of the concessions, incentives, and applications.

India is one such market, which allows exporting in large numbers and this acts as one of the demand drivers. As the government plans to introduce further reforms, the preference may tend to change gradually and the focus of the segment may shift depending on the regulations.

Further, increasing road construction projects, the use of technology and automation in road construction and mining may increase. Such bigger projects would need sophisticated, high-quality equipment for efficiency and safety. The government’s large expenditures in infrastructure measures and reforms in the mining industry are undoubtedly boosting growth. In addition, the Union Budget 2022 anticipates significant expenditures in infrastructure and mining, which will benefit the industry.

In light of the plans of infrastructure creation and reforms in mining, what opportunities do you foresee for construction equipment?
To cater to the rising demand, manufacturers have set ambitious goals to participate in the transformation of infrastructure in the country. The new mining reforms have indeed aided tremendously to the sector by boosting the business process, increasing productivity, employment, revenue, and continuity in managing operations. As per reports, coal production in India stood at 715.95 million tonnes in FY 21 and the industry is picking up after the fall during the second wave of the pandemic in 2021. There is scope for new mining capacities and hence there will be considerable opportunities for the mining equipment industry to manufacture and sell best-in-class equipment to support the ever-rising infrastructure projects.

Therefore, we foresee a considerable rise in demand and are excited to see what the future holds with more reforms coming up.

What are the latest products and solutions from the company for mining applications?
CASE has various products for mining applications that are equipped with smart features and offer efficiency and maximum productivity. The products offered are the new Series C GR 865C Motor Grader, 2050M Crawler Dozer, and CX220C Excavator.

Series C 865C Motor Grader, fitted with the best-in-class fuel-efficient electronically controlled FPT Engine with variable Horsepower at 2.200 rpm - 193HP /205 HP / 220 HP is ideal for mining applications. FPT engine helps Grader deliver maximum performance with minimum fuel consumption in rough terrain around mines. 865C is fitted with a mouldboard in the form of an involute curve. This reduces the load on the blade and hence results in better productivity and excellent fuel efficiency. CASE Graders are also equipped with a hydraulic system with a load sensor (variable displacement, pressure, and flow compensated) which allows operators to easily control the mouldboard from the cabin thus offering high productivity as well as operator comfort. CASE Graders also have an air conditioner for a closed cab, fire extinguisher, windshield washer and lower windshield wiper, tandem lock device for better operator comfort and safety, which is essential in tough applications like mining. Fitted with a medium ripper rear pull hook to provide support for lifting the machine offers best-in-class serviceability, and outstanding visibility, the 865C is both easy to maintain and extremely durable.

CASE 2050M dozer is powered with FPT Industrial 6.7 litre six-cylinder engine. Equipped with hydrostatic transmission to provide best in class drawbar pull capacity and lower maintenance and operating cost, 2050 M Dozer is best suited for tough terrain conditions like mining. The 2050M also features automatic blade functions, further increasing the operator’s efficiency. Easy service and maintenance are achieved through easy access to ground-level service checkpoints. The cab can be tilted to provide full access to all main powertrain components. The operator can customise all the working parameters of the machine to achieve excellent controllability and faster cycle times. The automated functions in the cab, which include an electrohydraulic joystick to customise the reversing and steering sensitivity, make the drivers’ job easier, allowing them to achieve shorter cycle times and boost their productivity.

CASE CX220C Excavator, launched in December 2020, is specially designed for the toughest applications. Fitted with a powerful and reliable FPT Industrial engine to ensure high productivity with low fuel consumption, this equipment is ideally suited for quarrying and earthworks around mines. Its robust design, with 33 per cent stronger heavy-duty arm, boom, and undercarriage structures improve the machine’s durability in the harsh mining terrains. It is easy to maintain from the ground level, which makes it a good choice for the user.

What can be the possible challenges in the post-Covid scenario?
Overcoming the extraordinary event of the pandemic, the mining industry has risen to the challenge and found innovative ways to sustain itself in the business. Although the situation has stabilised over the two years, there seems to be some disruption. In addition to tackling climate change issues, there is a need to create fundamental changes in how companies operate. Collaborative actions will have to be taken to continue smooth work operations. In the manufacturing space, companies will face the challenges of training, skilling, and sustaining employees. Taking care of the safety of workers will be one of the topmost priorities. In addition, adapting to the digital environment will be at a slow pace as mining and metal companies have limited talent. To tackle this, there is a need to create awareness and educate people about the industry to attract employees that are more skilled.

Overall, creating a purpose and following a goal, which involves innovation, collaboration, skilling and digitalisation can help the industry tackle the situation post-COVID-19 pandemic.

How do you look at the opportunities for the mining equipment market after the mining policy revival?
As mentioned earlier, the industry is working towards introducing mining equipment in the market and expanding the volumes gradually.
As the scope of mining activities increases, the opportunities may vary. Further, there is immense scope for exporting which will definitely keep boosting the Indian business, therefore increasing opportunities for mining equipment in the market.