Volvo CE is committed to delivering the most advanced training available today
Volvo CE?s strategy is robust enough to work in a range of economic scenarios, and desig?ned to be achievable throughout the business cycle of the construction equi?pment industry, says AM Muralidharan, President, Volvo CE S&M India. In a detailed chat with Equipment India, Muralidharan talks about the range of pavers offered by Volvo and its superior features. Excerpts from the interview.

How do you assess the market potential for pavers (wheeled/tracked) in terms of number of units and value, growth enablers and the growth envisaged?
The potential market for pavers in India is quite strong and it is expected to grow by 2013. The total market for pavers is expected to touch 550 units.

What is the range offered by Volvo for mid-sized pavers?
Volvo CE launched its mid-sized paver, P6820 in India during Excon 2011. It is a comprehensive paving solution for customers facing increasing demand for productivity and versatility in the road construction industry. A mid-sized paver that is ideal for medium-to large-scale jobs, the P6820, has a high paving output and is designed for paving all kinds of wearing, binder and base courses of large widths and course thickness. It combines Volvo?s well-known fuel efficiency with the flexibility, high productivity, and versatility that customers in the road construction industry needs to get the job done. The P6820 can pave up to 700 tonne per hour and a width of up to 9 m, making it suitable for any number of applications.

How good is the potential for the smaller capacity pavers?
The potential for smaller capacity pavers is growing year on year, with customers using smaller pavers to lay Wet Mix Mecadams (WMM) in order to achieve better levels. Volvo manufactures small sized wheeled paver P4370B in our manufacturing facility in Peenya, Bengaluru. P4370B has maximum paving width of 5.5 m with a lay down capacity of 600 tph. The Volvo P4370B is the ideal machine for highway, commercial and utility paving applications. The machine is known for its reliability, comfort, safety and exceptional visibility.

Brief us on the features that make your range of pavers fuel/energy efficient.
The mid-sized paver, P6820 has a smart power mode, which reduces engine RPM to match a job?s demands and can result in fuel savings of up to 30 per cent. The reserve power of the machine allows the machine to work effectively even at maximum paving width, with extremely large loads. On the other hand, engine power is effectively transferred to the road through a combination of wide crawler tracks and excellent weight distribution.

Volvo CE believes in delivering fuel efficiency across all elements of our machines including engines, systems, operator behaviour and future technologies while increasing the productivity of our customers.

Hybrid technology is one part of this wider range of fuel saving solutions.

What are the inbuilt features in the design of the cab?
The cab of the Volvo P6820 mid-sized paver is comfortable and user-friendly, with an adjustable seat and swivelling control panel. The latest Electronic Pavers Management II system (EPM II) within the cab helps the operator monitor all working functions, and engine data and fuel consumption are displayed on a colour screen. The EPM II contains a service interval as well as a settings manager, which saves information and settings for later times when similar conditions are present, saving time and increasing productivity and consistency. The EPM II console, screed control panel and auxiliary control panel can be removed and locked away when not in use for added security.

How technologically superior is the range of screeds offered by Volvo?
Volvo CE offers industry-leading fixed and variable extending screeds. They provide a smooth, uniform surface in every pass, reducing the need for further roller compaction and providing a more even mat. Always flexible, Volvo screeds can work on bituminous, concrete base, aggregate and railway ballast material, and extensions can be added or removed quickly and without use of special tools, via Volvo?s quick coupling system. The dual-electric heating bar arrangement on variomatic screeds provides consistent and reliable heating. Fixed width screeds feature an efficient gas heating system and can be fitted with fixed and variable extensions. The patented screed load device prevents paving bumps by exerting pressure on the screed briefly, once paving begins.

To what extent have machine control systems been accepted in India in pavers? How user-friendly are these?
Controls systems have now become an integral part of any modern construction machine as it helps in getting the best out of a mechanical machine. Control systems are designed to help the operator in using the machine to its full efficiency and hence improve productivity. Human machine interface (HMIs) of the control system has ISO symbols for easy recognition of even uneducated operators commonly found in India. Initially operators were reluctant on using control systems but with time they have realised their advantages and have accepted them. In fact, nowadays the operators demand such systems and also give innovative feedbacks to add more features which will improve productivity and the quality of paving.

Knowledge and skill levels of operators are critical for optimal productivity, how do you address these challenges?
Volvo CE is committed to delivering the most advanced training available in the industry today. Volvo utilises media that is convenient and cost-effective for our operators like online training, CD based training, regional tech facilities, instructor led course and simu?lator training.

Volvo?s training mission is to educate operators in a clear and concise manner in terms of theory of operation, with an emphasis on practical application via a hands-on training. This is based on the philosophy that if theory is understood, troubleshooting can be learned and applied to the product.

What does the potential for concrete pavers in India look like?
Volvo does not manufacture concrete pavers.

Have the inflationary trends, high cost of funding, rising input costs, all adversely impacted your business? Do you have any inbuilt mechanisms to counter these sorts of issues?
Volvo CE?s strategy is robust enough to work in a range of economic scenarios, and designed to be achievable throughout the business cycle of the construction equipment industry.

As a market leader, Volvo CE has been able to increase market share in key products and markets, as customers preferred the assurance of a dependable and strong brand such as Volvo. And being part of the Volvo Group means that we have been actively investing in technology for the future, even in the depths of the downturn. This will make us a stronger company tomorrow.

Tell us about the performance in the last two quarters. How do you envisage the growth in the remaining quarters?
The Indian earthmoving and construction equipment market is at an inflection point with a potential to grow six-seven times from total revenues of $3.3 billion in 2010 to $22.7 billion by 2020; and from over 60,000 units in 2010 to ~330,000 in 2020. The industry volume of construction equipment stand at 2,500 machines per year and it is expected to grow at the rate of 5-10 per cent. Matching this growth, Volvo CE which already has a market share of 22-24 per cent is expecting to growth at a 15-20 per cent rate in future.

Brief us the on role played by Rasta in providing technical competency in paving solutions.
RASTA (Resource centre for Asphalt and Soil Training Academy) is a centre for road technology started in Bengaluru in 2002. It is an initiative by the Volvo Group to bridge the knowledge gap between academic learning and industry needs with more focus on application and hands-on experience. RASTA offers specialised training programmes catering to working professionals from government departments, construction companies and consulting organisations. Apart from conducting training programmes at RASTA Bengaluru, it also conducts training programmes at job sites to encourage more participation. As on date, more than 3,000 engineers of various levels have been trained at RASTA.

RASTA?s extensive expertise in road technology offers consulting services in material characterisation, pavement evaluation, technical audit, premature failure investigation and other areas in road technology.