The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected most industries including ours. Growth in the construction equipment sector is directly dependent on infrastructure development. And, as almost all infrastructure projects had come to a standstill in the months of April and May, the construction equipment industry was severely stressed. This was an extremely challenging period for the entire industry, as nobody could have planned for a down cycle as severe as what we witnessed. For JCB India as well, it has been an unprecedented experience in our 40-year journey in India.
This led to a significant drop in the demand for wheel loaders. However, with the gradual opening of the industry and the government’s concerted efforts towards reviving the economy, we are seeing some green shoots. They are a combination of pent-up demand getting released and also the slow and cautious revival of industry sentiment, as we learn to live with the virus.
What are the application trends and current demand scenario for wheel loaders? Given the emerging opportunities, what will drive the growth of wheel loaders in future?
The demand for wheel loaders is primarily for loading, unloading, bulk material movement in sectors such as ports, mining, road, tunnelling, quarry and crushers, and is expected to gradually grow in the coming years. These will be widely used in large scale infrastructure and construction projects as well, such as roads and highways, railways, dams, ports, airports etc.
Despite the slowdown, there has been a continuous thrust from the government for creating infrastructure in India. The government has demonstrated a very clear intent to expedite pending infrastructure projects. The Hon’ble Prime Minister gave a special mention to ‘infrastructure’ as one of the five pillars to be focused on and it would not only help in taking the economy out of the ongoing crisis but also boosting the demand cycle for construction equipment including wheel loaders.
The Rs 20 trillion economic stimulus package pronounced by the government is focused on structural reforms including coal, mining, infrastructure etc. Bold policies and reforms have been made to promote commercial mining and boost investments in Indian manufacturing and infrastructure.
Furthermore, the rural economy will be one of the key demand drivers for the next many years. As rural further integrates, we are hopeful of seeing more activity in terms of building infrastructure in this sector.
As government continues to develop infrastructure and focus on large-scale infrastructure projects such as Sagarmala, Bharatmala and Jal Marg Vikas in the pipeline, we are hopeful of a bright future.
What are the key developments and trends being witnessed in the wheeled loader market? How is JCB catering to these new trends?
Digital technology is impacting our lives in more ways than we could have imagined. Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and advanced telematics are a few digital trends that are being integrated to the construction and manufacturing product line. JCB India, a leading manufacturer of earthmoving and construction equipment, is leveraging digital technology in its products and services.
At JCB, we have pioneered the integration of digital technology in our ‘Intelli’ series of construction equipment. This has improved productivity, reliability and efficiency of our machines to ultimately benefit our customers with ease of operation and cost profitability.
The Intelli-Load in the JCB455ZX wheeled loader helps in real time monitoring of individual weight of the loaded bucket, total accumulated weight, and the number of loaded buckets. The JCB 432ZX Plus wheeled loader has been designed to work more for longer hours at a lower maintenance cost. This 3.65T payload machine provides 11 per cent more productivity and saves up fuel. To further support the growth and development in various segments of construction, infrastructure, material handling and more, JCB’s range of smart wheeled loaders offers the best-in-class productivity, versatility and fuel-efficiency.
JCB machines are also supported by LiveLink, an advanced telematics technology that links up with customers 24/7 for asset management and helps them increase productivity, control cost and ensure asset safety. In this, customers get three elements – security, operations and service (SOS). Under security, JCB’s machines (wheel loaders) are geo-fenced and can be located anywhere. In operation, customers get to know about the machine’s fuel level, battery conditions, etc – almost entire parameters of the machine on their mobile.
Besides, JCB genuine parts application enables customers to order parts of JCB products online. Further, internal tool for service requirements, service engineers and service jobs, SmartServe has evolved as an ecosystem that acts as a backbone of JCB’s industry leading customer support network.
JCB India also provides an unmatched after-sales service to its customers through 700 outlets and over 60 dealers. Since these machines work in far flung areas, it is imperative that a well-connected product support is offered to customers to minimise the downtime and maximise productivity.
With such intelligent and smart wheeled loader machines, and services, JCB has been helping pace up India’s infrastructure development. As we go ahead, we will continue to utilise these smart technologies to offer unmatched benefits to our customers and end users.
What are the innovations that you have done to support the bucket in your wheel loaders?
The ‘IntelliLoad’ feature in JCB wheeled loaders allows the machines to move and carry maximum tonnes in a day, by keeping a check on under-loading. It is an accurate load measurement and reports the weight loaded on to the bucket. This innovation has helped bring accuracy to the bucket function of our wheeled loader machines, reducing the cycle time. IntelliLoad gives JCB loaders an edge in productivity. The feature contributes to all-round efficiency by implementing optimised truck loading, preventing double handling of material, improving fuel efficiency of the machine, preventing overloading fines, preventing spillage and structural damage.
What are the advancements in JCB wheel loaders focused on productivity and fuel efficiency?
The JCB 455ZX wheel loader is a rugged, reliable machine equipped with advanced telematics LiveLink. It is designed and built to cope up with even the most demanding sites, hour after hour, day after day. Its world-class components ensure built-in quality, leading to more value for money. It also offers great visibility, non-slip surfaces, air filtration and more, which makes the machine very safe.
The JCB 455ZX is also powered by the JCB DIESELMAX 672 engine. The 6-cylinder, 7.2-litre engine achieves high power (165 kW) and peak torque (1,000 Nm) at low revs. It also utilises the latest EcoMAX lean-burn combustion technology to ensure reduced emissions and greater efficiency.
What is needed to reap the real benefit for the wheel loader market from the future opportunities?
Construction activity and the focus on infrastructure have to continue for the industry to revive fully. This would help propel further demand for wheel loaders. It is also equally important to cater to the emerging opportunities. Liquidity-related challenges also need to be addressed to ensure that projects are back on track, thus leading to improved business for the construction equipment industry.
We feel that going forward two key sectors are set to emerge, infrastructure development in rural India and the creation of a strong healthcare system. Rural India has also emerged as a potential key growth enabler, in the days to come. At a national level, Railways and large projects like Sagarmala should be given impetus to strengthen the logistics network and develop requisite infrastructure aimed at enhancing capacity at ports, improving operational efficiency and connectivity to enable a smoother flow of traffic.
Secondly, for a large and diverse country like ours, the need for a robust healthcare infrastructure is imminent. There has to be much higher allocation of expenditure on health and its sustainable development. Currently, it is approximately 1.3 per cent of GDP but in the longer run it should be at least 5 per cent. After the immediate focus on protecting lives and livelihoods, the medium to long term vision will have to around the structural investment in health, starting from health education. All of this would result in improved application and demand for wheel loaders.
Further, for these infrastructure projects to be successful, liquidity is essential. The pandemic has made banks and NBFCs even more risk averse. Transmission of liquidity is critical for our industry – RBI has done a lot in the past few months, the benefits of which need to be passed on to the end users. The risk appetite should not become nil. NBFCs are very important to construction equipment financing. But there is something else which could make this a milestone phase in India’s future. That is of our ‘mindset’. The call on becoming ‘Aatmanirbhar’ or ‘self-reliant’ is gaining traction.
The reforms announced by the government are aimed to improve demand consumption and improve liquidity. If only India was to somehow fulfill this anticipated demand with products that are made domestically, we could start seeing the shoot up in the demand of wheel loaders as well as the wheels of the economy turning.