We plan to double our production capacity
ACE, one of the largest construction equipment players in the mobile and tower crane segments in India, showcased its upgraded and new backhoe loader models in different engine horsepower categories at Excon along with award-winning products like a special crane for piling, 360-degree slew pick-n-carry crane, and manlift crane.

Sorab Agarwal, Executive Director, Action Construction Equipment (ACE), said “We displayed various other models including our new and higher tonnage next-gen cranes. Moreover, we commissioned one of the largest crawler and truck crane manufacturing plants, which will double our production capacity. We will add more and bigger products to our portfolio. We will follow lean manufacturing processes to improve production and save wastage, and undertake continuous upgradations of our products as per market expectations.”

The government has a target of building 80 km of roads per day. No doubt, the demand for road equipment will be huge. The company is already working on 50-60 per cent utilisation of current capacity and increasing production.

Said Agarwal, “We have ample scope for expansion in our backhoe loaders, forklifts, and other road machinery, and are open to joint ventures. We plan to expand our equipment capacity in almost all our range of products. In pick and carry cranes, we will increase capacities from the current 30 tonne (t) to 35-40 t, which will be the largest in the world. We also plan to increase our capacity in the tower cranes and forklifts to 25 t and 32 t, respectively. We have a range of 49-74 hp backhoes and the only 95 hp 4x4 backhoe in the country. We will introduce a butterfly-type outrigger backhoe model for the international market in the next two to three months, and are also developing 100 to 160-t crawler cranes, which will be launched in the first half of 2023.”

To meet the growing demand for safer cranes, ACE is offering NX 360 that rotates a complete 360 degrees and the NXP with a hydraulically operated manlift. There is a growing inclination toward safer cranes in the last 10 years, and currently, these types occupy 20-30 per cent of the market. Within the product mix of pick and carry cranes, Hydras comprise 75 per cent and new generation cranes 25 per cent.

“In the last few years, we have come up with four game-changing products: the NX 360 degree, which can rotate 360 degrees, and the NXP which has a hydraulically operated manlift. Both come with best-in-class safety features. Our NXT series has self-compensated forks like telehandlers. We are also working on pick and carry cranes with high-speed winches for use in pilling operations during concreting and cage lowering. I would like to mention that while the European and American manufacturers adopt a 75 per cent safety rating system, we adopted it at 60 per cent for our Manlift crane,” added Agarwal.

As a leader in core segments of construction equipment, ACE does continuous R&D to make products that enhance productivity while being cost-effective. In fact, controlling cost is a continuous process and we keep on upgrading products to meet market demand.

“We believe that every market evolves as per customer requirements. When there was a demand for 8 to 20-t pick and carry cranes with a longer boom, we provided it. The new generation 360-degree, platform and telehandler cranes, which can do multiple tasks, have been developed as per customer requirements. So, our R&D focuses on what the customer wants and is willing to pay for it. Automation, IoT, etc. will add value to machines provided they are of practical use,” he said.

Anyone with more than three to four machines will need a good GPS, a trained operator, and a system for monitoring his equipment’s fuel consumption, safety, etc. This is now possible using telematics that can be installed on all machines with a standard 3G or 4G sim card. For example, safe load indicators send alerts when something is not right and the owner or fleet operator can take timely corrective action. Earlier in case of an unsafe operation, the operator could easily reset the machine, but now the machine gets locked and only a password can help start its operations.

There are devices for using satellite-controlled data of the terrain for grading, which helps the machine to automatically set the required blade and reduce the number of passes, saving fuel as well. So, technologies like AI and IoT are bound to catch up soon.

ACE is offering attractive schemes for small contractors and operator training on its new machines. Cash flows in the contractor industry were affected by the pandemic lockdown for a couple of months. ACE has various schemes to help small contractors whether with finance, buyback, refurbishment, etc.

He added, “We also provide operator training on all our new series. In fact, for every new model or type of machine that we supply, experienced operators give 15 days’ training on the machines. We also ensure onsite training for operating our high-end machines. Simulator and hands-on training are provided at our facility in Faridabad on all types of machines, along with troubleshooting and preventive maintenance. It is a good sign that big brands are in India as we believe that competition is essential for product upgradation and improvement in customer services.”

The presence of big brands like Franna and Tadano shows the potential and prowess of the economy and the success of pick and carry cranes in India, where ACE manufactures about 8,000-9,000 cranes every year.

By making in India and exporting from here, such multinational giants will open the way for Indian companies to export globally. They will bring advanced technologies, technical know-how, and best practices and we can surely learn from them. They will also help reduce the country’s dependence on the Chinese companies that have been dominating the truck crane industry in India for the past four to five years.

The government clearly understands that investing in building infrastructure is going to help improve the economy, hence its strong focus on the construction industry. This year, they have announced investing in building roads, bridges, airports, pipelines, industries, etc., which will help grow the country’s economy, create employment, and also drive the growth of related industries like steel, cement, etc.

Concluded Agarwal, “That apart, we are catering to other sectors also with our products. For instance, in the agricultural sector, our track-harvester combine for paddy is No. 2 in India. We have also started working with the Indian Defense, where we are providing some special machines, cranes, and 4x4 tractors. Most of these machines were being imported at three times the price. We have also designed missile and torpedo handling cranes mounted on special 10x10 and 8x8 Tata and Leyland vehicles. Our target is to earn 15-20 per cent of our total revenue from exports. In the international market, our target is to earn 15-20 per cent of our total revenue from exports. (We are currently earning 7 to 8 per cent). Our reach has expanded to the Middle East, African, South American, and Southeast Asian markets, and we have plans to explore Central Asia and East European markets.”