28 February 2020

Interaction-Vikram Sharma, MD, Kobelco Construction

Our machines have always proven to be highly productive, reliable and safe


With the increasing focus of the government to speed up the implementation of the road programme, KOBELCO CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT INDIA a major player in the construction and mining domain is all set to make the most of the busy times ahead. VIKRAM SHARMA, MD and CEO, responded to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES queries on the company’s performance and prospects.


What are the products offered by your firm to support India’s road construction plans?

Our Hydraulic Excavators find multiple uses in the Road Construction activity. It could be simple earth/rock excavation or hill cutting or site clearing. These machines find use in aggregate Quarries whether in excavation or loading or even with Breaker attachments. Our Customers are able to execute their work faster and at a lower cost giving them that extra competitive edge.


Tell us of the projects in which your products are currently being utilised and the important projects in the past where they were profitably utilised?

Our machines are being used all over the country in large numbers by many Road Developers and Contractors. The high productivity of these Excavators justifies the preference of the users. The excellent working ambience and precise feather-touch controls allow the Operator to give a much higher output.


What is your company’s plan of action or strategy for the road segment this year in view of the fact that the targets to be implemented have been pushed up further this year? Are you looking to add new equipment to your existing product portfolio? Are you eyeing specific projects?

Our present offerings (14 and 20 Ton) cover most of the applications in Road construction of National and State highways as well as Expressways. Some of the relatively bigger machines (35 Ton category) are also being deployed on some large projects. There is some scope of smaller machines for the local roads/ village roads but Kobelco has no immediate plans to introduce any of their smaller Excavators in India.

Much cheaper options with older technologies are available and Kobelco does not compromise on quality/ technology in any market.


What are the trends driving purchase or hire of road construction equipment market in India? To what extent is consumer behaviour influenced by cost?

Price continues to be the dominant factor in purchase decisions. However, it is encouraging that an increasing number of Buyers are considering key aspects like machine productivity, after-sales support, machine uptime, Fuel consumption, service life of major components, etc while selecting their equipment. This is a very positive direction for Kobelco which believes in delivering the Best Value to their Customers.


What are the road equipment currently most in demand?

Our 20 Ton Excavator, the SK210HDLC, is a preferred choice of buyers in the value segment. The 14 Ton model, the SK140HDLC is also finding multiple usages by many small and medium players.

Both these machines have proven to be highly productive and reliable.


Briefly tell us about your manufacturing units – location, production capacity, technology, investments etc?

In India, Kobelco has its manufacturing facility at SriCity in Andhra Pradesh, barely 65 kms from Chennai. It is producing 1200 machines annually with single-shift operation. Steps have already been taken to augment the annual production to 1800 units.

Being a global player, Kobelco sets its own standards for quality manufacturing, which are implemented at all units. Quality reviews are also conducted at each facility by officials from some other Kobelco facility. Kobelco maintains the requisite technological and safety features essential for acceptance in most international markets as a minimum standard.

Kobelco entered the Indian market in 2007 with a clear vision and has made substantial investments with a medium to long-range perspective.

The past few years were quite subdued but we have kept ourselves focused with a firm belief in the recovery of the Construction Equipment market.  

Tell us about the indigenisation efforts undertaken by the company to meet the market requirements? What is the company’s approach to implementing the ‘Make in India’ drive?

Like most overseas Companies, indigenization was clearly a priority and we achieved substantial indigenization over the years. However, we find some constraints in respect of components requiring high quality standards or with latest technological features.

The local sources have not upgraded themselves to current international levels. Apparently, some of the leading OEMs are still using older technologies and hence the demand for high-tech components is limited. Imports seem to be the only option for now.


What is your focus on technological up gradation in respect of your products? What are the advancements you have introduced or plan to introduced?

Kobelco has introduced many new and unique features through their Excavators. For instance, our Engines have an Auto-Idle-Stop feature which is unique. This brings about substantial Fuel savings – usually, Fuel accounts for around 50per cent of the Operating Cost. The INDr (Integrated Noise and Dust Reduction) technology allows Kobelco Excavators to work with very low sound and vibration levels, even in very dusty conditions. Operator comfort and safety has been a major focus area making it possible for the Operator to achieve and maintain peak output levels. There are several other features which facilitate better machine output, reliability and safety.


How do you expect the market to shape up for the road construction equipment industry through 2016-17?

With the Central Govt. maintaining a strong push, this market is bound to grow. Many practical issues have also been addressed to revive many of the stalled projects and to revive the confidence of the Developers and Contractors. Availability of aggregates has been a serious constraint in many States and local issues have to be taken care of. A new concern is the availability of trained Operators for most of the equipment.


What is your agenda and outlook for 2016-2017?

Kobelco will continue to grow by providing better Value to our Customers. Our efforts for the past few years, in strengthening the support and logistics network across the country, will ensure high machine uptime leading to better earnings and returns. The global economic outlook is not very encouraging but that may not dampen the Indian market sentiments.

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