07 June 2020

Interaction - Vikram Sharma, Advisor-India & South Asia, KCEI

Always focused on our value-based features

A global major in hydraulic excavators, Kobelco offers machines across various tonnages for varied applications. It is among the dominant players in India’s infra and mining sectors. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, VIKRAM SHARMA, ADVISOR - INDIA & SOUTH ASIA, KOBELCO CONSTRUCTION EQPT INDIA, discusses the company’s product line and dynamics of the Indian market.




Tell us about the range of excavators offered by you, in terms of types, capacities, and applications.

KOBELCO is a leading global manufacturer of hydraulic excavators. They have a wide range of models in the mini, small, medium, and heavy, categories. The smallest machine weighs only one ton and the largest model weighs over 80 tons. In India, of course, we offer machines in the 14 ton, 20-24 ton, 35-38 ton, 45-50 ton and 75-85 ton classes. They are used in a wide range of applications and tasks. Some common uses are for road projects, mines & quarries, irrigation, other infra projects, etc.




Cutting edge technology featured in your machines. What distinguishes your excavators from competitors?

Kobelco is well known for its best-in-class fuel efficiency and productivity. It has several features like Engine Auto-Idle-Stop (AIS) which prevents fuel wastage if the machine is idling for over 60 seconds. There is a unique noise and dust reduction system. The machine performance is controlled by Next-Gen electronics which ensure optimal use of power and efficiency.




Give us an understanding of their key features in terms of safety, ease of operating your machines, operator comfort, cost efficiency, etc., their specific advantages.

Kobelco has a very strong focus on safety and comfort of the operator. It provides probably the best working environment for maximum productivity. The cabin has a climate-control AC, with a very comfortable operator’s seat with multiple adjustment options, an excellent view of the work area, and ergonomically designed and positioned control levers for minimum fatigue while operating. Though the machine is controlled electronically, it has a provision for manual operation in case of any issue till the problem is resolved. The machines are also fitted with Geoscan, a remote monitoring device which provides very useful machine data like working hours, utilisation, fuel consumption, etc.




Aftermarket services as a strategic differentiator.

As the OEMs upgrade their machines, the technological gap between the companies tends to reduce. To stay ahead of the competition, Kobelco has kept the after-sales support as a key focus area globally. In India too, this special focus has been maintained from the very beginning.

Today, the support network has over 130 touchpoints and is well supported by an efficient logistics arrangement. This consistent effort has yielded results in the shape of high levels of customer satisfaction and retention.




Which sectors are major demand drivers for your products?


Of late, road projects are the main growth drivers leading to a definite rise in demand over the past two years, after several years of low activity. Other infra projects like railways, metro rail projects, ports and airports, etc, are expected to contribute to the growth in coming years. Mining is also having a good growth prospect.




Your strategy to play in a price sensitive market.

Price has been a dominant factor in equipment selection. However, there is a definite though slow shift towards other factors like value-add features, life-cycle cost, productivity, fuel savings, reliability/ uptime, after-sales support, etc.

Hopefully, this change will continue and help the market develop with induction of current technologies. We have always focused on our value-based features and will continue to help our customers achieve the best RoI.




Impact of GST on your products.

The applicable rate of GST is fixed at 28 per cent for our products. This is much higher than the previous combined rate of Excise duty & VAT/CST. As such, an impact is very likely. However, we expect the situation to stabilise over the next few months, when the benefits of GST would be clearer and buyers will be able to get the input benefit of GST paid.




Do you offer equipment finance or do you have tie-ups with finance companies for the same?

We do not have any in-house financing option. We are having tie-ups with most of the banks and finance companies who are active in our industry.



Your outlook for the rentals market.

The rental market continues to be unorganised in India. The scope is quite large with many of the large infra development companies facing financial constraints carried over from the earlier period of stalled projects. Larger players will have to come up to meet the emerging demand.



Detail us on the emission norms compliance of your machines.

Our machines have always complied with the emission norms applicable in the markets that we operate in. In India, though there is practically no emission norms for the earthmoving industry, we supplied products conforming to international standards (Tier III).



Indigenisation of components in your machines in context of ‘Make in India’

We have made considerable progress in our efforts to indigenise /localise in line with our business plans. It is a challenge to develop a reliable source of quality products. The overall market size is a constraint. This is further compounded by the fact that OEMs are at different levels of technology and there is hardly any common parts/components.




Future outlook from the industry and company perspectives.

The immediate outlook is quite positive considering the government push for various projects and schemes. Funding is also mostly available. Continuity of the present government beyond 2019 will definitely allow for greater growth over the next 5-7 years.  

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