Sunday, July 14, 2024

Cover Story August 2023

Interaction – Amit Bansal, Director – Sales & Marketing, Building Construction Products (BCP) Division, Caterpillar India August 2023

Caterpillar is a technology leader in the industry and has a 90+ year history of product innovation and development

Every Cat Backhoe is designed to provide superior productivity coupled with low owning and operating costs providing products and services of the greatest value for its customers. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, AMIT BANSAL, DIRECTOR – SALES & MARKETING, BUILDING CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS (BCP) DIVISION, CATERPILLAR INDIA PVT LTD. speaks regards the cutting edge technologies in his company’s products and future outlook for the industry.

Briefly give us an overview of the Backhoe Loader market in India, the latest trends, current business drivers, sector challenges and market dynamics?

With the government of India’s focus on infrastructure development, we believe the construction industry in India will continue to grow in the long term. This marks a golden era for the Indian construction industry, with an escalating demand for critical infrastructure projects spanning railways, road networks, highways, dedicated freight corridors, airports, electrification initiatives, and a plethora of other vital developments. Together, all these developments and projects would lead to a parallel growth of the construction equipment market across the rural as well as urban segment of the country which implies that there will be a strongly growing demand for backhoe loaders along with other equipment for supporting these developments. The recent growth projections for the backhoe loader market reflects this growing demand.

The industry is embracing digital technologies and automation to enhance productivity and reduce operating costs. There’s a growing emphasis on environmentally friendly models with lower emissions and increased fuel efficiency.

Detail us on the range of backhoe loaders offered by your company, in terms of types, capacities and applications. 

Cat® Backhoe Loaders provide superior digging, trenching, back-filling, and material handling capability and can be used for many applications, including but not limited to General Construction, Demolitions and Excavations, Landscaping, Breaking Asphalt and Paving. They deliver the power and precise handling customer need when operating in areas where using larger equipment is not practical. Our Backhoe Loaders set the industry standard for operator comfort, exceptional performance, versatility, and jobsite efficiency.

The Cat 424 Backhoe Loader with Cat C3.6 engine delivers 41.3% higher peak torque to improve machine performance. This provides high fuel efficiency with up to 20% fuel saving over the previous model when operated in the new Eco mode. The 424 has a stronger parallel lift loader arm design that delivers high breakout forces and improved material retention when lifting the loader bucket. The Cat 424’s design delivers a 15% increase in lift force and 30% increase in tilt performance. The new stylish cab integrates roll-overprotective structure (ROPS) and falling-object protective structure (FOPS) to protect operators and give them a safer environment in which to work. Redesigned mountings at the cabin’s four corners lower vibration feedback to improve operator comfort further.

At the rear of the machine, the excavator style boom offers better accessibility over obstacles and improved loading efficiency in confined spaces. Providing strong stick force, the machine’s 60-40 split between boom and stick delivers better reach over trucks for ease of loading. Digging performance and material retention are improved by the 205-degrees of rotation offered by the hoe bucket.

The machine’s proven variable displacement piston pump now delivers a 14.8% higher rated capacity of 132 lpm hydraulic oil flow at 2200 rpm. Load-sensing, close-centered hydraulics provide oil flow to meet system demand for superior fuel efficiency. Robust components combine with low system wear to increase reliability and provide improved performance for an extended period.

The new machine design offers the choice between two-wheel drive for optimum fuel efficiency and four-wheel drive for maximum performance on hilly or tough terrain. The new multipurpose loader bucket option improves functionality at the loader end for dozing, grading, spreading, material handling, carrying, and loading. With this and the addition of a new 0.3 m3 backhoe bucket for increased material capacity, a broad range of bucket options are available for the 424 to suit any application. Offering primary and secondary braking for demolition applications, the B8S hammer with necessary lines is available, while the optional manual hoe coupler affords smooth and efficient interchange between the bucket, hammer, or other backhoe work tools. The new machine design offers the choice between two-wheel drive for optimum fuel efficiency and four-wheel drive for maximum performance on hilly or tough terrain. The new multipurpose loader bucket option improves functionality at the loader end for dozing, grading, spreading, material handling, carrying, and loading. With this and the addition of a new 0.3 m3 backhoe bucket for increased material capacity, a broad range of bucket options are available for the 424 to suit any application. Offering primary and secondary braking for demolition applications, the B8S hammer with necessary lines is available, while the optional manual hoe coupler affords smooth and efficient interchange between the bucket, hammer, or other backhoe work tools.

Detail us on the Safety features and operator comfort in your machines.

Caterpillar is known for applying technology to machines and job sites in ways that improve customer efficiency and productivity. An equally important goal is using technology to manage and mitigate safety risks for people in and around our machines. Ensuring safety on heavy equipment is paramount to protect operators and bystanders, prevent accidents, and ensure efficient operations, contributing to workplace well-being and productivity. These technologies vary in complexity, beginning with ergonomic improvements inside equipment cabs such as more intuitive controls, easy-to-read displays, and noise and vibration suppression systems that reduce fatigue. An event alerts the operator immediately with an audio alarm and seat vibration inside the cab. The new stylish cab integrates ROPS and FOPS to protect operators and give them a safer environment in which to work. Standard machine comes with spacious cabin, suspension seat, new display, and ergonomic controls for fatigue free operation. We are constantly developing new technologies that help keep workers safe. We take a “big picture” approach when it comes to technology, helping customer’s operations run better, every step of the way.

Detail us on your aftermarket services as a strategic differentiator.

As a company, we are committed to understanding the needs of our customers. Our innovative products and solutions help them maximize value and minimize their total cost of operation. There is a growing reliance on aftermarket services with a focus on digital-enabled solutions to establish customer loyalty. Aftermarket products serve as a strategic differentiator for Caterpillar Backhoe Loaders (BHLs) by enhancing customer satisfaction and extending machine life thereby giving best return on investment to customers. This customer-centric approach fosters brand loyalty and competitiveness in the construction equipment industry. We offer ‘Aftermarket Performance Customer Value Agreements’ (CVAs), to support hassle-free service to customers at any point in the machine lifecycle to help maximize machine performance and utilization. This includes dealer technician support using genuine Cat parts for certain planned maintenance and fluid health management to help identify issues before they cause unexpected downtime. Customers can contact their dealer to know more about CVAs and other offers. Long-standing Cat dealers, Gainwell Commo Sales India Pvt Ltd (GCPL) and Gmmco Ltd have all the technical information, training, access to the latest updates to provide reliable services to our customers. The improved analytical and service capabilities such as telematics, inspections, SOS Services, as well as eCommerce platforms like www.parts.cat.com, and other dealer specific mobile applications are making it easy for our customers to own, operate and maintain the equipment at a click of a button.

Please provide details on your emphasis on technology, research, design and innovation.

Caterpillar is a technology leader in the industry and has a 90+ year history of product innovation and development. Our technology strategy stems from a meticulous evaluation of where and how our machines will operate in the long term. Guided by this assessment, our primary focus lies in elevating customer experiences through intelligent solutions. Our products are ahead of time and to make this happen our R&D teams are constantly working with dealers and customers to understand what they expect when they buy a machine for their jobsite. Sustainability is integral to our technology development strategies and permeates our New Product Introduction (NPI) process. We are committed to not only meeting but exceeding the expectations of our customers while ensuring that our innovations align with environmental and social sustainability goals.

The product is equipped with advanced technology solutions to help customers maximize their fleet efficiency and profitability.   Product Link™, a standard feature tracks and transmits crucial operating data via VisionLink® to help improve fleet management. VisionLink connects customers with a comprehensive overview of their entire fleet to optimize equipment performance and gives the customers confidence in their operation and access to actionable information.

Tell us about the indigenization efforts undertaken by the company to meet the market requirements?

For more than 50 years we have been contributing towards socio-economic development of the country through our investments in cutting edge R&D, enabling us to localize our operations, develop robust infrastructure and job creation to build resilient communities.

At present over 7,300 people work at Caterpillar and about 4,000 people work at Cat dealers. Our presence in India includes state-of-the art manufacturing facilities, high-tech research, and development, as well as numerous global support organizations. Our R&D facility in Chennai leads technology innovation across manufacture, design and engineering services to Caterpillar BUs across the globe. We have pioneered customer and product led innovations driving industry leadership in sustainability, safety, productivity, efficiency; producing world-class products for India and exporting Indian-made products across the globe We make a range of equipment which includes off-highway trucks, large mining trucks, hydraulic excavators, motor graders, backhoe loaders, skid steer loaders, wheel loaders, engines and gensets etc. Caterpillar team and Cat dealers are spread across hundreds of locations in India to serve and support our customers and respond quickly to their needs. These indigenization efforts not only enhance Caterpillar’s competitiveness in the Indian market but also align with the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, promoting domestic manufacturing and economic growth. Through these endeavors, Caterpillar continues to meet the evolving market requirements while fostering a stronger presence in India’s construction and infrastructure development landscape.

Your take on the rentals market for backhoe loaders.

The rental business in India is not an organized sector. However, 50 to 60 percent of construction equipment owners, particularly in the retail area, rent machines like backhoe loaders and mini excavators to other customers for their projects. India already has a sizable informal rental sector. There is an opportunity for people to have an organized rental ecosystem. Our dealers, GMMCO Ltd, and Gainwell Commosales Pvt Ltd., offer a range of rental fleets for customers across India for specific requirements. The rentals market for backhoe loaders is experiencing notable growth and is poised for further expansion. Several key factors contribute to the increasing demand for backhoe loader rentals such as Cost-Efficiency, Flexibility, Reduced risk, etc. However, challenges such as availability during peak seasons and adherence to rental terms and conditions need to be managed.

Your comments on the financing of equipment, how fast and easy is it for a customer to get finance. According to you will encourage customers to buy equipment and thereby increase sales.

We offer comprehensive product solutions to our customers which are a combination of technology, financial and aftermarket services. Our Cat Financial services help customers to make the best choice to support their business no matter how big or small, whether it be for new or used Cat machines or for repair/ rebuild options to keep their current machines operational. Cat Financial provides retail and wholesale financing solutions and extended protection products to Cat customers and dealers for the complete line of Cat machinery and engines. Whether the customers are looking to finance equipment, acquire working capital, improve cash flow, or protect their investment, Cat Financial understands the customers’ businesses and has the solutions to fit their needs. The ease and speed of equipment financing can significantly influence customer buying decisions. Streamlined financing processes with competitive rates and flexible terms can encourage customers to invest in equipment, ultimately boosting sales. Quick approvals and minimal paperwork are key factors in facilitating this process, making it more accessible and appealing to potential buyers. We offer quality service throughout the life cycle of equipment including purchase, protect, manage, and resell.

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