Cycle time is a critical success factor in all bulk handling applications. Ramifications of high cycle time even extend to bulk handlers securing business. Wheel loaders are extensively used bulk handling tools wherein high productivity is of essence.
Philosophically speaking times change. EQUIPMENT INDIA reported a year ago that wheel loaders sales dipped by 40 per cent. In the first quarter of FY15, wheel loaders registered a sale of 600 units as compared to 1,800 units in FY14. Thanks to the new initiatives by our government, analysts project a significantly high 3,400 units in FY16.
Dimitrov Krishnan, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Volvo CE, India says ¨turnaround time is quite critical for material handling whether in railways, ports or quarries. Faster it is, higher the productivity. Informed clients in quarries have started to shift to wheel loaders from cranes as the turnaround has improved.¨ He adds, ¨The government´s move to increase the coal production to one billion tonne will spur the demand for larger capacity wheel loaders.
Wheel loader is versatile equipment for multiple applications in infrastructure, mining, ports, quarry, aggregate production and other sectors in India. Krisihnan says, ¨We have supplied high capacity loaders with large forks to pick up huge marble blocks and load it on trucks.¨
According to Sunil Tiku, Senior Director-Sales & Marketing, Terex Equipment wheel loaders offering higher capacity have witnessed a slight upsurge in demand, as its key applicability sectors remain mining, quarrying and ports.
Sanjay Wadnerkar,Vice President, LiuGong India, ¨Globally LiuGong is offering the higher capacity products to support customer demand; In India also we see some opportunities coming through. In given situation we prefer to offer the range of higher capacity loaders 5T upwards from international stable.¨
¨We are excited to see the mining mess being sorted out quickly and as a result see growth in sales of wheel loaders, our strategic alliance with Lonking China is timed to catch up on the mining sectors revival,¨ says Tiku. According to him mining sector is gaining momentum with the recent initiatives of government directing Coal India to double the production of coal from present level 500 MT to 1,000 MT by 2019-2020 and by passing two important bills, Coal Mines Special Provisions Bill and MMDR, amendment Bill. These bills will surely ensure sustainable growth by opening coal mining by Indian and foreign private companies and will allow transparent auction of coal and do the much needed revival of mining sector by addressing challenges that were prevailing in sector from long such as, discretion, non-transparency and delay in grant on mineral concessions, problems of renewals of mining lease, illegal mining, and issues with investment in the sector. There are approximately 3,000 mines operating in India ensuring huge potential of growth by proper administrative and regulatory provisions, adequate infrastructure sustainability could be achieved and will generate additional demand for wheel loader in India.¨
According to Wadnerkar the passing of both these Bills acts as a game changer for the mining sector resulted in an increase hope of construction equipments manufacturer like us. The recent auction of coal blocks has obviously spurred the demand for wheel loaders. As per reports about 37operating mines have been auctioned and the production from these mines is expected to go around 100 million tonnes in a two year time; and this augurs well for the suppliers of wheel loaders, of which the market was badly hit due to the closure of coal and iron mines.
Krishnan of Volvo confirms the same. According to him the biggest demand is coming from the material handling in the mines whether it is coal or iron ore or other minerals. General construction follows that, and demand from quarry material handling is also looks promising. As of 2016 March we have seen an increase in demand compared to the last two quarters. Primarily, the demand is from mining.
¨There are positive market sentiments about the demand of wheel loaders owing to planned expansion by the mineral based industry such as coal, iron ore, and steel. However, according to Ramesh Tipirneni, Country Manager, Caterpillar India, this versatile machine is finding new application areas. He says, ¨As the mining sector is opening up we are witnessing an increase in demand for wheel loaders. At the same time we see the demand for wheel loaders from new areas as well. Wheel loaders could carry heavy material loads depending on the bucket size. The machines also handle diverse materials in construction, mining and industrial applications. Wheel loaders are also well-suited for stockpiling, truck loading, material handling, hopper charging and load-and-carry work in quarries, sand and gravel pits, coal operations, storage yards, concrete and asphalt plants, and on construction projects for job-site preparation, back-filling, pipe handling, and general cleanup. The demand of wheel loaders is well likely to grow from all these sectors.¨
Low lift cycle cost
To what extent concepts such as ´low life cycle cost´, faster ROIs, ´lowest cost per tonne´ has had an impact on the design parameters of the range of wheel loaders on offer? Says Amit Gossain - Executive Vice President - Sales, Marketing and Business Development, JCB India, ¨Our wheel loaders are known to provide the best in class life cycle cost, ROIs and costs per tonne. They are fitted with fuel efficient engines and ZF transmission. This enables the machines to productively work for long hours. The machines also have robust structures to make them work reliably for years.¨ He adds, ¨At JCB, our aim is to design and manufacture machines which help our customers grow their business therefore, all our products machines are designed based on the feedback received from the customers. The recently launched - 430ZX Plus has the saving potential of more than 2 lacs in 3 years and is fitted with an advanced telematics technology - the Livelink. Livelink allows our customers to monitor their machines even from remote locations.¨ He further adds, ¨Keeping the long working hours in mind, we have introduced ergonomically placed operator controls, servo controls and machines with an air conditioner as an option. For the operators, we also offer a kick down button on operating lever for quick interchange of 1st and 2nd gear.¨
According to Tipirneni, the new Cat® 950GC wheel loader combines low operating costs with the durability, reliability and economy of proven Caterpillar components to deliver productive performance in a wide range of 5T wheel loader applications. The result is a machine of exceptional value at an affordable price. The 950GC list of features is impressive: heavy-duty frames; Cat Z-bar linkage; performance series buckets; fuel-efficient Cat C7.1 engine; powerful load-sensing hydraulics; spacious, air-conditioned cab with intuitive controls.
With a net power rating of 168 kW (225 hp), the C7.1 engine meets Stage IIIA (Tier 3) emissions standards and features a new fuel-injection system specifically designed for fuel available in emerging markets. An electronically controlled, hydraulically driven, variable- speed cooling fan lowers fuel consumption and sound levels, and an optional fan-drive-bypass feature allows faster warm-up in cold weather. A high-ambient cooling package is available. Customers can also opt for Payload Control System (PCS). Operators can view load weights in real time on the in-cab monitor, reducing the risks of overloading, saving time and improving efficiency. Having the ability to track payload during each pass will enable our customer to manage productivity on jobsites in a tangible and accurate manner. Optimising loading cycles, better volume estimates and managing assets based on production, all help reduce operating costs while improving output.
¨When talking about wheel loaders as a machine, few parameters comes in mind immediately like strong structural built, exceptional load carrying capacity, with ability of loading and unloading material continuously,¨ says Tiku. Terex wheel loaders are designed by keeping low life cycle cost, faster ROI´s and lowest per tonne cost in mind, fitted with fuel efficient Cummins engines in CDM 835 -payload capacity of 3.5T and WeiChai engines in CDM 856 payload capacity of 5T. Technologies like automatic leveling, 4F/3R transmission with ZF, ROPS/FOPS cabin makes them best in class and offer higher ROI for customers.
Liugong has sustained the leadership in global market and In India too, the productivity performance is in focus. The low life cycle cost is assured by optimum matching of engine and drive train. Says Wadnerkar ¨We offer range of products for customer to choose for their application, the Cummins engine and Wechai Deutz engines are offered for performance and efficiency match with Liugong in house transmission and ZF transmission.¨
JCB offer a wide range of attachments that make its range of wheel loaders versatile and fit for every application. JCB wheel loaders come with varied bucket capacities ranging from 1.5 cu m (rock bucket), 1.8 cu m (rock bucket) to 3.1 cu m buckets. JCB also offers different buckets for handling heavy materials like iron ore and bigger buckets for handling lighter materials like coal etc. Says Gossain, ¨We ensure that our customers get the right bucket size for their application as that leads to better return on their investments.¨
LiuGong offers a range of buckets based on the applications and type of material to be handled. Says Wadnerkar ¨Certain customers demand the DGMS approved products, auto dispensing lubrication, tyres etc which customer can choose from the product portfolio, we have log handling, long boom etc also to offer.¨
Range on offer
Caterpillar builds a complete line of wheel loaders, including the world´s largest 994 H. Wheel loaders are among the most versatile equipment we make and the customers who use them have one thing in common, they´re looking for maximum uptime. The machine´s mobility and smooth shifts make for greater operator confidence and faster cycle times. When used with a quick coupler, a wide variety of work tools can be easily added for maximum versatility in multiple applications.
In India, CAT currently offers the Cat« 988H large wheel loader and the new Cat 950GC medium wheel loader. Cat« 988H incorporates customer-driven enhancements that improve reliability of key systems and components. It lowers cost-per-tonne by improving productivity and lowering fuel consumption. The 988H list of features include - Positive flow control hydraulic system (PFC), axle oil cooling system, fuel management system, auto idle kickdown (AIK), engine idle shutdown (EIS), impeller clutch torque converter (ICTC), rimpull control system (RCS), performance series buckets and best in class working environment (World class cab with over 3.18 c um (112 ft¦) of volume incorporates features for operator comfort and ergonomics). The Cat« C18 engine of 397 kW (540 hp) with ACERT® technology is US EPA Tier 3 and EU Stage III compliant with increased horsepower and efficient fuel management for quick response, high productivity and exceptional service life. A sculptured cylinder block provides greater strength and is lighter weight.
JCB currently offers three variants in the wheeled loader category - the 430 ZX, the 432ZX and the 430ZX Plus which is the latest addition in the wheeled loader segment. According to Gossain JCB loaders are known for their productivity and efficiency. They are widely used in the material re-handling segment, ready-made concrete units, mining and quarries. They are also gaining popularity in handling of solid waste in waste recycling plants. Gossain says, ¨Unique features like Livelink, ZF transmission and rugged heavy duty axles give more value to our customers. It also offers unmatched operator comfort and ergonomics to increase the productivity of operators and the equipment. JCB machines are fitted with multi plate oil immersed disc brakes that makes the machine more effective in any kind of working condition.¨
Following a process of continuous innovation, the team of experts at Terex has always worked towards bringing forth construction equipments that are leagues ahead of competition. Terex offers CDM 856 and CDM 835 with payload capacity of 5T and 3.5T respectively. According to Tiku these are best in class with excellent loading performance, and perfect example of technical prowess and expertise. Terex wheel loaders combine compact dimensions with impressive productivity for real value. Their strengths make them best suited in application including mining, material handling, quarry sites etc. Says Tiku, ¨Our strategic tie up with Lonking is helping a lot and with the immense talent pool of great, efficient engineers, we are doing a lot of good things for our wheel loader customers. He adds, ¨Our first batches of wheel loaders have been sold out and customers are very happy with the machines performance.¨
LiuGong India manufactures ´Made in India´ machines with four different models and seven different variants of wheel loaders in India. It currently has the capacity of manufacturing of 3,000 machines annually. The company currently manufactures 2, 3, and 5 tonne machine at Pithampur plant. The mini loader CLG 818C BSIII is a latest addition that fills the gap between the backhoe and 3 tonne segment, the machine is equipped with Kirloskar 4R1040TC engine with rated power of 56kw. Featuring YJ280 single phase torque converter and BD05 counter shaft-type power shift transmission, the CLG818C BSIII offers big traction force with high reliability, according to Wadnerkar. He adds, ¨Liugong 3 and 5 tonne models are proven in Indian market over years and well appreciated by customers due to performance and reliability.¨
The future prospects look favourable for the wheel loader industry as the government has taken necessary steps to open sectors like iron ore, coal mining - focussing on core industries. Loaders growth is anticipated with growing infrastructure and mining market. According to analysts the market size for loaders is pegged at 3,400 units, supported with 600 units of skid steer loaders. Says Krishnan, ¨The wheel loader market should grow at the rate of 10-20 per cent in the next 3 to 5 year period just because of the quantity of bulk material to be handled is so huge.¨
Says Gossain, ¨We are hopeful to see some movement by the second half of the current fiscal year. However, a lot depends upon the implementation and monitoring of new initiatives/ reforms. We can expect a turnaround in equipment demand only if project execution picks up.¨
Tipirneni says, the wheel loader market in India is estimated to witness modest expansion in 2015-16. The growth of the construction equipment industry will also depend on streamlining different issues, such as government clearances and approvals, administrative and procedural reforms and generally on the pace of project executions. Current demand balancing is expected to take some time as the market will continue to be serviced with a large number of existing units.
Tiku of Terex sums up on a high note. He says, ¨According to planning commission estimates, Indian mining sector will see investment of approximately $15 billion by FY17, and projected demand of mining machinery of around $ 600 million by FY17. The increase in coal and mining minerals production will drive the demand of wheel loaders in coming years.¨
- Agith Antony