Bright spots are appearing in some regions of the world, and could provide the much-needed impetus to the return of a healthy economic environment. As more markets respond to the impetus, the manufacturing sector, of which the equipment manufacturing industry is a part of, continues to think of a bright future. A future that is interesting as well as rewarding. A future that will appreciate the technological advances as well as their benefits. It is with this hope that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers continue to invest in technology despite the dull climate for production facilities. The dull climate may have slowed down sales, but not the quest for new technology. As part of a complex industry structure, the role of innovators is shifting towards suppliers. With OEMs and their suppliers finding better ways to earn as well as share risks, it is the technology that is playing an important role. It is ensuring innovative solutions that would result in technologically superior machines that ensure better productivity, and are more efficient and environment friendly.
The best part about new innovative solutions is their immense functional value. A value that may not be seen or even experienced in the daily grind, but will show up in the form of substantial savings when the total cost of ownership is accounted for. With tightening regulations, technologies with immense functional value are adding big time to the promise of higher productivity and uptime. A backhoe loader with a WG-90 transmission from ZF, for example, offers higher efficiency. Available with an option to engage the front axle drive on difficult terrain, the hydrodynamic powershift transmission can be completely adapted to relevant applications. An innovative driveline solution for wheel loader from ZF ensures uninterrupted supply of power and torque when it is going up a steep incline. This ensures safety and ups productivity. Also, the promise to do more work than an equivalent machine is capable of, reflects how new, innovative technology solutions are contributing towards lower total cost of ownership.
The arrival of hybrid and electric technologies is certain to change the way the equipment industry operates and the way the sector is looked at. Apart from adding excitement, these two technologies will contribute handsomely towards economic sustenance and environmental protection. The Cat Connect portfolio of integrated technologies from Caterpillar, for example, include flexible services and solutions for customers to monitor, manage and enhance job site productivity, safety, fuel usage, equipment utilisation and up time. Apart from Cat Connect, Caterpillar, at the ConExpo 2014 responded with Tier 4 Interim and Tier 4 Final machines that deliver significantly improved fuel efficiency.
OEMs like Caterpillar may get the opportunity to introduce new technologies; it is however the suppliers that are playing an increasingly important role in helping the OEMs meet the stringent regulations. Irrespective of whether the OEMs opt for an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) or selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust after-treatment technology, it is the suppliers that are helping them comply with the ever tightening regulations. Suppliers are also ensuring cost competitiveness, which is a vital link to sustenance and a cleaner tomorrow.