With the government planning for a major infrastructure boom in the North-Eastern states, we foresee a lot of potential for businesses to grow and flourish. The government plans to make investments in roads, railways, air connectivity, cyber and telecom connectivity and power in this region, says Amit Gossain, Vice President - Marketing and Business Development, JCB India. Excerpts of the interview.
How do you assess the performance of road construction equipment segment in the last couple of years?
Supported by the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and other smaller district roads as well as road maintenance, the road construction sector continues to do comparatively well. As a result, road construction equipment segment is showing steady improvement. This remains the only equipment sector that is growing marginally. Demand for other equipment segments like backhoe loaders and excavators have declined due to the overall economic slowdown. However, even in these challenging times, JCB has succeeded in creating new avenues for business through generation of newer markets. In fact, we have seen growth in our market shares across all product categories.
Has the government initiated any moves for fast-tracking NHAI projects?
Difficulties in achieving financial closure, land acquisition and issues related to environment and forest clearance are the main areas that require immediate attention. Supreme Court of India has ruled that environment approvals may be delinked from forest clearances which will definitely help kickstart several roads and highways projects.
The industry will have to overcome a few other challenges also to meet the potential. Setting up of the Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI) to de-bottleneck and fast-track big ticket infra projects is certainly a positive step. The Draft Public Authority (settlement of disputes) Bill 2013 which seeks to set up an institutional mechanism that can provide speedy resolution of disputes related to public contracts or public-private partnership (PPP) projects is another initiative from the government.
There are some critical sector-specific issues which need to be addressed, especially if we are to realise the true potential of PPP. Firstly, the government should ensure that all projects are awarded to the private sector only after securing key sovereign clearances and the government should look at setting up an independent PPP Commission for PPP regulations.
How do you assess the growth potential of the road sector, especially in the North-Eastern states?
In the recent past, the North-east has flourished as an important business destination as domestic and international companies are entering the market. The Indian government has set up a Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDONER) which acts as a facilitator between the central ministries and the state governments of the North-eastern region in the economic development process. With the government planning major infrastructure boom in the state, we foresee a lot of potential for businesses to grow and flourish. The government plans to make investments in roads, railways, air connectivity, cyber and telecom connectivity and power.
Also, the consumer profile is evolving in this region and they are now looking for better technologies, better infrastructure and better facilities. JCB India has a strong presence in the North-east as it is an important market for us. We are there in all the states through our extensive dealership network.
What is the scope for backhoes in the road projects? To what extent are JCB excavators used in the road projects?
Due to its excellent manoeuverability and ability to multitask, the backhoe loader is practically used at every construction site û for constructing urban roads, rural road and maintenance, etc. The JCB backhoe loader is the most widely used equipment in India and we constantly keep upgrading the machine to meet the growing requirements of our customers. JCB has specifically designed the 2DX backhoe loader for rural and agricultural applications. JCB 2DX is the ideal solution to small digging and loading needs both in rural as well as urban India.
JCB excavators ranging from 8T operating weight (JS81) to 36T operating weight (JS 360) are largely used in big road projects like building highways, flyovers, etc, and the demand will continue to grow as projects pick up.
Brief us on the range offered by JCB in the compactor segment, unique features and technology trends in compaction.
JCB offers the finest road compaction equipment through its Vibromax series (VMT115, VMT860 and VMT330). The VMT115 caters to the soil compaction needs of the sector while the VMT 860 is a master at asphalt compaction.
Recently launched, VMT 330 tandem roller is a new addition to the portfolio. The VMT 330 tandem roller is a highly versatile compactor with high compaction forces. This machine is ideal for compaction in restricted spaces as this has high kerb clearance. The JCB VM115 comes with dual anti-vibration isolation system which reduces the vibration, thus making it more comfortable for the operator to operate the machine. This machine also has a 3-point pre-loaded anti-vibration pads which also minimises the effect of vibration.
The 9T tandem roller VMT 860 is designed to offer high productivity and reliability with maximum operating economy. Powered by a robust, fully tropicalised, low fuel consumption JCB engine ecoMAX, the ideal combination of static weights, centrifugal forces and amplitudes makes this asphalt roller perfect for a wide range of both soil and asphalt applications, from rolling sub-base to finish rolling.
Even in these challenging times, JCB has succeeded in creating new avenues for business through generation of new markets.