Andy Dhanaraj, Director - Sales, Construction and Infrastructure, Caterpillar India, sheds light on the factors hampering productivity of construction projects and how Caterpillar solutions and technologies help overcome these challenges.
With the Indian government's focus on strategic economic development, there has been emphasis on the ambitious nationwide programs such as building more roads, developing inland waterway infrastructure, constructing dedicated freight corridors and developing airport infrastructure to cover Tier-II and Tier-III cities. This will necessitate a wide variety of major infrastructure projects across the country. With this in mind, according to industry sources and reports published in June 2016, infrastructure needs in India can be estimated to be in the range of $1.5-2 trillion. According to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, nearly all the infrastructure sectors present excellent opportunities, with roads and highways, ports and airports, railways and power emerging as particular bright spots, with staggering sums of planned investment.
Maximising productivity of these projects can have far-reaching benefits such as faster completion - with this, the overall cost of the project would also come down. Needless to say, projects which are completed under budget and ahead of schedule usually result in higher profit margins. Very simply, maximising productivity equals maximising profitability.
There are several factors that hamper productivity of construction projects. One such factor is insufficient planning. Appropriate planning and effective project management play an important role in achieving optimum productivity. Lack of trained manpower is another reason. If operators are trained regularly and updated on technological advancements in machines, it can improve productivity and help complete projects on time or even before time.
Poorly maintained equipment s another factor that can hamper productivity. A machine in need of repairs or maintenance won't be as productive as one operating at peak performance. Factors such as idle time, operator technique, and jobsite set-up also play a role.
Beyond all these factors, one of the most crucial factors that impacts productivity is the selection of equipment. Sub-par/outdated equipment that doesn't leverage the latest technology can affect productivity significantly.
Caterpillar's productivity focus
Cat® machines are known for the value they bring to the customer in terms of quality, reliability, durability and technology. As technology continues to enhance our world, Caterpillar is constantly developing and refining technologies to help make equipment more productive and efficient, and to help customers more effectively manage equipment fleet and operations. From advanced engine technologies to in-cab monitoring - from machine health management to fleet-wide information systems - Cat technology is reshaping the process of using, managing and owning heavy equipment. Therefore, whatever the nature of a project or application - whether it is infrastructure, construction, quarries, etc., Cat machines are built to increase productivity/efficiency for the end user.
Technology built into Cat® machines Cat motor grader 120K2 equipped with AccuGrade™: The productivity and bottom line for a project depend heavily on moving material accurately, quickly and safely the first time. The fact is that maintaining consistent grade is difficult, labour intensive and challenging for even the most experienced operators. By combining digital design data, in-cab operator guidance features, and automatic blade controls, the AccuGrade Grade Control System actually enhances grading accuracy and virtually eliminates the need for survey stakes. The revolutionary Caterpillar solution is factory integrated, sensor-independent, and features a suite of products which includes cross slope, sonic, laser, Global Positioning System (GPS), and Automatic Total Station (ATS) technology.
Here are some ways in which AccuGrade can help improve productivity:
Automatic blade control allows operators to improve efficiency and productivity by achieving grades faster and in fewer passes than ever before, reducing the need for traditional survey stakes or grade checkers.
The In-Cab 2D (two-dimensional) display/control box with easy-to-read grade indicators and elevation display delivers all system information to the cab for easy viewing by the operator. Simple controls offer easy set-up, operation and access to system menus, allowing the operator to focus on productivity. Grade indicators provide vertical guidance to the operator and indicate which direction to move the blade to achieve grade. The monitor displays numeric cut/fill requirements for manual control.
AccuGrade GPS puts all the information the operator needs to complete the job in the cab, resulting in a greater level of control. Vertical and horizontal guidance tools visually guide the operator to the desired grade. Automated features allow the hydraulic system to automatically control blade adjustments to move the blade to grade. The operator simply uses the light bars to steer the machine for consistent, accurate grades and slopes, resulting in higher productivity with less fatigue.
With these features, AccuGrade helps maximise productivity and efficiency, significantly achieving:
Cat® 950L medium wheel loader equipped with payload technology Whether a wheel loader is used for landscaping, agriculture, construction, waste management, forestry or mining applications, Cat wheel loaders make material handling and loading jobs safer, faster, more precise and profitable. These environmentally friendly front-end loader machines apply proven technologies systematically and strategically to meet the customer's high expectations.
Deep system integration results in reduced emissions and improved fuel economy without interrupting machine performance.
Launched for Indian customers at the recently concluded Bauma Conexpo in India, the new 950L medium wheel loaders apply proven technologies systematically and strategically to meet our customers' high expectations for reliability, productivity, fuel efficiency and long service life.
Equipped with Cat Connect technologies that are built to help customers control costs, improve performance, manage people and reduce risk, here are some ways using Cat Connect technologies can increase productivity: Cat LINK technologies, such as the Product Link™ system, help fleet owners manage equipment utilisation and lower owning and operating costs through the online VisionLink® interface, which tracks critical items, such as location, hours, fuel usage, diagnostic codes and idle time.
Cat PAYLOAD technology, such as optional Cat Production Measurement (CPM) system, accurately weighs materials being loaded and hauled to improve productivity, reduce overloading, and track material movement. It provides simple, accurate, on-the-go weighing to assist operators in delivering exact loads and work more efficiently. The intuitive user interface, within standard touch-screen display, provides essential payload information in an easy-to-read, user-friendly format. Site managers can wirelessly access data via the VisionLink Web portal to measure production and monitor efficiency. In quarrying applications, this has a special significance especially from an Indian perspective, as weighbridges are sometimes located away from the quarry location.
Cat DETECT technology, such as the integrated rear vision camera, enhances visibility behind the machine to help operators work safely.
With various inbuilt features, Cat medium wheel loaders provide:
Technology in Smart Iron
In order to stay competitive, customers have to do more work in less time and at lower costs. Customers need real-time data about the performance of their machine and how they can make the machine run more effectively. Using technology effectively helps customers optimise machine functioning and performance and provides them effective solutions. Through digital insights and on asset technology, Caterpillar and Cat dealers help customers improve their return on assets, run their overall operations efficiency and eliminate injuries and waste.
Caterpillar offers Equipment Management (EM) services to customers. It is a branded, standardised dealer offering that includes consultation, technologies and services that can be used to meet each customer's unique equipment management needs and add business value to their Cat products and services.
The suite of systems offered in EM services helps to improve efficiency and cost savings by connecting the equipment and the operators to the people who run the projects and the people who run the business. This in turn reduces customers' operating costs, and improves their operational efficiencies. For e.g., a customer with a large fleet of machines gets to know how the machines are performing, the idle time of the machines, fuel utilisation, etc.
With Cat EM services, there are five levels of service to choose from. Customers get the support they want without paying for services they don't need:
The measurable benefits of the digital solutions offered by Caterpillar are by way of reduced operational time, fuel consumption, wear and tear, and material wastage, along with increased accuracy and job safety.
There is enough evidence to prove that maximising productivity through the use of modern, smart machines can allow projects to be completed far more efficiently and profitably. Since the government is one of the biggest spenders on construction projects in India, there needs to be greater emphasis from the government on embedding technology in projects. Moreover, tenders should be based on providing end-to-end solutions for infrastructure, road building etc., which not only makes the work much faster and efficient, but more accurate with lesser re-work.