A multi-utility equipment helps in achieving maximum result with minimum investment.Use of such equipment is gaining traction among the users.
For decades, a backhoe loader was considered as the most versatile utility equipment by Indian customers. A new breed of multi-utility equipment, specially designed for numerous applications, ranging from agriculture to infrastructure construction and material handling has entered the country´s market over the past few years. In many ways it resembles the utilisation of attachments for equipment like hydraulic excavators or cranes.
However, the differentiating aspects are that these are mostly compact equipment, capable of adapting to multi-terrain operating conditions and customisable application specific attachments with standardised quick change couplings. Further, they are equipped with inbuilt systems to adjust the equipment´s operational settings, commensurate to the attachment, have easy access to confined spaces, are safe to use and are replete with user-friendly operator stations.
What is multi-utility equipment?
In essence, multi-utility is the new generation concept for material handling in numerous scenarios. There is base equipment like a telehandler or skid steer or others, which are compact and equipped with quick change mechanical, electrical and hydraulic connectivity features. Thereafter, large range user-friendly and matched application-specific attachments are offered by the manufacturers to suit the job requirements. As a result, the same equipment can be utilised by the contractor for multiple jobs ranging from a basic loader operation to rib handling in tunnel construction.
Jasmeet Singh, Head - Corporate Communications & External Relations, JCB India Ltd informs, ¨JCB presently offers three world-class product lines in the material handling space, i.e., telehandlers, skid steer loaders and super loaders. These machines are already revolutionising the way material is handled, moved or lifted at the work sites. In the telehandler category which is known as JCB Loadall, we offer three variants - the Made-in-India 530-70 and 530-110, and we import the 540-170 from the UK.¨
JCB Loadall comes with a variety of attachments which makes the machine even more versatile. The widely used attachments are general purpose shovel, heavy duty forks, bucket with grab, crane hook - fork mounted, grain bucket, power grab, man platform, and drum handlers.
Singh adds, ¨In the skid steer loader segment which is called the JCB Robot, we offer two ¨Made in India¨ variants - the Robot 135 and the Robot 155. The compact structure of the machine makes it ideal to operate in restricted areas and hence, can be used for a wide range of applications such as agriculture, industry, construction, demolition, material handling and maintenance. A JCB skid steer is safe, economical and highly productive machine. With an average of 60 per cent better visibility, with entry and exit from the left side of the machine, JCB Robot is the world´s safest skid steer loader.¨
The Indian construction community has matured to a high degree of awareness to ensure economy in deploying the equipment at site. As such use of multi-utility equipment is fast becoming an accepted practice. Although, currently the market for such equipment may be small, it stands to gain rapid traction over the coming years. Rajnikant, Marketing Head, Fine Equipments (India) Pvt Ltd claims, ¨It is rapidly growing particularly in the field of material handling and we estimate 30-40 per cent growth by 2020 in market size.¨
¨At present, the market size is limited since these machines have been recently introduced in the Indian market. However, we foresee these machines gaining popularity as they are extremely versatile and can do a variety of tasks in the area of material handling. Moreover, demand for safe and reliable material handling products is fast growing across a wide spectrum of applications in India. The growing popularity of vertical stacking, increased thrust on palletisation coupled with rising demand for safe and reliable equipment are all driving the demand for these equipment,¨ Singh says.
He further adds, ¨There has also been a rise in the demand for our class leading range of material handling equipment - the Made in India telehandlers and skid steer loaders. The telehandler is a revolutionary new product which handles loads upto 4 tonne at different heights safely and efficiently. The skid steers are popular for working in narrow and restrictive areas to perform a variety of tasks such as loading, lifting, grabbing etc.¨
Singh comments, ¨JCB has always been at the forefront of innovation - whether it is in technology or design. In 2015, JCB introduced a revolutionary telematics system in the Indian construction equipment sector called Livelink and today, over 25,000 JCB machines are Livelink enabled. This technology allows our customers to remotely manage their machines - putting them in better control of their machines/fleets. This state-of-the-art technology provides updates regarding service alerts, operations and security by using the Geo Fencing and Time fencing features.¨
Owners of Livelink enabled machines get SMS alerts on their mobile phones or smart devices - the information is available in real time regarding the health of the machine including engines. Singh says, ¨We have also set up a world-class central command centre at our Delhi-NCR facility to monitor these machines in real time.¨
Rajnikant elabortes on the product range offered by Fine Equipment, ¨We offer the Skido - skid steer loader, Mini - mini excavator, and Attachments - auger, concrete mixer, six-in-one bucket, drill, sweeper, rock drill, grapple, rock breaker etc.
Meeting customer expectations
Singh mentions, ¨Customers these days are looking at complete product solutions from the manufacturer. They are increasingly demanding machines which offer the best operating experience through ergonomically placed controls and are safe and reliable. At JCB, we have kept this as the basis of all our product designs and all our 48 products offer the best-in-class safety and operator comfort features.¨ He further adds, ¨Moreover, product support is a key requirement in our industry because our machines operate in deep interiors of difficult and arduous sites. To address this challenge, we have set up the largest dealership network in the construction and earthmoving equipment industry with 63 dealers and over 650 outlets.¨
Singh explains, ¨These outlets are spread all across India and provide professional product support to our customers. Our dealers employ over 6,000 trained professionals to cater to different customer requirements. Also our dealerships are supported by our four parts depots for parts supply and the training centre at Pune for training of technicians and service engineers. JCB also has mobile vans that operate on the concept of ´Workshop on Wheels´. These vans are fully equipped to handle most service and repair jobs on JCB machines.¨
Rajnikant says, ¨Now the trend is changing and customer is looking for multi-utility equipment which gives them option for multiple works.
Traditionally in the past, the contractors deployed one machine for one operation, thereby creating huge number of equipment at their sites. Overall equipment utilisation was low resulting in low to very low equipment turnover ratio.
Rajnikant says, ¨It helps user to get maximum out of minimum investment, one equipment can do various work and saves time, money and manpower which is very difficult to find nowadays. It also plays a major role in safety. It minimises accidents due to overcrowding at work site and improves efficiency of work.¨
Multi-utility machine can do multiple jobs without changing anything. Just an attachment change can convert the machine into a different machine. So there are multiple advantages in terms of investment and maintenance of machines. No need to own, operate and maintain multiple machines and the manpower to operate and maintain them. Skid steers and excavators can perform multiple works by just changing attachments - drilling, lifting, breaking, loading, sweeping, trenching and many more job by one machine.
Multi-utility equipment is facilitating a horde of activities in numerous facets of urban life, agriculture and infrastructure developments of the country, in a cost-effective manner. Use of such equipment is gaining traction and increased understanding of its benefits through diversity of applications, by the users. As such the future is bright of this equipment category and most reputed suppliers have joined this band wagon to take it forward.
- Shankar Srivastava