The need of the hour is higher productivity and lower fuel consumption; at Volvo, we want to bring in technology, higher efficiency, higher productivity and lower fuel consumption, too, says AM Muralidharan, President, Volvo Construction Equipment, India. Excerpts from the interview.
What is the present demand and supply scenario for excavators like?
The way the market was going in 2010-2011, every OEM including us took a decision to invest more to build capacity and to that end, we have launched our D Series at Excon 2013. But the market for excavators in 2013 dipped unexpectedly, though I am sure this is not going to continue forever. As per the forecast, the excavator market will double in four years` time and it should be around 30,000 machines in 2017-2018. There are some models moving faster and some models moving at a slow pace, but on an average, it is going to double in four years time.
What is the potential for excavators from the mining sector?
For mining, we need bigger excavators and some smaller excavators. As of today, the potential from coal mining looks bright and even better than last year. There are a lot of projects getting finalised. So for medium to big machines, the demand is the same as last year or even better. Iron ore mining at present is down but we are sure that the iron ore market will bounce back. Where the market is hit is in the 20T and below category, where it is more of a rental business in infrastructure projects. That is low right now.
Is there any potential from the dimensional stone segment and quarries?
I think it is good, especially for granite, except in a few states where there are restrictions. There are some new markets are opening up, such as quarrying of sand. There are bans in some areas where river sand is not allowed to be used for construction; this has opened opportunities for us in the crushing business. So in a way, the restriction on sand mining has boosted the crushing business, and there is a move towards artificial sand. As long as construction is on, we need aggregates, despite restrictions. Otherwise, the potential from quarrying looks good..
Could you tell us about the D series excavators?
We have replaced the B series with the more productive and powerful EC220D and EC300D excavators. The need of the hour is higher productivity and lower fuel consumption; at Volvo, we want to bring in technology, higher efficiency, higher productivity and lower fuel consumption,too, We have been able to prove ourselves with the 380 D and 480 D for the last one year, and we have a market share of 60 per cent in the 45-55T class. Customers appreciate our products, so we thought of adding more to that range and launched two models, EC220D and EC300D, in addition to the models we have. The new models are more for quarrying and granite and marble applications. 220D is more for stone quarrying, and also for earth work. If you use 220D, I can guarantee that fuel consumption will be better by 7-10 per cent than where we are benchmarking ourselves today. People like the efficiency of the 480D and it is very popular in the market.
Are there any design changes?
There are a lot of changes made, starting from hydraulics and the engine. Hydraulics is completely different from what we had before; earlier load- sensing used to happen at the control valve level, here, load- sensing happens before that. In the old method, there is lot of oil going back to the tank which gets heated up. In the new system, we are not even pumping oil from the tank, less of pumping of oil and less of cooling of oil are factors which help us improve efficiency and fuel consumption.
When the lubricant get heated up, it loses its elasticity which result in less efficiency in the arm movement of the excavator. What is your take on this?
We do not see a big change in viscosity that affects our performance. Our machines are meant for utilisation in the tropics, all our oils are designed for local temperatures.
What about mini excavators? That seems to be picking up.
Yes, it is growing. We have a whole range of mini- excavators starting from 1.5 to 8.3 tonnes. We will introduce these models in India at the right time.