The invention of backhoe in the early 50s by Joseph Cyril Bamford changed the face of construction across the globe. From a historic perspective, the growth of backhoe loaders in India has happened at the cost of mini excavators and mobile excavators; mainly on account of the first mover advantage. The affordable price and multi-application versatility made backhoe a popular machine. Even though the global trend shifted towards specialised equipment, in emerging markets like India which is slowly moving towards the same trend of usage of specialised equipment and attachments, backhoes still dominate the sale.
As per the data collected by Equipment India, India is the world's largest backhoe loader market with over 30,000 units expected to be sold in FY 2011-12. This momentum is expected to continue with the increased spending on infrastructure development. No wonder, many domestic and global OEMs have entered this market segment, and have augmented the capacity. JCB invested during the downturn to upgrade its backhoe facility to the world's largest backhoe manufacturing plant with a capacity to build 100 machines per shift. Escorts is doubling the capacity for its Digmax; Mahindra & Mahindra which has recently forayed into this segment has built a capacity of 2,000 units per year; Terex has a production capacity of 2,500 machines per annum, that can be ramped up as per demand; ACE also is in the process of doubling the capacity to over 4,000 units per year. As per inputs, the first quarter of CY2011 has seen a robust growth of 40 per cent over last year. Though the market has seen a slight slowdown due to the implementations of BS III regulations, the overall backhoe market will grow by another 15 per cent this year.
But how long backhoe market will be able to dominate?
Three different reasons: firstly, the shift towards specialised equipment for speicalised jobs; secondly, the wheel loader market is getting more and more aggressive, especially below 10T class; thirdly, the high possibility of an expanding market for mini excavators.
As Indian government is pushing for higher investments for the development of infrastructure, more and more global players are establishing their base in India to exploit the opportunity. This has led to tremendous competition and benefitted the customer with enhanced quality and better performance on the offer. One noticeable trend is the India-centric design of machines, and efforts put into the continuous improvement of machines as per the feedback from the customers. Major players extensively use consumer insight and feedback to further develop the product which is built to withstand India's rough terrain and heavy usage patterns. In addition, most of the players offer products with cutting-edge features using the latest vehicle systems and technologies at prices that are within the reach of the mass market. More importantly, there is moreand more emphasis on service, and no wonder, most of the OEMs are investing on service and spare network to reach the customer as fast as possible.