Having said that, Tata Hitachi’s recent venture into Backhoe loaders continue to keep us in good health despite the downturn says Hemant Mathur, Asst VP-Sales and Marketing Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Pvt Ltd

What are the hurdles you see for faster construction of roads in the interiors of the country?
The immediate challenge is the BSIV implementation for wheeled equipment effective from October 1, 2020. The industry is gearing up to meet this deadline with upgraded products. This is a very significant step that is going to see the country’s emission norms leapfrogging to just one cycle behind the developed countries norms. Naturally this brings its challenges with our customers who must adapt to the new norms and ways of working. But we believe, with customers using the current range of tippers – which have SCR emission control technology – it will be easier to train them to adapt to BSIV norms.

Of course, the continuously changing regulatory regime is another challenge to adapt on tight time frames. We, through ICEMA, are continuously engaging with the government so that there is a reasonable time frame for the industry to comply with the change.

The other challenge is of trained manpower to operate these machines. Tata Hitachi, along with other members of the industry, have invested in operator training schools, where the correct and efficient way of using machines to capacity and productively is being taught along with upgrading the skill levels of operators.

What kind of new technology and innovations have you utilized in your products?
We have consistently enhanced the features of our offerings. Our machines come with numerous attachments: the super long attachment and the quarry adaptation for the machines are configurations we have introduced recently. We have also infused the magic of IoT in our machines, which will provide additional safety and help in preemptive maintenance of the machines.

Our Wheel Loader too ensures energy savings. The TL 340H uses the same hydraulic technology as is used in excavators. Traditionally, a wheel loader is made with differentials, with mechanical transmission and axles which lead to significant transmission losses. The TL 340H is fitted with a hydrostatic transmission which can run with a 100 – 103 horsepower engine whereas similar products by our competitors need 120 horsepower to do the same job. So that’s a revolutionary design in terms of cost savings and is working very well.

In the current market scenario, how do you see Tata Hitachi progressing?
Along with the market, we too have taken a hit. But typically when a downturn happens, it’s a chance to improve ourselves too. We look at it as an opportunity to downscale, improvise, be flexible and be more efficient.

For Tata Hitachi, the excavator business is still the mainstay of the business. Shinrai the Backhoe loader, has just started, we were a very small player in that business and there is massive room for growth. So we are looking at 60-70 per cent growth from a very small business here.

Our spare parts business is not so affected because the machines are out in the field. So that it helps sustain the profitability to some extent. That’s the advantage of having 50,000 machines in the field.

What is your forecast for the market in 2020?
To put it very simply, I think the markets have bottomed out. The general atmosphere at Excon – and based on the inputs given by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India, Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister of Karnataka B.S.Yediyuruppa – the slump in the construction sector will be arrested. The pace at which it picks up remains to be seen but the sentiment seems to be improving. In 2020 we’re looking at a 14 per cent growth in turnover compared to 2019.

What products are you planning to launch in 2020 and in the medium term?
In the medium term, we will be launching the four wheel drive Backhoe Loader very shortly. In wheel loaders we will be launching the five cubic meter wheel loader, but that’ll take about 18 more months for a commercial launch. It’s in the final stages of pro to typing and testing. We are also looking at a 30 ton excavator. Currently we have a 20-22 ton excavator and we have a 37 ton excavator. The 30 ton excavator too will be made available sometime next year. Hitachi has one of the widest range of excavators . We bring these machines selectively in India because we are very concerned about the product support that we can provide. Depending on the market for the machines in question we introduce them at the right time. This helps us in providing efficient after sales support which matches up to our global standards.

Hemant Mathur, Asst VP-Sales and Marketing, Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Pvt Ltd

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