Leading company Doosan Bobcat manufactures construction equipment, attachments and accessories and further helps customers to conquer the toughest of challenges. S. Manjunath, General Manager – Sales, Doosan Bobcat India explains the mini excavators’ market scenario and challenges in India along with the features of Bobcat new R-series mini excavator.

Brief us on the current demand-supply scenario of mini excavators and growth drivers.
Mini excavators in India have been undergoing robust growth. In developed countries like Europe and Japan, the segment is more matured and account for larger proportion of construction equipment being sold. However, in India, it has been relatively a recent phenomenon. Though it started developing recently, it has been growing at a steady pace and is the only segment that has been growing continuously. From an industry size of 560 in 2014, it has grown to 1,140 in 2018. It has been growing at compounded annual growth rate of 15 per cent. Currently, the market has eight players out of which two are domestic manufacturers, while the remaining six are imported.

Major demand of mini excavators comes from agriculture, plantation, waterways construction and general construction segment. In developed states like Kerala, due to lack of availability of labour and higher cost, we see very good demand in agriculture and plantation segment. Nature of hilly terrain also plays a key role in customers adopting mini excavators. Besides this, the government focusing on the rural road development, housing for low-income groups and smart cities are also driving the demand.

Mini excavators are gaining popularity among rental customers. Because of its compactness and low weight, it is easy to transport. It has better reach and is able to work in confined spaces. The investment is less while the rental income generated is more, which is appealing to rental segment customers.

What are the various applications in which mini excavators are used in India?
Mini excavators are ideal for projects that have work that are too large to handle with manual labour or when there is a space constraint for bigger machines. It is well suited for loading and unloading, creating trenches, laying utility pipe lines, digging irrigation ditches, ponds, cleaning water channels etc. The varieties of attachments available enable it tobe used in all kinds of projects. Some popular mini excavator attachments include augers, hydraulic breakers and trenching buckets. Mini excavators are widely used in different segments such as general construction, agriculture, plantation, Municipal Corporation and industrial.

What are the key buying factors for mini excavators? What is your latest offering in this space?
The key buying factors for mini excavators arecompact width and machine weight, fuel efficiency, low owning and operating cost, ability to handle multiple attachment and operator comfort.
Bobcat offers 3 models in operating capacity of 1-6 tonnes – E27, E37 and E64. Out of which, E27 and E37 from the R-Series has been launched earlier in the month of January this year.

What are key features of the latest Bobcat R-series mini excavators?
Bobcat R-Series mini excavators offers a best-in-class mix of high digging forces, superb stability and smooth controllability of working functions complemented by low weights for easy transportation. Excellent machine fit and finish plus new ground-breaking design features make the new Bobcat R-Series unique in the market.

On the performance front, Bobcat designed its hydraulic system to deliver the most hydraulic horsepower in working range. The Bobcat mini excavators showcase high-efficiency. On the ergonomics front, Bobcat mini excavators display the most comfortable cab or canopy, cab space and entry or exit room in the industry, larger adjustable suspension seat, adjustable armrests, ergonomic controls to control attachments and travel with precision, flexibility and low fatigue. Ease in serviceability, Bobcat mini excavators has engine checkpoints in easy reach of the operator, so daily maintenance gets done in a quick and easy way.

Steel track and long arm: The standard machine comes with steel track and optional rubber track is also available depending on the operating ground conditions. Long arm is standard in E27 and E37 offering best in class digging depth.
Two speed: Two speed travel is a key feature of Bobcat mini excavators and both E27 and E37 has this feature. E27 has a max speed of 5.1 km/hour, the highest in 2 – 3 tonnes category. Manual two speed function improves job site manoeuvrable with precise control.
Auto idle and electronic throttle control: The E27 and E37 come with standard auto idle and electronic throttle control which is one of the key features of Bobcat mini excavators. This helps in lowering engine RPM to idle when not in use resulting in better fuel efficiency and cost savings.
Operator cabin and working environment: ROPS and FOPS operator cabin with suspension seat makes improves operator comfort together with safety and productivity. Improved boom light with additional lights on canopy increases visibility during night shifts and enclosed work areas.
Auxiliary modes and quick coupler hose: The machine is fitted with three auxiliary modes with different hydraulic flow setting and the operator can choose as per the attachment to be used. The quick coupler for auxiliary lines also helps in attaching and detaching attachments an easy affair.

What are the major challenges for the mini-excavators?
The mini excavator market despite seeing robust growth over the last five years still comprises only 5 per cent of the overall excavator segment. In certain regions of India, manpower costis comparatively lower than the hiring cost of the equipment. Manual labour are still preferred in certain regions, however our equipment are better in terms of productivity and efficiency saving us in time and cost. In general, the market awareness of the mini excavators is low compared to conventional construction equipment. These pose a challenge to the mini excavators from growing at a faster pace.

How do you assess the future of compact excavators in India? What are your future plans in this segment?
The future of compact excavators’ segment in India looks very promising. With fast paced urbanisation and rising labour cost, more manual jobs are expected to get mechanised further accelerating the growth of compact excavators. We expect the industry size to be more than 2000 by 2022 primarily driven by usage in general construction sector. We have been able to gain good market share because the customer realise that Bobcat offerings are more reliable, durable and yield higher resale value. This has helped us grow very quickly after we entered the market. We are continuously studying which other models could be introduced from our global product portfolio. We are currently studying the 1-2T and 5T market segments to see the possibility of introducing the models.

We have been able to lead the mini-excavator market because Bobcat excavators are more reliable, better productive and yield higher resale value.
S. Manjunath, General Manager – Sales, Doosan Bobcat India

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