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Construction : Feature | August 2015 | Source : Equipment India

Graded Up

If tightened completion time is demanded as in the case of Delhi peripheral ring road by Supreme Court, it will sure to up the demand for advanced, high capacity motor graders.

With a strong pipeline of road projects to be awarded by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and state governments over the next couple years, the demand for motor graders will surely go up. However, its demand growth is also linked with the speed of project completion and the specs implemented by NHAI and state authorities.

Speed matters
If one goes by hour meter readings of graders, here is some statistics - graders lying with BOT contractors clock 2,300 hours per annum on an average; with EPC contracts they run up to 3,200 hours per annum whereas in coal mines on haul road maintenance, they clock close to 5,800 hours as they run three shifts and maintenance is well organised. As Amarnath Ramachandran, President, LeeBoy India, points out that it is quite obvious that the ROI on a grader will come down if utilisation increases. So what will be the impact if completion time of road projects is tightened? Will it drive the demand for road construction equipment? Ramachandran gives an example. The Supreme Court has set a tight completion time of nine months for the Delhi peripheral ring road. As a result, this led to 38 graders being deployed as opposed to 4-6 graders which would otherwise have been used. Based on utilisation, the contractor can select the type of model; with a transparent and fair way of measurement. He adds, ¨Now the quantum leap will come if rentals are done on pure cubic metre basis.¨ That speaks volumes on the market potential for graders.

Says Arvind K Garg, Vice-President & Head, Construction & Mining Machinery Business, Larsen & Toubro Ltd, ¨If roads have to be completed faster, there has to be a reduction in the process time and contractors will have to choose versatile machines with specifications that can be effective over a wide range of job contracts and applications, from expressways to highways to rural roads.¨ Ajay Aneja, National Head - Sales, Case India, supports the view. According to him, with the focus of the government on swift execution of infrastructure development primarily led by road projects, builders and contractors are under pressure to expedite the construction activities. To fulfill this demand, the project owners will have to focus on technologically superior products which offer higher productivity while still maintaining higher operator comfort, easy serviceability and low operating cost.

Tech trends
In most foreign countries, 170 hp and above with 14 ft mouldboard size graders are preferred or specified whereas in India the maximum is 120-130 hp with 12 ft mouldboard size graders (for road projects). What are the reasons? According to Aneja, road construction in India in terms of the quality and size is still in developing phase. In countries which boast of freeways and mega highways, larger graders with engine power above 170 hp housing a 14 ft mouldboard are preferred. As Indian highways are turning six lanes and above, the requirement of larger graders is being felt, which so far was getting managed through 12 ft wide mouldboard graders with engine power in the range of 120-130 hp. He adds, ¨This was also due to lack of availability of superior products of international quality.¨

Ramachandran takes a different approach. ¨A larger grader can be purchased if it is able to run at least 3,200 hours a year. Otherwise, the existing fleet, if better utilised, can step up. These will be sold if the rentals and work is on a cubic metre basis, ie, work-related payments rather than time-related payments. This way the contractor has the incentive to buy larger machines to up productivity. This will come in when projects are genuinely accelerated to finish quickly.

Says Garg, ¨The NHAI specified road width averages around 3.5 to 3.75 m and a two lane width is 7 m, hence a 12 ft (3.65 m) mouldboard is able to negotiate and cover this width in two effective passes, including an overlap of 0.3 m to overcome the windrow left by the first pass. Hence, the Indian contractors are optimising on 12 ft blade width to improve productivity. However, with the volume of material to be graded increasing in the time bound projects, Indian customers are moving towards higher HP graders with the preferred 12 ft mouldboard.¨

According to Sanjay Wadnerkar, Vice President, LiuGong India, a motor grader moves material across the area being graded, not straight ahead. It requires less horsepower to move material if it rolls across and off the mouldboard and is not bulldozed. To accomplish this requires the use of several features at the same time such as the circle turn, drawbar side shift and mouldboard tip. Four passes are normally required to maintain a 24-ft (7.3 m) wide traffic lanes with 2-ft (0.6 m) shoulders. Depending on this application, blade extensions are frequently used on one or both ends of the mouldboard to increase pass width and reduce the number of machine passes required. High HP is recommended for 14 ft mouldboard with light dozing; internationally, dozers are widely used for road construction with grader to improve the efficiency.

Why not in rural roads?
Motor grader is an expensive machine and its use was made mandatory on national highways by the NHAI at the time of conceiving National Highways Development Programme (NHDP). Many states adopted NHAI specifications subsequently, and the use of these machines started on state highways as well. However, in view of the small value of road building contracts for district and rural roads, use of motor graders is not mandatory, and is limited. According to Aneja, due to high level of sophistication, high owning and operating costs and space constraints for rural road construction, motor graders are not viewed as a preferred option so far. For rural road construction, many contractors prefer to use a grader attachment mounted on a skid steer loader or loader backhoe, or even on a tractor.

Says Garg, ¨Today, even rural roads have stringent time lines for completion and hence mechanisation is inevitable, making deployment of graders essential. Since the deployment of dozers for initial spreading is difficult on rural roads due to the cost implications, a powerful motor grader with scarifier will meet the requirement. A small size grader may be a cheaper option in the short run, but when the contractor thinks of growth he would be comfortable with a versatile size rather than a project specific size which will limit him to only ´Gram Sadak Yojana´. Such requirements drive the need for a versatile variable HP grader for the road making process considering the long term perspective.

Ramachandran points out the application hurdles. He says, ¨Rural roads are different from highways. Many of them are single lane and thus the need while building/rectifying these is to be able to keep at least one lane open. Thus, a grader with an 8-ft mouldboard would be ideal.¨ He adds, ¨This gap will shortly be filled by LeeBoy.¨

Market size
Last year (2014) witnessed a sale of around 300 units. However, with the focus on swift execution of infra and road projects and increased inflow of funds to the pre-announced projects, positive sentiment is seen. For new graders, the industry estimate is a 25 per cent growth to about 500 units for the full year 2015, which at maturity may reach 600-650 units. According to Wadnerkar, the current and expected road project scenario could add a fillip to the road construction equipment. The Indian government is planning to develop a total of 66,117 km of roads under different phases with target of completing construction of 30 km/day (our current average is 11.5 km/day) with investments amounting to $31 billion in the next five years. This target is feasible by using modern road construction machinery and effective planning.

Multiple finance options
Financing accounts for about 80 per cent of the equipment purchased. For imported equipment, it is even higher with 90 per cent. Looking at the CE scenario, the number of players offering equipment financing has grown. According to Aneja, while CE financing segment has been dominated majorly by the NBFCs, the recent interest shown by nationalised banks in funding the equipment is a welcome sign. Nationalised banks offer the benefit of a much higher market penetration, especially in the rural segment, while also maintaining a much lower interest rate due to lesser cost of their own funds. According Ramachandran, there is no shortage of availability of funds; but shortage of healthy balance sheets. Banks will fund equipment in accessible areas; for remote areas, only NBFCs will finance as repossession of assets in the event of default is a challenge. ¨Understanding the government initiatives banks, NBFCs and private financiers are keeping track of the equipment growth; the funding will be catalyst as equipment ownership pattern is also changing,¨ says Wadnerkar.

¨The entry of nationalised banks into financing of construction equipment is a good move with many advantages. However, interest rates have to come down further to fuel demand. Also, the tenure of the loan needs to be looked at. Since the government is looking at longer repayment tenure for loans obtained for development of infrastructure, this should be extended to equipment purchase loans also,¨ Garg observes.

Demand growth from mining
¨Around 8-10 per cent of the total grader sales is in the mining industry. For mining application and haul road maintenance 200 HP should be the entry level and size should go upwards with mine and dump truck size,¨ says Garg. He adds, ¨With production demand in the Indian mining space for ores and minerals poised to undergo an upward growth, we foresee a higher demand for mining graders. L&T offers models like the 215 hp Komatsu GD705-5 and the 280 hp Komatsu GD825 specifically for mining applications.¨

For Ramachandran, the selection of a mining grader is driven by the compaction level which again is dependent on the weight of the dump trucks running in the mine. If the haul road is wide enough to facilitate grading of one half while trucks run on the other half, one can still get away with a 15-18T grader, otherwise a 22T grader would be ideal.

According to Ramachandran, the challenges for this market are only funding related. Large companies are struggling to stay asset light and would love to have rented equipment at their disposal. There are very few large organised rental companies as payments in our country are never made on time. For eg, Gemini Equipment and Rental has exited the construction industry and are focussing on rental in the industrial segment. Used graders will not impact so much as the base fleet size of motor graders in India is very low as opposed to excavators or backhoe loaders.

Says Garg, ¨The policies of the Indian government over the years to develop a manufacturing base for earthmoving equipment in India has helped in keeping the cost of machinery very competitive in comparison with the global levels. This has helped in keeping cheap imported used machinery out of the market. The quality of a motor grader will also define the quality of the road, and hence the road quality may get affected if poor quality used machines are deployed. Looking at the forecasted market growth in the future, indigenous manufacture of these machines will start to meet the demand.¨

Opportunities galore
At a macro level, road sector seems to be leading the pack among sectors where major growth is expected in the next five years. The recent Union Budget announcement to increase the outlay in road sector by Rs 14,000 crore to reach perhaps an all-time high of Rs 42,000 crore in a year will boost the demand in all associated sectors. In addition to national highways, rural road flagship schemes such as PMGSY have yielded exceptional results over the past decade making rural India´s growth exceed that of urban India for the first time in last five years. All of this, backed with 158,000 km of new roads planned in rural areas in the on-going five year plan, indicates strong growth prospects of earthmoving and construction equipment in road infrastructure development such as motor graders and vibratory compactors. ¨These segments have a potential to grow over 20 per cent per annum, which means we can expect the motor grader industry size to almost double by the end of the year 2020,¨ points out Aneja.

Wadnerkar pushes the growth rate on a higher level. According to him, sale of graders, compactors and dozers will increase by 30-40 per cent by 2020; however the real product shift is going to be based on the technology and emission compliance. He adds, ¨We anticipate the refurbished machine of good quality and brands will have equal opportunities against the low cost equipment, the emission regulation and import custom duty strategies can differentiate the plans in the next two years.¨

Says Garg, ¨The government has to stay focused on infrastructure development and allocation of funds and land for road construction to ensure good return on the investments made on machinery by the contractors. A reduction in the return on investment will not only stall the purchase of new machinery, but also reduce the spending on maintenance and upkeep. This will be the key deciding factor for the future of the motor grader market in India.¨ He sums up on a high note. ¨Several rating agencies are positive about the Indian economy and infrastructure development. The government is also thinking big and is trying to improve the implementation of projects. This will definitely give a boost to the construction and mining machinery business in India over a period of time.¨

case 845b & 865b
Case India offers two models - Case 845B and Case 865B. These are equipped variable horse power FPT Industrial 6.7-liter engine with triple horsepower ranges on the 865B model and dual horsepower on the 845B to match the power requirements of various applications and deliver optimum fuel efficiency. The grader is offered with an automatic ZF transmission. The machine has a multi curvature moldboard which reduces the resistance coming on the engine and hence reduces the fuel consumption.

Unique moldboard design that provides mixing effect that does not push the material on ground but rolls it, along with VHP (150-173 HP) gives a unique mix of power and fuel efficiency. For better control the graders are equipped with a forward-mounted articulation joint and rear-mounted cab, giving operators a clear sense of direction and excellent moldboard visibility. The motor graders feature a flip-up hood for easy engine compartment access. The machine design also incorporates the Case hallmark ground-level access to daily service checkpoints for quick and efficient maintenance. The unique trip meter on the operator dashboard continuously monitors the fuel consumption, hours operated and operating temperatures. The dashboard has electronic indicators for any safety related or operation related parameters. Based on customer requirement a customised GPS solution, ´Eagle Eye´ can also be installed on the machine as an additional feature.

Quick Facts

  • 2014 witnessed a sale of around 300 units
  • Sale of 500 units for the full year 2015 expected
  • The industry size to almost double by 2020
  • 120-130 HP with 12 feet mouldboard size graders most preferred
  • Reduced project completion time to drive the demand
  • Demand may go up for 170 HP and above with 14 ft mouldboard size

leeboy 785 xl-2 & 985
LeeBoy Inida currently offers two models 785 XL-2 and 985 (13,500 and 14,900 kg). Productivity is optimised by having a state-of-the-art drive line with very high power density and reliability. The heavy duty driveline comprises of Cummins 6BT engines 150 & 173 BHP and ZF6WG 160 transmission with electronic transmission control unit (which is fully self-diagnostic). The operator has a choice of driving in fully automatic mode or in manual mode. The electronic unit ensures optimal shifting; torque converter from ZF Sachs has a built in lockup clutch, which cuts in at high turbine speeds to bypass the converter; heavy duty tandem axles from Oerlikon Graziano with outboard brakes for easy service; four section aluminium heat exchanger with computer controlled electro hydraulic fan drive system. Fuel efficiency is enhanced by having automatic (optimal) shifting, the computer controlled electro-hydraulic variable demand fan drive system (which is far more efficient as compared to a fixed fan drive). Leeboy uses a suspension seat with adjustable steering column, hydraulic pilot (low effort) fingertip controls with sliding adjustment for positioning of levers; the gear shifter is a ZFVTS 3 bump shift (similar to the types they supply on luxury cars like BMW, Audi & Bentley).

The layout is revolutionary as most other grader manufacturers have their transmission under the cabin. In the LeeBoy graders, removing six bolts is all one needs to do to take the canopy off, another twelve bolts takes off the hydraulic and diesel tanks and the entire driveline is then serviceable from the top. Structures are robust and heavy duty. For tracking and monitoring technology, LeeBoy work with Trimble and have its ´Insta-iconsole´ which shows geo-location vide google maps, fuel available, fuel consumption (with theft loss alerts) , number of hours worked, no of hours of idle running, service alerts etc.

Quick Facts

  • Multiple finance options with the entry of nationalised banks
  • Around 5-6 per cent of the total grader sales is used in mining industry
  • For mining application and haul road maintenance 200 HP and above is preferred
  • High owning and operating costs and space constraints a deterrent in rural road construction
  • For rural roads contractors still prefer grader attachment mounted on a skid steer loader or loader backhoe, or even on a tractor

komatsu graders
For the infrastructure development job sites, L&T offers the Komatsu GD555-5 motor grader. This machine is a reflection of Komatsu´s commitment towards ecology and economy. Powered by an electronically controlled 6.69L Komatsu engine that produces 193 hp net while meeting EPA Tier-III emission norms. Two operating modes with a three stage variable horsepower engine system ensures that every drop of fuel is gainfully used. Operator can choose between power and economy mode depending on the job requirement, as the power consumed varies from 158 to 193 hp in power mode and 140 to 176 hp in economy mode. Operator has the flexibility to toggle between manual mode and automatic drive mode. In the auto mode the torque converter delivers high torque at lower gears, where the operator can drive without the fear of engine stalling and torque converter locks-up at higher speed to provide speed consistency and save fuel. In auto mode the gearshift is automatic from 4th through 8th gear. Travel speeds of 44.3 km/hr in the forward and 40.3 km/hr in reverse ensure faster cycle time for production, or while shifting from one site to another. Add to that the hydraulic driven radiator fan, not only saves fuel, but also provides the flexibility of reversing the fan direction to clean the radiator, as these machines work in dusty environment. Komatsu´s load sensing variable flow hydraulics provides exact flow on demand feature which enables ease of operation while fuel consumed.

The versatile mold board geometry provides extraordinary reach and aggressive blade angle, ample clearance between the heel and the main frame even with the toe sharply angled down. The large blade angle allows material to roll over freely along the blade, which reduces power requirement.

Easy access to service points, ergonomically designed cab and its controls, monitor with on-board diagnostics make this machine a value packed proposition for the customers. The technology used will remain current for quite some time and with L&Ts product support, customers would be buying peace of mind.

In the mining range L&T offers the 215 hp Komatsu GD705-5 and the 280 hp Komatsu GD825 graders based on the requirement. Mining applications need a higher hp grader as the mining haul roads are designed to carry very heavy dumpers weighing in excess of 60T. We have advanced softwares which help the mine manager decide on the right choice of equipment. The Komatsu graders have been the most sought after products in the mining application in India.

liugong graders
LiuGong India manufactures graders in India since 2013. Mouldboard angle, tipping angle, strength of articulation, straight frame steer angle, machine speed and traction can maximise on productivity when balance approach is adopted keeping the flexibility in given application. The operator skills delivers with above combination can improve productivity. Equipped with 150HP 6BTA engine with combination of optimised hydraulics and tandem performance for fuel efficient operation. These are equipped with AC, 360o visibility and safety certified cabins to ensure the operators are productive and work with ease. The structure designs are well engineered and upgraded time to time based on customer feedback. High tensile grade steel is used in manufacturing of structural parts with in-house facilities and control. The maintenance aspect is well addressed using technique of design for assembly, manufacturing and service. The GPS/GPRS based tools are available as options with value added services.

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