Schwing Stetter looks at transit mixer uptake

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With infra projects accelerating, Schwing Stetter is looking at a rise in demand for transit mixers.

Team CV

Schwing Stetter India is looking at a good uptake in transit mixers as infra activities accelerate. The company is looking at leveraging its decades worth of experience to support the growth in demand for transit mixers. Manufacturing the transit mixers at a world-class facility at Chennai, Schwing Stetter offers transit mixers in C, C2 and N version. They are a part of the transit mixer range the company offers the world over. Proven reliable all over the world, the transit mixers the company offers are characterised by low maintenance technology according to sources close to the company.

Claimed to be technologically advanced and modern in terms of design, the transit mixers are simple to handle and cost effective to maintain. Claim sources that the transit mixers help to reduce the time it takes to fill, discharge and clean. This helps the customers to save not just time, but also money. Available with mechanical or electronic control units, the transit mixers offer the buyers and users a choice to choose the transit mixer suiting their requirements. Offering high loading volumes with the virtue of having a high water line, the Schwing Stetter transit mixers are engineered to meet the demanding requirements of today’s users. With project demands changing in nature, and the time to complete the projects shrinking, a reliable machine is only the basic requirement. The other requirements include speed of operation, efficiency and low cost of ownership.

The Schwing Stetter transit mixers not only fulfill the demanding requirements of users in terms of operational speed, efficiency and lower cost of ownership, they also make it easier and safer to work in an environment that is no less risky. Made from reliable drive components, which guarantee smooth operation, the transit mixers, available with a nominal volume of three to 12 cubic meter with the option of a slave engine, or with power drawn through a PTO, are available in numerous models to suit the exacting needs of the operator. While the low centre of gravity of the mixers helps them to possess optimum drive characteristics, the feed hopper, discharge funnel and swivel discharge chute are designed with wear resistant plates for an optimum TCO.

Equipped with 5 mm mixing spirals in the main wear zones, and Stetter T-protect wear protection (30 x 8 mm) on the mixing spirals, the transit mixers not only last long, they also make highly efficient machines. The compact design of the transit mixer adds to their efficiency count, making them one of the most efficient transit mixers on offer according to sources close to the company. Offering high fuel efficiency due to their compact build and balanced weight distribution, the Schwing Stetter transit mixers also help to lower the maintenance cost of the truck. The overall maintenance is much lower state sources. They draw attention to the usual routine, which includes change of engine oil and washing of the drum. It is all that it takes, they explain, to keep the mixer running for years.

Backed by a strong support network, the experience of opting for a Schwing Stetter transit mixer is made positive by their ability to mount on a large variety of truck chassis. Capable of being mounted on the most sophisticated or the most modern truck chassis, the transit mixers the company offers have a large service network to look up to. The large service network of more than 300 skilled service engineers is one of the key pillars of the company that traces its roots to Germany. These engineers are highly skilled and attend to the numerous needs of the market, and the customers. They offer the best possible support according to sources close to the company, and are a force to reckon with. It is they who are contributing to the sustainability and growth of the brand add sources. This statement does not come as a surprise. The presence of Schwing truck mounted transit mixers is had from their high visibility in most parts of the country. It is a reflection of the confidence the company has in its products, and also of the customers who are happy with the prospect that their transit mixers are working efficiently, and profitably.

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Escorts raises the bar

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Escorts has unveiled an electric farm tractor in an effort to address the demands of progressive farmers.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

Clocking 33 per cent year on year (Y-o-Y) growth in net profit to Rs.63 crore for the quarter ended June 2017 (Q1FY18) as compared to a net profit of Rs.47 crore in the corresponding quarter in June 2016 (Q1FY17), Escorts Ltd. has unveiled an electric farm tractor to address the changing demands of progressive farmers. Keen to serve the growing aspirations of both domestic and global farmers, the Faridabad-based farm equipment maker is also expanding its global portfolio of tractors under the Farmtrac and Powertrac brands. Lining up tractors in the range of 22 hp to 30 hp that are tier IV emission norms compliant, and are aimed at international markets like US, Latin America, Africa, ASEAN countries and Europe, the company launched a new range of tractors under the New Escorts Tractor Series (NETS). These produce between 70 and 90 hp.

Speaking at the launch, Rajeev Nanda, Chairman, Escorts Ltd., expressed that they are keeping up with the demands of today’s progressive farmers. “For them, it is important to offer products that are of high quality with specifications that would make them competitive and attractive,” he mentioned. Anticipating a rise in demand for tractors above 75 hp, Escorts Ltd. is driving its exports portfolio to have tractors of up to 120 hp. Stress is on being a full range player. Said Nikhil Nanda, Managing Director, Escorts Ltd., that the effort is to disrupt as well as offer a new experience. The intention is to create a quality platform that will serve multiple applications at affordable costs, he mentioned. With an investment of up to Rs.30 crores, the existing Powertrac and Farmtrac tractor production facilities at Faridabad have been upgraded. The upgradation would touch three models – hydrostatic, electrical and mechanical. It will also lead to an improvement in areas like engines, transmissions, and electrical systems. To ensure high quality and tighter cost management, the company builds nearly 70 per cent of the components in-house. The Poland and Faridabad facility combined have the company rolling out one lakh units every year.

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Electric and Hydrostatic transmission

Working on electric as well as hybrid tractors to offer environment friendly solutions that are viable and sustainable, Escorts Ltd., according to Shenu Agarwal, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, customer acceptance will be the key. Agarwal averred that the entire tractor has been built around the battery, and it is necessary that it is sustainable for cost friendly operations. Opting for lithium ion batteries as they are light in weight and easy to maintain, the company, taking into consideration the limited area a tractor often operates in, has engineered it such that it can be charged by plugging into a 220-volt outlet. Keen to leverage the fact that the lithium ion batteries can hold more charge to support longer operational hours, the ability to charge using a 220-volt outlet may not be fast, it nevertheless saves the cost of setting up a 440-volt charging infrastructure. Pointed out Shailendra Agrawal, Chief Executive (Operations and R&D – EAM & ECE), Escorts Ltd., that the challenge in an electrical tractor are the initial costs. “Initial costs are high as the technology is new, and includes lithium ion batteries and control systems. Such things can nearly double the cost in comparison to a diesel-engine tractor,” he said.

Confident of the components costs dipping as volumes rise and technology gets embedded, Escorts Ltd. will continue to further invest in electric-tractor technology. It will continue to develop electric tractors. Mentioned Agarwal, ”I believe operating an electrical tractor would be less than 50 per cent of the maintenance of a diesel tractor.” As part of the continuing development of electric-tractor technology, the emphasis would be on minimising the wastage during vehicle operation. Particular attention will be paid to the software, the nature of operation, how energy is conserved, and if the same battery could be used to operate the tractor for longer hours. Touching upon the 75 hp, hydrostatic transmission equipped tractor that his company produces, Agrawal explained that the tractor is 20 to 25 per cent more fuel efficient due to the hydrostatic transmission that it flaunts. Ensuring less friction and transmission losses, the hydrostatic transmission, said Agrawal, is like the automated transmission prevalent in cars. Building tractors that are equipped with an ergonomically designed air conditioned cabin, 24×24 transmission (developed indigenously), and temperature sensors, Escorts Ltd., is looking at fast increasing its market share. The company registered a growth of 21.2 per cent in FY17 by earning a revenue of Rs. 4,167.6 crores (up from Rs. 3,438.7 crores in FY16). Registering a volume growth of 24 per cent during the same period, the company sold 63,786 tractors, against 51,455 tractors in FY16. Enjoying a market share of 10.8 per cent in FY17, the company hope to increase it by 20 basis points in the next one year. “Our exports may be small, but our range is complete. We are targeting an export of 12000 units. It may take us next four to five years to accomplish it,” said Aggarwal.

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Shenu Aggarwal, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Escorts Ltd.

Q. What are the reasons for the development and introduction of heavier tractors?

A. Tractors up to 75 hp can work in India. We may have showcased a 75 hp tractor, but we already make tractors up to 120 hp. For the

75 hp tractor to work in India, we are looking at farmers with large farm holding. It might not be a very wide spread market right now, it is however growing. The main reason is the use of bigger implements like big potato grinders. Tractors in such applications of up to 50 hp may not offer the lower cost of ownership. It will be the higher hp tractors that will offer lower cost of ownership. For tractors above 80 hp, we do not see much demand in India.

Q. How is Escorts addressing the local and global tractor markets?

A. The market outside India is in the range of 75 and 90 hp. There is no country in the world where the demand is zero for such tractors. So, each market that we go to, the tractors that we offer in the 75 to 90 hp range will play a crucial role in helping us to establish our presence. We were a bit starved of the exports volumes because we were not having the right range. Now, we have the complete range. Our export volumes are currently very small. We are targeting up to 12000 units for exports. We should bridge the target in the next four to five years. We produce the Farmtrac and Powertrac brand of tractors at our two plants (adjoining each other) at Faridabad. While we were designing our new range, we also made the necessary changes to the plants. We invested Rs.30 crores. We have also produced tractors in Poland. The Polish entity is 100 per cent owned. We have also outsourced assembly lines. If a local distributor wants to satisfy local norms and wants local value additions, they manage the same.

Q. Why did you opt for electric propulsion?

A. We are currently working on both, hybrid and electric models. The latter is a pure form of non-diesel tractor. It poses certain challenges, which may have led some companies to think of hybrids before moving to it. Much depends on how an electric tractor could be made commercially viable; the demand it will enjoy. Demand increase should be in the shortest time. We are also looking at challenges like charging the battery with the use of a 440-volt supply for fast charging. Charging with the use of a 220-volt outlet is not as fast. This calls for a suitable infrastructure. To devote 10 to 12 hours to charge the battery of an electric car is difficult. In the case of tractors, they are idle after the sun sets. An operation at night over a vast parcel of land is difficult. A tractor can thus devote up to 10 hours for charging. It could do without proper charging infrastructure as it has to work inside a confined area. It is only if you have to use the tractor day and night, that there is a challenge. The challenge to charge with a 440-volt infrastructure. A full charge at 440-volt could be achieved in six hours.

Q. What batteries have you opted for?

A. We have opted for lithium ion batteries. These are light in weight, compact in size and can store more charge. Since we are not a battery research company, we are outsourcing it. We are looking at costs, and at the task of designing tractors. We therefore took a battery and designed a product around it. The fact is, it is not the battery but the software where the trick lies. It is all about how the tractor operates, conserves energy, and makes its possible to operate for long hours. There are many leakages, which could reduce the efficiency. A tractor cannot run for seven hours non-stop. One cannot have an electric tractor that looses charge in one hour. For us, an electric tractor is work in progress.

Q. Many parts of India have experienced floods. Will this affect the sales of tractors?

A. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are some of the big agri-markets that have seen flooding. Floods are often found to affect areas that are not well irrigated, and dependent on rain water. Flooding usually gets the ground water level up. Farmers find that they are in good supply for the next two or three years. It is exactly the opposite when there is a famine. There, the water level takes three to fours years to come back to the normal levels. The problem with floods is that it destroys a standing crop. Farmers lose money.

Q. Are you seeing a demand for AC tractors? Do they not affect the efficiency?

A. An AC will need more power. Beyond that there is no major impact. In a 75 hp tractor, the AC consumes 3hp. These are four by four tractors and a ‘major’ game outside India.

Q. How many vendors are you currently working with?

A. We are currently working with almost 300 vendors. We are outsourcing various components. The bonnets, for example, are supplied by Krishna Maruti. The intellectual property rights are ours; the design is ours, and the quality level is also specified by us. It is things like the treatment of sheet metal parts that is done in-house to ensure there is no room for rust, vibration, etc. We have thus kept manufacturing of up to 70 per cent of critical components with us for in-house development. This helps us to assure quality.

Q. What are you doing to comply with the future emission norms?

A. We are currently at BS III norms for agricultural products. The next level of norms is going to be BS IV in India. It will be applicable to everything else other than tractors. The date for the same has not been decided yet. Earlier the government wanted to implement it in 2022. But now, because of the worldwide pressure, the government is said to have pre-poned the date of implementation. As far as we are concerned, we are fully prepared. The world is already at tier IV, and we can’t export anything until we can produce tractors that comply with that level of regulation. We thus have the technology, which we can apply in India as well. It is not challenging for us.

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New pedestal crane from Demag

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A Terex brand, Demag offers PC 3800-1 pedestal crane with extended lifting performance possibilities at job sites that were previously hard to reach.

Team CV

Terex has introduced a new Demag pedestal crane called the PC 3800-1. It offers extended lifting performance possibilities, and provides access to job sites previously not reachable with a standard crawler model. Boasting strong load charts, especially with main boom only configurations, the PC 3800-1 helps to reduce ground preparation. Easy to transport, the crane significantly reduces the amount of time needed to prepare a jobsite for an operation. Typically crawler cranes require an adequately levelled supporting ground (slope of 0 degree to 0.3 degree) over a large area to achieve the nominal lifting capacity. This calls for extensive ground preparation prior to the lift job. The PC 3800-1, in contrast, needs four spots to be prepared for the outrigger supports. The outrigger supports do not need to be perfectly levelled as the outrigger cylinders can compensate tolerance on the ground’s flatness by up to 2.1 degree with a 12 x 12 m (39.4 x 39.4 ft.) outrigger base.

With the possibility of using existing pile foundations on the top of the outrigger base as outrigger supports for the PC 3800-1 to provide sufficient stability, the versatility of the Demag pedestal crane makes it beneficial in terms of usage and ground preparation. Beneficial on jobsites where ground layout and structure are already existing, which is often the case on harbour quays and refineries, as well as when installing bridges from river banks, the PC 3800-1 pedestal, with its hydraulic extendable and foldable outriggers, that can be positioned at 12 x 12 m (39.4 x 39.4 ft), and 14 x 14 m (46 x 46 ft) with all configurations including Superlift and 16 x 16 m (62.5 x 62.5ft) without super lift.

Making for additional long-reach possibilities where the lifting capacity of a crawler crane would normally be limited, the PC 3800-1 pedestal crane also provides increased lifting performance in several configurations. It requires less counterweight for the same or slightly higher lifting capacities. Less counterweight means fewer trucks, translating into significantly reduced transportation costs. For additional versatility, Demag has also developed an adapter to connect the carbody (center pot) of the crane to a self-propelled modular trailer or axle lines. Axle lines are commonly found on jobs involving lifting bridge sections, gantries or wind turbine assemblies, which means that the crane can be easily relocated on a jobsite partially rigged, while leveraging the use of axle lines. Depending on road regulations, the Demag PC 3800-1 equipped with axle lines can be adapted easily to match a 12-tonne load per axle, or to have a cross vehicle weight below 100-tonne. This can be done with many axle lines from multiple manufacturers.

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International Tractors: Bullish about Growth

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International Tractors is banking on growth by providing ergonomically advanced products that best suit the needs of the farmers.

Story by:

Anirudh Raheja

International Tractors Limited (ITL), which manufactures and markets Sonalika brand of tractors, reported a robust 19.6 per cent increase in sales at 81531 units in FY2016-17, the highest sale of tractors to be ever recorded in the history of the company. In comparison, tractor sales in India grew 18 per cent in FY2016-17, recording a sale of 582844 units according to the Tractor Manufacturers Association. In FY2015-16, 493764 tractors were sold. Increasing the market share from 11.9 per cent to 12.3 per cent, domestic sales of ITL grew 18 per cent, at 69290 units. Exports registered a growth of 29.3 per cent at 12241 units in last fiscal. Bullish about growth, and keen to provide ergonomically advanced products (tractors) that best suit the needs of farmers, ITL has commissioned a fully integrated tractor plant at Hoshiarpur, Punjab. Spread over an area of 85 acres, the new plant is located adjacent to the existing plant. With a capacity to produce two lakh tractors per annum, the new plant will elevate the total manufacturing capacity of ITL to three-lakh units. The existing plant has the capacity to make one-lakh tractors per annum. Fueled by an investment of Rs.800 crores, the new plant is fully equipped to roll out tractors ranging from 20 hp to 120 hp in a takt time of two minutes. Engineered to produce tractors up to 180 hp according to Amrit Singh Mittal, Vice Chairman, ITL, the new plant will support the company’s move to higher capacity tractors, and exports. “Ninety-nine per cent of the tractors sold in India may amount to a power output of less than 60 hp, we are confident that the tractor industry will soon graduate to higher hp engines,” he said. Stressing upon a modern approach, Mittal averred that mechanisation in agriculture is rising. On the account of exports, claimed a source close to the company, that plans are being drawn to export one-lakh tractors. These would be produced at the old plant.

Tracing its roots to 1969 when it manufactured its first farm equipment (thresher), ITL in an effort to enhance its technical capabilities entered into a joint venture with Renault Agriculture, France, and Class Tractors, Germany, in 2000. This was 14 years after ITL produced the first tractor in 1996. The company began producing engines in-house in 2001. By 2005, the company grew up to become the fourth largest manufacturer of tractors in India. It tied up with Japanese diesel engine specialist Yanmar. The new plant, by leveraging technology, and the experience the company has gained over the years, will contribute to the endeavour to produce a good number of aggregates in-house. Aggregates like engine, chassis, sheet metal parts, differential and transmission.

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Operations

The new plant will hike ITL’s capacity to produce tractors to 300 from the current capacity to produce 225 tractors per shift. ITL at present runs two eight-hour shifts. When the demand increases, a shift is extended to 10-12 hours, said Mittal. In an effort maintain a competitive edge in what is termed as the biggest tractor market in the world, third shift is also pressed into service if the need arises. ITL manufactures an entire range of engines – from 20 hp to 110 hp, at the plant. The engine plant has an installed capacity of 500 engines per day, and has been engineered such that it will play an importat role in ITL’s endeavour to develop engines of different capacities. There are 24 engine test beds. With the current emission compliance standards for tractors being BSIIIA, ITL’s Sonalika brand of tractors have been affected with the Supreme Court order to stop sale as well as the register BSIII vehicles from April 01, 2017. In many parts of India. RTOs not wanting to attract contempt of court, are said to refuse registration of tractors that complying with BSIIIA emission regulations. This is despite the emission standards for tractors being different from what the trucks and buses follow. Informed Raman Mittal, Executive Director, ITL, that the (tractor manufacturers) association is making the required presentations, and is hoping that business is not significantly affected.

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Producing two, three and four cylinder engines, in naturally aspirated and common rail turbo-diesel guise, the engine plant of ITL has over 23 production stages. Particular attention is paid to the quality of manufacture from the initial stage. Averred Amrit Singh Mittal, “India is a price sensitive market. It is important therefore that we develop fuel efficient products.” Post deregulation, price of diesel has been rising. In the wake of that, the company is working on a completely new series of tractors that are stylish, ergonomically sorted and comfortable. ITL, in a bid to address the exacting needs of the Indian market, developed a 35 hp DI35Rx Sikander tractor recently. Powering the tractor is a three-cylinder unit that generates a torque of 157 Nm peak torque. Transmission is a constant mesh design with six forward and six reverse gears. For superior fuel efficiency, the hydraulic pump of the tractor can be disengaged from the engine when not in use. “This reflects on our understanding of the Indian market,” quipped Mittal. He pointed at the four tractors his company launched in October last year. “These tractors have beeen designed and engineered for potato farming, and are equipped with adjustable track width, a hydraulic system that was specially developed, and have a compact turning radius to help them maneouvre in the field without damaging the crop,” opined Mittal. Pramod Rajan, Head, R&D, ITL, expressed, “We are developing a six-cylinder 120hp engine for tractors. Production of this engine will begin later this year. The engine will find application in big tractors the company exports. The 120 hp engine platform will be leveraged to produce higher capacity engines mentioned Rajan. A 200 hp engine is on the anvil too. If this will provide a glimpse of ITL’s plans for the future, the 120 hp tractor, informed Rajan, will be equipped with a 24+24 transmission, and offer a massive 4,500 kg lifting capacity. Of the opinion that a tractor should transform into a status symbol, Rajan revealed that engines above 50 hp are being equipped with common-rail technology. The change in emission standards for engine above 50 hp is said to be a reason for this. The other is perhaps, the rising sale of tractors in the 40 to 50 hp range. In the last five years, most tractors sold in India are in the 40 to 50 hp range.

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Tractor transmission

If the engine assembly makes for an interesting insight at the ITL plant, the transmission line adds to the knowledge of tractor manufacture. Found on the line are transmission cases, gears, shafts, clutch plates, and more. Multi-speed transmissions are produced with a 12+12 speed range. To maintain consistency, the company manufactures four wheel drive axles in-house. Stating that the shift to 50-60 hp tractors in India is likely to happen faster than expected, Rajan revealed that they are working on an eight forward and two reverse speed transmission. It will be upgraded to 12 forward and 12 reverse gearbox, and introduced in the 60 hp segment followed by the 40-50 hp segment as well. ITL is also working on 30 hp tractors with hydrostatic transmission. The company plans to export them to Europe and US.

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For tractors to withstand tough working conditions, ITL’s gear shop manufactures between 250 and 400 different components. The facility has a capacity to manufacture 1.5 million parts per annum. A total of 112 machines including 22 gear hobbing machines and 12 gear shaving machines have been installed. Also, a part are a Seal Quench Furnace (SQF), induction hardening and pit type furnace. A modern metallurgical lab has been set up. It contains Leco Spectrometer and a Micro Hardness Tester from USA among other test equipment. A Japanese spectrometer is used to ensure the quality of spur, bevel and helical gears is right.

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R&D and manufacturing

Employing 200 engineers and 100 technicians, ITL R&D is at the core of numerous initiatives the company is taking. Out of the 200 engineers, 120 engineers are engaged in design projects that will materialise in the future. They are closely supported by 50 product testing engineers. Crucial to the smooth functioning of the world’s largest integrated tractor manufacturing plant with world-class technologies, ITL R&D, according to Rajan, is playing an important role in the design and development of aggregates. The cathodic electro-coating pre-treatment facility has a dip tank of 70,000 litre capacity. The paint shop technology ensures up to 95 per cent paint utilisation, and is manned by six robots. While the sheet metal parts are produced at the press shop, most plastic parts are also made in-house. The company has 26 machines including 19 presses of up to 400 tonne capacity; two laser machines (sourced from Prima, Italy), and three injection moulding machines. To manufacture in-house dies for press tools, sheet metal parts and injection modules, 35 machines work in tandem. The desired level of accuracy is maintained by ITL with 167 special purpose machines and 57 CNC machining centers sourced from Mazak, Japan. To achieve a competitive takt time, castings at the plant are transferred through under pit conveyors. The final assembly line is structured such that every unit undergoes a number of tests. These include a roller test, hydraulic test and a vibration test. To ensure optimal product quality, the company employs quality management systems like Pokayoke.

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Exporting tractors to 80 countries, ITL is developing products that will comply with the stage IV emission norms. These would be aimed primarily at the export markets of Europe and US. ITL is also working on telematics. Testing of a telematics platform, according to Rajan, is on. The results will determine the time to market. Rajan is of the opinion that it will still take some time before the tractor market warms up to the prospect of using telematics. Costs, he said, are a barrier. Looking at expanding its reach in the domestic, and overseas markets, ITL is banking on ergonomically advanced, robust and efficient tractors. Apart from an assembly unit in Cameroon, Africa, the company is setting up a unit in China. A cost sensitive market according to Raman Mittal, the unit at China – expected to be operational at the end of this fiscal – will open up new avenues for the company. With Yanmar agreeing to buy Blackstone Equity Investors’ shares in ITL for Rs.1,600 crores, Yanmar’s holding in the company is set to rise to 30 per cent. This is expected to boost outsourcing. Mittal is keen to see his company export one lakh units. “Out of the one lakh units, 50,000 units will be manufactured for our partner Yanmar’s outsourcing commitments. The remaining 50,000 will be sold independently under the Sonalika brand,” said Mittal.

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Pramod Rajan, Head, Research and Development, International Tractors Limited

Q. What role is the R&D playing in the company’s growth?

A. We have a team of 200 engineers and 100 technicians. Of these, there are 120 design engineers. Supporting them are 50 engineers that carry out testing. Playing an important role, the R&D carries out numerous tasks including design, development, and testing. For example, work is being carried out on a 120 hp engine that will go into production later this year. In India, BS IIIA emission norms apply to agricultural products. So, we are working on the engine for it to meet these norms, and offer superior efficiency. The R&D plays an important role in the design and development of aggregates. With aggregate manufacture and assembly carried out in one plant, we also play a role in developing skin panels. Final processing of 50 per cent parts is done in-house. It is the child parts that are procured from outside.

Q. What new projects are you working on?

A. We are currently focusing on two things – fuel efficiency and performance. We want to improve the fuel efficiency of our product portfolio. Diesel prices have started moving north. Indian customers are very price sensitive, and it is therefore essential that we offer fuel efficient products. Our products are known to be robust, stylish and comfortable. We want to ensure that our products exceed their requirements. With rural markets warming up to new things, expectations are rising. This is making it necessary that we look at styling and comfort in the case of tractors. We will soon launch a completely new series of tractors for the domestic market. These will highlight comfort and styling. We feel that the tractor should be a status symbol.

Q. What role is the R&D playing in exports?

A. We export tractors to Europe and US. For these markets we developed StageIV compliant engines that will go into production in the last quarter of this fiscal. In India, we believe that BSIV emission norms for tractors will come only in 2020. The cost of technology at this point will be very high. We expect an emission norms shift in the category above 50 hp.

Q. How soon could telematics become a standard fitment on tractors?

A. We have already put telematics systems on our test tractors. We have the system ready for customers, and offer to those who demand it. We have not marketed it because cost of having a telematics system is high. The perceived value for customer is not high. It may be not be a standard fitment solution for now therefore, and will be offered only on demand. It is true that the competition is already offering telematics systems on their machines. The cost of telematics, in India, is still on the higher side. Telematics is used by fleet operators. For an individual owner to use a mobile phone makes more sense since it is cheaper. Owning a phone costs no more than Rs.200. Servicing a telematics system every month will cost more that Rs.500 per month. Customer therefore is still reluctant to pay.

Q. What new could ITL offer next year?

A. One of the plan is to shift tractors in the 60 to 120 hp range to common-rail technology. The 120 hp tractor is equipped with a six-cylinder engine. It is aimed at the African market where the land size is huge. This engine can be elevated to produce 200 hp. As per the demand, we will slowly move forward. In India, where the land mass is not as big. We will go up to 75 and 90 hp tractors at the most. For special applications, some government tenders are calling for 100 and 110 hp machines. These would be used for clearing snow, and will account for a very small volume. We do not produce hydrostatic transmissions for India. For Europe and US, we are looking at hydrostatic transmission for less than 30 hp. This transmission could be aimed at the hobby farming segment.

Q. Which do you think are the fast emerging segments in India?

A. In the last five years, the maximum tractors that are being sold are in the range of 40 to 50 hp. In 2011, there was an emission norms change for tractors above 50hp. As far as the tractor industry is concerned, a shift is likely to take place from 40 to 50 hp, and to 50-60 hp. A shift beyond that looks difficult. Tractors in the 40-50 hp range account for 30 per cent of the market. We are currently selling eight forward and two reverse speed transmissions. We are working on 12 forward and 12 reverse gears transmission. This will be offered on 60 hp machines, and later on in the 40-50 hp segment tractors.

Q. Does the rising use of plastics in tractors hint at the need to light weight?

A. There is a requirement for light weighting of tractors. Especially in the rice producing belts in South India. We will introduce products in that segment with our partner Yanmar in the 40-50 hp segment.

Volvo CE crowns its Operator Champion for India

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Volvo CE’s Operator Champion contest for India saw Bheemappa K S bag the title.

Story by:

Bhargav TS

Bheemappa K S from Karnataka was judged the winner of Volvo CE’s Operator Champion contest for India. The event is an endeavour by Volvo CE to choose the best equipment operator, and highlight the importance of skill development in the construction equipment industry. Volvo has been present in India for quite some time now. It has invested in a construction and earth moving equipment manufacturing facility at Bangalore in India, Aware of the need to develop as well as have skilled manpower to operate construction and earth moving equipment, Volvo CE, as part of its focus on efficient operation of equipment has been conducting the Operator Champion contest the world over. An effort to highlight the fact that the equipment it makes feature highly ergonomic cabs and advanced and intuitive operating technology, the company, in India, held the Operator Champion contest in India for the first time, recently. The inaugural event was held at Bangalore, and played out on the belief that any machine is only as effective as the person operating it. With stress on the creation of good operating environment and systems, and higher productivity, the contest saw Narendra Singh from Rajasthan receiving the runner-up prize. Announced Dimitrov Krishnan, Vice President and Head, Volvo CE India, that the Operator Champion contest received excellent response from the industry. “We are celebrating the tremendous value equipment operators bring to the construction and mining industry. It is necessary to celebrate their role in nation-building”.

Through the Operator Champion contest, Volvo CE India, connected with numerous equipment operators in India. The company connected with their networks in India with an aim to promote, and propagate a thought that the work that they are doing is important. Said Krishnan, “Our aim with the programme has been to make the operators realise the importance of the role they play, and the need to improve their competence as well as confidence.” “In the case of winners, we hope the prize money will change their life,” he mentioned. Pointing at the challenges faced by the country in terms of infrastructure development, Krishnan expressed that it is essential to focus on skill development in order to meet the ambitious targets set. “The men and women that sit at the controls of our equipment have the power to deliver a real change. This is something that we should celebrate as a nation,” he quipped. A three day event, the Operator champion contest got the winners from nine regional beats in the country down to Bangalore for the Indian final. Marking the achievement of a milestone with work starting 18 months ago, the event at Bangalore saw a host of VIPs attend. Present among the important people in the industry was Gaurav Kapoor, Head – Industry Partnership & CSR at SCC Engagements, which is part of the National Skill Development Corporation. His presence reflected on the rising focus on skill development in the country.

On the first day of the finals the attendees were recognised for their achievements, and taken on a tour of the Volvo CE plant at Peenya and Hosakote. On the second day, two rounds of the competition were held at the Hosakote Customer Centre. Each participant was tested for speed, dexterity, logical thinking and more. Operators were subjected to carrying out operations on both, the equipment and simulators. The equipment included and excavator and a wheel loader. On the final day, the operators took part in the final round of competition. The results were announced later in the day. Attended by 100 people, including Volvo CE senior leaders, government officials, construction contractors and Volvo dealer representatives, the event saw the winner, Bheemappa K S, receive a prize money of Rupees five-lakh. The runner up received a prize money of Rupees two-lakh.

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