Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

Loaders in India are expected to record the highest growth among the various construction and earth moving equipment.

According to a new report by Allied Market Research titled Global Construction Equipment Market – size, industry analysis, trends, opportunities, growth and forecast, 2014-2020, the global construction equipment market is expected to reach USD 240.97 billion by 2020, registering a CAGR of 8.9 per cent during 2015-2020. Of the various construction equipment used, it is the loader market that is expected to grow the most until 2020, contributing more than 44 per cent of the total market review. This would be on the basis of increased application in earth moving operations, and in the Asia-Pacific region especially. The Asia-Pacific region is thus expected to dominate the global construction equipment market during the period 2015-2020 on the basis of an increase in industrial and residential construction activities. As part of the Asia-Pacific region, India is expected to contribute handsomely, and in the area of loaders to be precise. With the market in Asia Pacific region expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.2 per cent during 2015-2020, loaders will have a lot to look forward to. Plummeting in 2013 against the performance recorded in 2012, which amounted to the sale of 2000 loaders, the market for loaders in India is expected to growth smartly, starting this year. That, of the loaders of the wheeled variety as well as of the tracked variety.

Machine of choice

It is no secret that wheel loaders are preferred over tracked loaders for the added versatility they offer. Wheel loaders are employed for wagon filling, asphalt loading and block material handling. The nature of work as well as the added versatility wheel loaders present, are making them the machine of choice with the organised as well as the unorganised section of the trade. Most popular with the unorganised players are the backhoe loaders. These are used for smaller tasks like digging trenches, laying pipes, and clearing the rubble. They are also used for other digging and earth moving activities. Clearly, backhoe loaders have different applications, and are the most popular among loaders. Tracked loaders in comparison are capable of doing nearly every task on a job site. They are however master of none. In other words, a dozer, excavator, or a wheel loader will out perform a tracked loader under a set of conditions. However that should not undermine a tracked loader, and the reason why it remains a part of many companies’ fleets. Typically, tracked loaders are made versatile by their ability to apply down-pressure to the bucket, increasing their ability to dig unworked ground. In the construction and mining applications, loaders are largely used as a complementary products. Demand for wheel loader, governed largely by unorganised hiring/rental business segment, is growing due to their versatile abilities. Caterpillar offers small, mid and large wheel loaders, tracked loaders and backhoes. Case New Holland also offers a variety of loaders including the backhoe. Also does JCB and a host of other construction and earthmoving equipment manufacturers like Kubota, Terex, Liebherr, Komatsu, Doosan, Hyundai, etc.

Backhoe loader is the most versatile

Loaders with a backhoe make a versatile machine. The most popular machine in the Indian construction and earthmoving industry, backhoe loaders are not just versatile, they are quite mobile too. They are also coming to employ the latest technology among other loaders. The influx of technology in them is making them more reliable, efficient and comfortable to operate. Technology is also ensuring that backhoe loaders offer the lowest operating costs over the life of the machine. Witnessing improving residual values, backhoe loader makes the best machine from the view point of return on investment. If this makes the machine even more versatile, adding to its versatility is the fact that a backhoe can do a variety of tasks albeit with the help of attachments. Replacing buckets at both the ends with attachment like pallet forks, jib crane, sweeper collector, auger, clam shovel bucket, ripper tooth, jaw bucket, ditch cleaning bucket, taper ditching bucket or a bucket mounted forklift makes the backhoe capable of executing highly diverse functions indeed. It is this capability that has helped a backhoe loader to carve out a niche for itself. Mentioned an expert, that tractors cannot do the job that a backhoe does. He pointed at the Cat 424B. Opined Dattatray Bhimrao Patil, a Cat 424B owner from Karad (Maharashtra), that he earns more per trip. According to Patil, the backhoe is faster and has a larger bucket size, which makes it possible to load more in less time. This has led to higher profits.

Technology

Wheel loaders in the USA have moved to the Tier 4 Final level of emission compliance. In India, the emission compliance level is Tier III, which is equivalent of BS III, and Tier III A. The future influx of technology according to an expert will be in the area of drivetrain. Engines will be more powerful yet cleaner, and there is a possibility of new transmissions to enter, he added. Higher efficiency engines, the expert opined, would help the machine offer higher breakout force and digging depth, a quality that is most appreciated by the Indian operator, and considering the Indian conditions. Fuel consumption is one area, which will see an amount of improvement. Modern transmission technology like Volvo’s Powershift will contribute towards this. According to a Volvo CE source, the loader, courtesy the Powershift transmission, always operates in the ideal gear by sensing engine and travel speed, kick-down, engine braking and other factors. It offers operators a choice of four gear shifting programmes, which results in more efficient work cycles with lower fuel consumption and wear.

For a construction site to function without a loader may be impossible. Add to this the fact that the awareness to use the right tool for the right job is growing. The future of loaders looks bright despite the recent slowdown. The influx of new technology is ensuring that they are ever versatile and profitable to operate.

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