Tractor-trailers support efficient operations

Tata DLT copy

Influenced by GST, transporters are looking at tractor-trailers for efficient and faster operations

Story by: Anirudh Raheja

The roll-out of GST has set the ball rolling. The transport sector is up for a big change. Only those that are efficient, and have efficient solutions to back them, are likely to most succeed. The abolition of border checks is getting transporters to clock more kilometers, and realise faster turnaround times. Influencing a change in the hub and spoke transportation model. GST is also claimed to have begun a shift to higher tonnage trucks. While the absolute number of trucks may decrease over time, the demand for tractor trailers has begun to rise. Drawing attention to the State of Rajasthan, which accounts for the largest number of tractor-trailers in India, an industry expert stated that trailers are being increasingly looked upon as a part of the truck that has technology associated with it. The trend where trailers were looked upon as mere skeletons of steel with axles attached to them is fast fading. Trailers he mentioned, are being increasingly looked upon as a piece of technology crucial to efficient transport operations. Looked upon as a new way to transport safely, efficiently, and profitably, trailers are subject to stricter scrutiny as average speeds rise. The market for trailers in India is estimated to be 20,000 units per annum. Accounting for no more than 12 per cent of the total CV market according to Neha Tayal, Research Manager – Automotive Division of TechSci Research, the trailer market is set to grow faster. As transporters seek efficient trucks, tractor-trailers offer a distinct advantage of lower cost of operations. Opined an expert that a tractor-trailer combination offers lower cost of transportation in comparison to a rigid truck simply because it can carry more, and consume less; have smaller carbon footprint. This, he mentions, is beneficial to the society at large.

Coding trailers

With the demand for tractor trailers set to rise, the call for the implementation of trailer code is growing in strength. There is a safety angle attached to it, mentioned an industry source. He stated that the truck market in India is not yet fully-organised. A strictly cost driven market, the quality and technology that goes into a trailer has to be clearly defined therefore, he mentioned. Another industry opined that the implementation of trailer code could help address the issue of safety associated with trailers, and help the trailer industry to better organise itself. Not only would the trailer code ensure safety for those travelling on the road, it would also increase reliability. It would also ensure a transition of the trailer market towards a sector that is well defined, opined an expert. Close to 80 per cent of the trailer market in India is estimated to be unorganised. The remaining 20 per cent (organised market) is made up of players like Tata DLT, Hvya, Satrac and VMT. The organised players are pushing hard to transform the industry.

Manufacturing a trailer is a complex task, and it is here that the organised players are required to custom alter trailer components in accordance with the demand for niche applications. Unlike the European safety norms, the Indian trailer industry is known to operate with mechanical suspensions and mainly sturdy material citing their robust make. Special application trailers like curtain trailers, tip trailers, running gears are also known to be in demand among niche operators. Experts expect lighter trailers at similar strengths to these, that result in lower total cost of ownership, to witness a higher demand. While the industry looks to graduate to quality components and more efficient transport system overall, applications like container movement have been identified among potential growth trailer segments. Also tip trailers, which could do with a robust design and strong hydraulics.

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The implementation of trailer code could help address the issue of safety associated with trailers , and help the trailer industry to better organise itself.

Outlook

India is currently focusing on the development of its infrastructure, where approximately 65 per cent of the total freight is transported by road, with an average speed of 30 to 40 kmph. Such developments are expected to boost the demand for heavy commercial vehicles and freight transport, boosting the overall potential of growth in the trailer segment. The flat bed and well bed trailer applications serve steel industry needs. Coil movement constitutes 45 per cent of the overall trailer market today. At 35 per cent, cement based applications are served by sidewall trailers and bulkers. Tank trailers and tip trailers that cater to infrastructure sector needs constitute the rest of the segment. Common concerns albeit across these different trailer applications are issues like shortage of skilled drivers, over speeding and overloading. These need to be addressed.With GST expected to bring down logistics costs and enhance overall efficiency levels, India is expected to lead the global trailer market in growth. The global trailer market is expected to grow at a CAGR of three to four per cent over the next five years. Good growth is expected from countries other than the USA, EU and Japan. Apart from India, the ASEAN and East European countries are expected to emerge as the major growth driver. Homegrown players are expected to contribute a good deal. They are expected to invest in technology and tap export opportunities.