Off-Highway Research is optimistic about the growth of the mini excavator market (MEX) in the country and projects it to grow to 1,400 units in 2019 and reach a level of 2,500 units by 2023.
Mini excavators are used for a variety of applications from urban development to agriculture. Clearly the main reason why these are used is due to space constraint, where a normal excavator or a backhoe loader cannot operate and for work that requires greater efficiency and speed. 2.5- 4T models are the most popular category which is high in demand. These models are fitted with engines which have a power rating of 24 HP to 34 HP. The 3T excavator has a higher demand as compared to the
“Demand for mini excavators has been growing since 2007, but their sales remained below 100 units until 2010. However, growth rate picked up from 2011 and reached a peak of 1,322 units in 2018. Government’s focus on rural and urban infrastructure development, consistent demand from agriculture and plantations, and shortage of manual labour are the key drivers for growth of mini excavator demand,” says Samir Bansal, General Manager, India, Off-Highway Research.
According to Sandeep Singh, Managing Director, Tata Hitachi, the current market size is a little more than 1000 units and is expected to grow faster than the general market at around 20% given its low base. This growth will be mainly driven by Kerala which is still the biggest market. Growth will also come from government agencies in the rest of the country, as they try to modernise given the Swachh Bharat objectives.
States Hyunsoo (HS) Kim, Director Commercial, Doosan Bobcat India. The major verticals that drive the demand for mini excavators are agriculture, plantation, waterways construction and of course the important one being 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 the hilly terrain also plays a key role in customer adoption of mini excavators. Besides this government focusing on the rural road development, housing for low income groups and SMART cities are also driving the demand.
“Agricultural segment is the highest contributor to the demand for mini excavator segment in India. Currently the sector includes excavators from 1T to 4T categories. Most of these excavators are used in applications such as pineapple, rubber and coffee plantations. There is also a lot of demand from compact construction sites and municipal work including pipe laying and lifting. In Kerala, where mini excavators sell in maximum numbers, they are used in foundation excavation for independent houses apart from agriculture applications. Many mini excavators also are being used in the cement factories for wagon unloading,” says Anup Nair, Vice-President and Business Head, Hyundai Construction Equipment India.
Mini excavators are gaining popularity amongst 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. States Dheeraj Panda, Director- Sales Marketing & Customer Support, Sany India, “Rental market in India accounts for major demand for mini excavators mainly in southern part and this is going to be a moving trend in other part as well in near future. It has high potential as these machines are mainly used in agricultural applications and construction activities. With the increasing shortage of manual labour, dependency on machines will continue to rise which will help grow the mini excavator rental market in the future.”
Mini excavators (MEX) can be used with a range of attachments. The attachments can be changed within minutes, thus improving the productivity of the machine. Some of the attachments which are popular amongst customers are thumb for holding objects, breaker for demolition works, auger used for drilling holes. Mini excavators are seen to replace easily 15-20 persons used in labour intensive jobs proving to be economical while maintaining higher levels of productivity. The mini excavator customers have been generally using the machine for bucket application. But slowly and gradually they are adding attachments like breaker and auger.
These machines are also lower in weight which makes it very easy in terms of transportability using a small truck which is commonly found. It can even be put on small barges and used for cleaning of water channels. Moreover, the investment is less while the rental income generated is more which is appealing to rental segment customers. The rental rates are very stable and better for mini excavators. As a result the rental segment for mini excavators is also growing steadily.