STEERING AHEAD

As construction and infrastructure development picks up pace, the requirement for compact machines like skid steers for space-constrained project sites and maintenance activities is expected increase.

 

Skid steers loader is suitable for a wide range of applications such as in agriculture, industry, construction, demolition, material handling, solid waste management and maintenance. Its tight turning radius makes it especially suitable for use in confined areas with limited access. Despite these, the market for skid-steer loaders in the country still remains very small. Skid-steer loader sales have generally accounted for around one percent of the total construction equipment demand in the country.

 

Demand – Supply

It is estimated that the overall market for SSL’s in India has been in the range of 500-600 for last few years with sufficient supply from multiple manufacturers. The demand for SSL’s is expected to grow in construction, real estate, solid waste management and industries and the market can witness an escalated demand of 1000 units
by 2020.

Says S Manjunath, General Manager – Sales, Doosan Bobcat India: “In 2018 the industry for skid steer loader was around 600. We expect the demand for SSL to grow at a steady pace and expect it to become 750 by 2020 and grow further to reach 1000 units by 2022.”  He adds, “Growing urbanisation and the infrastructure requirements that come along with it are key to compact construction equipment demand. The government plans for higher capital spending on power, roads and urban infrastructure has been encouraging. Several road projects under various government schemes and urban infrastructure projects are among the key influential segments which will have a positive impact. Among the roads, government is also giving a lot of importance for rural roads which forms almost 90%.”

Manjunath further adds, “Construction segment, industries and waste management are predominantly the growth drivers for smaller capacity skid steer loader machines whereas for bigger machines, traditionally process industries have been the traditional growth drivers. But due to market creation activities led by our team, we also feel that the rural road development and road widening projects would also be the new drivers.

“Despite being very useful in a wide range of applications, the market for skid-steer loaders in the country is still small. In terms of numbers, last year the skid steer loader industry in India, in all categories, was around 500 thus registering YOY growth of approximately 20% compared to 2017. Skid steer loader industry is mainly driven by government tenders, real estate sector. As per latest report, we are expecting similar or higher growth in upcoming years as well and expect industry to touch 1000 numbers by 2020,” says Ajay Aneja, Brand Leader, CASE India.     

 

Rental Push

Speaking about the growth prospects from rental segments Manjunath had this to say. “Demand in rental segment is driven by the end user at site. The awareness of the end user about the versatility and concept of a skid steer loader is the key to succeed in the hiring segment. The price for renting an SSL for a day is higher when compared to other machines. This is mainly because of low hour utilization which is again due to lower awareness. However there are certain working conditions and application where SSL is the best machine for the job and cannot be replaced. In construction segment, basement works, working between pillars are few examples. Today in building construction segment there is awareness for SSL and we have a stable rental demand.”

He further adds, “Besides awareness, some conventional products being abundant in supply in the hiring market is one of the challenges. Next would be the availability of low cost manpower which still poses a challenge for mechanisation of jobs. SSL as a product is slowly and steadily reaching the hirers segment looking to add new products and we hope it is just a matter of time and effort towards creating awareness which will shift the hiring segment attention to SSL.”

 

Low Penetration

Equipment Times tried to find out the factors for the low penetration of skid steers despite its high functional and utility values?  Is the price disparity compared to backhoe a major factor? Manjunath explains, “Price disparity with respect to BHL is just one of the reasons. The main factor would be the lack of awareness about the versatility of the skid steer loader. Certain products like backhoe loader have much more visibility in terms of street presence and as a result there is a tendency to utilize those machines even though they may not be apt and skid steer loaders are perfect for that. And the other factor would be that even now barring developed states there are many regions in the country where manpower cost is still less and the cost economics still favour manpower.”

 

Developing the Market

The market for Skid Steer Loader (SSL) is developing in India and the user industries are gradually appreciating the value of SSL. Currently, major buyers for SSL are civic bodies, biomass power plants, construction companies (real estate), cement industry and others. Given the current impetus in the infrastructure sector, the industry expects a surge in demand in the coming years. The skid steer loaders are classified on various parameters such as the load it can lift, size [sometimes in an existing process industry, the distance between the columns could be the deciding factor as the machine chosen should be able squeeze through these narrow spaces], horse power, hydraulic flow and pressure [depending on the specific attachment needs], to name
a few.

The main advantage of SSL is its compactness and variety of applications. Given this advantage SSL has tremendous potential in industries where space and speed of operation are crucial for success. But the main challenge is lack of awareness. Given this challenge, major players are constantly working to increase awareness level by demonstrating the machine’s applications at actual sites, road shows, displays in exhibitions, and training of operators.

Therefore market development for SSL needs to focus on promoting its range of applications through demonstrations at work sites.  Also major vendors need to promote the concept of ‘right tool for the right job’ and a lot of developmental work is required in this direction. With respect to attachments, the right value proposition needs to be conveyed to customers to help them understand the benefits coming out of it. Besides bucket, they can also be fitted with a wide range of attachments like pickup brooms also called sweepers, augers, pallet fork, grapple bucket, hammer, planer and many more depending upon the requirement.

“As the product’s strength and growth depends on providing solution, we are constantly in pursuit of educating the customer on the value proposition of the various attachments and their roles in critical applications. In every segment there will be one or two critical application and few other add on applications. As the awareness for attachment increases, new applications will be identified, and this value addition will further create a requirement for skid loaders,” says Manjunath. He adds,” One of the areas where we are seeing adoption of using attachments is the road segment where Bobcat attachments has been leading the initiative and has made great inroads industry with its grader, sweeper, auger, brushcat, vibratory roller and planer attachments. Customers have reported great savings by using these attachments and we hope this will encourage other customers as well.”

“Construction processes require different heavy duty equipment to move materials and perform multiple tasks. In order to avoid heavy-hauled equipment and get work easily and quickly done, there are different heavy duty attachment parts available in the market.This heavy duty attachment part helps in performing various construction processes. It avoids limiting our equipment for doing one particular job work, hence saving time and cost. Different attachment parts such as trenchers, breakers, augers helps the user to do multiple task at one time hence minimizing the machine and work load,” says Aneja.

 

Application Galore

SSL is a utility machine which is highly versatile. Mostly, the machines are used in construction of residential and commercial buildings for moving materials like sand, bricks, cement, crushed stone aggregates etc. They are also used for material handling and movement in heavy construction like the construction of bridges, elevated roads, metro rail infrastructure, tunnels to name a few, where space is restricted and SSL is an ideal option. SSL is also used in various process industries like cement industry, brick industry, paper, sugar, glass, steel industry, recycling industries etc. SSL offers very practical solutions for waste collection and solid waste management and find favor with governmental bodies like municipalities and corporations. They are very
popular in agriculture and dairy segments as well.

 

Steering Ahead

As construction and infrastructure development picks up pace, the requirement for compact machines like skid steers for space-constrained project sites and maintenance activities will increase. Flyover or metro construction activity in a city where maneuverability to carry out loose material handling or site maintenance activities and even small scale excavation can be a
challenge for larger excavators or backhoe loaders, a skid steer can effectively be used in such situations. While the ingenuity of the end-user segments helped the backhoe market to grow exponentially, the onus here is on the OEMs who need to develop the market to its full potential either by expanding the scope of application or finding ways and means to push the hirers into this segment. This may energize the market to a great extent. And there is one way to go—Steer Ahead.

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