Tata Hitachi has the largest installed base of mini excavators
Tata Hitachi, a first mover in the compact excavator segment in India, offers 2T conventional mini excavator TMX20 Super – the first mini excavator indigenously developed and introduced in the country almost two decades back, apart from two models with zero tail swing – Tata-Hitachi ZAXIS33U and Hitachi ZAXIS20U. “Regulatory requirement to use compact machines in an urban environment will further give impetus to adoption of mini excavators,” states Sandeep Singh, Managing Director, Tata Hitachi. Singh highlights the market trends in the compact excavator segment.
In contrast to the more mature construction equipment markets where compact equipment accounts for a large proportion of machinery sales, demand for mini excavators in India has to date remained very small. What do you think are the reasons?
India is a developing country with a sizeable population in the working class that is migrating from agriculture. This population is mostly unskilled / semi-skilled; hence there is availability of manpower to do small time excavation / digging. Given this availability of manpower, wages for construction workers are low. In India, the backhoe loader was introduced very early and this has culturally been accepted and has become very popular as entry level equipment in the construction industry given its ease of use and mobility.
Secondly there is still not much pressure on the regulatory authorities to use modern equipment that doesn’t hinder flow of traffic, faster development and maintenance of utilities, lower noise levels -especially in urban centres. With this background, the market for mini excavators has been limited to highly developed parts of the country like Kerala.
With the roll out of the next set of emission norms the price of backhoe is expected to go high that may give an edge to compact excavator. What is your take on this?
In India, the backhoe loader was introduced very early and this has culturally been accepted as the entry level equipment in the construction industry given its ease of use and mobility. Hence a change from backhoe loader to mini excavator will happen, but slowly. The change could be faster if there is paucity and higher labour costs in parts of the country opening of niche applications. Regulatory requirement to use compact machines in an urban environment will further give impetus to adoption of mini excavators.
What is the current market size in terms of value and unit sales? What are the expected growth and the growth drivers?
Current market size is around 1000 units per annum 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 is also from government agencies in the rest of the country, as they try to modernize given the Central Government’s Swachch Bharat objectives.
At present mini excavators only have niche appeal in India and the trend of using various attachments with compact excavators has not caught up. What is your take on this?
As explained above, the availability and cost of labour itself is limiting the market for mini excavators and hence the adoption of various attachments is in line with this trend.
Brief us on the challenges as an OEM you face for better compatibility of various attachments and steps initiated by the company.
Given the limited use of mini excavators with attachments, developing attachments with sustainable sales and volumes is a challenge. As with other excavators, rock breakers are the first attachment that is offered on mini excavators. We also offer rubber tracks as an option and an auger attachment is under development.
What is the range offered by your company in zero, minimal and conventional tail swing models?
We offer the 2T conventional mini excavator TMX20 Super. This is also the 1st mini excavator that was introduced in the country almost two decades back and the 1st to be indigenously developed. Apart from this we are offering two models with zero tail swing – Tata-Hitachi ZAXIS33U and Hitachi ZAXIS20U.
Could you throw some light on the rental scenario of compact excavators? How do you assess the potential from rental market and what are the challenges?
Most of the machines are being sold in Kerala and in some parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and are being used in rental for varied applications like agriculture, urban development, and general construction purposes. The sale in rest of the country is still mostly user owned given the availability of low cost labour. We have been monitoring the market outside Kerala for the last several years and targeted areas that have higher labour rates as well as paucity of labour to develop the rental market. However as explained above, lower cost of human labour and unavailability of regulatory requirement still poses a major challenge in developing the rental market.
Machine uptime is tantamount to success, so equipment that is simple to service is top on the list of concerns, especially for rental segment. How service / maintenance-friendly are your range of compact excavators?
TMX20 Super has been updated over several years to make it easy to service. As this is indigenously developed, all the spares are easily available through our wide network ofdealers. ZAXIS33U and ZAXIS20U are state of the art models from Hitachi Japan. Hitachi, through its wide experience in developed markets has benchmarked these machines for ease of maintenance. Therefore, these machines come with wide open covers with dust guard, ground level servicing of all major filters, and vertical engine door opening for accessibility in constrained space for improved serviceability.
Could you brief us on the various features in your range that helps a customer / contractor to have lower maintenance cost and higher resale value?
Higher resale value is usually a function of the availability of an affordable support system for any machine and the population of those machines in the market. On both these counts, Tata Hitachi mini excavators offer best value to the customers. Being a first mover in this segment in India, Tata Hitachi has the largest installed base of mini excavators in India. Also, through long service intervals and low fuel consumption, the cost of operation is low. Tata Hitachi also has a strong country wide support system to reach the customer quickly for his product support needs. Special focus is also laid on adequate stocking of change parts and for fast availability of spares. All this builds the confidence in the customer that no matter what. A Tata Hitachi machine offers exceptional value: be it in a new condition or as used equipment over its lifetime.
What is the trend with regard to zero tail swing models in India?
There is increasing usage of zero tail swing models in India in the mini excavator segment. Zero tail swing models are also sold by most international brands selling mini excavators in India. Zero tail machines offer the benefit of safety for the machine’s rear portion rubbing against any obstacles in a constrained space while swinging. In this case the machine’s rear overhang is reduced to be within its track. This enables the operator to focus on the front of his machine once its track has been positioned to a work site.
What differentiates your range of compact excavators from competition?
Tata Hitachi offers compact excavators in the 2T and 3T range of operating weights. Tata Hitachi’s ZAXIS33U and the new ZAXIS20U from Hitachi offer zero tail and boom swing features that offer great flexibility for transportation and are ideal for working in constrained spaces. These machines are designed for low noise levels as they work in populated areas. The operating costs are kept low by increased maintenance intervals and through low fuel consumption.Tata Hitachi also has a completely indigenous model TMX20 which is a very versatile 2T machine with boom swing and a conventional tail. The machine is popular for its high performance, low owning and operating cost and high resale value. Together, Tata Hitachi offers a wide choice in mini excavators in India with the key benefits of high performance, reliable products, low operating cost supported by a wide network and high resale value.