Signs of recovery and a focus on productivity bode well for the material handling equipment space.
There´s some good news from the material handling equipment segment.
´We are seeing some signs of improvement; markets are trying to crawl back mainly on success in the roads sector and mining in certain pockets,´ says Manoj Agarwal, Head-Sales & Marketing, Escorts Construction Equipment. ´With roads opening up in a big way and a good monsoon prediction, we hope for a better second-half of the current fiscal. Infrastructure such as airports, ports and metros are the focus areas of the government, progress in removing roadblocks so work can happen in these sectors will bode well for the near future.´
´Demand for skid-steer loaders is picking up from institutions engaged in real estate, PWDs and municipalities; roads are yet to start contributing to the demand,´ says Ajay Aneja, National Head-Sales, CASE India.
Across the country, customers from manufacturing, auto, white line, FMCG, food chains, e-commerce, warehousing and logistic distribution hubs are increasingly looking to maximise warehouse and factory productivity, ´where Kelley´s full line of loading dock equipment and specialised fans are playing a major role,´ says Piush Goyal, Managing Director, Kelley Material Handling Equipment India.
´Increased thrust on the vertical use of space, the palletisation of freight and growing awareness of the advantages of safe and reliable equipment are boosting demand for material handling machines,´ says Jasmeet Singh, Head-Corporate Communications, JCB India.
A renewed focus on infrastructure is also spurring specialised demand. ´Investments in power plants like ultra-mega power plants (4,000 MW) and super critical power plants that require large material handling systems ranging from 2,000 to 4,000 tph have come into focus in recent times,´ says N Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, thyssenkrupp Industries India.
Popular material handlers
What material handlers are most in demand?
´We are seeing the most demand for stackers and reach trucks to handle pallets from the racking system,´ shares Jaideep Bauskar, Product Head-WHE Equipment, Voltas. ´Battery-operated and manual pallet trucks are being acquired to facilitate horizontal movement. Growing e-commerce is generating demand for order pickers.
Very narrow aisle trucks are handy for space-constrained locations mandating the maximum use of vertical space, but their demand is limited in India, even as overall demand for material handling equipment is picking up.´
´With most modern construction and storage being designed keeping the usage of vertical space in mind, telehandlers especially have an opportunity,´ opines Singh.
´thyssenkrupp Industries India caters to the complete range of equipment and systems in the field of bulk material handling for core sectors like power, open cast mining, steel plants, refineries and ports,´ shares Sivasubramaniam. ´Currently, circular stacker reclaimers, portal scraper reclaimers, barrel reclaimers and twin-type rotary wagon tipplers are our most sought-after products. We are currently commissioning India´s first twin-type rotary wagon tippler (with G.33 Rev 01 Design) for the Tata Kalinganagar project. With new environmental regulations in place and the need for optimised systems, we are also focusing on products like flow dividers, transfer platforms and pipe conveyors.´
´Mining companies and port operators needing to convey bulk materials over long distances are increasingly opting for efficient, cost-effective, environment-friendly, sustainable conveyor belt solutions, like pipe conveyors, which we have supplied to the cement, steel, power, port, and other industries for the enclosed transportation of materials; and overland conveyor system, which makes business sense for conveying distances of 1 km to 1.5 km and longer, depending on complexity of the route,´ says Smita Pandit Chakraborty, Managing Director, Phoenix Conveyor Belt India.
Focus on versatility
Demand is trending toward versatile equipment.
´We are seeing greater demand for versatile and safe material handling equipment,´ opines Singh of JCB, which currently has three product lines in the segment: Telehandlers, skid-steer loaders, and the recently introduced super loader.
Demand for versatility bodes well for skid steers; a versatile product finding application in agriculture, industry, construction, demolition and maintenance as well as material handling. ´Skid steers have grown popular over the past few years; we expect demand to increase manifold by 2020 as the market matures,´ says Singh. JCB Robot, a skid-steer loader, comes in two ´Made in India´ variants - Robot 135 and Robot 155 - offering about 60 per cent better visibility than comparable models.
CASE currently offers
US-manufactured skid steers equipped with ISM diesel engines, having the best-in-class wheel base that provides better stability of the machine designed for the Indian market,´ shares Aneja. ´Its most commonly used attachments are four-in-one multifunction buckets; grader, fork and broom attachments; etc.´
Telehandlers, another recent entrant in the Indian market, are also showing potential in agricultural logistics, construction and process industries because of their versatility.
´JCB Loadall telehandlers come in three variants - the Made in India 530-70 and 530-110, which can handle loads up to 3 tonne and up to a height of 7 m and 11 m respectively, and the UK-made larger 540-170 model, which is a 17-m Loadall,´ says Singh. ´A variety of attachments, when mounted on the front-end, makes these machines multifunctional, such as the general-purpose shovel, heavy-duty forks, bucket with grab, fork-mounted crane hook, grain bucket, power grab, man platform, and drum handlers.´
Energy-optimised, high-speed solutions
In warehouses and factories, Kelley dock levellers speed up the loading or unloading of trucks and containers of various sizes by serving as a bridge between them and the facility, allowing the forklift or hand pallet truck to move around speedily. All the while, Energy Guard technology prevents mass flow of air, minimising the transfer of heat and energy into and out of the facility; and Kelley dock shelters and seals provide additional protection from energy wastage. By creating a 2-3 mph breeze, Kelley HVLS (high volume, low speed) big fans can lower the perceived temperature by 7¦ to 11¦ Fahrenheit to keep employees comfortable. ´One single fan can cover a facility area of up to 20,000 sq ft, thus reducing the energy outlay on a large number of wall-mounted noisy fans by 80 per cent,´ says Goyal.
In the conveyor belt space, ´energy-optimised´ belts (EOB) are a new trend as these can usher in cost savings by reducing energy consumption up to 15 per cent, says Chakraborty. After testing an EOB at a key port in western India, a private port operator has standardised the EOB belt for all its major operations in India. ´Port operators are demanding high-speed conveyor belts to minimise the turnaround time of loading,´ she adds.
Ports can also make good use of twin-type rotary wagon tipplers, available with thyssenkrupp Industries India, to simultaneously tipple two rail wagons carrying bulk materials, thus halving turnaround time and doubling productivity. Highly productive tipplers are especially useful for bulk export terminals, where ships must be loaded in the minimum possible time and maximum use be made of limited rail stock and rail lines.
Heat-withstanding conveyor belts are growing the scope for these solutions. Phoenix MAGMA® EXTREME has been developed specifically for material handling in extremely high heat applications, for a temperature range of 300°C to 370°C. An enhanced version, MAGMA® EXTREME PLUS comes with additional insulating fabric for steel plants, cement plants, coke plants and foundries. It is possible to combine these new technologies for the best outcomes. ´A cement leader has installed a high-heat steel cord belt with energy-optimised cover to transport clinker or cement from the plant to the port and to carry coal on the return run,´ shares Chakraborty.
Automated, intelligent systems
Automation will drive material handling in a greater way as companies look to improve productivity, and we will see a greater focus on safety, believes Agarwal. Already, Phoenix is seeing increased interest in a greater variety of intelligent controls to ensure continuous conveyor belt operations. ´While we offer customers belt-scanning services to monitor the health of running conveyor belts and make timely corrective interventions, we are seeing a sharp rise in queries for cord-monitoring systems for steel cord conveyor belts, rip detection or protection system, sensor loop, etc,´ says Chakraborty.
Now if only inquiries materialise into orders!
- charu bahri
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