Tipping Prospects

Tipping Prospects

Photo courtesy: Epiroc Mining IndiaThe Indian tipper truck market was projected to grow at a CAGR of over 11 per cent in the five years through to 2024 to touch $3.1 billion, from $1.65 billion in 2018, when the annual demand f...

Photo courtesy: Epiroc Mining IndiaThe Indian tipper truck market was projected to grow at a CAGR of over 11 per cent in the five years through to 2024 to touch $3.1 billion, from $1.65 billion in 2018, when the annual demand for tipper trucks was 60,000 units. The industry performed well in FY19.But a year later, it declined by around half, a result of the economic slowdown compounded by the double impact of the increased axle load and liquidity crisis hitting non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), observes RT Wasan, Vice-President, Product Line, M&HCV, Tata Motors. Then the pandemic broke out and all construction-related activities were temporarily suspended, further slowing down demand. The pandemic has severely hit both mining and construction, says Jerry Andersson, Managing Director, Epiroc Mining India. “Demand has dropped to almost nil because the production of minerals has drastically fallen in keeping with the low demand for these raw commodities.” The Indian Government has tried to battle the situation by maintaining the production of coal, stockpiling to reduce import dependency, and auctioning some blocks, he adds. However, as long as mineral prices are low and companies face a tight liquidity situation, he doesn’t expect mining investments to pick up. The silver lining is that the key drivers of this expansion—mining and infrastructure (roads, irrigation, housing, urban infra, etc) projects needing construction material transported by tippers—will definitely grow, says Dinakar B, Senior Vice President-Sales, Marketing & Aftermarket, Volvo Trucks India, VE Commercial Vehicles. Epiroc Mining India has grown by over 30 per cent in India in recent years. While 2020 will most likely break that trend, Andersson believes the India growth story is intact because of the country’s focus on infrastructure development and strong internal demand. “Increased demand for logistics services and higher budgetary allocations to infrastructure and the rural sector coupled with strict regulatory norms related to vehicle length are also anticipated to positively impact the tipper truck market,” adds Rajaram Krishnamurthy, Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service, Daimler India Commercial Vehicle (DICV). Industry wish-list The industry needs revival measures that address both short-term and long-term demand, reckons Krishnamurthy. Despite no direct stimuli being announced under the Atmanirbhar Bharat package to boost the commercial vehicles industry, reforms in certain sectors are expected to improve demand in the medium-term, he adds. Among these, he counts the commercialisation of coal mining, introduction of the seamless composite exploration-cum-mining-cum-production regime for minerals, liquidity boost to NBFCs, and measures to improve infrastructure in agriculture and allied sectors. That said, Andersson points out that the 42 blocks earmarked for commercial coal mining may see delays in becoming operationalised because end users in the power, steel and cement segments are in a somewhat distressed financial situation and, hence, most will re-evaluate their plans to operationalise already auctioned mines. “The Government is expecting Rs 33,000 crore to flow into mining over the next five to seven years but this is unlikely as global giants are divesting their stakes in coal mining. Also, hindrances like slow land acquisition, forest clearance approvals, environmental laws, etc, remain to be addressed.” Additionally, Krishnamurthy believes that the revival of demand could be hastened if the long-due scrappage policy were implemented, GST rates reduced from the current 28 per cent and substantial economic measures taken up, including a big push to additional infrastructure projects. What Tipper? CW explores what tippers are being preferred for mines, road construction and surface transportation. In quarries and mines that are getting deeper of late and where continuous heavy-duty operations and all-weather usage are vital, operators look for high pulling power, superior gradeability, higher performance, better manoeuvrability and ruggedness, observes RT Wasan, Vice President, Product Line, M&HCV, Tata Motors. Tata Motors’ 28-tonne and 35-tonne tippers suit these applications and are backed by a variety of service arrangements (full-fledged workshops, container workshops or mobile service workshops) depending on the site location and the number of vehicles and equipment deployed.The company’s BS6 range of Construck vehicles is popular for mining, quarries, road construction projects, infrastructure, irrigation, earthwork, tunnelling and material movement applications. In coal mining, in particular, the trend is to transport higher volumes and, hence, the demand is highest for highly productive machines delivering very high efficiency and excellent uptime, typically 400+ hp trucks, with ~35T gvwon an 8×4 platform, observes Dinakar B, Senior Vice President-Sales, Marketing & Aftermarket, Volvo Trucks India, VE Commercial Vehicles. During Q1 of FY 21, the coal mining segment saw the award of more contracts for the removal of overburden. Dinakar believes this will spur demand for tippers. Incidentally, Volvo trucks handle over 40 per cent of India’s coal overburden removal. Going forward, Rajaram Krishnamurthy, Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service, Daimler India Commercial Vehicle (DICV), expects tippers and special applications, such as deep mining trucks, to see more demand as a result of the expansion of coal mining, including the creation of infrastructure for the transportation and export of coal after exploration. DICV’s mid-duty segment tippers, which cater to 40-50 m depth, see a lot of demand for such applications. Major reforms in commercial mining and the easing of entry norms will positively impact the demand for highly efficient and productive tippers, where Volvo is a dominant player, observes Dinakar. “When iron ore, manganese, zinc and uranium mining bounce back, to cope with the increasing volume of excavation and tenure of contracts in these segments, demand will increase for high-efficiency, productive trucks, which are essential to avoid overcrowding in mines.” Road construction Contractors engaged in road construction (and irrigation) projects are predominantly using 180-23hp trucks, with ~25T gross weight on a 6×4 platform, essentially, multipurpose, versatile machines suiting any construction job—on-road, off-road, within city limits, etc, observes Dinakar. Construction, infra and road transport require versatile tippers that are capable of handling multiple operations, agrees Wasan. That said, “road projects have been key drivers of heavy tipper trucks while the medium range has seen greater demand in hilly regions and retail markets”. While there is a steady shift towards higher capacity tippers, from 16 cu m to 18 to 22 and 24, these are used for specific applications, opines Anuj Kathuria, COO, Ashok Leyland. Ashok Leyland’s AVTR U2820 16 cbm model with 10 wheels, a sturdy bogie suspension, a high-strength chassis frame, i-Gen 6 engine, and NODO bracket, is the company’s highest selling tipper, suitable for road projects (especially National Highways and border roads) and blue metal transportation. The 22 cbm and 24 cbm models are being used for the transportation of material over longer leads (200-300 km), especially the output of crushers located outside city limits. In FY19, the introduction of the Volvo infra tipper truck model FM 380 boosted the use of higher capacity trucks assuring higher productivity, greater safety, higher uptime and overall economy. “In general, the increase in the pace of executing road projects since 2015 has definitely created a demand for mid-size trucks,” adds Dinakar. Ambitious plans to double the speed of road laying from 30 km a day to 60 km a day in the next two to three years and earmarking Rs 19 trillion for roads under the National Infrastructure Pipeline will increase the need for highly productive trucks to carry materials like soil, granular sub base and bitumen over 10-15 km. Dinakar expects at least the highway sector to upgrade to 8×4 trucks, with some large contractors already having made the shift. Infrastructure projects like Bharatmala, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, Dedicated Freight Corridor, etc, would contribute to the tipper segment, adds Kathuria. Surface transport The introduction of GST has helped increase the volume of haulage and tippers sold, says Krishamurthy. What features are popular in this segment? Surface transport applications need tippers offering faster turnaround and higher fuel efficiency ensuring the lowest total cost of ownership, explains Wasan. “We have seen a surge in demand for beyond 35 tonne GVW truck tippers for surface transportation needs in the construction, coal, iron ore and port sectors, owing to the longer distance between raw materials and project sites. This started with 42-tonne truck tippers a couple of years ago, and now Tata Motors has pioneered the highest capacity model, the new Signa 4825.TK, India’s first 47.5-tonne GVW truck tipper, which has seen instant success with customers in this segment.” Incidentally, Tata Motors has introduced Fleet Edge, a telematics solution for optimum fleet management as a standard feature on all medium and heavy trucks and tippers. Customer preference has been shifting towards higher tonnage trucks, adds Krishnamurthy, explaining that “improvements in road infrastructure, the adoption of the hub-and-spoke model for the movement of goods after implementation of GST, overloading restrictions, the shortage of drivers and a wider product portfolio have aided this transition.” As for the prospects of this segment, logistics has been hit by high freight rates owing to the absence of return loads, driver scarcity and the steep hike in fuel prices. However, e-commerce, which uses tippers, is a focus area for Volvo, and is expected to grow even in this pandemic year, observes Dinakar. What could be better news than that! Feature-rich dumpers for underground operations Epiroc is increasing the breadth of connectivity and automation features in machines to boost equipment productivity, efficiency and safety. The Certiq or HATCon system helps monitor the productivity of vehicles (and tools) in realtime to track their need for servicing. Telematics solutions such as automatic positioning, autodrill and autoload help operators perform better. Autonomous drilling/tele-remote helps position/operate assets from a distance for operator efficiency and safety. Additionally, the mine/asset management system Mobilaris creates a virtual map of underground mining operations and facilitates planning, asset monitoring, traffic management, staff direction and sharing real-time information with operators, drivers, service people, etc. A latest addition to this portfolio is Mobilaris Onboard, a unique navigation system that runs on a standard tablet mounted in a vehicle. Hindustan Zinc will also be among the first customers worldwide to implement this disruptive product in its Rampura Agucha mine. - CHARU BAHRI

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