Beyond shovels and pickaxes

Written by Varun Soni | Updated: Sep 30 2007, 06:38am hrs
Awed by the quality of construction that your newly acquired apartment boasts of No peeling plaster, shoddy mosaic flooring, squeaky doors etc. and to top it all, the complex looks like it could be located anywhere in the Middle East or even Europe. All this is being achieved not just thanks to architectural techniques, but also to state-of-the-art construction and earth moving equipment that most developers are now making use of while building their projects.

The real estate industry is experiencing a boom today. Lot of developments are taking place across the country, which require use of high productivity construction machines to provide better compaction in the land and long lasting, durable projects. This has opened doors for the construction equipment sector to expand and grow to handle large projects.

So great is the demand that today the market size for construction equipment in India is about 27,000 to 30,000 machines. Says Vipin Sondhi, MD, JCB India Ltd., one of the leading construction and earth moving equipment manufacturers in the country, The market trend is uniform for backhoe loaders (earthmoving machines that have a digging contrivance at one end and a loader at the other). Backhoe loaders are multi-utility construction equipment, which are versatile, multifunctional as they can do both excavating and loading. The market is in favour of backhoe loaders and it is true that about 60% of the construction equipment market is for backhoe loaders.

Adds Gaurav Mohan Puri, Additional Vice-President (Architecture), Ansal Buildwell, The trend today is to go in for a combination of modern equipments and latest state-of-the-art technologies which are responsible for reducing the time of construction and at the same time improving its quality.

The latest entrant in the range of world-class machines in the country are Vibromax VM 115 Vibratory Soil Compactors, JS 140 Tracked Excavator and JCB 432 ZX Wheeled Loading Shovel. The Vibromax VM 115 is the first vibratory roller introduced in the Indian market by JCB. It boasts of a state-of-the-art design with contemporary looks and high stability by design. The machine delivers optimum performance with low fuel consumption. JS 140, on the other hand, is based around ruggedness and productivity. Its key applications include roadwork, mass excavation, pipe work and other underground installations, highway maintenance, foundation work, waste/ recycling, crushers. JCB 432 ZX Wheeled Loading Shovel, which was recently launched, has exceptional performance in handling all types of material. Other equipment includes loading shovels, tracked excavators, skid steer loaders and telehandlers.

Technology today, however, is not just restricted to earth moving equipment, but also encompasses information technology. Software like a total station for computerized surveying generate much more accurate land service using infra red technology to calculate distance between two points. Today, an asphalt plant is used for precise mixing of aggregate by weight for road laying, which leads to a more uniform and homogeneous mixture at the same time reducing the time factor and improving the quality of roads. Other entrants include curb stone making machine for better quality of road edges, new material like DI/PPR/MDPE pipes a having a better life then the conventional GI/CI pipes and the usage of aluminum, nickel, chrome and glass has revolutionized the construction history and given the designers flexibility and unlimited options, elaborates Puri.

But how has the coming in of technology benefited the real estate sector in the country today Says Sondhi, Earth moving equipment and construction machinery industry plays a vital role in the economic development of our country today. This industry is closely linked with major development and infrastructural schemes such as roads, dams, bridges, coal and mineral mining, irrigation and power projects, ports, steel, fertilizers etc. The earth moving equipments reduce the dependence on labour and provide automation in construction work thus increasing productivity and ensuring completion of infrastructure projects on or before time. Road construction accounts for about 40% of the business for the equipment manufacturers. However, it is undeniable that usage of such equipment is initially costly for developers but the long-term benefits are what is prompting them to hire/buy such equipment. Says Sondhi, Economics certainly is in favour of construction equipment investors. The Indian market is very price centric and approximately in one- and-a-half years investors recover the cost of machine.

It is true that this equipment does have an initial one time cost, but for big developers who are involved in mass construction, kilometers of road networks and thousands of acres of surveying and land development, it is a matter of a couple of years that these equipments offset their costs and one must not forget that the time saved by these equipments cannot be quantified in terms of money specially in todays scenario when time is the essence of every project, adds Puri.

But is such equipment usually bought or taken on rent by developers Says Sondhi, Renting and leasing of machinery is quite prevalent in India . However, rental is quite an unorganised sector. About 50% of the construction equipment is either taken on lease or rent by various project owners from the contractors who buy new machines from the equipment manufacturers.

Adds Puri, Rather than updating ourselves from our consultants we believe in interacting with manufactures and vendors directly for smooth and faster flow of knowledge. It is always better to move in sync with times and offer quality than just quantity.