A bulldozer is just a machine: Tata Hitachi

With renewed focus on construction across the country, both in public sector and private, the company expects high growth for the construction equipment industry in the years ahead

Even though the ‘bulldozer’ is getting negative press in certain sections of the media, Sandeep Singh, managing director, Tata Hitachi, told FE that it’s just a machine that can used for any action, including towards nation building.

“These events (happening in certain cities) don’t impact the construction equipment industry. Some people might see a bulldozer as a political instrument, but to us it is just a machine,” he said.The user of the machine is responsible for whatever action it performs, not the machine.

Last week, Tata Hitachi—which enjoys a leadership position in excavators—displayed its solutions at the Excon, the largest construction equipment event in South Asia being held in Bengaluru.

These included hydraulic excavators, backhoe loaders, India’s only hydrostatic wheel loader and mini excavators, among other products.“The construction equipment industry was badly hit by the pandemic,” Singh said.

“But from October 2020 till March 2021, the industry performed so well that it recovered most of its losses (of March-September 2020).

The second wave of the Covid-19 again impacted the industry, but more than that the emission norms impacted—BS-4 emission norms for construction equipment vehicles got implemented from April 2021 onwards, and this raised the prices of construction equipment by up to 18-20%.

”According to the Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association (ICEMA), sales of the construction equipment industry dropped 8% in FY22—down to 85,385 units, from 92,470 units in FY21.

The earthmoving equipment segment, which accounts for three-fourths of the total construction equipment sales in India, experienced 14% decline in growth during FY22, while sales of road construction equipment were lower by 10%.But now with renewed focus on construction across the country, both in public sector and private, Singh expects high growth for the industry in the years ahead.

“We are seeing strong participation at the Excon,” he said. “The industry is hopeful of a strong recovery in FY23 on the back of enhanced export potential and the government’s continued thrust on infrastructure development through various schemes.”Some central infrastructure development schemes include the National Infrastructure Pipeline, PM Gati Shakti, National Monetisation Pipeline, and the constitution of the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID).

Tata Hitachi sells its construction equipment both to individual customers as well as institutional buyers. “About 60% of our construction equipment buyers are either individual customers or two individuals buying it, and the rest are institutional buyers (such as HCC, L&T, Tata Power, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, etc),” he said.

The company is developing CNG-powered construction equipment as well, but the challenges it sees is the availability of CNG fuel in areas where construction equipment is generally used, which can be away from major cities and national highways (where most CNG fuelling stations are coming up). And over the next five years, Tata Hitachi plans to launch electric vehicles especially for mining operations.

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