Mr. Vivekanand Vanmeeganathan
Mr. Gurman Reen
For anyone associated with the construction industry, Caterpillar is a name that needs no introduction. From backhoes to excavators to dozers to mining trucks, it is a name that has become synonymous with a range of quality construction and mining equipment.
Caterpillar’s range of excavators is a familiar sight across earthmoving projects in different parts of India. It doesn’t come as a surprise given the fact that this is one product segment where Caterpillar has been setting the benchmark globally.
The Masterbuilder caught up with Mr. Vivekanand Vanmeeganathan, Director (Facility Manager)- Material Handling and Underground (MH&U) Division, Caterpillar India and Mr. Gurman Reen, Sales & Marketing Director, Global Construction & Infrastructure Division, Caterpillar India, and got to know in detail from them about the range of excavators manufactured in the Tiruvallur facility and the technology behind them, that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Here are the edited excerpts.
The construction equipment market has witnessed some upheavals over the years. There was a lull starting from 2012 till say 2015. Then there has been a surge. How are the recent trends?
Mr. Vivekanand Vanmeeganathan: The industries we serve are cyclical, and we are now experiencing growth in India after a deep decline that was experienced the years prior. As the region becomes more advanced, there is a need for infrastructure and construction and that is where we see opportunity. In addition, India is a region where there continues to be growth in coal.
Now coming to excavators, give us an over-view of the range of excavators that you manufacture in your Thiruvallur facility?
Mr. Vivekanand Vanmeeganathan: Our hydraulic excavator series consisting of models – Cat® 320D3, Cat 323D3 and Cat 313D2L, are manufactured in the Thiruvallur facility. The new Cat 320D3 hydraulic excavator consumes up to 15% less fuel than its predecessor 320D2 and shows up to 5% lower maintenance cost with much lower owning and operating costs due to an optimized power train and improved hydraulic pumps. The 320D3 excavator uses reinforced structures, a ro-bust undercarriage, and a two-stage fuel filtration system with an anti-rust fuel tank, delivering a machine customer can rely on.
The Cat 323D3 brings increased speed, efficiency, and high productivity to your heavy duty, high-production applications. Get more done with a large 1.2m³ (1.57 yd³) severe-duty bucket, a stable platform for digging and lifting created by the standard 4.25-ton (9,370 lb.) counterweight and heavy-duty, eight-roller undercarriage. With new high efficiency tandem hydraulic pumps, the new Cat 323D3 delivers up to 7% more hydraulic power and as much as 15% increased productivity compared to its predecessor 323D2. Customers find additional advantages with simple, easy to maintain robust systems to keep the machine up and running all day, every day.
With the Cat 313D2L, you can achieve high productivity, while also lowering operating costs. Unmatched versatility, improved controllability, easy operation and a comfortable, redesigned operator cabin help make the 313D2L an outstanding performer. The powerful C4.4 engine meets U.S. EPA Tier 3, EU Stage IIIA, Japan 2006 (Tier 3) equivalent and China Non-road Stage III emission standards and is combined with a highly efficient hydraulics system providing excellent machine performance with low fuel consumption. The operator cab provides a comfortable working environment for efficient day-long operation. This machine has been designed so that routine service and maintenance can be completed quickly and easily to help reduce ownership costs.
We also have an exclusive testing fa-cility for excavators in the plant, where different kinds of functional tests are completed.
Trench digging is the most important activity for an excavator. Explain how Cat’s hydraulics enable exceptional cycle times resulting in cost savings for customers?
Mr. Gurman Reen: Our machines balance power and efficiency using the open-center, negative flow control hydraulic system. The hydraulic cross-sensing in our excavators makes full engine power always available from hydraulic pumps regardless of its function. For instance, the Cat D-Series medium size hydraulic excavators offer customers increased reliability, versatility, performance, and comfort, combined with lower owning and operating costs. The Cat 320D is a 20-21.5-ton excavator that is well suited for quarry, construction applications such as utility works, urban construction, demolition, water and sewage works and hire and rental markets. It stands as one of the most versatile machines in the market.
Increased hydraulic pressures give the D-Series excavators excellent lifting capacity, more drawbar pull and digging force, which creates faster cycle times and superior productivity compared to C-Series models. With standard one-touch low idle, fuel is efficiently used by instantly reducing engine speed to 1,000 rpm, at the push of a button. To better manage operating costs, the D-Series hydraulic excavators offer two performance settings. In standard mode, the operator can achieve the exceptional production and fuel efficiency levels required for high production applications. For utility work, general construction or in rental applications, the operator can easily switch to economy mode, to improve the fuel consumption by as much as 15% with no reduction in digging force. Hence, our machines are focused to provide an integrated, cost-efficient service philosophy.
What integrated technologies are available to the customers which help in maintenance of Cat excavators?
Mr. Gurman Reen: Cat products are designed and developed with reliability, productivity and efficiency to cater to the needs of customers. Every Catmachine is built upon the strategy of how and where our machines will be working over the longer span. Based on these assessments, we focus on solving customer problems by developing smarter machines that improve productivity and safety.
Caterpillar is continually working to bring digital and technology offerings to our customers. We are maximizing digital technology as an enabler of data capture, analytics and customer-focused connectivity solutions. For instance, the ‘Cat Connect Technology and Services’ program makes smart use of technology and services to enhance the operational efficiency of the machine being used.
Using the data from the technology-equipped Cat assets, this program provides our customers a range of benefits from cutting costs to enhancing operational efficiency to helping improve safety. The use of technological solutions, such as telematics, analytics and Internet of Things in our excavators helps our customers achieve productivity breakthroughs to make us leaders in this space.
Given the fact that excavators work in some of the riskiest environments such as in mines, give us an overview of the safety features incorporated in your range of excavators.
Mr. Gurman Reen: Construction in varied geographic locations can be a tedious and challenging task due to difficult terrain, steep gradient, and proneness to natural hazards. The potential effects of the geographic conditions on any project are a function of project, and ultimately how the project is affected by nature.
Caterpillar offers a complete suite of products built for both construction and landfill applications. Every Cat machine is crafted with utmost focus on operator comfort, durability, quality, safety and performance. Caterpillar always strives to make our customers more buoyant by providing consistent, unique, tailored services that strengthen the presence in emerging regions through strong after market support.
Our machines allow operators to focus on their job by reducing requirements to interact with the system. One such feature is the fatigue technology which works by monitoring eye-closure duration and head pose. If the Driver Safety System detects a fatigue or a distraction event, the operator is immediately alerted through configurable in-vehicle seat vibration and / or audio alarm. In brief, our machines are better equipped to make data-driven decisions faster helping to enhance safety and resulting in more accurate and efficient operations.
India is known to be a predominantly cost-conscious market. In such a scenario what has been Caterpillar’s strategy to ensure that you offer technologically superior product, while at the same time being cost- competitive?
Mr. Vivekanand Vanmeeganathan: There is no doubt that costis an important factor in the region. Let’s take for example the infrastructure development segment, where customers need excavators or motor graders. Customers here if they spend Rs.100 per day for that machine, 60% of that would go towards fuel. Our focus has always been on how we can provide that extra efficiency in terms of fuel burnt per hour, so that we offer the best solution. For most of our machines we use our own Cat engines. This provides a high level of synchronization between the engine and the downstream components, that makes the entire system very efficient. The customers understand that in the long run this translates into a cost advantage.
Similarly, we have built-in features in our machines such as economy mode and auto idle shutdown, which help improve our machine’s efficiency as well as help customers reduce cost.
The third thing that we do is to work in close tandem with our dealers to ensure that the machine is well-maintained. We have a system in our machines called ‘SOS’ which means ‘Scheduled Oil Sampling,’ which is one of the unique features of Cat machines. Just like human blood sampling, Cat machines have live ports in different parts from where you can draw oil while the machine is running. This helps diagnose the health of various components and enables customers to reduce unscheduled downtime, again translating into a cost advantage.