The Indian road construction equipment market has been amongst the most competitive ones since the turn of the century. It is not surprising given the thrust that road building was being provided for the speedy economic growth of the country. With big name players from different parts of the globe entering the fray in the Indian market, the pavers segment has remained one of the key segments among the various types of construction equipment being sold in the country. Among the road construction equipment, asphalt pavers have continued to be a key market segment. Increasingly stringent quality standards and the thrust on sustainable road building practices has meant that contractors are increasingly allying with technology to meet evolving needs.
The continued impetus being provided to infrastructure development has meant sustained demand for concrete paving equipment too, along with asphalt pavers. There has been renewed interest in the development of concrete roads in several parts of the country over the last decade. For instance, the number of airport runway expansion projects, on the back of the launch of multiple new airport projects is one of the many factors that has added to their increase in demand. The thrust on irrigation and waterway projects is another heartening news for manufacturers of concrete paving equipment.
Just as in the case with other types of construction equipment, a lot of R&D is going into making the latest models more fuel efficient, environment friendly and user-friendly models. The advent of latest technology in the form of telematics has meant that the contractor of today has got greater control over his machines, both in terms of their individual performance, as well as coordination among the different types of machines that make up the road building equipment train.
Key focus areas
One of the prime areas of focus has been the ease of operations. A lot of thought, funding and efforts is being put into ensuring easier operations of the machine. The sleek models of today boast of state-of-the-art technology, feeding a wide array of data to operators, all available, quite literally, at the flick of a switch. As such, operators can now take care of a variety of standards while laying roads. Whether it is the temperature of the asphalt, the height of materials to be laid, or the grade of compaction needed, the latest generation machines come with innovative control features that make decision making- informed. However, the availability of these features need not necessarily mean immediate results. Operators need to be tech-savvy, trained and well informed in order to extract the best results from these machines. As a result, manufacturers are also increasingly focusing a lot on providing quality training to the operators nowadays.
Just as in the case with other types of construction equipment, in the case of asphalt pavers technology is being now increasingly used to drive business in the increasingly competitive Indian market. The typical customer today has become more aware of global technology. Even the smallest of contractors are now more discerning and wants a value for money proposition. The increasingly stringent quality control standards are another factor that is driving these winds of change in the market. Maintaining the right temperature of the asphalt mix for example is a crucial aspect of road projects. The latest asphalt pavers come with specific technology which enables the operator to always keep an eye on this factor.
Similarly, in the case of concrete pavers too the R&D that is being carried is towards ensuring the versatility of the machine. Quite often in the case of concrete pavers they need to deal with diverse geometries. Concrete paver manufacturers are known to offer customized solutions to cater to the unique requirements of such projects.
Along with the emphasis on innovative product features, there is also rising the thrust being put on providing prompt aftermarket services. Since these machines need to deal with some of the toughest working conditions, this is a factor that assumes importance. This is where the latest developments in preventive maintenance come into the picture. Maintaining a widespread after sales technical support services infrastructure has therefore become an important focus area of manufacturers, given the geographical spread of the country.
With respect to paving, a lot of research is being undertaken on the various alternatives in the form of different types of concrete that can be used for various projects. Paver manufacturers are focusing a lot of their R&D on coming out with machinery that can work with these different types of concrete. Three key factors are all set to drive forward the growth momentum of concrete pavers. These include the increasing number of water supply projects, canal development projects and increasing irrigation projects. Adding to this is the sustained demand for concrete roads, apart from the use of concrete pavers in airport runway projects.
The kind of developments that have been taking place with respect to the road building sector in the country over the last two decades have been nothing short of amazing. While plenty of work has been done, there is still a lot more that needs to be done. This is where the importance of asphalt pavers cannot be over emphasized. They form a key part of the overall mix of road building equipment, including compactors and asphalt batching plants, which can enable speedy laying of world-class roads, without compromising on the quality front.
The fact that there is still a huge market that is waiting to be tapped augurs well for the manufacturers. The potential can be gauged from the fact that many of the leading global players in the field have already established their manufacturing units in the country. They have realized the importance of being near the customer. This is a trend that is expected to continue, given the fact that the demand for quality road building machinery is only going to increase in the country. The demand for asphalt pavers is therefore expected to show the same trajectory and keep rising in the near future.
Photo details – A layer of asphalt on the flight line is exposed at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jul. 26, 2016. Due to the high volume of aircraft using the runway, the west section’s pavement surface was highly degraded, resulting in the need for repairs. The 3,840 cubic meters of asphalt laid on the flight line spans a surface length of approximately 1,200 feet by 150 feet wide, with 50 feet of shoulder width. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase)