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MACHINIST - Ashok Leyland and John Deere JV launches first product - 435 Backhoe Loader

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Ashok Leyland and John Deere JV launches first product - 435 Backhoe Loader
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Written by Krishna Kumar, Arjun   
Wednesday, 23 November 2011

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Chennai / Bangalore: The Ashok Leyland and John Deere joint venture (50:50) has launched its first product, the 435 Backhoe Loader, which will be marketed under the brand Leyland Deere. The product has been extensively customised for the Indian market and features many firsts in the category.

The 435 BHL is being manufactured at Leyland Deere's brand new facility at Gummidipoondi, 50 kms from Chennai. This facility incorporates globally-bench marked manufacturing processes like robotic welding, CNC cutting, state-of-the-art paint shop, supported by international standard quality processes and systems. The plant has a capacity to produce 10,000 units per annum.

"In the first phase over the last 2 years the company has invested 200 crores. This fiscal year is going to be the ramp up phase," said Dr. V. Sumantran, Chairman, Ashok Leyland John Deere Construction Equipment Company Ltd. and Executive Vice-Chairman, Hinduja Automotive Ltd. "The market size for backhoe loaders in India is around 20,000 units. It is registering a growth of 18 to 20 percent, year-on-year."

The company also plans to produce a wheel loader next year. The facility has one assembly line for the Backhoe Loaders. Next year another assembly line would be added to produce the wheel loader.

Currently the 435 BHL features 83 percent localisation, with around 17 percent of import content (by value). Over the next one year the company plans to reduce the import content to 5 - 7 percent. Some of the seals, drive line (ZF) and electronics are currently imported. The whole cabin is made by a vendor in Chennai.  "The front axle is now imported from China. We plan to manufacture it in India next year," said Ronald C Wiegman, Chief Operating Officer, Ashok Leyland John Deere Construction Equipment Company Pvt. Ltd. The hydraulics are being sourced from Wipro and Sundaram Hydraulics, to John Deere specifications.

The Backhoe Loader has undergone 25,000 hours of test. Component level tests have been carried out on engine, axle, transmission, pumps on the test beds as well as on the pilot machines.

The 435 BHL is powered by a 75 HP @ 2200 rpm BS III H-series Ashok Leyland Engine, manufactured by the company at its facility in Hosur. "It features an in line mechanical fuel injector pump. In rural areas the diesel quality is not so good. The normally available rotary pump is very sensitive to the fuel quality," said P Ravishankar, C.E.O., Ashok Leyland John Deere Construction Equipment Company Pvt. Ltd.

"Our first product represents a triumph for the joint venture in terms of collaborative development. We have used our intimate knowledge of ground realities and specific customer requirements as touch stones while engineering the product which, we believe, will be well-accepted in the Indian market. The single-minded focus, constancy of purpose and perfect understanding between the partners have held the joint venture in good stead and positions us well for the exciting journey ahead," said Michael J. Mack, President, Worldwide Construction and Forestry Division, Deere & Co.

"This JV marks a marriage of experience with expertise, global vision with local relevance, technological leadership with market presence. Cognizant of India’s huge appetite for construction and infrastructure development, we are well-placed and well-equipped to tap the huge potential that exists. While we seek to redefine the benchmarks with our first offering, we are well on our way to both extending our range with additional products as well as scaling up our operations beyond this start," said Dr. V. Sumantran. "Over the last 5 years, Ashok Leyland has been looking at breaking away from the cyclicity of the Commercial Vehicle sector. We have therefore increased our focus on defence, construction equipment, LCVs and overseas plants. Globally everybody is looking at China and India to be leading the growth."

 
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