INDIA: Laying down India’s road to development
by Sanjay Pandey
The government in India has recently introduced a number of measures to expedite stalled or lagging construction projects, and to revive investor confidence in the road and highways sector. The country’s road and transport ministry has set up a review committee that meets every month to take stock of progress.
With government plans to increase the pace of road construction to 30km a day, as against the previous rate of just 2km, construction companies are under pressure to finish projects on time or even before the deadline.
This is where the company Bharat Vanijya, headquartered in Kolkata, India’s second largest city, is making a name for itself. “Early completion of a project allows us to go ahead with another project while improving company turnover and sales figures at the same time,” says company director Gokul Agarwal.
He acknowledges the major role played by Volvo Construction Equipment in the company’s success. “Thanks to our Volvo machines, our increased capacity helps us to complete projects on time,” says Agarwal. “Over the past decade, we have used numerous competing brands of equipment on various worksites. However, experience has taught us that Volvo’s high productivity and efficiency contribute to our timely completion of projects which is always well appreciated by our clients,” he explains.
Athough the capital cost of a Volvo CE purchase may be slightly higher than some other machinery brands, Agarwal says the company tends to look more closely at fuel efficiency and productivity and weigh up the benefits.
“We compare all the figures, including depreciation, capital cost, investment cost and maintenance, and expenditure is quickly recovered thanks to Volvo’s flawless performance.”
There are currently 11 ongoing World Bank-funded projects across India’s road network. Bharat Vanijya is working an 84km stretch from Bankura to Purulia, the only such project in the state of West Bengal in eastern India, extending across two impoverished districts. With connectivity being a basic tool of development, projects such as these have a socio-economic impact and are designed to foster a better economic and business environment.
“We were given 30 months to complete the work, using a fleet of Volvo machines,” says Agarwal, who forecasts the project will be finished within 22 months, saving almost eight months. This is no idle boast: the company has already completed three major projects in the same district in less than half the time allocated.
“Early completion not only helps improve the company’s image, but also helps it to save a considerable sum of money,” says Agarwal.
The company’s equipment includes 16 Volvo EC210B excavators, 7 SD110 soil compactors, and 3 DD100 asphalt compactors. The Volvo fleet is completed by a PTR220 pneumatic tire roller, an HB22 rock breaker, a P4370B wheeled paver and a P5320B asphalt paver.
As Bharat Vanijya builds its Volvo machine fleet, its confidence in Volvo CE also grows and Agarwal points to the reasons being superior service, efficiency and productivity.
With 52 people on the engineering team, including seven mechanical engineers, the project began in September 2015. In total, around 470 people are working around the clock on the carriageway, plus an additional 250 unskilled and semi-skilled laborers also hard at work.
Agarwal estimates that Bharat Vanijya almost doubled its target for the beginning of March, thanks to the combined efforts of the company’s team and machines working closely together. “Client satisfaction comes with progress and quality – we have achieved that in the past and are doing it again with this project.”
The existing two-lane road is 5.5m wide and crosses numerous waterways via seven major bridges and approximately 84 small cross-drainage structures.
The task involves construction of a flexible pavement of up to 10m wide in some places, known as a two-lane patroller road.
For road projects such as this, having built up the company’s fleet of Volvo machines over several years, Bharat Vanijya has worked closely with Volvo CE to train its operators.
“Volvo has got a very good plan of action,” says Agarwal. “When they sell the machines they also train the operators to use them. For example, paving machines have sophisticated sensors and require trained operators to use them properly – Volvo has set up a program to train paver operators.”
The Volvo machines, checked over once or twice a week as recommended, continue to run smoothly in spite of being put to work daily for up to 15-hour stretches at a time.
“Another machine brand might require servicing after 250 hours, but with Volvo it might be 400-500 hours,” says Agarwal. “A 14-15 hour a day with another brand, means the service time might come within 15 days, whereas for Volvo it would be more like 25 days.”