Given that in the Union Budget 2017-18, a record investment of USD 61.92 billion or nearly Rs 4 lakh crore is allotted to the infrastructure sector of the country and a spurt is expected in the mining activities, the heavy CE sector in the country is bound to grow at a fast rate. Adding to that various projects like Smart Cities development, Make in India Campaign, Housing for All by 2022’ scheme and affordable housing development among various others are further expected to provide a boost to the demand for heavy Construction Equipment (CE) and its operators.

In fact, the Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association (ICEMA) states, “The Indian construction industry is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2019-20.” And, if everything goes fine, India is poised to be worlds 3rd largest construction market by 2025. As per another report, the Asia-Pacific region is believed to register the highest growth in the earthmoving and construction equipment segment from 2016 to 2021 with India projected to be the fastest-growing market in the region. Other reports claim that the sale of CE is expected to grow at a CAGR 6.18 percent in the coming year. Thus, the need for skilled operators to operate the heavy CE is expected to increase drastically in near future.

Importance of operator training in present times

It goes without saying that Heavy Construction Equipment are very expensive and highly technical equipment. Since they are highly technical, it is obvious that they need trained and highly qualified operators who have expertise in safely handling the equipment as any wrong move can cause heavy damage to the operator, equipment and even the people on the jobsite.

Some of the compulsory qualifications and attributes of the heavy CE operators include...

1. Equipment operators should have the ability to independently operate the equipment safely and responsibly.

2. Since the operators are required to move the equipment from one site to another site on a commercial trailer or hauler, they must have a valid Heavy Commercial Vehicle Driving License (HCV).

3. Operators should also have experience of working in industrial environment involving moving earth or mining.

4. Operators should have on-the -job training or apprenticeship in the required equipment operations with the construction company.

5. Operators should also know about carrying out pre-checks for various equipment operations.

6. It is also required of the operators to have knowledge of various functions and use of the equipment and its various attachments.

7. Not only knowing how to operate the equipment is important for the operators but they should also know about how to maintain, troubleshoot and store the equipment.

8. It is equally important for the operators to know about the workplace safety requirements and procedures.

However, the point to be noted here is that there aren’t enough skilled and certified heavy machinery operators in the market complying with all the above mentioned rules to meet the increasing demand. In fact, most of the times, the heavy CE operators are novice without having any formal training. In addition to that since the heavy CE sector is highly unorganised, it further leads to lack of good talent.

Lack of heavy CE operators and operator training programs in India

While the Indian heavy CE industry is witnessing a technological revolution and the machinery are becoming increasingly sophisticated and automated and machine communication is gaining prominence, the lack of understanding of complex machine mechanism and latest technology on the part of the operators is resulting in a major set-back for the industry. Simply put, at a time, when the Indian heavy CE industry is jam-packed with top of the line equipment to get the job done as efficiently as possible, the lack of safe and skilful handling of these tools by certified operators is resulting in considerable losses for the industry.

The scenario is such that today the buyers are becoming increasingly educated and demanding but the operators are not that skilled to live up to all the expectation of the buyers.

Generally, heavy CE operators require training before they can apply for their license. However, there is lack of this training and relating institutes in India at the present. Even if there are few government-backed institutes, then they have outdated syllabus and the training that the students get at these institutes is inadequate to meet the standards of work and efficiency that the industry demands.

Private players putting their foot forward for imparting operator training

Realising the growing need for operator training, the various private heavy CE manufacturers in the country are coming up to bridge the skill gap by establishing their own training centres in various parts of the country in addition to introducing various certification courses for operator training. One such manufacturing giant in India is Mahindra Construction Equipment (MCE).

MCE’s initiative

MCE has 6 regional training centres across the country which imparts expertise and provides training on the below mentioned aspects...

1. Equipment operation

2. Daily, weekly and monthly equipment maintenance

3. Safety parameters

Typically, the curriculum at these 6 institutes is updated on a regular basis to stay relevant and practical training is provided to the students. Thus, through this initiative, MCE is aiming to develop and enhance skills of the operators with its expertise. What more? MCE has also tied up with an authorised institution.

Apart from this, if you buy any equipment from MCE, then as part of its post-sales services, the company offers few days’ dedicated training for the operators, in which they are personally trained on various features of the machines by professional trainers.

In a nutshell

Given the technicalities involved in operating various complex present-day heavy CE, choosing an operator that is well-qualified and skilled is extremely important. And to promote operator training in India, a massive-scale joint effort by the government and private players is required. Till the time that happens, the opportunities offered by companies like MCE should be leveraged upon in the best possible manner.