At a time, when the up-gradation of National highways and various special expressway projects are planned under National Highways Development Programme for the next few years; NHAI is looking at various other connectivity projects in India like bypasses and ring roads around major cities, contributing towards the Smart Cities project; and government is taking up the task of building rural roads seriously and clearing all the pending road construction projects in the country, the road building equipment sector is expected to see a boom.

If we look at the road CE sector, then particularly motor graders (which are also used in the mining industry) will see an unprecedented growth path. In fact, it is estimated that the demand of motor graders will increase by 15-20 per cent in the next 4-5 years.

Decoding motor graders

In the early days, dozers were most commonly used for grading. However, with the need for improved quality of surface finish and speeding up the grading process, motor graders were introduced solely for grading purposes. Since then, their demand has picked up like anything.

Motor graders or alternatively called road graders or graders are absolutely necessary equipment at any construction site. They are usually self-propelled machines with an adjustable blade. Typical motor grader models have three axles with the engine and cab situated above the rear axles at one end of the vehicle and a third axle at the front end of the vehicle with the blade in between.

Motor graders are generally identified by their long adjustable blade and considered to be easy-to-use equipment for mining underneath the ground. Another factor that differentiates motor graders is the drive systems with some of the equipment using all wheel drive i.e., four wheel drive and front wheel drive systems. For rural areas with unpaved roads, an all wheel drive system is necessary while it is redundant for smooth and clear areas.

Motor graders are generally classified into two categories based on the structure and arrangement of the frame i.e., Rigid Frame Motor Grader and Articulated Frame Motor Grader. Of the two, the later is the most commonly used version these days.

Uses of motor graders

1. They can be used for making smoother surfaces, fine grade, levelling soil and shifting small amounts of dirt.

2. The most traditional use of this CE is in the construction and maintenance of roads with its main function being preparing the topmost layer for laying asphalt on top of it.

3. Motor graders are also used for removal of snow, debris and earth-moving purposes.

4. Graders are also used to set native soil foundation pads to finish grade prior to the construction of large buildings.

5. The motor graders also ensure that the compactor is effectively used with minimum load on it.

In simple terms, motor graders are used to finish grade (refine, set precisely) the rough grading performed by heavy CE such as scrapers and bulldozers. A small motor grader within a range of 80-150 horsepower is usually enough for most jobs. While, the smaller graders are perfect for jobs that need to be completed in a tight spacing environment, larger motor graders can be used in broader spaces. Larger machines are known to use a direct drive or a torque converter drive transmission system while the smaller ones are hydrostatically driven.

Grading bright future forward

The clearing of pending road construction projects in the country as well as government’s ambitious urban and rural infrastructure development plans offer a huge growth potential for the growth for motor graders in the country. As per Off-Highway Research, the motor grader market is expected to grow from 750 units in 2016 to 850 units by 2020. Thus, indeed the future of motor graders looks bright.