Up until the early 20th century, the function of heavy machinery and construction equipment was performed by human and/or animal power. The mega-structures that were constructed back in time were revolutionary but took years if not a lifetime to erect. It was not until the dawn of the previous century when the steamed powered engine paved the way for the advent of advanced mechanical machines. And consequently innovative construction equipment has played a fundamental role in the infrastructural development and the construction industry around the world.
So the logical question would be: what basically can be classified as construction equipment? In the context of this article, any heavy-duty equipment, vehicles or machines that are specially designed for executing construction tasks efficiently and safely and at the same time upholding the quality of the product can be classified as construction equipment.
The construction industry is one of the most in demand in the nation. According to Federation of Contractor’s Association Nepal (FCAN), the construction sector contributes around 11% to the nation’s GDP and after the agriculture sector is the second largest employer of the country by providing employment opportunities to fulltime and seasonal workers. Similarly, about 60% of the nation’s development budget is spent within this industry. In spite of this, Nepal still lags behind when it comes to timely completion of construction projects. Various hurdles such as financial, social, managerial or even political can be pointed at, but one of the biggest problems for the industry in the past has been absence of superior construction equipment and heavy machineries.
Today, however, Nepal has the latest and technologically advanced equipment in the market. Additionally, it has become increasingly feasible to bring in construction equipment into the nation because the sector has been experiencing a steady growth for years and there is tendency for this growth to continue. By default, construction equipment and machineries continue to be in demand to meet the rising needs of the industry.
Bound for growth
Recently a reputed daily newspaper reported that the ongoing construction boom and increased development activities in the country have led to significant rise in demand for heavy equipment and machinery. With new commercial complexes, town planning and residential buildings sprouting in every possible corner of urban Nepal, it is fair to claim that construction is experiencing a boom.
Interest in the heavy equipment industry is also seeing a rise. For example, CII ConMac 2018 Excon Show was hosted last year which went on to become the largest platform focused on construction equipment to showcase their technology and equipments to meet the accelerated growth of the infrastructure sector in Nepal. According to CII’s press statement, the exhibition aimed to assist and empower contractors in view of Nepal’s large skilled manpower shortage. It will give them insight on capacity enhancement and technology within the construction sector.
Amrit Rana Magar, Officer – Sales and Marketing at Batas Tractors, explains, “I believe the construction industry is going through a good period as new machines and equipment are being introduced into the market, a result of which has made many technical jobs easier and more productive”.
A nation’s economic prosperity, commercial stability and international recognition are attributed to the rise in its infrastructural advancement. Infrastructure development creates the foundation for the nation to capitalise on the opportunities brought in by global and regional integration.
Prakash Chandra Niroula, Manager of Heavy Equipment Division (HED) at CE Construction, on being asked about the construction equipment industry explains, “There has been a lot of development in the country, and since construction equipment are essential to carrying out development activities, this demand has been really good for business”.
Supporting the claim, Tanka Prasad Bhatta, Executive Director of Construction Equipment Division at Continental Trading Enterprises – the authorised distributor of Komatsu Excavators in Nepal – believes that there is a huge potential in Nepal. “There are huge projects that are in the pipeline, such as hydro projects, roads, railroads and bridges. For the completion of all these projects and infrastructure development, there will be huge demand for construction equipment because without the equipment it is just not possible,” claims Bhatta. With various projects in planning and development stages, the future of construction and heavy machinery sector definitely looks positive.
Evidence have shown that there is a huge potential for construction equipment and machineries in the market, however, the Nepali construction industry is still in infancy. In order to increase work efficiency, it is important for people in the sector to be aware of different types of equipment and their specific application to add to the improvement of outcomes. One of the key reasons for delay in project completion in the past has been attributed to the lack of latest equipment. However over the past two decades, this has changed. International brands and technological advanced construction equipment, heavy-duty machines and machineries have entered the domestic market. The need for the latest machinery has become necessary because of the magnitude and complexity of projects today.
The majority of construction equipment and machineries that are imported into Nepal are Japanese, Swedish and American brands, while Chinese and Korean brands are now also entering the market. Most contractors and stakeholders agree that machinery is only acquired based on priority and task at hand. It is a fairly expensive investment to make and stakeholders have to weigh the usage, output, RoI and life of the equipment during time of purchase.
Niroula explains that the first thing they do is identify the nature of construction and the machinery required to complete the task safely and efficiently. “We have to meticulously plan ahead and check for the type of machines we need and choose the best options based also on durablity budget and safety standards,” elaborates Niroula.
As with the other sectors in the country, the major challenges faced by the construction industry and consequently construction equipment industry is the lack of manpower. “We are struggling to retain educated manpower because most of them decide to go abroad and as a result we have to train people time and time again which cost us time,” Niroula states. Bhatta adds, “Shortage of manpower is a major issue but in hindsight these machines and equipment has helped us fill the gap”. What we need is to create training centers to operate these machines in Nepal.”
Niroula complains, “The government need to change its policies on heavy equipment as they have recently passed a notice that projects whose budget is less than 10 million rupees are not allowed to use these equipments”. Without properly understanding the nature of the project, such decisions by policy makers only hinders progress, Niroula expresses.