LiuGong unveils biggest wheeled loader at bauma China
First publishedin bauma China
LiuGong is now offering its biggest ever wheeled loader, the 856H-3
Ahead of bauma China 2014, Aggregates Business International visited the company’s Liuzhou, southwest China HQ, to hear about the company’s bold growth plans and how it’s keenly focused on tailoring its product output to domestic and international market demand - Guy Woodford reports
Taking shape on a huge area of land next to the company’s impressive Liuzhou, China HQ, LiuGong’s new R&D centre, set to open in spring 2015, will take the ambitious firm’s product capabilities to an even higher level. Starting with 700-800 engineers and support staff, LiuGong eventually plans to have around 1,500 personnel based at the facility, providing an enormous engineering development resource for a single OEM.
“It means we won’t have to outsource high technical testing and research. It will give us dedicated laboratories for the engineering science we really need. We will be able to be able to plan and schedule our research to suit us, rather than instead of trying to get into some university’s schedule or another’s testing schedule,” says David Beatenbough, vice president for Research & Development at LiuGong.
“From the artistic side of R&D, it means we can be co-located with all the expert fields – such as proving system and noise vibration - we need to work on a project. It’s deeper than just improved efficiency. It’s a 30-year building.”
LiuGong already has consulting contracts with five different leading universities and specific professors to aid its current R&D work, but, with such a sizeable in-house facility opening imminently, there are no plans to expand on this.
Meanwhile, according to LiuGong’s vice chairman and president, Yu Chuanfen, the firm’s huge domestic marketplace is undergoing an important shift in product demand.
“Wheeled loader sales in China are set to be at 90,000 this year, with excavators at 100,000 units. Excavators are replacing wheeled loaders as the most popular model as they can do many more things. We can see in the first half of this year that sales of excavators in China are more than wheeled loaders. If you add in the used machines market, the sales of excavators are much bigger.” Chuanfen says LiuGong’s extensive range of excavators, including its new E-Series models, and wheeled loaders, including the new H-Series range, leaves the firm well placed to reap the benefits of improved Chinese demand, after what had been, for Chinese construction equipment manufacturers, been a “very difficult period” in terms of sales’ volumes.
“We’ve made a very big investment in our excavators. The investment is not just about finance, but also about the many [engineering] talents that work for us. We’ve also now got a very big network of sales outlets for excavators. Our E-Series excavators are very competitive in the industry. A good portion of excavator sales in China are of our E-Series models. We are taking further action, including some promotions, to push that number even higher.”
Chuanfen says that LiuGong also has high ambitions for its F-Series excavators – currently being developed and due to go on the market in three to four years’ time.
Of LiuGong’s wheeled loader range, Chuanfen says: “It’s been our primary product for the last two years. We’ve been Number One in the Chinese wheeled loader market. The H-Series wheeled loaders will enhance our position in the industry. We’ve spent two years developing the Series, which includes nine models. The H-Series has changed our manufacturing from following foreign design principles to using our own.”
Chuanfen says that he has visited some customers testing a number of new H-Series models, with all, he says, placing the wheeled loaders alongside those manufactured by the top global selling OEMs for fuel consumption, reliability, and comfort.
By the end of 2015, Chuanfen says LiuGong will have new generation models across its entire machine range – with new cranes, roller, and forklifts, sitting alongside new excavator and wheeled loaders.
The LiuGong vice chairman and president says that the robustness of the company’s wheeled loaders and excavators, which are usually worked round-the-clock domestically in tough operational conditions, coupled with their technical quality, make them ideal for the international market.
“Overseas sales have been around 30% of our overall wheeled loader and excavator sales. Our aim is to become a global company. In a few years, our exports might be 35- 40%. I hope that one day, the international sales can be 60% of overall sales. We are focusing on our international market.”