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Case study: Volvo CE on a high in India

The two-lane Shillong bypass in Meghalaya, north-east India, consists of 500km of high altitude road, built with the help of a fleet of Volvo excavators, asphalt compactors, soil compactors, motor graders, wheel loaders and an asphalt paver.

The project included 2.5m shoulders on each side of the road, two major high-level steel girder bridges — 45m long and 30m high — five minor bridges, an underpass, four bypasses, two major junctions, 64 small junctions and seven bus bays.

Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya, one of the smallest states in India and home to the tribal Khasis people. It is located about 1,500 meters above sea level, with the highest point being Shillong Peak at almost 2,000m. The capital is known as the ‘Scotland of the East’ because it reminded its British settlers of their rainy homeland and has a much cooler climate than the rest of tropical India.  Shillong is also only 55km away from Mawsynram — officially the world’s wettest place.

The Shillong bypass connects the top of the main NH-40 highway starting at Umiam in Ri-Bhoi district to the bottom of the NH-44 highway at Mawryngknend in the East Khasi Hills district. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) awarded the project to Shillong Expressway, which then contracted out the work to the GR Infraprojects infrastructure company. 

The total project cost an estimated 2,510 million Rupees (A$44.2 million). It began in 2011 and was completed ahead of scheduled this year.

Lightening the burden

GR Infraprojects Ltd (GRIL) used Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) hydraulic excavators throughout the project, including five 14-tonne EC140BLCs and two 20-tonne EC210B-Series models to dig and remove overburden.

Because of the mountainous terrain, a lot of cut and fill was required, resulting in a huge amount of earthmoving in order to keep to schedule. For day-to-day operations the company also used other Volvo machines, including four DD100 double-drum asphalt compactors, two SD110 soil compactors/rollers, G930 motor graders, L120 wheel loaders and an ABG7820 asphalt paver.

“The Volvo team spent a lot of time understanding what the specific requirements of the project were in order to provide machines precisely configured for our working environment,” GRIL Procurement Vice President Ratan Lal Kashyap says. “Volvo CE scores highly on efficiency and fuel economy and our local Volvo dealer — Esdee Solutech — was efficient in the delivery of the machines — no easy task as the project’s logistics were complicated and called for a lot of planning.” 

Volvo CE says it made sure an on-call service team was always available, ensuring prompt service and to provide training to the company’s mechanics and machine operators.

“Machine maintenance and unplanned downtime was very low as the key challenge in great road building is being organised from day one and then having machines and people you can trust on site,” GRIL Managing Director Vinod Agarwal says. “We are proud of what we have achieved and a formidable fleet of Volvo machines is paving new ways of success for the company across North India.”

“This is a first for the north east region in that a highway of this magnitude has been completed ahead of schedule,” Agarwal adds. “To boost our country’s gross GDP we need sustained investments in infrastructure.

“This road will now go a long way in reducing the frequent traffic congestion in the state capital of Shillong, as heavy vehicles including trucks can be diverted through the bypass without having to travel through the busy city.”

Founded in 1965, GRIL specialises in building highways and bridges across India, employing about 130 civil engineers. The company has successfully delivered over 150 road projects, including 3,200km in Rajasthan, Haryana, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and the North-East, almost always being finished ahead of the completion date.

“That’s our strength really — beating deadlines,” GRIL Director Mahendra Agarwal says. “Time saved is money earned in this business and our partnership with Volvo CE is on a roll.”


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