With increasing competition in a buoyant market, manufacturers are devising sales strategies to bag orders, and are re-positioning their products by drawing focus on their design and technical features.
KYB Conmat India: Adding new features to its Concrete Batch Mix PlantsKYB Conmat, a pioneer in twin shaft mixer technology in India, provides batch mix plants for use in barrage/spill ways and canal construction. They are most suitable for dam projects which normally use bigger size aggregates. The company has added new features to upgrade its products, while their Japanese technology ensures minimum maintenance.
The plants have a fully automatic PLC control system with SCADA for inventory management and report generation. The twin shaft mixer technology delivers higher productivity and homogenous output mix at shorter intervals. The design of the mixer reduces wear of tiles giving it a longer life.
A control panel has been developed by the company for measuring the operations. All the terminals including fuse and relay cards are screwless thereby eliminating any loose connections. SMPS for field and PLC are used separately for fault diagnosis. A rotary handle with a locking system has been provided that ensures personnel safety. “All these improvisations lower the cost of operation and maintenance as tasks can be completed in minimum time, thus reducing cost overruns,” avers Verma
Apollo Inffratech: expanding their existing manufacturing facility
He adds, “There is a market pressure on pricing due to competition, which has made it challenging to retain the superior quality of products at a lower production cost. We have increased our manufacturing capacity and workforce and are also looking at bigger projects that need higher capacity plants.”
Ajax Batching Plants for Optimum Output
A waiting hopper provided in the company’s Inline Reduced Bin (IRB Series) batching plants helps in reducing the cycle time as the aggregates for the next cycle, are weighed and discharged to the hopper while being mixed in the mixer.
Bhattacharya explains, “In the planetary mixer, the mixing flow is highly efficient due to integrated action of central stars combined with different peripheral scrapers. This is best suited for pre-cast structures of concrete with aggregate sizes less than 40mm. These mixers are suitable for the pre-cast industry, irrigation, CC road and urban infrastructures.
On the other hand, the twin-shaft mixer has a mixing system composed of two synchronized horizontal axes, which, during rotation enable better homogeneity of the concrete mixture. These mixers are most suitable for higher volume of concrete output per hour and for aggregate sizes above 40mm. Their specially designed arms and unique reversible mixing blades create an ideal circular and horizontal movement of mix in concrete. Their higher capacity makes them suitable for National Highway projects, dams and thermal projects.”
Ajax Fiori’s batch mix plants feature SCADA-based control panel PLC unit for easier access for the operator. They come with manual and auto mode operation; unlimited data storage, an auto/manual moisture correction system for aggregates, and are synchronized with four weight indicators for aggregate, cement, water and admixture. Pre-assembled design, plug and play electrical systems, optional skid foundation systems, and compact design enables faster erection and commissioning of Ajax plants that feature a swivel control fixed cabin, which gives the operator a full view of the plant while in operation.
“Due to strict timelines and bonus clause for contractors on early completion of projects, it is imperative to ensure optimum machine utilization. Our compact reduced bin batching plant (CRB) of 30cum/hr. capacity was designed to fulfil this need. The entire plant can be transported in a single trailer and installed and commissioned in a single day,” adds Bhattacharya.
Macons: making value additionsMacons has introduced various advanced features in its concrete batching / mixing plants. Its first of its kind, new compact plant requires minimum civil foundation (only four footprints), and is supplied ready-to use, being completely pre-wired and pre-piped. So, no erection time is lost, and clients also save time and money through their lighter transportation and quicker assembling at sites.
The MAC series is available in 25 / 30 / 45 / 60 / 75 / 90/ 112/ 120 m3/hr. capacities. The plants require less maintenance and provide more than 100% production, which leads to decreased cost of production. They have a longer life due to less wear and tear of parts, an in-built control cabin, an in-built pipeline of water, additives and pneumatic, tilting type control cabin for easy transportation, separate power pack for open/close of mixer gate window, and the mixer motor does not have to be started during cleaning or maintenance. The plants are available with skid.
Bhai Pumpcrete: Enhancing services
He informs that the quality of the mix is dependent on the mixer of the plant. Unlike the circular motion of other systems, mixing takes place in a three-dimensional space in the twin-shaft mixer. During mixing, the two counter-rotating mixing shafts along with the blade angles create a turbulent zone in between the shafts, which helps in an intensive exchange of materials, leading to shorter mixing cycles with reduced energy consumption. A consistent high degree of homogeneous concrete mix is achieved, batch after batch. As mixing takes place in a 3D space, the concrete mix has less contact with the walls, which reduces wear and tear. Also, the cement use is less as compared to other mixers and, hence, is cost saving.
“We have the advantage of technology. Our twin shaft mixers are manufactured in-house using 40-year-old Japanese technology. In fact, we have designed our products inline with the future demand anticipated from the infrastructure sector. We are confident of getting orders for our plants in view of our high plant life and high brand recall. Some of our 15-20-year-old plants are still performing well. However, to sustain and expand our market share, we are enhancing our services. We take two to nine days to install and commission a plant of 20 to 120 cum. We have also pioneered the complete mobile plant (single chassis) and compact plant, which are easy to transport, assemble and disassemble.”
Universal: making improvisations
“We have been making improvisations in our batch mix plants as demand for higher productivity and a homogenous output mix has increased substantially and will continue to do so in future. Competition has become stiffer and expanding business in this scenario is challenging. We have widened our product range and made the pricing more lucrative, besides which, we are enhancing our services.”
Control panel and automation contributes for perfect batching of ingredients as per mix design and also deliver consistency of batching. Software program plays vital role to achieve the expected results. The program is designed to ensure the accurate batching and consistency of batch over batch. It considers machine parameters, machine behavior, ingredient behavior to achieve results. “Perfect integration of these parameters always add great value to the end product, with very less cost addition,” says Chavan.
Universal has been a pioneer in mobile batching plants in India, with products ranging from 18 to 60 cum in the DX Mobile series, and has recently launched its Master series of 20 cum/hr to 60 cum/hr.
Commenting on the current market requirements, Chavan says, “There is an increasing requirement for quick commissioning of batching plants due to reasons such as projects of shorter duration where concrete requirements is in the medium range, shifting of plants several times during the project’s tenure, and specific mobilization requirements or restrictions.”
Concrete Batch Mix Plants - Cost Reduction vis-a-vis QualityKeeping pricing competitive while retaining the quality parameters of their products is a challenging task for the batch mix plant manufacturers. “We are always looking for ways to utilize our resources optimally and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. A non-exhaustive list of such tools would include five S, Kanban (pull systems), total productive maintenance, ABC Analysis System to a priority driven system along with line production and line balance,” says Sailaj Verma at KYB Conmat India.
“At Ajax, we follow lean manufacturing. Most of the major sub-assemblies are supplied by our vendors and strict quality check measures are carried out by us at their premises. This results in reduced inventory and therefore more storage area, and optimizes our workforce, in turn making pricing competitive for our products,” adds Debashis Bhattacharya.
According to Mitul Patel, Apollo has implemented lean management and 5S system since the last 5 years to minimize production and distribution costs. “Apollo has recently introduced a 4-track slip form paver with Auto DBI system for concrete road projects, and a new model 45FX (4.5 cu.m) self-loading concrete mixer,” he informs.
“Universal, with its strong R&D, has been meeting customer demand for newer products. This has been our strategy, but at the same time, we keep an eye on the costs too by ensuring maximum standardization of the products,” avers Ravi Chavan.
In a bid to reduce costs while retaining the qualitative advantage of its plants, along with faster availability, Macons is set to roll out new products with better features. It is also doing leaner production and working closely with vendors to develop new parts to bring value addition to its customers at reduced costs. Informs Dharmesh Surelia, “We are working with our plant team to speed up the production process and reduce the cost and inventory. Besides, we are looking to introduce a new sales strategy that will facilitate more inquiries, close deals faster, and help us get better deals with value additions to customers at a lower sales cost.”
Customer service & supportSays Verma, “KYB-Conmat offers complete after-sales support to its customers from the point of sales till project completion. Our service support desk is manned by technically sound professionals who resolve any issues in the machinery immediately, thus making the plant to run continuously and minimize downtime. Our team provides online support from 9 am to 7 pm for software related problems and 24x7 support through telephone. When necessary, we assign our engineers to the plant for an inspection of the problem. Such support has enabled us to retain our customers and get new orders as well.”
Ajax has one of the best service networks in the country with 82 touchpoints and 28 dealers in India, all of whom can provide parts and service to customers within a radius of 150-180 kms. of Customer base. “This ensures faster uptime of our machines, as most projects are working on shorter deadlines. We also provide AMC and OMC, and other value-added services to enrich customer experience,” he says.
“Apollo Inffratech has 19 dealers across India for timely delivery of spare parts and for handling service calls as well. We organize regular health check-up of our machines, and offer AMC to our customers,” says Mitul Patel.
“Bhai Pumpcrete is providing innovative services such as a toll-free number, operator networking and remote online service. We are also localizing spares through our dealers to decrease waiting time,” says Rajesh Sharma.
“At Universal, we have several initiatives for our customers to enable higher utilization of the machines with reduced cost of operation and maintenance. Quicker availability of parts and service at a reasonable cost is one of our major initiatives,” informs Ravi Chavan.
Macons is offering extra services like keeping spares at dealers for immediate delivery; providing customers with faster moving spares, and keeping track of inventory of spares at dealers, customers and in the company. “Our service team pays regular visits to customers for preventive maintenance, supplemented by a 24-hour helpline, plus our plants have systems that give early warning signals for any anticipated failure,” says Surelia.
Introducing new batch mix plants, making improvisations in the existing and upgrading product support services, augurs well for the industry. However, manufacturers will be required to have a more proactive association with their buyers in order to sustain and grow their businesses in this highly competitive environment.