Concrete Equipment Manufacturers Are Unfazed To Bearish Demand

Concrete Equipment Manufacturers

Concrete Equipment Manufacturers Appear Unfazed to Bearish Demand

The ongoing phase of bearish demand does not seem to have dented the positive business sentiment of concrete equipment manufacturers as they have kept introducing newer solutions across the value chain backed by sizeable investment in their production and sales channels. P.P Basistha takes a look.

Heightened business zeal among the concrete equipment manufacturers in India never seems to wither down. This has been quite evident during the present phase of retrograded demand spanning during first quarters of 2012-2014. Manufacturers have kept sharing their resilience during the bearish period, devising well crafted strategies in advance through reorientation of the business plans for better days to come. The strategy to reorient is based on the ground that Indian construction sector has been in the continuation to be cyclic in nature and the comeback has always been with vengeance, characterizing heightened competition leaving less time to plan and launch new products and disseminate information on newer solutions and services.

Hence, rather than being left out to a catch twenty-two situation, manufacturers have opted to precisely plan for the mid and long-term. A One of the vital strategies has always been to ensure that cash flow to be generated for business to continue through selective product placement targeting specific application areas.

German concrete equipment manufacturing conglomerate, Schwing Stetter has recently invested Rupees 65 crore for its new fabrication plant near Chennai close to its existing plant. This plant will be manufacturing components for Schwing Concrete Boom Pumps. The plant is equipped with complete fabrication and shot blasting units. The facility will assist cutting-sheet surface preparation-prime coating and painting through lean manufacturing systems, which is well likely to keep pricing of boom pumps further competitive for Schwing Stetter.

VG Sakthi kumar
"Commissioning of the new plant manufacturing components with high grade steel and specially trained welders from Germany is reflection of our business commitment. These advantages will continue investments to strengthen our production systems consequently and to incorporate value in our products. The on-going initiative enables customers to curtail equipment owning and operating costs," says Mr.V G Sakthikumar, Director - SSI Board.

He adds, "Introduction of newer solution for different application areas has also been our thrust areas. We will continue with the strategy in 2014 and beyond." Schwing introduced S-36 Boom Placers in recent past. For high-rise construction its Separate Placing Boom portfolio comprises SPB-25 and SPB-35. Mr. Kumar mentions, "Irrespective of the higher heights, these placers are well engineered to pump the appropriate volumes of concrete at right pressure."

Introduction of new 3cu‎m Transit Mixers for transportation of concrete in uneven hilly terrain is another initiative of Schwing Stetter to expand its business footprint. The company offer range of Transit Mixers from 3-10 cu‎m. The 8-10 cu‎m Transit Mixers are of power take off type on that salve engine and are suitable for MAN and Bharat Benz chassis while 3-7cu‎m is mounted on Ashok Leyland, Tata, Echier AMW and Mahindra.Mr.Kumar says, "The higher capacity Transit Mixers have been to cater requirements of high volume concrete at a shorter time span."

Schwing Concrete Boom Pumps

He adds further, "For better equipment integration of the higher capacity Transit Mixers, we are working with trucks companies at their respective plants, while integration is done for 3-7 cu‎m units at our own plant in Chennai.

To ensure comfortable revenue flow, keeping the cyclic nature of the market in view, Schwing is emphasizing towards offering end-to-end solutions. "The solutions are varied and well crafted. This comprises complete repair, overhaul and reconditioning of all our mobile equipment through our nine service centres located across the country. This apart, we provide complete training to the customers to operate the machine during its entire life cycle, and also assist them in sourcing genuine accessories and selling of used machines at a proper resale value. We will keep investing to support our 35,000 units across the value chain in India through our twenty six service branches, nine service centers, and 250 service engineers," says Mr. Kumar.

Parminder Gabri
Putzmeister India is planning to leverage its business presence in the Indian construction sector with its wide range of boom pumps. According to Mr. Parminder Gabri, Director - Sales, Putzmeister India, "We are now completely positioned to offer a wide range of concrete pumping solutions with our new series, in accordance with the desired applications of the Indian customers. The range includes, 20-36-42 meters truck mounted boom placers, trailer mounted stationery pumps between 20- 100 cu‎m for 30 400 meters pumping requirements and mobile line pumps of 50-70 cu‎m."

Putzmeister has introduced new generation of both stationary as well as boom pumps. BSA 1405D eSmart pump is one of the new pumping solutions from its stable. Mr. Gabri says, "With its high-tech HMI (Human Machine Interface) control panel and an in-built ergonic graphic Display (EGD) the operator can determine the real time operating status of the machine and all diagnoses faults. This system reduces the restrictions in hydraulic oil flow; and as a result, the heat generation in this hydraulic system is minimized and thus saves recurring maintenance cost." He elaborates, "BSA 1405D is highly economical to operate, as it only requires 70 litres of hydraulic oil. This is almost up to 5 times less as compared to equivalent machines that you find in the market today. Since oil needs to be changed after every 500 pumping hours or 1500-2000 engine hours, it makes the eSmart machines environment-friendly as well."

He mentions, "Our R&D department has ensured that this new machine comes with advanced safety features making it safer to operate."

concrete pumping solutions

M36-4 NG is another new generation boom pump from Putzmeister India built using aluminium and high-grade lightweight steel to reduce the weight by more than two tons, according to the company. Mr. Gabri informs, "Our boom pumps come equipped with 'big mouth' delivery cylinders of 230 mm diameter are 32% more efficient in filling the pipeline than its smaller counterparts with a diameter of 200 mm. The reduced hydraulic tank capacity of 275 litres is 30% less compared to other machines in the market, making it much more economical and eco-friendly to run."

He continues "Yet importantly, our boom pump, M42-5 is also a great success story. With 5 flexible short arms in the RZ-fold system, with a horizontal, a vertical, and a downward reach, with practice oriented equipment, as well as accessories and an incredibly compact base structure. These features are only a few to name and make sure that the most complicated concrete placement can be achieved with great ease, especially when it comes to reaching low buildings or overcoming obstacles."

Along with placement of new products, Putzmeister is also looking to expand and retain its presence through striving to make concrete pumps price competitive. The company is looking to enlarge the ratio of localization, as it currently imports 40% of its components from Germany.

This involves critical items such as hydraulic cylinders. Remaining 60% of the items like chassis, wheel control panels, structures are sourced from indigenous sources. Mr. Gabri says, "We will continue with our localization process to make the products further competitive."

Product support is an area where Putzmeister is planning to strengthen its brand image as well. The company is banking on its existing population of 5000 pumps working in India. "We upgrade the machines either completely or partially based on the requirements of the customers to pump the desired quality of concrete. Further, we also completely rebuild the machines," says Mr. Gabri.

He adds, "We have 120 resident service engineers and service centers across five regions of the country ensuring extensive product support to our clients." Putzmeister markets its pumps through its own marketing channels.

Channelized Investments

Premraj Keshyep
Rendering adequate service support on regular basis is a vital element during slowdown in business. It retains the brand image of the company allowing it to have bottom line gains. However, the overall benefit is that it prevents any brand substitution by the users of the products. This is important in the case of equipment where sustained technical support is required in operating the products. This has been the major reason for KYB-Conmat's new strategy to appoint new dealers away from the past approach when they were merely commission agents. Mr. Premraj Keshyep, MD, KYB-Conmat mentions, "The new set of dealers, are being appointed after thorough evaluation of technical and financial background, on their ability to add value in sales and services and timely parts support, backed by their own warehouse setup, thereby ensuring complete customer satisfaction."

KYB-Conmat has a target to appoint twenty-five dealers across the country. Further, to strengthen its services, it will add thirty-five service engineers to support the dealers.

Mr. Keshyep says, "We are looking beyond our traditional Western, Central, North Western and South Western India markets and planning to grow horizontally by targeting newer potential markets of Bhuvaneshwar, West Bengal, Raipur, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar." KYB-Conmat has appointed dealers in the new markets. It has also strengthened its sales and service setup in New Delhi. Plans are also underway to set up a new warehouse at a strategic location in the country for timely parts availability.

Transit Mixer

Necessary financial and technological backup required for revamping production and sales channels is being ensured through the much timely equity partnership Conmat has forged with KYB of Japan. The partnership has allowed it to technically upgrade its manufacturing systems through better backward integration by strengthening its research and development for rolling out products, attuned to Indian job site requirements. Not to mention, revamping its sales channels is to take on the volatile market.

"We have infused Rs 15 crore for our brown field expansion by inducting state-of-the-art technologies for creating advanced products based on lean manufacturing and quality control systems. The fresh investment will enhance production of transit mixers by 500 units during 2014-15 that will be further leveraged to 1500 units in 2015-16 from adjoining greenfield facility, for which land has been acquired," mentions Mr. Keshyep.

One of the new products that has been rolled out followed by the venture is MR 60 transit mixers. According to Mr. Keshyep, 10 new MR 60 transit mixers have been given to various contractors involved in ready mix concrete business, dam construction and canal irrigation projects driven by slave engine as part of field trials and the response have been encouraging so far. We have been targeting sales towards niche market like concrete roads, and dams requiring higher discharge levels of concrete."

He argues, "Compared to competitive transit mixers available in the market, MR 60, cu‎m transit mixers have low slump and high discharge performance and can be used for slipform concrete paving. The transit mixers come with higher safety during transit due to anti-clockwise drum rotation for left side travel in India. Lower centre of gravity for better stability on rough roads." The added features, he claims are of high speed and discharge performance due to its unique blade design. High precision C shaped spirals are formed by accurate forming dies, maintaining uniform low resistance flow. Hence, it reduces power consumption. C-shaped spirals enhance agitating performance so concrete could be worked during delays."MR 60 is made available on Tata, Leyland, and AMW chassis.

Conmat has been introducing path breaking technologies in concrete construction equipment, thanks to its state of the art R&D setup and effective service support, it has acquired leadership position in Stationary / Mobile Concrete Batching Plants with Twin Shaft Mixers, and Concrete paving Machines for canals and roads. The strong and satisfied customer base is now being leveraged to launch transit Mixers and Concrete Pump, in order to position KYB-Conmat as the single source for the complete range of concrete equipment, a unique proposition.

Universal Transit Mixer

For better product support and market penetration, the home grown concrete equipment manufacturing conglomerate, Universal Construction Machinery & Equipment has kept investing in its product line and distribution channels.

Rajesh Kawoor
"Followed by our market experience in 2013 and 2014, we are consolidating our market presence by serving our existing customers with additional schemes to enable them in maintaining the machines with reduced costs. New models targeting emerging applications along with appointing newer dealers are continued irrespective of the volatile market situation.", says Mr. Rajesh Kawoor, VP, Concrete Business Universal.

Mr. Kawoor mentions "Advanced quality has been incorporated in new concreting solutions by equipping them with components and spares from reputed manufacturers. It allows the machines to deliver higher uptime, owing to extended replacement of the parts. Engineering improvisations have been carried to make the operation simple resulting towards cost benefits. Similar improvisations have been carried in our existing machines. Advancements in the existing and newer solutions have been carried by our technical and developments team in consultation with our customers and vendors."

Universal's range of concreting solutions comprise, transit mixers, boom placers portable and large concrete batching plants in the range of 10/7 mixers to 60 cu‎m/hr batching plants and concrete pumps at the range of 120 cu‎m/hr.

Considering 80-85% of its business from existing customers, brand strengthening through better product support is high on agenda for Universal. Mr. Kawoor, elaborates, "we have come out with different schemes like free maintenance camps, attractive schemes for stocks and free training camps all for better product support."

He adds, "For ease of affordability of our products and availability, we offer additional financial benefits to our dealers. We render them financial support to arrange customer meets seminars in their respective territories. To have minimal inventory in our production systems in order to restrict production cost, we get parts from our vendors on long-term procurement assurance."

Operation Optimization

Operation optimization along with curtailment of operating cost is a key area required by concrete plant and machinery manufacturers and users of the solutions. The requirement of optimization has become necessary due to compressed job schedules and continued restricted profit margins.

Umesh Mukkannavar
IDS Technologies has been focusing to make its solutions available to the concrete OEM's and plant owners. According to Mr. Umesh Mukkannavar, MD, IDS Technologies, "We provide solutions to both OEMs and end users. Some of them are plant/site based solutions. Auto emailing, auto sms, auto invoicing, maintenance etc are plant based solutions, which can be sold by OEMs. In case of centralized solutions where customers want to integrate with all sites and centralize operations, it is vital that we should interact with the customers directly. In such cases, we try to identify customer requirements both from short and long term perspective. We interact with customer IT team and then reach to a customized solution to suit their requirement."

He explains, "IDS ERP modules are called 'IDS Biz Solutions'. We offer solutions for commercial RMC, project RMC, aggregate segments, and infrastructure companies.IDS Biz Solutions are ERP+ solutions, which connect site to office environment. They auto capture site / process data in real time. Customers are able to monitor site activities such as production, dispatch, stocks & material consumption from the comfort of his office in real time. They can define authority of each employee and make them accountable for the given task. Even sales and production process can be controlled from office."

IDS Biz Inventory

Explaining the advantages of the solutions Mr. Mukkannavar says, "Our 'Biz Solutions' offer many benefits which expensive ERPs can't. 'IDS Biz Solutions are industry specific, hence require very little customization. Secondly, our solutions are of pick- and choose- modules, which will enable customers for phase wise implementation of solutions. They can select from pick- and choose- modules such as sales, procurement, GRN and stock, inventory, planning and scheduling, dispatch maintenance, auto invoicing, auto smsing, auto emailing etc.IDS Biz Solutions are customer-friendly and easily configurable."

He says, "As part of customer support, we identify with challenges faced by customer due to frequent high pressure situations at sites. The breakdown of systems causes huge damages and consequences are irreversible in many cases. The only way to reduce it is to ensure support as soon as the customer needs it. We have a 24X7 support helpline in construction industry. We are even equipped with online support through remote access. Many a times we also provide online user trainings."

Reorientation of business operations through introduction of newer products, modification of existing products, concept selling characterizes the growing maturity of the Indian concrete equipment industry led by the large scale growth of the construction sector. However, for the business innovation to sustain, it will be vital for the manufacturers to continue with prudent business practices.
NBM&CW June 2014
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