Heavy Lifting

As the cost of transportation and installation of project cargoes rises, heavy lift solution providers and project forwarders increasingly look forward to attune their services to the needs of engineering procurement and commissioning contractors, P.P. Basistha takes a look.

Large scale capacity additions in thermal, wind power, refinery and other industrial projects in the country has led to a growing demand of turbines, rectifiers, nacelles, splitters, crackers amongst others. The over dimensional cargoes are required to be shipped from domestic or imported manufacturing source for its further installation to the job sites. However, inherent drawbacks in the country's logistics networks, in the form of inadequate road space, deficient infrastructure at the ports in form of inadequate jetty space or availability of barges, would keep making transportation of the cargoes across the country to the site time consuming and moreover an expensive exercise as compared to other developed countries. The growing time and cost for transportation and installation takes a toll on the business margins of the EPC contractors in face of compressed work schedules.

According to senior officials from All Cargo Logistics, "To minimize transportation and installation cost, we offer package of services involving door-to-door, port-to-port, port-to-door and route surveys for transporting the project cargo through road, vessels and barges. Our heavy lifting and transportation solutions to EPC contractors include: turnkey lifting & transport operations, factory-to-foundation heavy lifting multi-modal transportation projects, and maintenance lifting services to plant shops. Our other services are salvage and wreck removal of ships and offshore installations, trade in new and used equipment."

Allcargo Cranes

According to the company, some of the important projects executed by it include, contract for the NTPC Barh 3 x 660 MW by M/s Power Machine for the transportation of three generator stators and their accessories from Haldia and Kolkata Port to NTPC Barh, Bihar; logistics solutions for aluminum smelter plant to be commissioned at Jharsuguda, Orissa by VAL India. Transportation of boiler drum dim: 27 x 2.9 x 3.33mtr weighing 218 tons for BGR Energy – Jhalawar Power Project – Rajasthan. Multimodal transportation of gas turbine weighing 200MT for BHEL, handling of met coke conveyor equipment at Gangavaram Port weighing 154MT each for ZPMC.

Officials said, "To provide better value to contractors based on arising lifting complexities in industrial projects, we have entered into an alliance with Mammoet, a global leader known worldwide as the specialist in heavy lifting and transport. Mammoet's lifting expertise encompasses petrochemicals, civil projects, power plant facilities, offshore businesses and marine projects." Under the alliance, All Cargo recently provided heavy lifting support services for construction of mega upcoming Rs.30,000 crore Paradip Oil Refinery for Indian Oil Corporation Limited.

They added, "We have a quality team for driving all initiatives related to quality, health, safety, security, and environment. Our well trained professionals offer seamless project management solutions – from feasibility studies and multimodal transportation planning to operations and maintenance, to assist our clients gain a competitive edge."

Range of valued services are claimed to be offered by Mumbai based Lift & Shift for EPC contractors as well. According to Mr. Sanjay Valia, Executive Director, Lift & Shift, "Services rendered by our firm are much well attuned to the requirements of EPC contractors which includes, responsibility to handle cargo units right from the factory shop floor of the manufacturer to site or to nearest exit port – transportation by barge or ship and offloading at specially purpose built landing jetties nearest to site followed by undertaking land transport thereafter to site. This is usually done through construction of bypass roads, strengthening of bridges, widening of road, railways & power line shut downs and finally installation and erection of the equipment onto foundations at sites with the use of specialised lifting systems."

Lift-and-Shift

He elaborated, "Our wide in-house infrastructure comprising heavy and medium lifting and array of transportation equipment, field and design engineers, sea-going barge backed by our supervisory staff having wide experience of over three decades towards handling some of the largest industrial plant equipment – be it for BHEL power projects, Nuclear Power Corporation projects, or Reliance Refinery, the equipment at all 3 plants are well positioned to offer host of services to EPC project executioners. One of our major projects was to move weight upto 4500 tons in a single piece."

Mr. Valia stated, "Lifting and transportation complexities of our EPC clients are addressed by our business units that are backed by our engineering department which coordinates and studies the requirements of the contractors well in advance to ensure the job is safely carried out. We also do have a civil team which is capable of constructing jetties and bypass roads for the safe movement of cargo through multi–modal transport system. In more critical jobs involving marine transport, we also carry out more detailed engineering like motion and ballast analysis. Necessary support by our infrastructure and services helps the contractors in cost cutting, consolidation and optimization of transportation and lifting requirements."

Specialised Support

Arising job complexities makes it vital for heavy lift solution render to render valued lifting and transportation support. This is also to have better margins on projects. This is also because presently, with excess supply of transportation and lifting equipment, hiring rates are well expected to remain under pressure. Companies with pure rental business models may find it difficult to get the desired margin in such a scenario. According to Mr. Sunil Nair, Sarens India, "Our business model is not purely rental, involving sole deployment of equipment, instead what we look is for providing turnkey solutions. This enables us to have better deals on projects."

Sarens-Cranes

Mr. Nair elaborated, "Under turnkey solutions, along with supply of heavy duty equipment's, our service includes providing equipment supervision, risk assessment, lifting engineering service, a safety team and a maintenance facility. These services have helped the company to increase its business portion and to stay in front at this stage. In another major lifting instance Sarens India has recently erected the 570MT Ammonia absorber for Jindal Steel & Power limited at Angul, Orissa with Demag CC8800 – 1250MT crane. Another major heavy lift includes the erection of C3 splitter which was erected in early 2011 and is believed to be Asia's longest erection weighing 1400T at 125 Mtrs C3 Splitter for the OPAL DFCU & AU project in Dahej, Gujarat, India. For 2013 we will soon be commence the Signature Bridge project in Delhi which will be constructed across the Yamuna River. It will come up as an unsymmetrical-cable-stayed bridge that will have a main span of 251m and possess a steel tower rising to a height of 150m. To put matters in perspective, it will be more than twice the height of Qutub Minar."

As part of value added support services, Sarens takes note of the dimension of the project cargo, and then Front-End engineering and Execution Engineering is the main focus. Any single lift we take on is engineered in detailed by our teams. We can provide a state-of-the art service including 2D and 3D drawings, calculations, finite elements structural analysis, 3D-simulations, modelling, etc. Followed by the same, it looks into the rigging scheme and suggests the lifting equipment that would be required for the project. The company has its transportation and rigging, foreman team and safety officers for project execution.

Mr. Nair mentioned, "As part of safety precaution, our cranes are equipped with black box which ensures: Maintenance & alarm data collection, Tracking and theft of equipment and fuel, Computerized data bank crane life cycle, Prevent abusive misuse of the crane and Safety device manual overruling by operators, Worst performance (e.g. driving long distance on crawlers) and Running hours cross check for equipment operating world-wide under a bare rental contract.

Forecasting the future prospects and the growth potential in the coming years Sarens India has moulded itself to provide holistic and integrated solution in lift industry from small to most massive application along with highly skilled operational and engineering manpower to really make Sarens say – "Nothing too heavy, nothing too high."

Volatility in hiring rates are also looked into to be neutralised by Express Global Logistics through adding newer services. According to Mr. Ashwin Gandhi, Director, Express Logistics, "We are looking to enlarge our services by setting up new forklifts division recently and by acquiring 16 forklifts of varied capacities. We are likely to enhance the fleet by 50 units by the end of this year."

Mr Gandhi lamented, "The reason the steep erosion in hiring of rental rates in heavy lifting and forwarding has been due to oversupply of equipment. There are almost 2500 hydraulic multi-axles in Mumbai region alone far exceeding the desired demand, resultantly pulling down the rates."

However he said, "We are well positioned to take on the present volatility. Our wide pool of assets and requisite knowledge ranging from loading and unloading at the gateway ports-transportation to the job site and further erection of the equipment at the job sites is adequate to address the requirements of EPC contractors." Express Global has 80 mobile cranes at its disposal between the range of 200-250-300-400 tons.

Mr. Gandhi pointed out, "Being customs house project clearing agents, we also have an edge over providing value added services. We provide consultancy services for the right documents that the project contractor needs to have for importing the project cargo. We also provide consultancy services on the customised nature of containers that can be procured by the contractor for getting the cargo easily accommodated."

According to Mr. Gandhi, "This trend will continue till mid 2014 and then only business would pick up. Till then, all Crane Owners are facing hard time to pay even service tax in time or installment and interest to their banks or financial institutes. Banks must restructure all term loans ASAP. Import of equipment has also become most expensive as $rate is now hovering over Rs.60/."

Compressed hiring rates are looked to be hedged by Mumbai based heavy lift solution providers, Vador Infratech. According to Mr. Gaurang Vador, Director, Vador Infratech, "We are looking to venture to newer lifting solutions viz girder launchers for bridge erections."

Vador-Infratech

Mr. Vador mentioned, "Cost optimisation to EPC contractors for heavy lift and transportation is provided through our wide asset base. Commensurate to the varied job requirements of the EPC contractors, we are able to provide materials handling equipment with varied lifting capacities. We possess crawler lattice boom cranes within the capacity range of 40 to 600 tons. Our mobile telescopic cranes are available in the capacity of 15 to 300 tons. With wide assets base comprising around 65 cranes, we are well positioned to offer our solutions for varied turnkey projects across industrial and core infrastructure sectors." Vador Infratech is the flagship company that owns its fully owned subsidiary, Gopalji Heavy Lifting. Vador's clients include, Tata Projects, Leighton, Reliance among others.

Though heavy lift solutions and project forwarders are positioned through their range of equipment and knowledge, however, efficient transportation and installation of the equipment will depend on coordination between EPC contractors and the solution providers. Efficient implementation of solutions will also depend on support from local authorities through creating adequate infrastructure for movement of the over dimensional project cargoes.

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