ACE: Electrifying the Industry

Sorab Agarwal, Executive Director
Sorab Agarwal, Executive Director, informs that the company is set to become India’s first ‘swadeshi’ manufacturer of electric construction equipment with the launch of a fully electric mobile crane, whose technology has been developed indigenously at their R&D Centre.

What will be the highlights of your product display at bauma Conexpo India 2023?
We are continuously undertaking research and development towards innovating better products and upgrading our existing range. In line with this, we are going to become India’s first manufacturer of electric construction equipment with the launch of a fully electric mobile crane, which will be displayed at bauma Conexpo. The crane’s technology has been developed indigenously at our R&D Centre. It will be a game changer for crane end-users owing to its lower operating cost.

We will also showcase our indigenously developed 160-ton Crawler Crane (the biggest crane to be manufactured in India), and models of our newly developed Aerial Work Platforms.

What steps is India’s CE industry and companies like ACE taking to implement emission reducing technologies and to reduce wastage through upcycling usable materials for a more eco-friendly operating environment?
Reducing emissions and saving the environment is a necessity which companies the world over are striving for. Converting machines to electric will further lower emissions and the technologies will provide sustainability to the CE industry.

Besides our fully electric mobile crane, we will subsequently develop more such cranes in various tonnage. The regulatory norms with respect to CMVR and the necessary approvals are expected to be in place over the next 4-5 months.

We are also open to the idea of machines based on Hydrogen IC engines or Fuel Cell technology. As soon as the operating ecosystem becomes commercially viable, the shift towards hydrogen technology in the Indian CE Industry is very likely to start in the next 2-3 years. Going forward, Artificial Intelligence will also begin to play a major role in the way machines are built and operated. Manufacturers will start integrating various aspects of AI and developing autonomous machines as per the suitability, benefits, and safety aspects of their usage.

Most of the big companies are focused on Environment, Sustainability, and Governance (ESG); at ACE too, we are taking all possible steps to ensure ESG in all aspects of our manufacturing, technologies, operations etc. For instance, we have installed a 1.8 MW Solar Power unit, Rainwater Harvesting system, Waste Disposal and Recycling plant, and use recycled water across all our manufacturing facilities. We are also working across all areas of manufacturing to minimize consumption and reduce wastage.

Sorab Agarwal, Executive Director

What demand do you envisage in 2023-24 in view of the ongoing and upcoming big ticket infra projects, and how is ACE gearing up to meet the forecasted demand?
Demand for equipment in the second half of the current year has been pretty strong, and we expect this momentum to sustain in Q4 as well. Going forward, we would have expected a very strong FY24 owing to the current momentum and the Capex oriented approach of our Government, coupled with buoyancy in the Manufacturing, Logistics and Real Estate sectors. But a little caution comes to mind due to the current global economic scenario and the increasing number of Covid cases being reported in China.

ACE is a 100% ‘swadeshi’ construction equipment company and the largest player in the Mobile and Tower Crane segments in India. Our products are rugged, strong, reliable, and cost-effective, and are backed by our all-India network of Service and Spare Parts touchpoints and warehouses. Our many years of experience in building an impressive portfolio of products will help customers achieve their goals economically, qualitatively, and at a faster pace.

We will soon be commissioning one of the largest crawler and truck crane manufacturing plants in India, which will enhance our production capacity and will help us add bigger equipment models to our portfolio. We are currently operating at 75-80% capacity utilization in mobile cranes and are contemplating further investment to enhance our capacity by another 50%.

What services does ACE offer its customers?
We offer products that give customers value for money, while ensuring high productivity and technical capabilities. Since machine performance and cost are equally important, we have designed our products keeping Indian operational conditions in mind so that they provide best-in-class performance at lower operational costs.

We have a nationwide network of sales and service points operating from more than 100 locations across the country to provide aftersales service, support, and spare parts to customers. All these locations also provide free services and warranty support as per the schedules of our different product categories, and even post the warranty period. We also offer rightly priced Annual Maintenance Packages and even Comprehensive Maintenance Packages to fleet owners.

Sorab Agarwal, Executive Director

What training and upskilling does ACE provide operators, technicians, and other workers?
ACE has a dedicated Training Center at Faridabad to provide hands-on operation and maintenance training to our customers’ personnel. Regular periodic training courses have been formulated to enhance operator and engineer skill levels, especially on our new models. In fact, for every new model or type of machine that we supply, our experienced operators give 15 days of training on the machines. We also give training for operating, troubleshooting, and preventive maintenance, on our high-end machines at project sites.

We are in the process of collaborating with Vishwakarma Skill University to provide ‘free of cost certificate training course’ to machine operators and technicians at our in-house Training Centre. The cost of training, plus boarding and lodging, will be borne by ACE.

For India’s construction to be at par with world standards, what are the grey areas that need to be addressed by the CE fraternity and the Government?
The Indian construction and infrastructure sector has seen good growth in the last few years even though the Covid pandemic did pull back the growth momentum temporarily. Increased Capex spends and the Government’s policy support has kept the infrastructure development in the country at a good pace.

Some of the challenges that the construction sector is facing include lack of skilled construction workers and equipment operators. The industry needs to make available fresh trained manpower, skilled operators and workers to operate heavy machinery.

Organized rental penetration in our country is pretty low. Equipment Rentals is an economically viable option for a large number of construction businesses which is Capex heavy.

Due to frequent demand fluctuations, there is no consistency in the market, which makes capacity planning challenging for equipment manufacturers. The secondary market for used construction equipment is also not well developed in India, hence resale of used equipment is a growing challenge. Lastly, since the market is price and value conscious, equipment manufacturers are constrained to maintain their operating margins.
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