Debasis Bhattacharya, AJAX Engineering
Debasis Bhattacharya, Head – Marketing, Sales & Product Support at AJAX Engineering, discusses what is making AJAX even more resilient and adaptive, as it finds ways to remain competitively strong despite the current slowdown in the CE industry.

How has your organisation strategized to tackle the sudden pandemic and the economically challenging scenario?
AJAX has been constantly evolving over time by adapting to the needs of its customers with a clear and consistent goal of becoming the most customer-centric organization.

In fact, AJAX has become even more resilient, adaptive and competitive in this complex and uncertain period of pandemic. We have a strong focus on the capabilities needed to succeed in the constantly changing market dynamics, especially during this Ccovid-19 pandemic, thanks to our technological innovations that have been able to meet the challenges and continuously align with the fast-changing industry trends amidst the current lockdown.

With the sudden emergence of the deadly new coronavirus, we instilled the right confidence into our workforce to face the uncertainty phase with a clear mind, a new set of collaborative principles, a coherent thought process, and more cohesive effort to engage our customers.

In the RESPONSE/ RECOVER phase of COVID-19 outbreak, AJAX has leveraged its capabilities with a strong network of 100+ touch points and 30+ dealers with triple S facilities – sales, service and spare parts. We add value to our over 18000 satisfied customers, who have seen, realised and experienced the value we have brought in.

AJAX keeps in touch with all its stakeholders through digital channels and leverage digital solutions to engage customers, provide support and add value propositions that are unique to them.

What is the biggest takeaway at AJAX during the lockdown?
Ajax - Argo
At AJAX, we have continued to focus on Innovation even amidst the lockdown. AJAX has always strived to be a 360° concreting solutions provider to its customers. The company is moving towards artificial intelligence and other advanced manufacturing concepts.

AJAX self-loading concrete mixers are versatile and have hydraulic sensing, meaning a pressure transducer and a device to add the weigh batching of aggregate, cement and water. AJAX has been focusing on improving the accuracy of weigh batching that is very critical in the quality of the concrete. Of late, we have come up with a load cell based weigh batching system (patent pending).

During EXCON 2019, AJAX also launched a first-of-its-kind next-gen self-propelled boom pump, SPBP25ZX. “This patent-pending product has been designed to handle tough terrain and manoeuvre narrow roads and job sites with ease. It effectively uses its full boom length to revolutionize the way concreting is being done in housing and infrastructure projects.

AJAX slip form paver SPX1204, the first indigenous paver designed and manufactured in India launched during EXCON 2019, has been incorporated with high-quality components and features and is at par with the pavers offered by global players. This paver has the flexibility to offer paving widths varying from 3.5 m to 12 m.

In your opinion, what will be the impact of the lockdown on India’s manufacturing sector and on the economy as a whole?
Ajax - SPBP
As stated by leading financial rating agencies, India will witness a huge slump in the current and coming quarters, however, it will bounce back post the lockdown. The construction equipment sales in India are expected to drop very significantly during FY 2020-21 due to the lockdown and the CE industry will bear the brunt of the effects of COVID-19. The pandemic has dented our economy very badly, and has impacted the CE industry’s growth with severe repercussions on its future growth prospects. But, it’s too early to assess the full financial impact of the crisis. Even after the crisis is brought under control and construction work starts to roll, the upcoming monsoon season will further impede construction activities.

Post-lockdown, what would be your company’s agenda to halt the expected market slowdown?
AJAX is geared-up to fight the slowdown blues. It has come up with a rebound strategy - a detailed business continuity management plan that enlists a set of protocols and standard guidelines that would comply with the newly established norms and regulations by our Government for safe and best practices. This would be religiously followed in our factories, offices and business establishments pan India.

When organizational preparedness being key to combat the lockdown with resilience and resourcefulness, AJAX will rework the value-stream mapping across its supply-chains as this would be the right opportunity to rethink, revisit, reinforce our business.

Channel partners: Distribution strategy/ delivery model as a defragmented channel structure through integrating dealer network over the digital platform is being contemplated by AJAX.

Efficiency accelerators: Firstly, with social distancing norms at factories, logistics, and warehouses, the need for reducing people density across the supply chain has become a mandate and AJAX will chart out a plan for deploying ‘alternate shift’ practices in the factories. Secondly, elimination of non-value added activities would improve the value of our products and services. AJAX would look into optimizing direct and indirect costs for significant cost reduction, thereby strengthening cash flow and emerging from this downturn with a stronger and more competitive profile.

Digitization: As all the sectors face some form of disruption, covid-19 is silently shaping business transformation. AJAX is active in the digital platform and maintains a strong digital footprint. This helps AJAX to underscore the importance of digital transformation by providing unparalleled opportunities to offer personalized services to customers.

AJAX - Paver

What will be the major challenges once the lockdown is lifted?
In the wake of slowdown like this, liquidity is one of the major challenges that has adversely impacted construction equipment sales as well as the rate at which projects are completed. There have been some delinquencies, especially contractors not getting paid by the principal clients. Customers have become hesitant to buy new equipment, especially first-time buyers.

But we expect a reasonable amount of business in the near future. There is no dearth of projects, but financial closure has become an alarming issue. The government should introduce a stimulus package to set the ball rolling and instill confidence in the construction sector.
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