Anand Sundaresan, Managing Director, discusses the grey areas in the construction equipment industry of India and how the company’s technologically advanced systems and processes can help meet many of the challenges; and factors that are differentiating it from its competitors.

Anand Sundaresan, Managing Director

For India’s construction industry to be at par with world standards and to become the 2nd largest in the world by 2030, what are the grey areas that the CE fraternity and the government need to look into?
With the focus of the Indian government on infra development, the growth of India’s CE industry is likely to be three-fold. However, there are impediments to this growth prospect which can be removed by taking the following measures:
  • making available the latest technology equipment
  • having machines that can adapt to India’s varying jobsite conditions, including climatic and operating conditions
  • bringing uniformity in machine design for easier operation and maintenance, easier exchange of spare parts, and hiring trained operating personnel
  • giving advice to buyers on selecting the right equipment as per the application requirements
  • using standardized machine parts made by different companies for easier purchase and delivery
  • having digitalization, project monitoring systems, calculating unit cost of production and operation cost
  • making available spare parts on time to minimize machine downtime
  • having skilled operators, maintenance technicians, and also providing training/upskilling programs
  • offering easy liquidity and finance options through tie-ups with banks and NBFCs.
How great will be the impact of introducing new technologies and digitalization in the construction industry?
Most construction companies require digital technologies to expand business opportunities and boost profits by reducing costs in the long run, and enhancing project execution. Further, the need for digital transformation in construction has become much stronger with increased global supply chain disruptions, increasing competition, labour shortage, and skyrocketing prices of materials.

High-tech machines have also transformed the construction industry. The Government should encourage adoption of newer technologies and give subsidy for systems that help facilitate recycling, skill development, easy finance, and so on.

Anand Sundaresan, Managing Director

What equipment sales do you envisage in 2023-24 considering the ongoing and upcoming big ticket infra projects and the elections in 2024, and what will be the emerging trends?
2023 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for construction. With technological advancements being made in the machines and the high demand for services, India’s construction equipment industry is only growing and is expected to register a three-time growth in the next 10 years. This growth will be supported by a strong pipeline of infrastructure projects across various sectors.

Emerging trends that directly impact the dynamics of the construction equipment industry are innovations, building and solidifying customer loyalty, employing a talented and dedicated workforce, acquiring other companies, effective marketing and communication, pricing products competitively, and reliable after-sales support.

Having mastered all these emerging trends, Ammann with their 150+ years of experience in the construction equipment industry, is well placed to increase their market share.

What are the company’s latest innovations and solutions?
Ammann has invested in India, which can become an international manufacturing hub. We have started exporting plants and machines from India as well. Our core competency lies in manufacturing asphalt and concrete batching plants, compactors, and pavers.

Expectations regarding high quality products and customer support has been increasing in both the domestic and export markets. With the strengthening of our Competence Centre, we, at Ammann, are focused on our core business. Besides that, we are increasing our manpower in line with business growth and customer needs.

Ammann India is affiliated with IESC and is working closely with NSDC - a Government of India initiative. We offer multi-level training programs for operators, foremen, and supervisors in our Ammann Academy, aimed at skill development and creating job opportunities.

We are confident that Ammann’s leading equipment technology and differentiated services will give us the impetus to grow and sustain our brand value for the long term.

Anand Sundaresan, Managing Director

Please elaborate on some of Ammann’s leading technology solutions.
Ammann has a strong focus on innovation, ecology, and cost-effective solutions. While retaining product leadership, Ammann continues to provide the following innovative solutions to all categories of customers involved in developing rural roads, municipal, SEZ, port connectivity roads, highways, expressways, airports etc.

Amdurit Wear Protection System: Amdurit®, a proprietary wear-protection system from the Ammann Group, is designed to provide up to three times the service life of wear-resistant steel and protect valuable machine parts and components. The wear-protection system results in savings on multiple fronts: for example, the components last longer, which translates to fewer replacements and therefore lower costs. In addition, plant owners also avoid the labor costs associated with replacement of components. When replacements are quick and easy, overall plant uptime is improved.

Ammlub Lubrication System: Proper lubrication of an asphalt plant can be a struggle as it often requires that technicians stretch and strain to reach extremely tight spaces; they also have to fight dust, dirt, and heat along the way. However, the Ammlub smart system automatically lubricates key points on plants; technicians do not have to access locations that make maintenance difficult, time consuming, and costly. Ammlub also ensures that lubricating is done on time and at regular intervals. The immediate benefit is fuel savings, which can be reduced by almost 10%, when all the parts and components are working harmoniously.

Elba Wear Protection (EWP): This is a complete wearing package with an excellent price : performance ratio. EWP protects parts and components and ultimately extends the life of plants. Benefits include reduced component costs because of extended life, reduced labor costs because of fewer replacements and repairs, quick and simple installation, less caking with mixer, discharge hopper and skip, and easy cleaning.

AS 1 Control system: Our powerful and future-oriented AS1 system combines the proven Ammann software with specially matched industrial hardware. The AS1 computing environment has been designed and tested for use in tough environments, enabling clear and intelligible visualization of the plant status in real-time. Complete plant status is available permanently at a glance.

Advanced features include fully automated mix production, plant optimization, breakdown diagnosis, remote maintenance, efficient troubleshooting by means of field-bus diagnostic tools, object-oriented event counter (e.g. hours, throughput, starts, etc), and remote maintenance access and diagnosis via Internet, etc.

What do Ammann’s differentiated customer support offerings include?
We believe that a customer’s success is Ammann’s success, so all our customer support offerings are fully tuned to this belief. We offer project consultancy and training since it is important to transfer knowledge to the customers so that they can make full use of our plants and machines. The training modules are comprehensive in nature and designed to suit the needs of operators, supervisors, and contractors.

Through its project consultancy services, Ammann joins hands with its customer to study their project proposal and suggest optimum products and solutions, so that the customer derives maximum benefits such as ontime completion, fuel savings, quality delivery, cost optimization, etc.

Ammann India has positioned 200+ engineers across India and close to their customer locations in order to minimize travel time and improve the response time. The company has a stock of spares at 13 different locations to expedite shipments so that the spares reach customer locations at the earliest. This significantly reduces machine downtime, enabling customers to give timely delivery of their projects.

Ammann India has set up an online platform for ordering of spares and services, while a hotline calling eases customer challenges, if any.

Other technology enabled features that differentiate Ammann’s after-market support offerings are real time data transfer, equipment to equipment communication, and digitalization.

Anand Sundaresan, Managing Director

The current hot topics in the CE industry across the world are: ‘way to zero emissions,’ ‘road to autonomous machines,’ ‘smart construction equipment with electrification & digitalization’ and ‘way towards alternative fuels like hydrogen’. Where do you see India’s CE industry stand in its efforts to adopt these trends?
Yes, the future of India’s construction equipment industry is exciting due to the continuous innovations and trends like :

Autonomous construction equipment: Imagine a fleet of equipment that can either be operated remotely, or without an operator at all. That day is coming!

Smart technology: The data that equipment is producing today is just scratching the surface of what’s possible. In the future, different machine components will be able to communicate with each other, further enhancing telematics and predictive systems.

Zero emission: Construction Equipment are the grunting, humming, beating heart of construction sites around the world. They consume large volumes of fossil fuels, very little of which is converted to productive work. Using diesel as the primary power source for vehicles and site power, has resulted in a large carbon footprint for the global construction industry. In fact, the construction industry accounts for a total of 20% of global energy-related carbon emissions.

The industry has reached a crossroads; however, fully electric construction vehicles are leading the way toward a zero-emissions construction future. Besides being good for the planet by improving energy efficiency, electrifying construction machinery also provides a great potential to reduce capital costs and raw material requirements.

What are the practices and technologies at your manufacturing plant and in your equipment to reduce wastage, preserve and recycle usable materials, and reduce or eliminate carbon emissions?
Ammann’s innovations are on, and the company plans to launch hybrid pavers, electric operated compaction equipment, and our asphalt and concrete plants are already electric operated.

We offer comprehensive recycling solutions to our customers. For example, the RAH100 dryer can produce mix from up to 100% RAP. The RAH60 is a parallel flow dryer where up to 60% hot recycled materials can be fed. The RAH50 is a middle-ring dryer that incorporates up to 40% recycled materials.

Recycling can also occur at Ammann Asphalt-Mixing Plants that do not employ these specific dryers. Up to 30% cold recycled material can go directly into the mixer, meaning any plant from Ammann is capable of utilizing this percentage of RAP.

Ensuring that RAP quality is optimized is crucial. Ammann’s RSS 120-M RAP recycling machine can produce up to 120 tons/hour when using milled cuttings in the feed or 80 tons/hour when using RAP in slab form. Weighing 35.5 tons and measuring 13m x 2.55m, the machine is easy to transport and quick to commission onsite. Its primary shredder features counter-rotation at speeds of just 10rpm; at this speed, lumps of RAP are broken up but without fracturing stones or generating fines. Furthermore, the bitumen coating around each piece of aggregate remains integral. A magnetic separator removes tramp iron or steel from the conveyor belt.

Mesh sizes on the screens can be selected to suit customer needs, with the machine producing two feed sizes. Oversize material can be fed to the secondary shredder and recirculated into the feed, or it can be used as sub-base.

Machine performance versus cost: can OEMs strike a balance between the two to attract buyers?
This parameter plays a pivotal role in attracting customers. Per ton cost and reliability play a major role as these are derivatives of plant performance. In asphalt plants, the fuel cost plays a major role, while the quality of mix and after-sales support are functions that attract customers to OEMs who focuses on these in spite of cheaper solutions.

Rental companies are feeling the heat with some OEMs entering the rental business; how do you look at this concern of the rental companies who are your major buyers or clients?
Plants and processing equipment like the asphalt plants will always be a challenge for rental companies foraying into this business, which is altogether a different ball game compared to other construction machines. Since these plants are the heart of a project, rental companies find it difficult to give assurance to the customer who might feel more confident with OEMs.

On the other hand, for construction machines, customers will get more benefits by renting from rental companies rather than from an OEM as they will get a better cost per ton analysis.

How is Ammann India addressesing the issue of skilled worker shortage?
No doubt, training operators is a pressing issue in the construction industry. Recruiting and retaining a fresh generation of talent is both challenging and costly.

Modern training tools like simulators are required to train people on the latest technology products. On the job training is necessary for optimum performance and safety of plants and machines. Introduction of new technologies bring challenges such as imparting the required skills to the workforce, operators, customers, etc. At Ammann India, we host training programs and conduct regular training sessions for our operators, customers, and other partners to keep them updated on the latest developments.
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