ElectroMech: Bright Outlook for Indian Crane Industry

Tushar Mehendale
The future of the Indian crane industry looks bright as cranes will always be in demand in all sectors, be it construction, infrastructure, automobile, power, railways, shipbuilding, etc. We are proud to own India's largest state-of-the-art manufacturing facility located in Pune for manufacturing industrial cranes. We have efficient processes and manufacturing techniques in place that help us deliver consistent quality and safety in our product offerings. This also in turn helps us ensure reliability and peace of mind for our customers. Our products employ various features to enhance the overall safety in operations, such as anti collision devices, 2 stage limit switches, radio remote controls etc. At bC India, ElectroMech will introduce a new tower crane model, says Mr. Tushar Mehendale, Managing Director, ElectroMech, in an interview with S.A.Faridi.

The year gone by has seen lot of developments in crane market, with new players entering into the stream and old players fine- tuning their cranes business/market models due to slowdown on one hand and demand coming from newer application area on other hand. Please let us have your overview of developments in crane market, its growth and further prospects.
With global majors from the crane manufacturing sector entering into India and providing world class products through their Indian partners and suppliers, Indian crane companies have realized the urgency of upgrading their products as per the international standards. A lot of companies have also realized that to ensure customer satisfaction, they need to customize equipment to suit the end user's requirement.

The Indian crane industry has seen various innovations and developments in the past few years. One of the best examples of this is that a lot of companies have started using direct drive motors for long travel of the crane, which drive each wheel separately instead of the traditional central drive motor with drive shafts connecting to the wheels. This specialized arrangement is a good replacement for long shafts as well as couplings that could result into misplacement in the system as well as natural inefficiencies in transmitting power.

One recent development in the Indian crane industry in case of hydel power projects has been the introduction of special purpose cranes which can help in rapid removal of overburden from tunneling or shaft excavation. ElectroMech's unique high speed, high lift tunnel mucking system is the most apt solution for such projects. These specialized cranes are useful for hydel power projects which require surge shaft excavation. In case of water infrastructure ElectroMech's unique tunnel mucking system has proved to be an innovation in various water projects. The recent installations for the Mumbai water supply project involved ElectroMech's tunnel mucking crane under the government's Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). This project helped ElectroMech indirectly play a crucial role in BMC's ambitious 24x7 water supply project. ElectroMech was recently awarded the prestigious Manufacturing Today Award for excellence in innovation for this solution.

ElectroMech Tunnel Mucking Crane

The future for the Indian crane industry looks bright as cranes will always be in demand in all the sectors, be it construction, infrastructure, automobile, power, railways, shipbuilding, etc.

The Infrastructure and Construction sector since the beginning has played a major role for the growth of crane industry in India. The Indian government's recent announcement of investing $ 1 trillion in Indian Infrastructure will help in giving the much needed boost required for the growth of the crane industry. Moreover, if the government encourages the private sector to invest in infrastructure projects it will help to raise funds for investment.

With an expected rise in infrastructure projects in the coming year, there will be a rise in demand from different industry verticals such as power, real estate, steel, cement, etc. along with allied industries. For example, Infrastructure sector will require Gantry cranes for precast segment yards and bridge constructions. In Steel industry, cranes are used for applications like hot metal handling, ingot/billet handling, coil yards, cut-to-length lines, steel stock yards, forge shops and foundries while in the case of automobile industry, cranes are used for lifting and material handling purposes at machine shops and assembly lines.

Similarly, in the case of railways, coach-building factory requires handling of various massive parts at multiple locations. Hoists and cranes are highly reliable in load handling and integrated material flow as per the requirements in these huge plants. Steel yard, raw material stores, forge shops, assembly lines, machine shops, etc require different cranes for a variety of applications.

Shipbuilding sector also requires cranes for handling different amounts of loads in various processes like construction of huge liners, ships as well as small vessels. Steel stock yards, assembly stations, dry docks all these places require cranes.

There has been a rising demand for cranes by the power and real estate sector too. With government supporting various several power sector projects, the power sector has started showing interest in specialized cranes for its diverse material handling needs. Windmill manufacturers and transformer manufacturers demand cranes that cater up to a capacity of 250 MT.

In case of the real estate sector, the adoption of tower cranes is on the rise with an increase in high-rise projects in metros as well as tier-II cities. Builders and developers are seeing the advantages of using tower cranes instead of scaffolding in their projects and demand from this sector is sure to increase. Larger tower cranes will also be in demand from power projects, cement plants etc.

As discussed above, it is foreseen that different sectors require a range of cranes for a variety of applications thus presenting the Indian crane industry with viable and potent opportunities. These industries have made available to the Indian crane segment significant future prospects to grow and prosper in the years to come.

In previous years, you forged tie-up with Shuttlelift of the US and ABUS of Germany, which were very much in line of your core business but your recent tie-up with Zoomlion has diversified you from your core business; what is the strategy behind this?
We at ElectroMech have always focused and emphasized on providing our customers with world class products and services. Keeping in line with the same, we have collaborated with global brands from all over the world. This can be seen with our tie-ups with global companies like ABUS Crane Systems and Stahl CraneSystems of Germany to provide the Indian user with products with advanced features to make processes easy and efficient.

After a lot of research we realized that for the real estate sector, tower cranes are the need of the hour. To cater to this need, we collaborated with Zoomlion from China, the global leaders in tower crane segment. This unique collaboration has given us the opportunity to be one of the first Indian companies to provide the Indian industry with a superior range of tower cranes. These cranes would be manufactured at our Pune facility and provided to customers all across the country. We will manufacture, sell and service Zoomlion's entire range of tower cranes in India. This is an excellent chance to help us penetrate the real estate sector in India as well as indirectly play a vital role in most of the real estate projects.

Higher capacity tower cranes are also required for infrastructure projects, power plants, construction of dams, stadiums etc. While the product is a step away from our core business, ElectroMech is no stranger to these sorts of projects. Many of our clients are from the infrastructure and construction segment and are users of tower cranes; these clients will now be able to buy one more product from a trusted supplier. The Zoomlion range of tower cranes caters to the higher capacity requirement of these industries as well with a product range going up to 240 tons.

ElectroMech Tunnel Mucking System

Based on your alliance with Zoomlion, when would your company start manufacturing and marketing of Zoomlion Tower Cranes? What are the technical attributes and USPs?
We are already marketing and selling Zoomlion's tower cranes in India whereas the production is going to start soon.

We will be offering a wide range of tower cranes for different industries as per their varying needs. These cranes are well designed, smart and easy to use which come along with sophisticated PLC control system.

We have different models that cater separately to various industries such as Building Construction, Industrial and Heavy Construction, Cement, Steel & Power Plants, etc.

These cranes are fully loaded with many advanced features that make this range safe and efficient at the same time. Like they are equipped with a parameter monitoring system that ensures all movements remain within the safe programmed limits. The number of rope falls on the crane hook can be changed automatically in a short time. This enables handling of heavier loads at low speed and lighter loads at high speed with the same crane, thus enhancing productivity at the construction site. Modular connections of the counter jib to the slewing module ensure quick assembly and disassembly, saving time and effort.

These cranes also come in a wide selection to meet different needs. For example, the unwinding rope sheave is coupled with a high diameter cable drum to optimize rope life. The use of pole changing motors or inverters to regulate speed ensures maximum stability during starts, braking and gear shifting by minimizing surges in electrical current. Pole changing motors and inverters allow a choice of hoisting speeds for efficient load handling, minimize impact during derricking and ensure smooth slewing.

This superior range of tower cranes is well designed, smart and easy to use. For example, square steel tube construction can withstand higher stresses and ensure ease of maintenance. The cranes also come with operator access package designed for improved ergonomics. 3-sided platform ensures ease of jacking operation. It also comes with a unique ‘Space capsule' operator cabin that not only looks great but also provides the operator a wider field of vision.

These cranes also come with outstanding control system i.e. Sophisticated PLC control systems that minimize electrical circuit complexity and lead to efficient control. With this range, it is possible to have all motions driven through inverters for smooth and well controlled operations. This process minimizes the impact on movable parts, structural framework and the electrical network. The electrical control cabinet comes with simple, logical set up and yet can withstand the most hostile site conditions. The electrical items used in the cranes have been sourced out from established global brands thus leaving no room for error.

In view of fast technological developments taking place in the manufacture of cranes; do you think that the present Code and the specifications need review so as to be line with the advances taking place in this segment?
Why not? Every field needs to upgrade itself with changing times, ours is no exception. It has always been the scene that even with the huge amount of investments involved in crane manufacturing it lacks skilled manpower. This in turn acts disadvantageous for a lot of Indian crane manufacturers as they face issues when it comes to proper handling of equipment. If these issues are reviewed and addressed at hand, companies will gain through optimum utilization of any equipment.

The Indian crane sector is extremely conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies and products. A few Indian companies have in the past tried to introduce technologically advanced products to the Indian market however this requires research and ultimately high investments. This as a result increases the product cost thus acting as a major drawback in the price-sensitive Indian market.

Apart from all these, most of the PSU tenders and several consultants are unable to match up to the developments in the international crane industry. Low priced bids end up receiving preference over ones which offer better features even though they may be beneficial in the long run. A bid that provides the bare minimum in terms of technical specifications will be preferred due to the low incurred cost. Since bidders are evaluated at the same level as per the specifications of the tender, the advanced technology available in the market would not make it through the inflexible and outdated tender specification. This ultimately might result in the bidder being technically disqualified.

Furthermore, talking about code and specifications, I think they certainly need to be reviewed if we want to attain substantial quality standards. By being so inflexible on adopting newer technologies, we are in a way compromising on the quality of work, product and the services to our customers. It is also saddening to see that even basic safety measures are not being taken care of which might result in endangering the lives of employees.

What are the inbuilt safety features placed in your crane products, and is customer ready to pay the premium for advanced safety features? How would you like to sensitize safety and cost benefits to the users?
Safety and cost are two aspects that should go hand in hand to ensure success in the long run. In such a highly fragmented market such as ours, competitiveness is the key to success. As a part of our strategy, we follow and ensure the same.

We are proud to own India's largest state-of-the-art manufacturing facility located in Pune for manufacturing industrial cranes. We have efficient processes and manufacturing techniques in place that help us deliver consistent quality and safety in our product offerings. This also in turn helps us ensure reliability and peace of mind for our customers.

Our in house design and development department is constantly working towards upgrading our products while also adapting to the changing trends in the industry to provide safe and reliable equipment to all our clients. Our products employ various features to enhance the overall safety in operations, such as anti collision devices, 2 stage limit switches, radio remote controls etc.

In the long run, the advanced yet reliable equipment are bound to profit our customers due to higher product life.

A word about the training of personnel handling new/old machines so that the machines can be operated at their desired operational level.
We at ElectroMech emphasize on the fact that learning and acquiring new skills will help combat the challenge of skilled manpower. To train our employees for efficient handling of equipment to attain maximum product life, we conduct a series of training programs. Some of these are:
  • Crane Engineering training for newly appointed team members especially the in-Design and Sales team.
  • Welding machines operations training for staff and operators by experts from ESAB India Ltd.
  • QMS Internal auditors' training
  • Basic training program in fire, safety and first-aid
After the successful completion of the courses, our employees are handed over with achievement certificates.

Our service subsidiary, Cranedge (www.cranedge.com) conducts operator training courses for all kinds of EOT cranes which ensures that the equipment is operated correctly, to enhance reliability and its life.

How do you see the overall market of EOT cranes in India, and how does your products range in this segment enjoy a competitive edge over others? What is the percentage of the market share your company commands in this segment and steps at hand to increase your market share in view of its demand in the emerging pre-fabrication and real estate business?
EOT Cranes
The industrial cranes market in India is highly fragmented. In our estimate, we peg the industrial cranes market in India to be in the region of Rs.2200 - Rs.2500 crores per annum. Interestingly, almost 30% of the demand comes from government-owned companies and the remaining 70% from the private sector. The private sector is the most vibrant part of the Indian economy and growing at a sustained pace and willing to adopt newer technologies much earlier. If we divide this sector region-wise in terms of quantities, Western India contributes 50-55% of the total requirement, while Southern India follows with 20-25%, Northern India with 15-20%, and Eastern India with 5-10%.

Over 40% of the total market is captured by a handful of reputed names in the organized sector while the rest of the market is shared by an excess of 250 small crane companies.

We enjoy the advantage for being the pioneers in India for introducing the assembly line technique of manufacturing for EOT cranes. This helps us ensure we have the capacity to meet the present demand and understand future demand from the industry. This also allows us in meeting delivery commitments consistently even if it has the most critical project time lines. Also as I have stressed before, we constantly work towards upgrading our products and adapting to the changing trends in the industry thus helping us stay ahead in the market.

Coming to the real estate sector, as mentioned earlier, we entered into a joint venture with Zoomlion to manufacture, sell and service their range of tower cranes in india. This unique association will help us cater to the rising requirements of the real estate sector.

The Tower cranes market is in a fairly nascent stage in India when compared to adoption in more developed markets. However, this scenario is rapidly changing and the tower cranes market is expected to grow at 20% annually over the next few years. The real estate sector itself has seen a paradigm shift over the past decade with modern techniques of construction becoming more common across the sector. Not only metros, but tier II towns are witnessing previously unseen levels of development and the skylines of cities like Mumbai and Delhi are rapidly changing with skyscrapers becoming the norm. This isn't surprising, given escalating land prices and Cushman & Wakefield's estimate of the shortfall in residential units from seven major cities alone touching 1.3 million. With these changes comes the demand for quicker time to market for projects, which is pushing the demand for related equipment. Mumbai alone accounts for approximately 70%-80% of the demand for new tower cranes and this is expected to grow.

What are your plans to participate in the second edition of bC India in Mumbai this month? What are the new products and services expected to be launched at this mega event?
ElectroMech will showcase its gantry cranes which are extensively deployed in infrastructure and construction projects. bC India is the ideal platform to showcase our innovative high speed high lift tunnel mucking system that has been specifically developed for this industry. This unique crane by ElectroMech also recently received the prestigious Manufacturing Today award for excellence in innovation.

Our joint venture partners, Zoomlion is going to accompany us to the event wherein it will showcase its range of tower cranes that we will manufacture in India. Zoomlion is amongst the top 7 construction equipment manufacturers in the world. It also happens to be the global leader in tower cranes.

bC India will also see ElectroMech introducing a new tower crane model. This special crane has been designed to suit the requirements of the Indian real estate construction sector and it will be in focus at the show!
NBMCW February 2013
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