Excon is a Key Enabler in Bringing the World-Class Technology to India

Vipin Sondhi, Chairman Excon
"Excon has emerged as a platform where every manufacturer (global as well as domestic) exhibits their breakthrough products. The show offers an opportunity to the Exhibitors to connect with the end users, understand their business needs and develop world-class machinery. Excon is not just about product launches but it is also a platform where Component manufacturers get to showcase their technology to the rest of the world. Hence, this Exhibition is an ideal forum to bring together businesses, customers, government bodies, and investors to showcase, inspire, and share products and solutions that will drive infrastructure growth," affirms Mr. Vipin Sondhi, Chairman, Excon in an interview with S.A.Faridi.

The last 2-3 winters following Excon have been very frosty for the construction equipment sector. With green shoots being given by the government to boost infrastructure sector, do you think these strategic intents and the forthcoming edition of Excon, will break the winter gloom and usher into a spring for the CE sector and degrowth phase could bottom out in early 2016?
As you rightly pointed out, the last three years have been a period of decline for the infrastructure sector. However, now there is complete agreement on the urgency and importance of sustained focus on infrastructure. In the last one year, our Government has taken some decisive and bold steps towards stabilising the economic scenario of India. The primary aim was to control the macros to be able to build a successful Economy, which are mainly:
  1. Inflation
  2. Foreign Exchange Rates
  3. Fuel Prices
  4. Interest Rates
  5. Foreign Policy to attract Investments
We believe that a lot of background work has been done to get to a position of consolidation. Overall, the degrowth in the industry has bottomed out. It is more a question of when, than if, and those ready for it will ride the wave.

I believe in the immediate short-term, as an industry, we will have to focus on the basics – of managing our businesses well and be ready with innovative products, people and capacity.

Excon provides a fantastic opportunity to manufacturers and leading brands to come and be part of the promising business environment in India.

Could you please give us an overview of preparations going on and response to this mega event in terms of its participants' profile, increase in exhibition space for the participating national and international companies, expected number of visitors, the number of country pavilions etc?
An event of the size and magnitude of Excon requires multi-level coordination over a sustained period of time. For Excon 2015, the preparations are in full swing. We have applied a multi-directional approach to generate response through a focused communication networking and this time, we expect over 35,000 business visitors at the event.

Spread in 2,00,000 sq.mt. (Gross Exhibition Area), Excon 2015 expects participation from more than 20 countries with German, China, UK, Turkey, Finland, Italy, and South Korea participating with us as pavilions.

India is becoming a manufacturing hub as its products are making a mark in overseas countries. What are the measures to attract more and more overseas quality visitors especially from South East Asia and African countries?
There are multiple measures taken to attract focused buyers from all over India and international markets. The visitor promotion campaign is in full swing and some of the specific activities include reaching out to International Associations like VDMA, Germany, Confindustria Modena, Italy, UNACEA–Italy, IMDER–Turkey, ANMOPYC–Spain, KOCEMA–South Korea and CCPIT–China.

We have also devised a communication campaign specifically targeting geographies like SAARC, ASIAN, and Africa. CII has 232 MoU partners across the world and we collaborate with our MoU partners in these countries to promote the event.

We have also tied up with international publications like African Review – UK, Trade link Media – Singapore, CPI – World Wide – Germany, Euroasia Industry – UK, Cranes Today – UK, Plant & Equipment – UAE, Mining Media – Russia and Technical Review – UAE to ensure that all the information about the event reaches to our audience in these countries.

Excon 2015

What is the main theme of this year mega event? Also please brief us about the other related conferences and programme coinciding with Excon 2015 making it learning and visiting experience for all the participants.
Excon 2015 is themed around - "Build India - Invest in Development, A Shared Responsibility". It primarily reiterates industry's role and responsibility as a partner in national development. The focus is on four key enablers: Facilitating Growth and Competitiveness, Promoting Infrastructure Investments, Developing Human Capital, and Encouraging Social Development.

On the sidelines, Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association (iCEMA) is organising a two day conference around - Rebooting Infrastructure. Following the principal theme of Excon, the conference will focus on infrastructure development and industry growth, market opportunities, urban infrastructure, irrigation, etc.

Multiple other conferences will also be organised covering topics like - bottlenecks in project execution and regulatory policies, ECE financing, Skill & Manpower Development, Smart City et al.

For an international show like Excon, support of local agencies are very essential to beef up security arrangements, smooth regulation of traffic flow, safe and effective transportation, accommodation, reservations, etc. How is the organizer garnering support from the local agencies to ensure hassle free experience for the exhibitors and visitors?
The government of Karnataka is the partner state of the event and we have their full support with regards to the organization of this mega event. Work is in progress to ensure that all security arrangements are as per the regulation.

Even in the past editions of Excon, the Government of Karnataka has always extended their full support to this prestigious event. As usual, this time as well, we are already in touch with the local administration to make this event a success.

What policy challenges do you see in the way of CE sector to perform effectively and contribute to government flagship programme 'Make in India'?
It is imperative to mention here that the Government has taken the right steps towards improving the sentiment. However, the land acquisition bill continues to be a great opportunity for the industry's revival.

Rationalisation of direct tax regime with low rates and minimum exemptions, seen as a major initiative to ensure compliance, also remains an eagerly awaited deliverable.

In addition to these, the present PPP model has significant scope of improvement - the promised institution could be set up fast to remove impediments, notably the rigidity of contractual terms, and carving out of mechanisms for early redressal of disputes.

We are extremely hopeful that this Government will continue to work in the right direction and programs such as Make in India will prove to be catalyst in the growth of countries.

Excon 2015 is taking place at a time when the national and international companies are both ecstatic as well wary of their participation. No doubt, there has been an overwhelming response. However, would you like to sensitize those sitting on the fence about the huge business opportunities awaiting for them in the highway equipment sector as government plans to award highway contracts for 20,000 km of NHDP worth $45 billion in the next 3 years?
Tremendous scope for business exists in India, which is the 10th largest economy of the world in terms of market exchange rate and third largest on count of Purchasing Power Parity. India is rapidly surging ahead on the global economic front and thus brandishes great business opportunities in all sectors.

Our urban population is larger than the entire United States, and is second only to China's. It is clear that this urban population will continue to grow. So, to meet the challenges of this inevitable and rapid urbanization, India needs well-performing cities wherein the integrated infrastructure development will be the key.

Roads and Highways sector presents enormous business opportunities in India. Apart from the ambitious target of building 20,000 km of roads under NHDP at 30 km a day, the Government further plans to offer contracts for nine road projects, with a cumulative length of 895 km and project cost of Rs.17,815 crore, another ambitious Rs.4,000 crore 'Metrino' public transport project will soon hit the ground, 100 smart cities project is already underway.

Road sector is one of the major growth drivers for the infrastructure sector in India – so much so the budgetary allocation for FY16 has also been increased by a staggering 125%.

Given the investments planned, highway equipment sector is bound to see growth in the coming years.
As the Chairman of Excon for a long time, would you please highlight the contribution of Excon series of CE mega events from 2000 to 2015 in improving the technological, managerial and business status of the Indian CE sector enabling it to be an important manufacturing hub for many parts of the world?
Excon has been a key enabler in bringing the world class technology to India. It has emerged as a platform where every manufacturer (global as well as domestic) exhibits their breakthrough products. However, the show is not just about product launches. It is also a platform where Component manufacturers get to showcase their technology to the rest of the world.

Hence, this Exhibition is an ideal forum to bring together businesses, customers, government bodies, and investors to showcase, inspire, and share products and solutions that would drive the infrastructure growth.

Exhibitors and visitors also stand to benefit from the countless networking opportunities it offers. Today, almost all global players are operating in the Indian Construction Equipment industry and Excon offers them an opportunity to connect with the end user, understand their business needs and develop world class machinery.

With these credentials at hand, don't you think that Excon mega event should also move to other important parts of South Asia to deepen Indian CE Industry's technical and business image?
The ever changing dynamics of this industry demand new formats and platforms to connect with our customers and explore business opportunities. As a first step, we organised a three day exhibition – ConMac 2015 which is an Excon show (from 26th– 28th February 2015) in Guwahati, India. The objective was to explore the business potential in that area and also to create a platform for the industry to connect with their end customers.

As we go along, we would like to explore other markets with promising growth potential. It is certainly a part of our long-term strategy.
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