Rakesh Gandhi, Director, Express Equipment Rental & Logistics Pvt. Ltd., shares the reasons for growth in the crane rental market and why renting is more financially viable, and also the scope for growth amidst rising competition.
What is the fleet size and product portfolio of Express Equipment Rental & Logistics Pvt. Ltd.? What solutions is the company offering?
We have a fleet size of 50 + cranes ranging from 30MT to 450MT with total tonnage capacity of over 7200 tons. In addition, Express owns 200 + material handling equipment like Diesel & Electric Forklifts, Reach Trucks, Tow Trucks, Counterbalance Stackers, Battery Operated Pallet Trucks, Boom Lifts, Load All, etc.
With an experience of over 5 decades, Express is delivering comprehensive and efficient Heavy Lifting solutions and is today an industry leading solutions provider in lifting operations. Our focus is on safety, quality, and reliability of our equipment, employees, operations, and also our environment. Our aim is to give assured quality and timely services as per international standards to our customers.
Please tell us about your order book, average capacity utilization, profit margins, and what new growth avenues is the company exploring in FY21-22?
Disregarding the pandemic, Express Equipment Rental & Logistics Pvt. Ltd. has performed in a very streamlined manner with less than 10% breakdown annually. With the current fleet of Cranes and Material Handling Equipment, the average capacity utilization by Express is above 95%, and the profit margin is symmetrically advancing with marginal drops in profitability due to the current competitive market.
There are always some ideas for setting up new verticals within an industry; Express may be inclined towards exploring new horizons by starting an operator training institute where the young operators of tomorrow can get certified and gain the knowledge required to succeed in this industry.
Given the new projects sanctioned by the government for developing India, Express team is always at the forefront, seeking to provide services across all sectors. We keep on expanding our fleet by 5% by buying new equipment every year.
Successful and timely completion of works depends not only on hi-tech cranes but also on operator skill. What safety and skill development training is Express offering the operators?
Express Equipment Rental & Logistics Pvt. Ltd. has a very clear SOP in-house and onsite for a seamless approach towards any job with complete safety. Our operators go through a mandatory robust classroom as well as physical training for every new project. As high skill levels are directly proportional to one’s experience, Express operators are highly experienced to perform with unquestionable safety. In fact, we have a nearly zero accident record till date.
Our heavy capacity crane operators have almost 30 years of experience across all our equipment and are always eager to provide training to the younger aspirants and share their knowledge with them. In addition to our in-house training and courses, our operators and technicians are provided with the opportunity to get trained and certified with different licenses and skillsets at various reputed institutions and industries.
How are you ensuring Scalability, Maintainability and Reliability of your comprehensive fleet of cranes at project sites and what services and maintenance are you providing?
We have a centralized workshop at Vadodara in Gujarat, which is well equipped with all modern machineries and CNC machines to cater to emergency spares requirement. Our well-trained technicians are available 24x7 to attend to urgent problems. Our equipment is well maintained as per OEM standards. We have a strong workforce of operators, technicians and other ground staff who can also attend to any extra demand by our clients.
We get our equipment checked by OEM engineers over and above our internal checks. Technicians, Supervisors, and other team members are deputed to job sites to make sure that all the requirements of our customers are fulfilled. We even manage our equipment at remote locations by setting up a satellite office and store in the region.
Please tell us about a challenging project that was completed successfully with the help of Express equipment and its vast experience.
As one of the major equipment providers in India, Express has done many challenging projects, to name a few. Express is proud to be part of the ‘Statue of Unity’ project at Kevadia, Gujarat - the world’s tallest statue – where Express was one of the key service providers during Phase 1 by supplying a 220MT mobile telescopic crane at the location for a very critical lifting job. It was even more challenging as any damage/accident during the operation could result in a loss of crores of rupees. Our skilled operators and project engineers accomplished the job smoothly, resulting in the company getting state recognition. Since the Unity project was both time sensitive and with a restrictive budget, Express managed to provide the client with the best service operators who managed to complete the job in an efficient manner.
One of Express’s many challenging projects was the world’s tallest statue – the ‘Statue of Unity’ at Kevadia, Gujarat, where, as one of the key service providers during Phase 1, we supplied a 220MT mobile telescopic crane for a very critical heavy lifting job.
Another challenging project which was executed by Express was near Vadodara railway junction, where over bridge prefabricated steel girders 5 nos. having span of 32 mtr. & weighing 23 ton each were launched over 6 railway tracks connecting Delhi – Mumbai which is a major & busiest railway line in India, linking the national capital New Delhi with financial capital Mumbai. Launching & precise placement was supposed to be done in the time span of 5 hrs. block given by western railway officials, where Express executed the same in 2 hrs 30 min. time span.
How is your company strengthening its brand value across the country? Are you looking for strategic partnerships to enhance your scope of services?
Express has been a part of this industry for over five decades. Today, every major customer who requires heavy lifting/material handling services consults us. The name Express has become a recognized brand due to the hard work of our team members and their systematic management approach which focuses on providing exceptional end-to-end services with minimum equipment downtime.
Our brand value is always following an upward trend as our focus remains on maintaining our fleet along with exceptional customer service. Given our strong foundation, we are not looking for any partnerships in the near future, but as a part of a developing country, one can never ignore future opportunities. Our team is always ready to analyse future threats as well as opportunities in order to grow within this industry.
What is your view of the heavy lifting and logistics business in India, and the market for crane rentals?
Massive industrialization across the country is increasing the need for smart, high capacity lifting equipment. This is opening new avenues of development for the crane rental market in India. The high maintenance cost of the cranes is diverting customers to rental service providers, who are on a massive revamp mode. They are adapting local regulations to penetrate deeper into the market. Many companies, therefore, are preferring renting a crane in lieu of owning one.
Cranes are widely used for major industrial applications such as power plants and turbine installation. In India, the demand of crane rental is growing owing to the increasing number of infrastructure projects, which require erection and lifting. This growth is evident in the industrial as well as the core infrastructure sectors, with the result that rental companies are witnessing an upsurge in demand for medium and high-capacity cranes.
However, the spread of coronavirus caused a decline in 2020 revenue of the crane rental as several industries were temporarily shut down or had to slow down their activities. Demand by end-users for cranes rental started again when the lockdown ended, and they had to complete pending projects and give timely delivery.
Rapid increase in construction and government funding for infrastructure development and the focus on smart city development will offer lucrative opportunities for the crane rental market in the near future. India is expected to witness high growth in coming years so key rental players have to provide efficient services and offer advanced technology equipment. Express is one of India’s foremost companies that provides an extensive range of heavy lifting equipment on a rental basis.
How do you see India’s rental market of material handling equipment, especially the forklift, and what is your analysis of the technological advancements and the current trend of shifting from diesel to electric forklifts?
Looking at the Indian industry over the past few years, demand for material handling equipment across different industries is growing substantially. With the increase in e-commerce business, increase in warehouse rentals and utilization of maximum storage space, it has become necessary to use advanced techniques of handling equipment like forklifts, stackers and reach trucks. The industry is also seeing technological advancements such as high voltage batteries, modern drive systems and fast charging stations.
The need for smart, high capacity lifting equipment is opening new avenues of development for the crane rental market in India; in fact, rental service providers are on a massive revamp mode and are adapting local regulations to penetrate deeper into the market.
Electric forklifts perform better than internal combustion engine forklifts in many ways. Higher initial capital cost for an electric forklift can be recovered against higher fuel and maintenance costs. Electric forklifts produce zero smog emissions, so looking at the high levels of pollution all around, the industry is keen to shift from diesel forklifts to electric forklifts. Most electric forklifts can operate on a single battery charge for eight-hour shifts, and they are faster and more efficient than IC engine forklifts, in fact, in many applications they perform better by improving operational productivity. Also, electric forklifts give a quiet, emission-free, and vibration-free operation.
Nowadays, Lithium-ion compact batteries are becoming more popular than lead acid batteries as they are more efficient, providing approx. 10 times more working cycles, and are also environment-friendly.
What are the challenges in the crane rental market?
One of the major challenges that the industry is facing is to get skilled and qualified crane operators on board. To meet this demand, Express is providing extensive training programs, conducting workshops and seminars, which also aim at ensuring operational safety in order to reduce accidents and mishaps at jobsites.
Nowadays all businesses are becoming customer-centric. In this competitive market of crane rentals, you need to ensure equipment availability along with competitive rates. Having an in-depth understanding of client activities and requirements is going to be critical in delivering top-notch customer experience.
The age of equipment is another challenge as companies want younger equipment even if the older equipment is well maintained as per OEM standards. The major business challenge is to remain cost competitive, while at the same time offer improved technology solutions to the customers in a dynamic business environment.
Keeping in mind the current economic scenario and increase in equipment price with the implementation of BS IV emission norms, hike in steel price, and other inflationary factors, is there a need for a conscious deliberation on buying versus renting cranes? How can rental companies, taking this as an opportunity, impress upon project owners/contractors the benefits of renting cranes and increase their profitability thereon?
To procure a new crane/equipment, one needs an upfront capital. As a vendor/service provider, it is always a tough decision when it comes to investing in an equipment. The major challenge is to understand the market for that particular equipment, especially when there is an interest accumulating on it. If the ROI of the equipment is higher than the EMIs, interest, and has the potential to draw high profits in the coming years, it is always a good option as a vendor to increase the fleet and stay ahead in the business.
On the other hand, customers will always consider renting a crane/equipment versus investing in one. The major reason is the after-sales maintenance of a heavy machinery. Express with its 50+ years of experience still faces new challenges in equipment maintenance, then how can a raw project owner/contractor handle breakdowns and the need for frequent servicing.
The other advantage of renting over buying is that the customer need not worry about operator training and securing licenses with regular addition to their payroll. A service provider supplies the equipment along with a highly skilled operator to manage the project as well as the machinery.
Another advantage is the inventory expenses. The project owner/contractor need not worry about securing spares and tools for the equipment as this falls within the rental provider’s scope of work. Lastly, the client can focus completely on the project operations without having to worry about the movement of materials, which is the responsibility of the service provider.