“What gives us an edge over the competitors is our high-capacity hydraulic press – the unique and most suitable fly-ash brick making technology, which works on powder compacting philosophy,”

R V Panchal




says Mr. R. V. Panchal, Managing Director, Neptune Group, in an interview with Syed E. Hasan.



Neptune Industries is recognised as one of the fastest growing engineering enterprises in India. Could you please briefly highlight the milestones and journey of the group, which enabled it to reach to the present stature?
Neptune Industries is a leading project engineering and manufacturing company delivering turnkey project solutions to various industry segments since the time of its inception way back in 1992, when we established it as a partnership firm and delivered our first project to heavy clay industry. From then onward, there is no looking back as we continuously kept adding to our portfolio of solutions almost every second year. In 1994, we delivered our first project in sanitaryware industry, followed by catering to the needs of particle board plant to overseas markets in 1996.

It was in 1998, that we pronounced our entry in the burgeoning construction industry with the start of fly ash technology program, and delivered a brick plant to NTPC. In the year 2000, we expanded our manufacturing capacity to 6,000 square meter and marked our entry in to extruder market. Going forward, we added solutions for insulator market, waste recycling machinery, and moved further ahead to tap the opportunities in growth areas like solar panels in 2008.

Today, we have fully automated plant backed by the manpower strength of over 250 employees including 35 engineers. Till date we have supplied over 250 fly-ash brick making plants to our customers in India and abroad. We have recently installed our largest brick-making plant with capacity to manufacture 2,00,000 brick per day at JSPL, which is first-of-its-kind.

What are the Group's major business areas, driving company's growth?
We at, Neptune Industries, offer world-class designs, concepts, and technologies for various industries, all with indigenous and economically-viable solutions, followed by the best quality service and timely delivery to provide our clients with the much needed satisfaction. All credit goes to Late Shri Vasantray Panchal, who - belonging to a 100-year old experienced Blacksmith family, envisioned the engineering skills concealed in the then artisans, which ultimately has made Neptune ready to grow in to global business model. We are trying to emulate this further to touch upon new horizons in the field of high-technology fly-ash brick and ceramic products making plants.

When it comes to major business areas at Neptune, we have two main verticals as building materials & construction (BMC) and sanitaryware/ceramic industry, with both contributing almost equally to the company's growth and revenue generation. However, what gives us an edge over the competitors is our high-capacity hydraulic press – the unique and most suitable fly-ash brick making technology, which works on powder compacting philosophy.

Please tell us about the state-of-the-art plant, its capacities and engineering capabilities that help to produce quality building materials and concrete products.
Neptune Higher Capacity Powder Compacting Press
As of now Neptune has its manufacturing facilities at 5 locations comprising 75,000 sq.mt. Our emphasis on quality management systems has enabled us to become a reliable and trusted global sourcing partner from India for a number of our clients within and outside the country. Providing engineering solutions to various companies, we, at Neptune, have learnt that it's hard to meet customers' requirements in mature markets such as those of Japan, Europe, USA, and Australia, unless research and development (R&D) activities are set beyond the issues of cost or sustainable mark-ups, to focus on a variety of product innovation criteria. It is all because of our engineering capabilities that after practicing various techniques and in turn gaining lots of experience, we are able to set new benchmarks in terms of R&D to provide desired solutions to our clients.

Going further, design is an essential part of innovation. Our design centre enables us to provide detailed engineering graphics, which include computerized models of the product. If required we can also provide them with 3D-modelling and also the simulation of the product. Currently, projects are developed using Autodesk AutoCAD software, followed by solid works. However, we have the capability to work with Catia, Pro-E, and other designing programs.

What are the advantages of using fly-ash bricks/blocks, which translate in to long-lasting benefits? What, according to you, are the reasons behind the late acceptance of fly-ash bricks/blocks despite several advantages over conventional bricks?
India is a huge country and getting people convinced on environmental issues will take some time. However, quite a few stakeholders have now been persuaded to replace the conventional red clay bricks with an alternative material to sustain the environment. Meanwhile, there are a few deterrents hindering the growth of this alternative sustainable material due to its non-availability following its high price.

It's a proven fact that unlike red clay bricks, Fly ash bricks strictly follow the BIS standards, and hence, are reliable and sustainable. There are following few main advantages of fly-ash bricks:
  • Fly-ash bricks are light weight material compared to clay bricks, so it is suitable for multi storey building as less weight means less stress on building, thus safety is assured.
  • Fly ash bricks absorb less heat than normal bricks. It keeps the building cool even in summer, hence, most suitable for Indian conditions.
  • It saves on mortar as its uniform even shape, owing to it being machine-made, doesn't require even any plastering in case it is used for making compound wall or godowns.
  • High compressive strength compared to normal bricks saves on wastages during transport.
  • Less porous, absorbs very little water, whereas burnt clay bricks absorbs more water during construction. Thus, saves water during construction and even keeps the building strong during rainy season.
What proactive government supports, policies and incentives are needed to help spread this sustainable building material in order to reap its considerable benefits?
Neptune PRESS WITH BRICKS
The government is already active on this front. And the testimony of the fact is that the radius of local building materials has been increased recently from 100 km to 500 km. Meanwhile, in many areas/regions of the country, mining licenses have been ceased to extend to put a cap on the manufacturing of red clay bricks, which is a positive step in this direction. Going forward, we do expect that a few utility companies, like NTPC, would come forward to setup their own brick manufacturing plant. Recently, we have supplied a huge such plant to NTPC. Similarly, the production of fly-ash bricks can be incentivised to give it the needed push.

Please share a few words on your turnkey solutions and marketing services. What are Neptune's strategies to consolidate its position to stay ahead in the current competitive business environment?
As Neptune concentrates on complete solution from generating manufacturing idea to real commercial production - concept to commissioning - on turnkey-based management with performance guarantee, we constantly keep ourselves positioning in the market with the help of innovation. This needs us to make R&D a continuous exercise at Neptune as each of our solution is unique from the project perspective and in the process, leads us to set our benchmark at a higher level. For its clients, Neptune plays a very important role in bringing the latest technology at cost-effective proposition as a forward looking and innovative engineering partner.
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