"We are very pleased with the levels of demand we're seeing in India for our cranes," says Raman Joshi, managing director of Manitowoc India. "We have increased our production and taken on more staff at our Pune factory, to ensure we meet customers needs in terms of output. At the same time, our program of continuous improvement means we're seeing rising quality which translates to better productivity for our customers on the job site. Meeting deadlines is critical for our clients and they understand that having an efficient tower crane is central to the success of any modern day project."
The past year has seen these cranes appear on dozens of projects across India. On one major highrise project in Kokapet, Hyderabad, six cranes are working on a residential project for Power Grid Corporation.
Tempus Infra Projects, which owns the cranes and is the main contractor on the job, has worked with Potain cranes for years so understands the quality benefits the cranes bring. "We had to use them on this project to meet the deadlines," says A. Shivashankar, senior manager of plant and machinery for Tempus. "Potain cranes have reliable operating systems, excellent slewing, hoisting and trolleying mechanisms, and strong rigid construction."
Meanwhile in Kolkata, Mani Group installed one MCi 85 A on the 20-story Tirumani development and another on the 24-story Manikala project. Partha Roy Chowdhury, senior mechanical manager at Mani Group, also had good things to say about the MCi 85 A, highlighting them as "safe, operator-friendly and technically sound."
Producing MCi 85 A cranes for projects throughout India, Manitowoc's Pune factory has also introduced a new tower crane in the past 12 months, the MC 125. This 6t capacity crane can work with jibs of up to 60m and can still lift 1.15t at the jib end. As with many new Manitowoc products, getting the crane ready to work has been made easier.
Crane assembly is improved by several design innovations including a single-tie jib which can be assembled at ground level and lifted in a single piece. The 1.6m x 1.6m mast sections are pin-connected for safe and quick erection while other components are designed for lightweight handling or removal.
Also from the Pune factory, and another crane popular with customers in India is the MC 205 B, a 10t capacity crane with a 60 m maximum jib and an ability to lift 2.4t at the jib end. Contracting giant Larsen and Toubro, India's largest engineering and construction company owns a large number of Potain tower cranes, including several MC 205 B cranes. Interestingly, it has converted six of these cranes to be able to climb floors. The company was the first in India to do this, and it allows them to increase the working height of the cranes as building work progresses.
Since L&T used the MC 205 B cranes for climbing, others have followed suit. India Bulls Real Estate, a Mumbai-based property firm has recently purchased eight MC 205 B cranes. After studying options from several manufacturers, the company selected Manitowoc as it was the only supplier with the correct cranes and product support India Bulls wanted.
It is using the eight MC 205 B cranes on a highrise development featuring 3 towers, with two towers each using two cranes and the third using four cranes. Working heights on these towers will require the cranes to climb up to 270m. "It was good to see the strength of Potain on this project," said Sumit Bhat, general manager of India Bulls Real Estate. "Their approach was that they were selling a solution to a problem. So far the cranes have worked really well."
Other customers looking for solutions to tricky problems are also looking to Potain. Tricon Infra, a construction company with good experience of Potain top-slewing cranes looked to a different solution when it had to build a cinema on the roof of a shopping mall in Pune, western India. With no space or time to erect a regular tower crane, Tricon Infra purchased the first Potain self-erecting crane in India and used that to great effect.
Like Igo self-erecting cranes, Potain manufactures a range of high capacity tower cranes at its factories outside India. These are used for infrastructure and large industrial projects and are called Special Application Cranes. The most popular model in this range is the MD 1100. These cranes are also popular in India and in fact the largest single fleet of MD 1100 cranes in the world belongs to, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, one of India's most prominent civil and industrial engineering companies.
The company uses the cranes for assembly work at cement plants or on pre-heater buildings. In the past year, the company put three of the giant cranes, whose capacity can range upto 50t, to work installing boilers and captive power plants in Uttar Pradesh, Churke and Dhalla.
And it's not just large Potain tower cranes that are helping customers in India on major infrastructure and industrial projects. Crawler cranes from Manitowoc remain popular and again, engineering giant L&T is a major user - and also a long-running one. "We bought the first Manitowoc crawler crane in India back in 1980," says N. Srinivasan, head of plant and machinery at the company. "We still have that crane today, and it's working for Tata Steel in Jamshedpur."
"Overall, Manitowoc crawler cranes are reliable, and they give us very few problems," says M. Govindasamy, head of plant and machinery for MMHIC. "They are user-friendly and easy to rig and de-rig."
Crawler cranes from Manitowoc also have a reputation for their ability to tackle popular challenges. With this in mind, the company introduced a wind attachment for its Manitowoc 16000 crane and the first of these in India has gone to Amrik Singh & Sons Crane Services Pvt Ltd. The company is familiar with Manitowoc cranes, as it currently has 20 Krupp all-terrain cranes (a brand acquired by Grove in 1995), including a Krupp 500 GMT, a 550t unit. But the 400t capacity 16000 is its largest new crawler crane - and also its first Manitowoc.
Amrik Singh purchased the crane through TIL Limited, Manitowoc's crawler crane and mobile crane dealer for India. The crane arrived in the middle of this year and has since worked on the huge 100 MW project in Jasdan, near Rajkot, Gujarat. There are more than 50 turbines of 2.1 MW to place on the project, each taking between two and three days to assemble at every location. The crane is helping with most of the assembly duties, including lifting the 85t nacelles on to towers of 80 m.
Gurvinder Singh, a director at Amrik Singh, says there was more to consider with the 16000 than just its lift ability.
"We did a lot of research on what we needed from a crane," he said. "Even though the 16000 had a little more capacity than we were looking for, we decided it was a worthwhile investment as we will be able to secure jobs for it for the next four to five years. Wind turbines in India are getting larger and with the 16000, we have the perfect crane to assemble them."
Now its Krupp all-terrain cranes are no longer needed on so many wind turbine projects, Amrik Singh is making good use of those all-terrain cranes in other applications. As is, BMM Ispat Ltd, a leading metal fabrication company which received a new Grove GMK6300 all-terrain crane for heavy lift work at its plant in Hospet, Karnataka.
Mrutyunjaya Senapati, director of corporate planning and development at BMM, says Manitowoc quality was a major reason for the company selecting Grove.
"We chose the Grove GMK6300 because of high-quality image of the company's brand fits with our own brand," he said. "We are both leaders in our fields. In addition, we had excellent discussions with TIL and are happy the company can give us the support we need."
"This is a clear indication of the market potential in India. Although this is the first 300t all-terrain crane in India, we strongly believe that higher capacity cranes will be entering into this market from now," said Prem Naithani, national sales manager for mobiles and crawler cranes for Manitowoc Cranes India.
Customer service support
One major investment by Manitowoc Crane Care is the opening of a new Contact Center in Pune. This center will be staffed by technical personnel trained in Manitowoc's product line and also in the company's customer service processes. The new center means Manitowoc customers will have a toll-free number 24/7 to get support or advice on using their Manitowoc crane. The Contact Center in Pune is expected to be operational in the next few months.
The Contact Center is linked to other centers operated by Manitowoc in China, Germany and the United States. This allows it to offer round-the-clock support and also gives customers access to a wider pool of expertise. This is the first such center for the crane industry and a further confirmation that Manitowoc is committed to providing the best available customer support to the crane industry.
"There's certainly a growing focus on safety across the country, which we're pleased to see," he said. "As a company, Manitowoc puts huge emphasis on safety at our own factories and offices, so we are happy to see that philosophy growing not only in India, but in other Asian markets. Of course, many of the giant infrastructure and energy companies are already running very strict regimes in terms of safety, but we're seeing that extend to other projects too. A good example is the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which sent 53 of its representatives and contractors for a safety training programs on safe crane use with us."
In 2009, fewer than 100 partici- pants passed through Manitowoc Crane Care's training programs in India, but in 2010 that number jumped to 222 and by the end of 2011, it should reach over 350.
One of the reasons for the increase in the popularity of training is that Manitowoc Crane Care now offers practical hands-on experience during the training with a Potain MCi 85 A permanently in position in the yard outside the classrooms in Pune. At present, Manitowoc is the only crane manufacturer in India to offer this 'live' training.
"We feel that practical training, where students can touch and operate the crane, and see for themselves how they work is the only way to get the kind of experience levels needed to give optimum confidence," says Gurdeep Singh. "The MCi 85 A is a hugely popular crane in India, and once operators and technicians have mastered this crane it's easy for them to step up to one of the larger ones. The basics always stay the same."
Of course, supporting customers on the ground remains a vital part of Manitowoc Crane Care's activities and in this area too, there has been expansion. "We've increased our inventory of spare parts by 25% in India," says Raman Joshi. "And we're adding service engineers across the country."
In addition to its own engineers, Manitowoc Crane Care-trained technicians are also employed at the three new Potain tower crane dealers that joined Manitowoc's sales network this year. The new dealers are: Focus Infra Engineering India Pvt Ltd, who cover the Bangalore area; Time Autotech Pvt Ltd, who cover the Delhi area; and Infinity Solution, who cover the Mumbai area. In addition to these, three dealers, there are new dealers outside the country too. Milontika Engineering Services is representing Potain in Bangladesh; DZ Trading Enterprise is the representative for Bhutan; Diesel and Moto Engineering covers Sri Lanka; while Auto-Electro-Mech Pvt. Ltd., looks after the brand in Nepal.
According to Gurdeep Singh, the additional resources will help Manitowoc Crane Care reach its goals in terms of responding to customers with crane issues. "Our dealers are all carrying parts stock and have trained engineers on their staff. So when combined with the existing resources that we have ourselves, it means we will be closer to our ambition of being able to respond to any 'crane down' situation within 48 hours. We are also hoping to get representation within 200 km of our customers, across India."
And it's not just in service and products where Manitowoc is investing to make life easier for its customers in India. Their latest development from the company is a website dedicated to Indian customers. The address is:
Raman Joshi says the dedicated web page reflects the company's growing commitment to India.
"It's important for Indian customers to access information specific to their needs," he said. "We pride ourselves on the local service we provide and this is just another example of that. Our investment and infrastructure in India has increased dramatically over the past five years, so it's important for us to make sure customers have access to the latest information."
The web page has contact numbers for key Manitowoc person- nel in India as well as an on-line contact form. There are also details for the company's factory in Pune, plus the sales and service offices in Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai.
This complete service – manufacturing, product support and sales support – is undoubtedly at the heart of Manitowoc's success in India. Raman Joshi says it is a philosophy that is well-known throughout the company. "We have a saying that the salesman sells the first crane, but the customer service sells the second crane," he says. "That means that no matter how good your product is, if you can't support the customer when he needs your help, then you'll never get another crane into that fleet. We've always understood that which is why we insist on having on-the-ground support and the resources in-country to help our customers run their businesses efficiently."
With demand for Manitowoc cranes continuing to grow in India, it's fair to say that the company's support set-up will continue its expansion over the coming years.