Demand for Cranes in India to Rise
Manitowoc has a head-start in the tower cranes business in India and its cranes have been used in many national projects including Bandra–Worli Sealink Bridge and various gas turbine and power projects. A comprehensive range of crane products are available in India backed by an effective after sales and technical services. Because of our global presence, improved manufacturing processes and global buying power, we are able to generate cost savings which we duly pass on to the customer, says Mr. Raman Joshi, Managing Director, Manitowoc Cranes India in an Interview with S.A. Faridi.
What is your overview of crane market development and its business in Asia in general and particularly in India where leading global manufacturers in this segment are eyeing business opportunities to cash in?
It is our belief that the markets in Asia are picking up faster than the other regions. The demand for cranes in India is rising steadily with numerous ongoing infrastructure works in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Cochin, and Hyderabad as well as power plant projects all over the country. The Government has allocated more funds for residential developments and local developers too are launching private residential projects to meet the rising needs for housing in the cities. After China, India is going to be the biggest crane market in Asia and we can see activities from every major crane / equipment manufacturing company, either by setting up local manufacturing or joining hands with local players for increased presence. Nobody wants to lose out on this market and it is good as customers are benefitting by getting more options, cost benefits and better services.
How is overseas crane market different from the Indian market in nature, price competitiveness, deadlines, and after sales support services?
The Indian market as compared to the rest of the world is extremely competitive and price sensitive. Customers here are emerging from being small players to undertaking projects of major value and transitioning from manual labor to equipment based business model. This puts extra pressure on them financially as they have to justify the big investments required to build their fleet. In the same perspective, after sales and service becomes very important because more and more projects are becoming time bound and downtime of equipment have direct financial impact on the costs associated.
Post acquisition and setting up of Manitowoc's own manufacturing facility in India, in these times of recession,— what have been company's measures to tide over the situation due to recession and slowdown?
We see India as one of Asia's leading lights, which is why we have committed manufacturing, sales and service facilities to the country. The acquisition has given us the flexibility to set up our own establishment with an independent presence in manufacturing and sales in the Indian market. We have brought our global operations to make production more streamlined, and carrying forward the business that was set up by our partners in India. Because of our global presence, improved manufacturing processes and global buying power, we are able to generate cost savings which we duly pass on to our customers.
What is Manitowoc's comprehensive range of crane products available inthe Indian market?
Manitowoc Cranes' product offerings include Manitowoc lattice-boom crawler cranes, Potain tower cranes, Grove mobile hydraulic cranes and National Crane telescoping cranes which are built, sold and serviced at multiple locations on five continents. Each product is designed with features that meet the requirements of differing regions, including international transportation regulations, operational simplicity and efficient performance in the most challenging environment. In India, our cranes are working in industries such as power, infrastructure, construction, residential building and steel plants.
For power projects, we offer crawler cranes with capacities of 80 tonnes and above. Based on customer requirements, we have 4 tonnes to 450 tonnes mobile cranes available (all-terrain cranes, rough-terrain cranes, truck mounted cranes).
Potain's facility in Pune produces a range of tower cranes ranging from 5 tonnes maximum capacity with a 50m maximum jib length to a 25 tonnes maximum capacity with an 80m jib.
The factories in India and China manufacture cranes tailored for local markets. They are also sold in South East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East according to the local needs and requirements.
All this is part of Manitowoc's philosophy to invest in local offices, local personnel and local production facilities to serve customers at local level.
Recently a global crane manufacturer from China has forged a strong marketing and distribution arrangement with a reputed domestic player in crane in addition to its existing tie up arrangement. Will it make competition more intense for your company?
We are in this business for decades and do not only know the product, but we are also a world leading name for tower cranes. We have state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and quality standards. Our design specifications are global, and having a local manufacturing facility gives us a cost advantage. We have a long lasting brand which is demonstrated by buyers who have been using our products for over 20 years without any issues. Our brand equity is high and so are our resale values.
Manitowoc also has a head-start in the tower cranes business in India. We are the first company to manufacture tower cranes in India when Potain tower cranes were manufactured under license in Pune in 1982. We have good control on our costs as well as an excellent customer service network which is comprehensive and spread all over the country.
Another advantage we have over competition is Manitowoc Crane Care, our comprehensive after sales service offering expert diagnosis and repair to all our customers 24/7.
Where would you like to place Chinese crane business from Indiancrane business perspective? Are there any complementary elements in the business process to drive mutual benefit?
In China, cranes are considered a necessity whereas in India today people still contemplate using equipment v/s manual labor. The range and choices of equipment manufactured and available in China is multiple folds of what we have in India today. I can definitely see a convergence in business model and project management practices between the two countries in the next few years.
From Manitowoc's point of view, we have a longer presence in the Chinese market and with lot of business practices being similar in India; we can definitely leverage our experience here.
Due to the slowdown in major construction projects, the off take of cranes in construction space has shifted to the power sector where established players are entering. What has been the scenario at your end?
We have been seeing similar trends. With the slowdown in real estate, tower cranes' business requirements are on a decline but on the other hand, major construction projects, despite the slowdown, haven't come to a complete halt. This is resulting in a continuous flow on inquiries but the decision cycle time is becoming long. With established players giving preference to reputed brand and valuing after sales service, we certainly are at an advantage.
What is your presence in the power sector with your product line and how do you propose to strengthen your penetration in the power sector with ultra mega power projects coming up in the country and providing you an opportunity to increase your revenue exposure in power sector both as short – term and long – term marketing strategy?
We are the leading Crawler and Mobile crane supplier in Indian Power sector. Setting up a base in India was another step to strengthen our presence here. With TIL as our sales/service partners and with our local Crane Care presence, we are geared to serve our customers with the best possible experience of owning a Manitowoc product.
Tell us something about your Crane Care Centre and its activities. What has been the response to this venture?
Manitowoc Crane Care, our comprehensive after sales service offers expert diagnosis and repair to all our customers' 24/7. Manitowoc Crane Care is one of the most advanced service and support programs available in the industry. All service and maintenance work is performed by trained local representatives who speak the native language and return the equipment to profitable operation promptly.
Manitowoc Crane Care provides continuous support throughout the life cycle of all Manitowoc cranes offering global access to parts, service, technical assistance and training. Over-the-counter parts availability, expert repair and technical assistance assure productive work crews and minimal downtime.
Recently, Delhi construction sites witnessed severe crane – lashing due to crane malfunctioning, that resulted in accidents and killing, injuring people. Was this malfunctioning due to inherent design and engineering or handling and operation of crane defects? Designs and engineering of cranes should be committed to safety aspects, which is the case with Manitowoc cranes. As a leading manufacturer of sophisticated cranes, how can your company play a proactive role in sensitizing safe operation of cranes?
It is not possible to pinpoint the reasons for crane accidents as causes vary from case to case and a lot of it depends on the respective circumstances. The best answer comes from official investigations where all parties concerned are questioned and the findings reported.
However, as a leading manufacturer of cranes globally, we make sure we play a part in promoting improvements in safety levels. Manitowoc's Potain brand makes the highest quality standard cranes in the world. We are totally committed to the concept of safety, and I can proudly say that our cranes have one of the best safety records thanks to their superior design. Manitowoc is also working with different organisations to help customers become more safety conscious. In addition, we are also conducting seminars with different customers in different cities trying to educate them in the use of tower cranes, and make their projects sites safe and accident - free. The seminars also stress the importance of using original spare parts for cranes.
Manitowoc craneshave scripted many successful stories on deployment at skyscrapers, dams, power projects,and at many infrastructureconstructions. Can you please narrate one or two recent successful stories?
Potain tower cranes are being used to complete the recently opened Bandra Worli Sealink Bridge, one of which is an MC 310 K16 top slewing crane with a maximum capacity of 16t. Manitowoc's Potain tower crane MC 115B with a capacity of 6t is currently working on one of Mumbai's most prestigious projects, the C70 commercial building project, in the heart of the International Finance and Business Centre of Bandra Kurla Complex, a standalone high-tech corporate building called The Capital. A 600 t Manitowoc Model 18,000 crawler crane is currently working in a gas turbine project in Hazira, in Surat lifting steel columns.
During our last interaction at Bauma China, you talked about your company's interest in rental business through a partner. What is the progress on this front?
We are still actively looking for partners who want to buy our cranes for the rental business.
Our participation at the upcoming Excon India will provide us with more opportunities in terms of developing the rental business in India.