From being a niche equipment manufacturer into a total process solutions provider with extensive and comprehen- sive back up support for the tunneling and mining industries, the success story of Normet continues. Normet's strategic partnership with TAM International, a leader in specialist chemicals and systems for underground construction and general building industry has come in handy as it brings a broader offering for the tunneling and mining industries that are on the verge of an explosive growth, in India.
Normet is one of the top players in offering solutions for concrete spraying and transport, explosive charging, lifting and installations, underground logistics, and scaling. With over 40 years of experience in the development, production and sales of equipment and vehicles for underground mining and tunnel construction, the company has so far delivered over 7500 machines throughout the world. Speaking about the company's core competencies Mr Singh says, "We manufacture specialized equipment for tunneling and mining; and also machines for support and transport applications for the tunneling and mining segments. Our core strength, rather our basic vision is the back-up service that we provide to our customers. We have developed a concept of life time care (LTC) which means that we take care of not only the machine from initial purchase by our customer but also to as long as it is in operation; that means rebuild, service, training, audit, repair, maintenance, troubleshooting etc." Mr Singh further points out. In addition, our major focus is to be a partner to our customer providing him added value. In order to add this value, we have to understand the process, what is sprayed concrete, the importance of equipment used, the chemistry of concrete mix design; and that is the reason why we have acquired part of Tam International to build up this competence and also to understand the whole process. With the acquisition, we broadened our knowledge base of the concrete process and concrete technology, and have also gained considerable expertise in concrete admixtures. Today, we are a one stop shop for concrete spraying. Same has been in the explosive charging industry - while we are developing extremely sophisticated equipment for explosive charging for blasting purpose. We also have knowledge in order to make equipment that fit with chemicals which are used in making explosives.
Speaking about the potentials he adds, "There is huge, untapped potential in tunneling and mining segments. Though these segments are at present is more dependent on traditional technologies, the scenario is fast changing. There are more safety regulations in place, greater emphasis is given on developing skilled labour force, and more foreign investors are eyeing the Indian mining market; most importantly, there are quite advanced mining companies in India who understand the importance of faster, more economical and efficient production."
How this growth trends get reflected into Normet's business? On this Mr Singh says, "In the next three years, we hope to be a 30 to 40 million Euro company in India. We are quite aware of the challenges, especially in service. My philosophy is getting into service that is what has lacked in India. Many companies have come to the Indian market, and have sold machines, but there has been shortage of service personnel and spare parts. If you want to be a real player and your focus is to partner with your customer, you have to build up service team, and spare parts, locally. That's our major focus areas now. We are investing substantially in building up an excellent service team. At the end of the next year, we should be able to double our service team," he said.
Elaborating on the training being imparted to their customers, Mr Singh says, "Training is an investment and is a continuous process. I think that is very essential thing not only for us but also for the customer. We have set up a training centre and impart extensive training not only to our own people but also to customers' staff with an objective of making them more efficient and productive. "We always train the customers initially, and as I mentioned we have developed a concept of LTC (life time care) which means we provide the service contract where we have people to take care of the entire operations."
Explaining the advantages of using concrete sprayers Mr Singh confirms, "Off-course, mechanized spraying brings lots of advantages; it can be faster and can bring down the rebound drastically. With a good trained operator of machine with the right profile, you can produce 18 to 20 cu m an hour with the right mix, and with right application you can have a rebound of below 10%, whereas if you depend on traditional methods, you will be able to spray around two cubic meter of concrete and the rebound will be over 30%. And as far as the right concrete mix is concerned, we have experts who work with clients, with consultants, at the beginning of a project."
Speaking about one of the major challenges he points out, "The concept of ‘costing' varies among customers – some give more importance to product costing, for some it is process costing, for others costing means total project cost. For example, if I am an investor in a power project, my costing basically depends on how fast I can complete the project and produce electricity, and get a return on investment. There the cost of a machine like a concrete sprayer is not that essential, but rather cost lies in how fast and efficient I can produce. Factoring time as a major parameter while doing costing, is still not there. He further adds, "New concepts means upfront investments, and unfortunately contractors do not have such kind of incentives to come up with new solutions. So we try to be a part of a project as early as possible which opens up new opportunities to use advanced technologies and methods."
"There is tremendous potential in hydro projects and mining. The market for concrete sprayers is estimated around 50 units which will triple over a period of time. We are having around 40-50% of the market share today, he informed.