Sorab Agarwal, ACE

Mr. Sorab Agarwal - ACE
Action Construction Equipment Ltd. (ACE) is amongst the very few home-grown Indian companies, which, from very humble beginnings, now has one of the widest range of construction equipment in the industry. Executive Director Mr. Sorab Agarwal elaborates on the company’s R&D capabilities, product development, building long-term client relationship, and their upcoming new products at Excon 2017.

How has your CE business grown over the years?

With respect to our mobile cranes such as pick and carry cranes, truck cranes, and even crawler cranes, we are growing by 20-25% this year. We have a 66% market share in cranes.

Our base for road construction machinery - backhoe loaders, compactors, graders and other road machinery is not that big, as we were lying low for the last 2-3 years due to a slow market and tough competition. Now, we have re-entered in this market with full force and with new machines, and early next year we will be upgrading to a new model of Backhoe Loader as well. We are the largest in Cranes, so the same set of buyers will be there for our Backhoes. Besides these, we are selling good number of Graders per month, and are bringing 50 Tons Truck Cranes.

What improvisation are you carrying out in your backhoe loaders and compactors?

For Backhoe Loaders and the Compactors, there will be structural changes, better aesthetics, larger cabins, and their working speeds will be worked upon, and all other aspects of the machines will be reconsidered for upgrading where required. We hope to launch this model early next year and it should also be export-ready. We are seeing a reasonable market for our products outside India at our prices.

ACE

As in our existing machines, the engine in the new model will be Kirloskar 76 hp engine with a Carraro transmission and axle, TVS cylinders, oil control valve, David Brown hydraulic pump etc. These are world-class components, and all the fabrication will be done in-house for ensuring perfectness in welding and structural strength.

How technologically strong is ACE in the design and development of its cranes?

ACE Tower Crane
We brought in some basic technology when we started making cranes. Later, we evolved it further as per Indian usage and harsh conditions which are more rigorous as compared to most of the developed world.

We have done a lot of value additions and improvisations in the design so that they are suitable for Indian jobsites. In fact, we have developed our own different models; for instance, based on the design of a 75-tons crawler crane, we made a 40-tons and a 25-tons crane, and are now working on a 150-tons crawler crane. Similarly, from a 6-tons tower crane, we have developed a 5-tons, and then 8, 10, 12, and 16-tons crane, all of which have been made in-house.

We are the only company to manufacture 12 Tons and 16 Tons Tower Cranes in India. We also make the biggest Pick & Carry Crane in India which is of 25 Tons.

As regards telematics and diagnostics, we have been doing something similar for the past 3-4 years for our big fleet owners of cranes, wherein along with our safety indication devices, our other safety features are controlled through an electronic device. There is an in-built GPS along with telematics for machine diagnostics on engine and fuel and other performance parameters. We are doing this on a case to case basis and not to all our equipment because telematics makes sense for fleet owners. However, it is very easy to extend the system to other machines.

What kind of integrated services does ACE provide to its customers?

We are a customer-centric company and believe that by giving prompt support and service to users, it becomes easy to convert them into regular clients. Once we are able to establish the credentials and dependability of our machines, they start taking our advice for other machines as well. This is because our sales personnel advise them on the right machine as per their application requirement, and on the right tonnage, so that they get full value for the product they buy.

We are also advising clients on financing and recommending NBFCs, as we have tie-ups with most of the leading ones.

There are 2 things which are very important for the customer: Right Specifications and Right Performance Parameters. Based on these, the owning, operating cost, or the per hour cost can be determined. We are proud to say that most of our machines with respect to the output as compared to the owning cost or operation cost would be doing equally good, if not better, than that of multinational companies.

We have set up a 10000 sqm Training Center in Faridabad for providing training on maintenance and operation of our machines to our in-house engineers and technicians, and also to our customers and their operators and maintenance staff.

What will ACE showcase at Excon this year?

Today, we are the largest mobile and tower crane company in the country, and all our customers are happy with our products, services and the scale that we have been able to reach over the last so many years. Now, the focus of the company is on driving its new range of products: the backhoe loaders, motor graders, soil compactors and vibratory rollers. So, our display this year will primarily be of earth moving products and road machinery, and maybe 1-2 cranes. We will also showcase our new backhoe loader, which we plan to launch early next year.

What has been the driving force behind ACE’s success?

My father started the company in 1995 and three years later I joined him. We have worked really hard to reach where we are today. Our main focus for the last 22-23 years has been on catering to the varied requirements of our varied customers. In 1995, we started making pick and carry cranes, and in 1998-99 we started making mobile tower cranes. As buildings grew taller, we graduated to bigger tower cranes. Similarly, we kept on expanding or upgrading our range to meet customer requirements. We are the only CE company in the country whose R&D center is approved by the Government of India and the DSIR, and we get some subsidies because of this.

ACE AC 176

One of the biggest challenges has been to evolve superior technology in terms of reliability. The other is to ensure that all our equipment is well-supported throughout the country with after-sales service and parts availability.

What dividends has the company’s investment in R&D paid?

Indian operating conditions and the usage tendency of the operators are much different than what we see in developed countries. The machines have to be made abuse-proof and be designed to take extra load, extra work hours, and continuous duties, as is prevalent in our country.

At our dedicated R&D center in Faridabad, proto activities along with designing are happening, with a focus on 3 main things:
  • Value engineering: so that we can provide something better to the customer at the same cost.
  • Trouble shooting: there is continuous feedback and always a scope for improvement.
  • New product development: this is most important and the reason why we have such a wide range of equipment.
Our R&D has helped us to meet and satisfy customer requirements with respect to the output and performance of our machines. Customer input and data are considered very seriously by our R&D team to further upgrade or to enhance our machines.

How strong is ACE on exports considering that the Middle East and African countries are big export markets for India?

The big multinationals in India are very focused on exports. They are making similar global products in India, which is relatively easy for them to do. India-made products are finding a ready market in the Middle East, South East and African countries. After exporting to SAARC countries, we have started exports of a reasonable number of units to the Middle East and African countries, and are now increasing our dealership network in these countries.

We are seeing a reasonable amount of traction from these countries, and going forward, we foresee that in the next 2-3 years may be 15-20% of our revenue will start coming from exports of our standard products like Tower Cranes, Backhoe Loaders, Graders, Vibratory Rollers and Agri machinery.
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