Steel Carriers Delivering Customer Satisfaction

Sunil Makad, Director, Steel Carriers Infrastructure
According to Sunil Makad, Director, Steel Carriers Infrastructure, the rental industry for cranes is buoyant, given the growing demand across major infra development projects and various industries, and despite the price competitiveness, the company is meeting customer specifications with its quality products and timely deliveries.

Please tell us about your company.
Steel Carriers Infrastructure is a national provider of crane hiring services, warehousing, and transportation; it is one of the most recognised crane rental companies in India. We are now in our fifth generation of providing experienced, reliable, quality, and safe crane rental services to industrial markets. We own and operate cranes ranging from 50 MT to 1200 MT capacity, with a strong focus on safety. In fact, our safety record is a testament to our commitment. We ensure customer satisfaction by providing services as per their needs and specifications and delivering within the committed timelines.

We deploy all-terrain mobile and crawler cranes with advanced technologies, of renowned brands like Terex Demag, Grove, Liebherr, Manitowoc, Link Belt, P&H, etc. We also provide public and contract warehouse space for industrial goods and steel products at our 5,00,000 sq.ft open warehouse at Dahisar Mori.

We have a thorough knowledge of crane operations under local conditions in India. Our operators are highly competent and well trained to carry out all project operations, and we have in-house maintenance staff and a full backup system in case of machine breakdowns.

We are associated with the Crane Owners Association of India, Bombay Goods Transport Association, Maharashtra Truck Owners Association, Maharashtra Rajya Truck – Mahasangh & Multimodal Transport Operators Association, Provincial Motor Transport Association, and Bombay Iron & Steel Labour Board.

How is the Crane rental industry of India changing?
Initially, this industry was very niche and there were a very few players. Now, it has grown tremendously and is at its peak in India. Industrial, crawler and mobile cranes are seeing a surge in demand with the spurt in infrastructure development projects.

The rental market is growing with the cost escalation in the new equipment/crane price due to BS IV norms and steel prices. So, when one considers the rental cost versus the cost of a new crane, the difference is enormous and therefore attractive for the long-term financial sustainability of a rental company.

We are seeing a lot of Chinese manufacturers entering the market; they are mass producers of machines, and they provide credit facilities also. Because of these reasons, demand for German and American machines has gone down. They rarely provide their equipment on credit, their production is low, and their prices are double that of the Chinese.

We are also seeing a change in the behavior of customers; those with long-term plans and with big projects in hand prefer buying equipment rather than renting, while the smaller players like to rent. We work directly with industries rather than contractors. We do a thorough background check on new clients by verifying their credibility in the market with our association members.

The industry is becoming digitally strong too. There are some startups bringing rental companies on a common platform digitally so that we have the advantage of being connected and updated. To give an example, if one of our machines completes a job in Meghalaya and is on its return journey, but through the platform we come to know that another client in the same region is looking for such a machine for his project, then we can divert it there. This will save the client and our transportation cost and time.

Steel Carriers Delivering Customer Satisfaction

Currently, which cranes are the most preferred for their efficiency, economy, and durability?
German makes like Tadano - Demag, Liebherr and Grove offer highly durable machines; they are value-for-money cranes, and their residual life is also great. These brands maintain their high standards and are also quick in supplying the spare parts. Since they produce a lesser number of machines, they maintain uniformity in their manufacturing. Sometimes, producers of large number of machines change some components in the same model, which puts us in a difficult situation when the machine breaks down. Our German all-terrain cranes are a huge success in the North-East.

What are your expectations from the OEMs?
The OEMs are doing great engineering these days and brining new machines to the market. We have recently procured a Grove GNK 6400 and we are in discussion to buy a 300 ton crane and might buy a few more cranes in the next 2 or 3 years. Our only request is that they should regularly provide training to our technicians, because when a machine breaks down, it is too costly for their engineer to come here and resolve the problem. I think knowledge transfer is important for all involved, including our service teams and our channel partners.

Steel Carriers Delivering Customer Satisfaction

How does your company ensure productivity and minimum downtime? Do you also train operators?
Clients these days want trained operators only, so we send our operators for training at the Skill Development Council and other training institutes. Some OEMs have their in-house training programs for operators and technicians and for upskilling them on their new machines.

We undertake preventive maintenance to ensure good health of our machines and we keep a ready inventory of spare parts to ensure minimum downtime. Our operators are working on all kinds of projects across varied terrains, including Rajasthan and the the hilly regions of Meghalaya, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh, and other borders of the country.

How are you dealing with competition in the Rental Industry?
Our core business area is Infrastructure construction; and we are experts in erecting cement plants, nuclear plants, mines, oil and gas plants. We have experience in metal industries and have done some fertilizer and sugar plant projects.

With a relatively big fleet of cranes, we focus on timely repairs and maintenance practice to prevent any possible breakdown of equipment and safe working. We always undertake third party analysis (in case of accident) to have better preventive and predictive maintenance and better operational standards. We regularly compile breakdown reports for our cranes to have better preventive maintenance. Operators and field technicians are trained for undertaking appropriate rigging, engine performance and most importantly right ground pressure. So, we are always ready with our maintained fleet to serve the industry and its demand. Moreover, our rental business is going good because the overall volume of orders is large.

Please share a recent project done by your company.
A recent challenging project was a refinery in Rajasthan where we had to use 8 cranes to lift a dome of 126-m diameter, 64-m height, and weighing 250 tons. We used cranes of 200 to 1200 ton capacity to lift the dome at 15 meters height. As this was a blind lift, due to the wall in front of the operators, we had to keep spotter boys and use hand signals to communicate with the different teams working on the project. This was the first of its kind project in the world where such a huge object was lifted with so many cranes working in tandem. Looking back, I can say that it was a well-coordinated job that took 7 days to complete and almost 2 years to plan!
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