TIL on its current diversification and expansion drive is quite upbeat about its future business prospects. In near future, TIL would be able to manufacture cranes worth Rs.1000 crore, backed by its effective marketing and sales support services. In addition, we shall be rolling out Crushers and Asphalt plants from our new manufacturing facilities said Mr. Satish K Bhatnagar, Director and President, Material Handling Solutions, TIL in an interview with S.A Faridi.
How do you view the construction equipment market prospects in the 2011-12 fiscal?
Before discussing the construction equipment market prospects of the next fiscal, let us take a view of the past financial year. In view of the huge infrastructure spending and the buoyancy of the market, we thought that the Indian market will grow at 20–30%. But as the year progressed we found that the growth did not happen largely due to policy distortions and as a result -in some sectors the growth was on expected lines and in others it remained stagnant.
Now again we expect that the market will grow somewhere nearly 20–30% and once infrastructure development speed takes pace and accelerate it would remain on the growth path for the next 8 to 10 years. As the equipment manufacturers, we are gearing up to take care of the long term future growth potentials, but the grey areas are still there.
How do you look at the competition in the construction sector and what differentiates TIL from its competitors?
We have a large number of product portfolios and competition varies from product to product. For example, our mobile cranes, which we manufacture in the range from10 to 75 tons categories and also higher capacities, we expect that the presence of foreign companies will be limited. Even Chinese companies are gearing up to face the challenge as they will have to face the resistance from Indian companies, which are increasingly meeting the quality requirements and are also trying to offer products in the range of the prices of Chinese equipment.
European and other manufacturers make very expensive product. In view of this, we do not see such a competition coming in. Cranes above 75 tons range are not manufactured in India and in the range of 70 to 600 tons categories; there will be a stiff competition among various global players as they are currently eyeing India for this particular segment. In view of this we will see that the Europeans, Americans, Chinese and Japanese would fight for their share in the Indian equipment market. For TIL, as you know our partner Manitowoc crane group is the largest group in the world with manufacturing facilities in the US, Europe and China and we also have Truck mounted, lattice Boom Crawler as well as the Tower cranes, as such, we are comfortably placed in the emerging equipment market scenario. In addition, we also enjoy the advantage of having our sales, spare parts and service network across 60 locations in India, which no company has been able to maintain so far and it will take time for them to build a network of this magnitude. That apart, currently over 5000 cranes are working at various locations in India and the infrastructure we have already created in the past 40 years.
What prompts TIL to diversify itself from a mobile crane manufacturing company to a one stop solutions provider for infrastructure equipment and services?
In addition to our Caterpillar dealership of Construction, Mining and Power systems solutions, we have been a mobile crane making company for a long time. As the Indian market opens up and the government chalks out plans to build various type of infrastructure, we also see an opportunity to make available wider range of products which are also a part of our core competency – which prompted us to select certain products which are complementary to our range. In the process, we have plans for diversification in the port sector which requires cranes for handling containers. As a matter of fact, most of the ports in India are using our cranes. With the ongoing modernization in the port infrastructure, ports need specialized cranes for handling containers. As far as specialized cranes are concerned we are the only crane manufacturer in the country, meeting such types of requirements and as such, have diversified for specialized cranes.
Alongside, we are also diversifying in other areas, bringing in road building equipment comprising crushing & screening solutions, Hot Mix Asphalt plant and other equipment.
Moreover, if you add these road building range with that of our portfolio of construction, earthmoving equipment under our Caterpillar dealership along with TIL’s superior product support and innovative service solutions, we undoubtedly come across as the "one stop shop" from where we are able to offer all solutions to the construction and road building industry. In fact, taking advantages of the growth potentials and emerging opportunities, we are selecting our product range in such a way that it should be in line with what we are already offering.
Is there any competition within your products offering as you are providing multiple international Brands?
Far from it, our range of products are infact complementary. We respect and cherish our relationship with the global associates and would never do anything that competes with our partners because after all we have very longstanding relationship that spans decades.
Are you planning any acquisition in the near future?
As of now we have no acquisition plan as currently we are investing heavily in our green field manufacturing facilities for which we have already acquired 200 acres land. Construction of plant is already in full swing over 40 acre of land and our current focus is to push our green field capacity, which in turn will take care of our new products as well as the existing ones.
You have tie-up with Astec of US to manufacture its Hot mix Asphalt Plant and Telsmith crushers. What are the main features of the new product line?
We have been the significant player in the infrastructure sector and in view of the growth story of Indian infrastructure, largely related to road construction as specifically the focus of Indian government is towards roads, we have started looking at the core equipment for the road construction sector. We are looking at the crushers both for aggregate and mining applications and also at the hot mix asphalt plant. We have also started manufacturing these two products in India under the brand of Astec, a US based company.
In association with Telsmith and KPI-JCI, a part of the Astec aggregate and mining group, TIL brings to India the best of crushing solution which are engineered to perform and built to last. The product range includes the large Primary Jaw Crushers, Cone Crushers, the Vertical Shaft Impactor, and the Horizontal Shaft Impactors, Track Mounted plants, and Portable plants.
Hot mix asphalt plant is the new technology we are bringing in. In view of the big infrastructure projects and targets government is talking about, we need to have larger plants with larger capacities. Astec has double barrel technology wherein drying is taking place in the inside chamber at the same time mixing takes place in the outer chamber and the advantage of this is that single barrel is doing both the functions which is being done in both the processes, otherwise it is normally done in two different processes. The other advantage is fuel efficiency as you are not loosing anything as heat being generated in the inner chamber is used in the outer barrel and this is really a unique process.
What is your total investment plan for the next 3-4 years in Crane manufacturing facility?
In the next three to four years, we are investing about Rs. 50 crore in the existing plant but in the new plant investment would be Rs.175 crore and it will be operational by 2012.
What is the current status of TIL upcoming new facility at Kharagpur?
We are setting up a Greenfield manufacturing facility at Kharagpur in Calcutta where construction is in full swing for the last three to four months and products from this new facility would be rolled out by 2011. The plant will manufacture crushers, cranes, and asphalt plants.
In addition to these, our crane making facility in Calcutta is working for quite some time and has the capacity to manufacture 250 units per annum in the 30 to 75 metric tons capacity range. However, it would be expanded after studying market situation beyond 250 units in the next two to three years for which we have already purchased a land for starting a new mobile crane facility. As of now, the plans are to begin construction in 2011 and it would be operational in 2012. With these two new facilities, we would be able to take care of any future demands and requirements of equipment.
How many machines are you planning to produce from this new plant?
I cannot give the exact figure in number of units but one thing is clear that it would be in a position to manufacture products worth Rs.1000 crore in terms of sales in four years time. The current crane manufacturing capacity of the Calcutta facility is 250 cranes per annum but it would go up to 600 and once the expanded part of the facility becomes operational, it would take care of the increased demand for cranes in six years.
The investment in the Kharagpur plant for construction and port equipment is Rs.150 crore in phase-I and in phases II and III there would be an additional investment. These investments are being arranged from three sources internal accruals, a portion of debt and equity.
As you are increasing the capacity of your plant, are you also looking for the export market?
For mobile cranes our territory is India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar and beyond that we would decide after talking to our collaborators. When it comes to Reach stacker, the agreement with the company is that after one year of production for domestic purposes, we need buy back basis exports to Africa and Middle East and also to other countries through their own distribution channels. In addition, we would also like to talk with Hot mix plant manufacturer Astec Inc. and crushing solutions provider Astec aggregate and mining group to sell their products not only in the Indian market but also in areas fetching more prices as they have their manufacturing facilities in the US and other countries. When they are ready by 2011 we would export out of India also.