UML & Nohmi JV Opening New Vistas in Fire Protection System

UML & Nohmi JV Opening New Vistas in Fire Protection System
"Currently, the fire industry in India is merely adhering to the decades old guidelines, which are misfit to the emerging global scenario. Today complex, advance building and production facilities are creating huge demand for customized safety designs for different hues of customers. The Unitech Nohmi Fire Protection System, a JV company, is all set to offer comprehensive and fool–proof fire safety solutions to the emerging Indian market," says, Chairman, UML Mr. Vijendra Chabra, in an exclusive interview with Jeet Singh. Excerpts:

How do you view the newly signed joint venture between Unitech Machines Ltd, India, & Nohmi Bosai Ltd, a Japanese giant in fire protection system? Is it going to add teeth to the Indian fire protection and fire fighting system?
In our country, there are innumerable loopholes in the entire fire protection and fire fighting system. After the forming of the joint venture company, the experience and expertise of both the fire fighting majors will significantly strengthen and upgrade the quality and improve the market delivery system of fire fighting equipment thereby plugging holes in our fire fighting system effectively. In fact, the strategic objective of the JV is to organize the entire fire protection industry on a platform and provide a solid foundation as we have the capabilities to analyze, evaluate and offer more than mere statuary guidelines. With the joint expertise, consultations, advance product marketing and turnkey project execution, we are going to establish a comprehensive, fool–proof and secured fire safety for buildings across sectors. To top it all, the entire exercise would lead to minimize the turnaround time, damages and risks to lives and properties.

What is the current status of fire management services in the country? How can they be upgraded in view of rising incidence of fire in highrise buildings?
In our country, people are lacking in both awareness and preparedness, they even don’t know that fire can damage to what extent if they are not aware of the fact, it means fire can go to any extent. It is a routine matter and is happening everywhere. The lackadaisical attitude of people and public agencies, our fire brigades, methods handling the fire extinguishing equipment, its response to the situation all are in low tech area and needed to be upgraded. To remove the bottlenecks, I on behalf of UM Machines Limited, would request my joint venture partners that whenever we do the costing of any product or project, we must keep a separate budget to create awareness, take steps to increase preparedness and train manpower to handle fire protection and fire fighting equipment.

The fire protection and fire fighting equipments installed in the buildings either remained dysfunctional or the manpower deployed there don’t know how to handle them, is a common refrain during hours of crisis. Do you have any plan to break these bottlenecks?
Fire Protection System
To impart training to the manpower also requires funds. We have planed to ensure that our fire protection and fire fighting system should not starve of funds. We are keeping separate budget whereby some part of the cost of the product or project would be spent on making provisions and arrangements in fact, this would be our prime area of concern.

Our past experience shows that there are innumerable loopholes in our fire fighting system. Whenever there is a fire, the fire brigade normally reaches two to three hours late, citing one excuse or the other like battery of the fire tender was not functional, water tank is lying empty and boosting pump is lying dysfunctional. During the uncalled for delay fire goes out of control causing incalculable loss to lives and property. To bring this to end, we will invest funds to create awareness, alertness and will also take concrete steps ensuring that fire extinguishing equipment always remain in functional and preparedness position.

What role your company will play in assisting and modernizing the fire fighting services in India?
The joint venture has primarily been signed to provide hi-tech and latest technology to the fire fighting system of our country. Unitech Nohmi would be creating new values in fire industry utilizing synergy of resources from the two fire fighting giants. Nohmi will provide its high quality and unique fire safety products including UN100 (clean gas fire suppression system), Integles (analog addressable fire alarm system), and SR100 (automatic and integrated extinguishing system) and will also share its engineering know how in various industries. Unitech Machines, on the other hand will serve the JV for project execution of comprehensive fire fighting and protection system.

Do you think the on–going slowdown in realty and infrastructure sectors coupled with rising inflation and higher rate of interest regime would impact your business?
The short slowdowns, are in fact supportive to attain scale. The ongoing slowdown in the real estate and infrastructure sector is a temporary phase and the boom will bounce back with a bang sooner or later. Moreover, the current recession is a necessity and in fact is a blessing in disguise for both realtors and builders because it gives them ample time to pause, plan and learn from their past mistakes. Similarly, we also have a time to educate people and builders about the necessity to put in place an excellent and fool-prooffire fighting system in their buildings as its absence can cost them their fortunes. If a builder, for instance, installs a fool–proof fire fighting system in his building and after that increases the rates of his property by about Rs. 50 per sq ft the customer wouldn’t mind. Because in the current scenario quality has a cost and it is the main driver influencing the customer’s day-to-day decision making habits. The modern buyer will opt for a quality product rather than going in for cheaper stuff. During the on going slowdown, we have sufficient time to address this segment.

What strategy you adopt when it comes to picking up companies in realty and infrastructure sectors like metro hospitals bridges, building and automobiles?
We have already entered into power sector and are planning to get into telecom and atomic sectors because these sectors are also growing at fast pace and have huge business potential for future. Unitech Nohmi would be creating new values in fire industry utilizing synergy of resources from the two giants and thus drawing an eligibility criteria to cater to industry such as oil and Gas Refineries, Chemical Plants, Manufacturing Plants, Airports, Metro, Hotels, Hospitals, commercial complexes. In addition to this, our comprehensive fire safety plans include analyzing, investigation of fire risk in customers’ facilities, evaluation and solution proposals for optimum fire protection system. To introduce advanced fire safety products which reduce customers’ load against fire protection and turnkey project executions.

Do you have any plan to extend your business to tier II and tier III cities?
The tier II and tier III cities have more scope and business potential than tier I cities. All types of hotels, buildings and residential complexes are coming up in these cities. If we don’t go there, we would be left far behind.

How your company fared in the last fiscal? What about the past records of the JV partners?
Fire Protection System
The Unitech Machines is a profit making company and have never suffered losses. In fact, we are planning to go public for which the process has already been started. An announcement to this effect would be made at the appropriate time. The company was incorporated in 1986, and is the flagship company of the Group which has a turnover of Rs 700 crore in last fiscal. The company has been recognised as one of the most reputed diversified engineering companies in the country. It has an experience in providing complete turnkey solutions to infrastructure and Mega Power Plants. The Unitech Machines is also OEM to all leading two and four wheeler automobile manufacturers in India and have a large product line pertaining to rear view mirrors, lamp assemblies, switches, aluminum castings and automobile horns.

Similarly, Nohmi came into existence as a pioneer in fire industry in Japan in 1916, and has been dedicated to the business of fire protection system since then. It has achieved specialization in R&D, System Design and Engineering, Manufacturing, project execution and maintenance of all kind of Fire Protection Systems. Apart from Japan, Nohmi has executed innumerable of projects across the world recording a sales turnover of $ 800 million during the last fiscal.
NBMCW October 2008
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