With the government’s focus on ‘Smart City’ developments, what demand trends do you see for specialized equipment like Horizontal Directional Drilling machines (HDD) in India?
The Indian government has been focusing on infrastructure development for quite some time. Since the launch of the Smart City program by the Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a lot of work is taking place across the country. When one talks about Smart City, people usually think about roads and other infrastructure development, but it includes a lot more, like underground utility laying such as telephone cables, gas pipelines, electric cables and fiber optics. Horizontal Directional Drills (HDD) play an important role here. Also, with the increase in City Gas Distribution (CGD) projects, demand for mid-size HDD machines will be higher in the next few years.
Though HDD is a revolutionary technology, its application is still limited; what hurdles and challenges do you see in the growth of this industry and what kind of support are you looking for from the government?
The HDD is well accepted in the Indian market and has been widely used in the Telecom sector. However, in the past 5 to 6 years, utility infrastructure like electric cables, oil, gas, and water pipelines, etc., have also started using this technology extensively, especially in urban areas. It is a matter of time before it finds application in rural areas as well.
Government authorities are now more aware of HDD and understand its use. They must also look at the long-term benefits. Once realized, the growth in use of HDD technology will be phenomenal. In fact, many infrastructure projects are insisting on the use of Trenchless technology, which indicates its growing importance.
What are the benefits of using HDD versus the conventional methods as regards savings in time and cost?
In the conventional methods, you require excavation followed by backfilling and compaction. There is a cost associated with these jobs. Plus, these jobs lead to traffic congestions causing inconveniences in movement for the public, social disturbances, damage to existing utilities, lack of safety, risk of accidents, etc.
On the other hand (since) HDD is a trenchless construction method for installing pipes underground without disturbing the ground surface, such inconveniences are avoided, and there is a lot of savings in both time and cost. Plus, being a minimum impact method, it is especially useful in environmentally sensitive areas, which makes the technology eco-friendly as well.
What does Vermeer India’s product range comprise and what sales & after-sales services does the company provide?
Vermeer India, which was incepted in 1998, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vermeer USA, and is headquartered in Chennai. We offer HDD machines in pulling capacities ranging from 5 ton to 600 tons. The machines are used for utility installations in residential areas and in big cross-country pipeline projects.
With our state-of-the-art spare parts and refurbishment center in Chennai, we can provide timely service to our customers and help keep their machines running with minimum downtime. Our team of service engineers is always ready to support our customers regardless of the location of their machines.
What is the market for rentals and used equipment in India like?
There is a huge market for used equipment in India in which Vermeer has over 90% share. However, while the rental market caters largely to conventional construction equipment, demand for HDD rentals is still at a nascent stage.
But the concept of Trenchless technology is catching on due to the increase in infrastructure development projects, which being highly time-bound, demand more sophisticated and specialized machines like the HDD. Demand will also impact the rental market for HDD.
What competition do you see from local manufacturers?
Presently, there is competition from both domestic and foreign companies. Vermeer has over two decades experience in the Indian market and a close understanding of the construction industry and its requirements. During the last two years, the company has launched a few cost-friendly products to cater to the emerging demand for machines like the HDD, which are being imported by us.
Looking at the current scenario and the investment by Indian government in the infrastructure segment, we see demand for construction equipment growing manifold, and with the emphasis on faster and environment-friendly installations, the HDD industry will also grow at a fast pace.