SRS Finlay : "Our Machines Are Strongly Positioned"

SRS Finlay :
"Despite mobile concrete block making machines being a relatively new concept, we have closed our deals with large EPC players in India. As the size of projects in India getting larger it becomes technically and economically viable for the Developers/EPC to start producing blocks on their own or look for a very large manufacturers of concrete blocks. Our machines have a strong track record across the world and we are extremely bullish on the Indian market. We firmly believe that players in the Indian construction eco-system, will adopt modern construction practices and our machines are strongly positioned for the same," says Mr. Yireikan Khapudang, General Manager - Business Development (India & SE - Asia), SRS Finlay, in an interview with S.A.Faridi.

How do you see the overall market potential of concrete block/brick machines in India?

It is a fact that concrete blocks are a superior products compared to traditional red clay bricks. However, in India, concrete block manufacturing has largely been restricted to unorganized small scale players where the qualities of blocks have not been upto the mark and the block manufacturers did not have the ability or the infrastructure to meet the deadline for delivering large quantities consistently. Such factors and also overall cost of the blocks may have discouraged builders from use of concrete blocks. The usage of concrete blocks in buildings is beginning to gain traction as increasingly they are being incorporated in the design and specifications from clients. Proximity of the raw material is another factor that impacts on the economics of the blocks. Traditionally usage of concrete blocks, has been more feasible for projects in Western and Southern India whereas Northern India is traditionally more dependent on red-clay bricks due to ease of availability. Fly–ash bricks are also an emerging as an area where this equipment can be used extensively. Equipment manufacturers should focus on providing machinery which offers ease of operations, superior quality of blocks and large production capacity at economically feasible prices.

What are the advantages of using concrete blocks over conventional clay bricks?

SRS Finlay :
Concrete blocks have a proven track record and are used extensively in developed countries. Uniformity of blocks and bigger size blocks ease up the speed of construction and saves mortars in the masonry. The density of the blocks can be varied to make it a load bearing or non load bearing block as per structural designs and this allows the architects and structural engineers to experiment with more designs to meet different compressive strengths of the material. Concrete blocks offer better sound insulation and excellent fire protection, Hollow blocks offer better heat insulation, and it can be further enhanced by adding polystyrene insert in between them for reducing the air conditioning load.

The manufacturing of red clay kiln bricks involves use of scarce fertile agricultural land and these clays bricks are again burned in the kiln causing air pollution. These production sites are also found wanting in terms of human safety as a major chunk of brick kiln manufacturing in India is in unorganized sector. So I would state that environmentally also concrete block scores over very positively over red clay bricks.

Though concrete block is not a new concept in India and several block making machines manufacturers are already in the market, but understanding on setting-up a production unit is quite limited. Does your company offer a turnkey solutions to set up a production unit?

Indeed, it is very true that concrete blocks making machineries have been there in the market for quite some time; however some of their technologies can be very complicated. SRS Finlay equipment is based on very simple egg-laying technology where the machine moves over a yard and lays concrete hollow/solid/insulated blocks. While a local small scale Indian block manufacturers also uses such simple methods of production, however our equipments are bigger and robust with a production capacity which is nearly 9-10 times more than the locally available Indian machineries and quality of blocks which is far superior coupled with reduction in material wastage.

Local machines are far from efficiency as they are hugely labor dependent giving rise to excessive wastage and inefficiency due to human error. Whereas in our equipment, the handling, stacking and loading of blocks is done mechanically with the help of clamps and hoppers attached to the forklifts where the entire plant facility can be operated by only 6-7 people which otherwise with a local machinery would have required 30-35 persons for such production capacities. We do commissioning and training and offer technical support through our engineers from New Delhi office. We can always look into a turnkey project as per the clients need from time to time.

Highlight some of USPs of SRS Finlay machines in context to Indian market?

The USP's of our machines are:

High production capacity: 25,000 - 30,000 Hollow blocks or 1,20,000 bricks per shift which results in reduced dependence on several small vendors for supply of concrete blocks, consisted and superior quality of blocks and expedites the construction process.

Mobility: Machines can be loaded on a truck and taken from one site to another and integrated to different construction projects. Extremely beneficial for contractors/developers as machines can be used at multiple sites and also at remote locations.

Reduced labor: 6-7 persons for the entire facility, saving immensely on labor costs and reducing wastage due to human error which presently is the case in many units.

Tax and Freight savings: Production of blocks at the site or close to the site results in saving of taxes and transportation charges as against a scenario where the blocks are to be transported between different cities or different state boundaries.

Low initial capital investment: Comes at 1/6th of a cost against other foreign competitors who offer stationery block making plants with similar production capacity.

Large blocks size upto 1 meter: Ability to produce large sized blocks which find application in diverse areas such as building flood defenses, cemented highways, hydroelectric projects and large scale land development.

Initial investment in setting-up a concrete block making machine unit is quite high–can you brief on the initial investment and ROI?

SRS Finlay :
We are looking at an initial investment cost of only about 1.5 Cr. (INR) for a fully functional block production factory with a capacity to produce 1,20,000 Fly ash/Concrete bricks or upto 30,000 blocks per 10 Hrs shift excluding the land cost. The entire facility requires only 6-7 people to operate bringing down the labour cost drastically. Block Manufacturers can also immensely benefit in wastage control as the process is more mechanized and thus removing the chances of human error. As SRS Finlay machines come at low investment with few labor following optimized pattern of production, one should look at a breakeven point of approx. 12 months at 70% Plant load capacity.

With current focus on green building construction globally–how would your machines help in conserving energy by producing eco-friendly building materials?

Air-conditioning load reduction in commercial buildings can be attained by using Thermal/Polystyrene insulated concrete block which offers high degree of insulation against heat. This is a very popular practice in the Middle East and our machines are being used extensively to produce thermal blocks. Fly ash brick also offers better insulation compared to typical traditional bricks. Any building material which has more than 50% fly-ash content is rated as green by MOEF (Ministry of Environment and Forest). For instance, Fly ash generating Thermal power plants contributes more than 70% of India's total electricity generation. Many plants have major problems disposing of this fly-ash which has accumulated over the years apart from continuous addition every day. MOEF has come up with a regulation for thermal plants to recycle fly ash and also for builders/contractors operating in the vicinity of thermal plants to use fly-ash bricks as building material. A SRS single unit can process 900 Cubic Meter of fly ash mix per day and convert it into. We have received very encouraging response from the regulators as well as new players who are setting up Greenfield thermal power projects.

Please brief us about SRS Ltd and the products range being offered by the company in India?

SRS Finlay is a Northern Ireland based Concrete block Equipment Manufacturer. Finlay has been around for some 60 years with block making equipments and recognized worldwide as a robust and simple to operate equipments. Sandvik Mining Equipment (SME) took over Fintec the parent company of Finlay in 2007, a year later in 2008, SRS took over Finlay division along with their manufacturing unit from Sandvik and came to be known as SRS Finlay.

We offer the following block making machine models
Model. No. Production capacity Operation Mode Nature of Blocks made
F-12 6000 Bricks/ hr Manual Hollow/Solid
F-24 12,000 Bricks/hr Semi/Full Auto Hollow/Solid
F-24C 12,000 Bricks/hr Semi/Full Auto Hollow/Solid/Thermal
F-44 For Large sized Solid blocks Semi/Full Auto Hollow/Solid
F-48 For Large Sized Solid blocks Semi/Full Auto Hollow/Solid

We also provide the complete set and accessories such as custom Designs Moulds, Sweepers Clamps and sprinklers; however our clamps/grab units for handling blocks in the capacity from 2-8 tons seems to have generated quite an interest from many block manufacturers around India. I believe most of them are doing it manually. I would also recommend visit us on www: srsfinlay.com for product details.

What are SRS Finlay Ltd various customer support systems, including spare parts availability, after sales technical services, dealership arrangements to serve its customers making the company as the preferred choice for products and services?

SRS Finlay entered into the Indian market in January 2010 through a sales office from New Delhi; we have our own team of engineers and distributors presence in Southern and Eastern India. At present, the orders are met through imports from the main factory in Northern Ireland. We normally commit a 48 hrs site response time to any breakdown or service requirement apart from the 24 hrs telephonic support back up. We have 90% of the market share in UK & Ireland for egg-laying machines; our machines are being operated worldwide in different ambient /geographical conditions starting from Europe, Russia, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Australia and the Caribbean. SRS Finlay machines are in fact known worldwide for simple to operate and user-friendly with proven reliability. A 12 months or 2,000 hrs operational cycle guarantee is offered to customers along with a critical spare parts package. Our machines life span are normally pegged at 15+ years, although there are some 20+ year old equipments which are still operational in Middle East.

MBK Bets Big on Indian Building Industry MBK Bets Big on Indian Building Industry MBK Bets Big on Indian Building Industry
A typical Sweeper for yard cleaning Total Handling Solutions, Clamps from 2 – 8 Tons capacity Different Mould Designs, Life Cycle of 1+ Million Blocks

A word about the operators' training programs conducted by your company to improve the productivity of the machines for better operational results?

SRS Finlay engineers provide training to the clients during installation and commissioning of the plant until the optimal capacity of the plant or performance or quality are achieved as specified. The machines can start producing blocks within 2-3 days after landing at the site.

How is Indian market sustainable for your products and where do you see your company in the next three-four years, witnessing the emerging market opportunities in the wake of Government focus on infrastructure in the country?

SRS Finlay :
We have closed our deals with large EPC players in India despite mobile concrete block making machines being a relatively new concept. As the size of projects in India is getting larger like a big township, a SEZ or a skyscraper it becomes technically and economically viable for the Developers/EPC to start producing blocks on their own or look for a very large manufacturer of concrete blocks. Speed of project execution is critical and hence quality and quantity of blocks required becomes vital. Our machines have a strong track record across the world and we are extremely bullish on the Indian market. We firmly believe that players in the Indian construction eco-system i.e. developers, architects, contractors, and block manufacturers will adopt modern construction practices and our machines are strongly positioned for the same.
NBM&CW February 2011
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