Moving towards ‘standard’ solution
India is traditionally been a user of ‘engineered’ or a ‘custom-made’ crane. Major crane-using industries such as steel, power, automotive besides others predominately prefer to have their cranes designed and fabricated by local crane manufacturers to suit specific project requirements. However, industries are now slowly but steadily moving towards ‘standard cranes’ which are built with standard hoists and crane components with lesser wheel loads. These cranes offer smooth operation, great ergonomics, lowest maintenance and better operational safety. Interestingly, most of the ‘standard’ crane manufactures also offer customised solution, making them a preferred option today. “There is a gradual shift to move away from custom built/custom engineered cranes to accepting designs which are standard. Standard actually means the manufacturer offers cranes with certain features, safeties that are inbuilt into the design of the product. These are in no way inferior in quality,” says Adarsh Hegde, Head – Sales and Marketing, Demag Cranes & Components (I) Pvt. Ltd.
Traditionally, he says, buyers end up specifying replicas of their existing products, sometimes, with no thought or analysis of their application. In the process they end up specifying an over-designed product with specific makes. “This is what renders the product as specially engineered. It is important for the industry in general to review their application, work with the crane manufacturer and only if the application demands then go in for specially engineered cranes,” he adds. Demag is one of the key manufactures and suppliers of standard cranes besides customised ones. The company realised the burgeoning demand for standard cranes in India and, opened a new facility in Pune last year. The plant is designed for a production capacity of up to 600 Standard Cranes and 100 Process Cranes per year.
Another key player, ElectroMech who is in this business for the past 30 years says that overhead crane industry in India is highly fragmented /disorganized and building a reputation takes time and effort. “Crane buying decision is based to a huge extent on the credibility of the crane manufacturer. Clients prefer to partner with crane manufacturers who have proven their mettle and have a long track record of supplying reliable and safe hoisting equipment. Also, selling cranes requires an adoption of a solutions approach as compared to a cut and dry catalogue selling. This is where companies like ElectroMech that form the organized sector are strong and customers from all segments of the market are slowly gravitating towards this kind of approach,” says Tushar Mehendale, Managing Director, ElectroMech.
According to a rough estimate, the industrial cranes market in India for 2011 is Rs2500 crore. Almost 30% of the total market is captured by reputed names in the organized sector such as ElectroMech, Demag, Stahl, Kone, Mukand, Anupam and WMI while the rest of the market is shared by almost 150 small crane companies.
Stahl CraneSystems India Pvt Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of Germany-based Stahl CraneSystems, agrees it’s been difficult and long journey for them to make inroad into a market which is highly dominated by unorganised sector. “In government purchases, engineered crane solutions are still preferred where fitting the standard crane specification is very difficult. In process cranes and also in steel mill cranes, engineered solutions are the best. The future for standard cranes lies in category of 0.5t to 80t max for regular factory cranes where standardisation is possible,” says Anand Dayanidhi, General Manager, Sthal CraneSystems India Pvt Ltd. In the longer run, he adds, by acceptance of PSUs/government sector and consulting firms for the standard crane specifications, in view of the reliability, quick supply possibility, lower spares requirements and least need for maintenance etc, the trend would change in favour of standard crane. But there will be a huge market left out for engineered cranes also.
Dayanidhi says that industry’s response has been good and steady after it witnessed the slow period during 2000–2005. According to him, the early adopters of standard cranes in India are those who are exporters and are associated with MNCs through collaboration or equity participation, SMC and owner driven companies with an extra eye for quality, reliability and lower need for maintenance and spares. “Also those crane building companies who have an eye for better quality, more productivity through standardisation have got into this segment very early in the first decade of this millennium,” he adds.
Gujarat-based Anupam Group who is one of the key suppliers of cranes to power, steel and construction sectors says that the prime growth driver for material handling industry in India is the investments made in power, steel and infrastructure sectors. “Announcement of various projects in the industries pertaining to power, steel, cement, engineering and infrastructure sectors, will fuel the demand for industrial cranes in India. The overhead crane market was quite small till 2000 to 2003. After that the economic boom started in India. With heavy investment being made in the infrastructure and other core sectors, the market for cranes expanded manifolds. The current market size of crane industry is around Rs1500 crore which is expected to grow at the rate of 30-40% year-on-year,” says Mehul Patel, Managing Director, Anupam Group. He says Anupam’s current share in the market is around 25-30%.
Mehendale agrees that the demand for material handling equipment lies in the industry such as manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, general engineering related to power plants, metro or irrigation projects and government sectors like the railways, ordnance factories, armed force etc. “As a country undergoing rapid development, the construction and infrastructure sectors are witnessing an increase in activity, the requirements for cranes from these sectors is strong. Primarily, there is a direct requirement for equipment at various project sites such as gantry cranes for precast segment yards and bridge constructions, specialized hoisting equipment for bridge launching girders etc,” says Mehendale.
‘Standard’ crane manufactures are constantly innovating their technology to offer better quality and more customised solution. With the presence of international players through Indian collaboration, the Indian users have now access to world class products. The companies like Demag Cranes has extended its product range to include newly developed energy-saving motor. “The new motor enables the company to add a drive to its product range that meets the requirements of efficiency class IE2 (High Efficiency), which applies all over the world. With effect from June 16, 2011, the EuP Directive (EuP = Energy using Products) specifies that only low-voltage AC motors with an output of between 0.75 and 375 kilowatts may be placed on the market if they correspond at least to efficiency class IE2 (IE = International Efficiency) when covered by the Directive. This rule is based on targets agreed to protect the climate and to cut CO2 emissions,“ says Hegde of Demag Cranes.
He says in future even India will involve a fair amount of remote services. “The industry in India, will slowly but surely demand similar service and Demag India is well positioned here,” he adds.
Mehendale says the crane industry in India has not traditionally been at the forefront of innovation. However, recently with products from foreign manufacturers becoming more popular, Indian manufacturers are also beginning to upgrade their products. “We are constantly evolving and adapting new methods to improve all our processes from sales to dispatching of cranes. This strategy is visible in our product range; the constant evolution of products as well as new ones from global leaders,” he adds.
According to Stahl Cranes, all equipments are becoming more and more electronic driven. “More emphasis is given on lesser energy consumption per ton of SWL, 20-30% girder weights and wheel loads, reliable and cost effective festooning and power supply systems, life lubricated gearboxes, brakes of very high life, load monitoring and data collection in the hoists by suitable controllers. The complete history of the hoists usage can be analyses on the spot. In my opinion, all this advancement or innovations are very practical and increases the availability of an equipment to the maximum,” says Dayanidhi.