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The Indian Industrial cranes industry is definitely getting more and more customer oriented, says Tushar Mehendale, MD, ElectroMech India, in this interaction with Niranjan Mudholkar

What is your analysis of the material handling equipment (MHE) industry in the industrial cranes segment?

On the back of a global slump in demand and a definite slowdown in the industry, a majority of capacity expansion projects were put on hold by several industries. As a result, decision making process was getting elongated and finalisations of the orders were not happening at the pace of last year. As a result for almost one year between October 2008 and October 2009, there was a definite slowdown in the order inflow. However things have changed in the past two months and we started seeing a renewed enthusiasm again in the marketplace with finalizations happening at a frantic pace and customers starting to chase us for faster deliveries. Based on the visibility afforded to us by the volume of qualified business enquiries, we are quite optimistic about the overall direction of the market.

What is your estimate of the market size and who are the key players?

In our estimate, we peg the industrial cranes market in India for 2010 at Rs2500 crore. The key players in the industrial cranes space in India are ElectroMech – Abus, Demag, Kone Cranes and Stahl. Apart from these companies like Anupam, WMI & Mukand concentrate exclusively on cranes required for process industries like steel and cement. The industrial cranes market in India is highly fragmented. Almost 30% of the total market is captured by the above mentioned seven companies while the rest of the market is shared by almost 150 small crane companies.

Which infrastructure segments are the key drivers for the MHE industry?

The key driver of the industrial cranes industry currently is primarily the infrastructure industry. The infrastructure industry is then closely followed by steel and then the automobile industry. Within the infrastructure industry construction and power projects are the main drivers.

How demanding is the Indian customer?

The Indian customer is an ever evolving customer. From being exposed to shoddy equipment a decade back, today the Indian customer is the king with a choice of high quality equipment at his beck and call. Hence naturally, the demands of the customers are also evolving. Initially, the customer used to have a single line focus of only the pricing aspect without bothering a lot about the technical comparisons between different offerings. However, now, the customer takes pains to go through the complete technical specifications and ensures that the end product encompasses all the functional aspects as well as other aspects like reliability, safety, ease of maintenance, etc. In today’s infrastructure projects timelines are sacrosanct and delivery and commissioning schedules are closely monitored by the customer. Yes, the customers are definitely getting more demanding.

With several international tie-ups happening, has the industry started to have considerable global influence in terms of quality and use of better technology. Has the industry become a lot more customer-oriented now?

The industry is definitely getting more and more customer oriented. Apart from the competition and the plethora of products available in the market, there has also been a shift in the mindsets of the consumers as well as manufacturers towards the overall aspect of customer service. As a result customers expect good and timely service by default and manufacturers have to put enabling structures in place to ensure that their customers have no cause for complain.

What is your assessment of after sales services in the MHE industry?

In the industrial cranes sector, there is sadly a lack of an organised after sales service offerings. Majority of the manufacturers scoot from the site once the commissioning of the equipment is done and generally it is left to the end user to service and maintain his crane. We realized that there is a huge vacuum in this space and thus the customer’s needs have to be addressed. This gave rise to our latest initiative – Cranedge. We have spun off Cranedge as a separate business unit wherein it will cater exclusively to the after sales service requirements. Through Cranedge we offer dedicated services for all industrial cranes irrespective of the makes and ensure that our clients get the maximum RoI.

Your outlook for the future?

 

India is an exciting market to be present in over the next 20 years and we hope to make the most out of the unique opportunity afforded to India over its entire history.

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