In this interaction with Niranjan Mudholkar, Rajesh Sharma, VP & Head – Marketing, Sales & Product Support, Escorts Construction Equipment Ltd says that demand for construction and material handling equipment has improved considerably over the last year
What is your assessment of the construction equipment industry with regards to the segments in which ECEL operates? How is the market growing?
This is fair to state that demand for construction and material handling equipment has improved considerably over the last year. If one looks at Government’s Five year planning documents (11th plan and the proposed 12th plan) and considers various policy initiatives which have been taken for ensuring an accelerated and integrated development of infrastructure across the country, it becomes clear that the market is in for a sustainable growth over the next 10 years. The short term demand scenario also looks good as the budgetary allocations for developing infrastructure (urban as well as rural) in the current fiscal of 2010-11 have seen a huge step up. This will lead to a significant increase in demand for construction and material handling equipments. Trends suggest that most equipment categories will almost reach back to the levels which existed in 2007 – the best year which industry experienced ever. In comparative terms, industry is likely to achieve a growth of 15-25% over 2009-10.
Tell us about your various tie-ups with foreign manufacturers. In what way have these tie-ups impacted your business and position in the market?
We offer products in almost all segments – be it earthmoving or construction or material handling. Most of our offerings come from our own manufacturing range which is largely based on our own technology. However for some products we have had technical co-operations with various foreign manufacturers such as Franna, Faun, Ransome & Rapiers, Dynapac, Hamm, etc. in the past.
Besides our own products which we manufacture, we also distribute many products from foreign manufacturers in India such as Truck cranes from Zoomlion, Rough terrain Telescopic handlers & Aerial work platforms from Manitou, Knuckle boom truck loaders from Fassi and Power utility equipment from Altec.
All these strategic relationships – either on technology cooperation or exclusive distribution – have helped us in offering end to end solutions to our customers. It benefited us as we have been able to consolidate the opportunities available with customers.
Tell us more about your newly launched 76 HP backhoe loader, DIG MAX.
Escorts Dig Max Backhoe-Loader is designed to stand apart in a market which is crowded with ‘me too’ kinds of products. This definitely is the best Backhoe-Loader available in the country in its class. It has the best performance parameters in terms of fuel efficiency, higher cutting forces, reaches and lifting capacities. Not only it scores better on performance parameters, it also offers some unique features such as selection of working modes for the backhoe operations and return to dig for the loader operations. It is very rugged – designed to suit Indian conditions much better compared to any other backhoe-Loader available in the country. And in terms of providing the support, our nationwide network ensures parts and service to our customers at over 104 locations.
Operator training is a key issue faced by the construction industry. Tell us about the initiatives taken by ECEL in this context.
This subject has received our top attention in the last 2-3 years and has become one of the cornerstones of our market developmental plan. We are one of the few companies which has given due importance to skill development for which we have set up training centres at Bangalore and Faridabad for training operators and equipment maintenance personnel. Our Bangalore training facility has been widely acknowledged as the best and the biggest in the country by the experts (from Government as well as private sectors). We have infrastructure to train 200 operators at a go at Bangalore. Our training courses and facilities are accredited by CIDC and other agencies. Besides these training institutes, we also hold many training programs across the country for our customers and other institutes to make the training an effective response to address the skill gap issue.
Recently we tied up with the Government of Delhi and MITCON to provide training to young pass outs from ITI and polytechnic institutes in operation and maintenance of construction and material handling equipments. We and MITCON now are in process of replicating this successful experience with the other state governments as well.
Which are the key industry sectors that will be the growth drivers for ECEL in the next 5-10 years?
We have bouquet of products which are relevant to construction and material handling activities. Therefore the key industry sectors for us are manufacturing as well as infrastructure building projects – especially Power, Roads, MRTS and Railways.