MAIT rigs are versatile machines that can be used for bored piles, CFA, and diaphragm walls. MAIT also has a range of hydraulic impact hammers for driven precast piles as well as driven cast-in-situ piles, says DV Brahme, Regional Manager, MAIT India. Excerpts from the interview.How do you assess the current scenario and when do you expect the pieces to fall in place?The current situation indeed is grim, with no traces of recovery seen in the short term. However, with a population of more than 1.20 billion and growing urbanisation, India definitely needs to create infrastructure of all sorts. We hope that soon this push for infrastructure resulting from demand will overcome the inertia and infrastructure building will start gaining speed. We expect to start witnessing the change in the next 6-8 months.Given the current scenario, which are the major verticals MAIT expects more business from? Is the power sector still a major growth enabler?The power sector surely has the potential to be a major growth enabler. All the other sectors are greatly dependent on the power sector. Unless the power sector revives, the other sectors cannot grow. The twin grid failures recently witnessed by the country only underlines this. We also expect more business from ports and railways. The real estate and industrial segment may take little longer to show growth.Were you able to achieve the target in 2011?In 2011, there was a small deficit in achieving the target. In the current year, despite revising the targets downwards, the growth so far has been negative.What are the challenges you face as an equipment manufacturer, supplier and service provider?The devaluation of currency has resulted in higher cost of imported equipment and there seems to be no immediate respite from it. The companies who have not hedged are facing tremendous losses. There is no easy solution to this situation. But whoever endures current turbulence will surely emerge strong and will have a great future.To what extent has the designing and consulting fraternity been encouraging the adoption of advanced technology? As such, the designing and consulting fraternity has been open to adoption of advanced technology and that is how we have come this far. However, the advantages and benefits of advanced technology in Indian context need to be explained to everyone. Using it just because others are doing it is futile. It also should be cost-effective in the medium term.As the saying goes, it is a question of whether to use high-tech and costly pen for writing during the space mission or simply using a pencil that will serve the purpose. Any advanced technology unless cost-effective will not be acceptable, especially for a country like ours where sensitivity towards price is very high.How challenging are the technical requirements of the Indian market? Does it anyway provide an easy access to import from LCC, especially from China?Surely, when the bottom lines come under huge pressure, due to devaluation of currency, general inflation, slowing of growth and dim prospects of future, everyone starts looking for short-term objectives. This pushes the companies to import form LCCs. The need is always to find the equilibrium between fulfilling the technical requirements and using the best possible equipment with moderate costs. Sourcing from LCCs is not the only answer. Many of the companies in our segment are looking out for used equipment of good quality as an answer to this. Some are even slowly building their pool of good branded equipment for use during the upturn. What are the technology/product trends in the market in terms of more fuel and energy efficient equipment, safety of the machine and personnel, higher capacity and the like?Already the products offered by MAIT are most modern, world class, complying with the latest and toughest emission norms, at the same time most affordable in the global context. Piling, a method of foundation for which these rigs are used, is fuel-efficient and eco-friendly, as it avoids movement of large quantity of material from one place to another (excavation-carting-dumping and back filling), that saves fuel, time as well as space.Enhancement of products towards energy efficiency as well as safety is a continuous process and no equipment lacking on these counts can survive in today’s market that it is one of the benefits of an open/liberal market. The equipment available today in the Indian market is at par with the latest in the world. As the technology evolves, it is put to use in the equipment in a progressive way.Is there a shift from Kelly bar piling rigs towards cast-in-situ integrated piling rigs?The Kelly bar piling or in correct words – bored cast-in-situ piling -- is a mainstream process and it will always remain so due to the unique geology of the Indian continent. The bored cast-in-situ piles are essentially high load bearing piles due to their design and they also do not have the constraint of diameter or depth. There is no shifting from it to any other method. There will be some jobs which could be done with alternate method like CFA or driven piles but the percentage is very less. For the ground conditions where it is suitable, CFA is a much faster and cleaner method of piling but it requires certain amount of expertise, correct quality of grout/concrete and precise logistic support in terms of availability of concrete.Most of the time the rated output an OEM promises is never achieved on the site. Could you tell us the reasons and what are the major parameter that depends on more piles per day?All the production calculations are based on certain assumptions and data available like soil investigation details. The soil investigation report contents the most important parameters like soil profile, ‘n’ values and rock compressive strength, water level, etc. Based on these parameters and considering the diameter and depth of the pile an estimate of the number of bores that could be drilled in a day is generally made. However, piling is not only drilling of bores but it is a synchronised process of drilling the bores, lowering of the case and casting by pouring the concrete. Any time-lag in getting the cage or concrete for casting leads to delays and consequently production loss.Generally, the soil investigation is done using 150 mm dia tools and the results do not exactly match with the actual strata faced while drilling bigger dia bores which leads to the mismatch in estimated and actual production.Often, the actual rock compressive strength is higher than earlier assumed. The thickness of different layers differs from that mentioned in the report. It also happens that the soil investigation details available are few years old and during the mean time the soil profile would have undergone a change.One of the important factors affecting the productivity is the upkeep and maintenance of the equipment. Badly maintained equipment or tools with worn-out tooth points/cutting edges definitely lead to lower production.What are the steps initiated by MAIT for training operators?Mait has specially developed training modules not only for operators but also for mechanics and engineers. Often practical as well as classroom training sessions are conducted by MAIT at the job site.MAIT has a full-fledged training centre in its Mumbai office where we also conduct internal training for staff members. What is the range of products and services offered by MAIT?MAIT offers a wide range of products for foundations. MAIT rigs are versatile machines that can be used for bored piles, CFA and diaphragm walls. MAIT also has a range of hydraulic impact hammers for driven precast piles as well as driven cast- in-situ piles. The MAIT range of products also consists of crawler cranes, equipment for geo-thermal application, tunnelling and micropiling.The rental segment seems to be hit hard. What is your take on this, and how has this dip reflected in your performance?Indeed, the rental segment has been hit hard due to the slowdown and as a direct effect of that, currently there are no new entrants in this segment. However, many of the existing rental companies have successfully ventured into contracting by leveraging on the job knowledge and customer contacts gained during the rental tenure.SAFETY FEATURES:There are many built-in safety features in MAIT rigs. Some of them are mentioned below:a) Cabin cut-off: The moment operator gets up from his seat, all the hydraulic functions stop automatically to avoid an accident.b) The operator cabin has a Fall Over Protection System (FOPS).c) There are emergency shut-off buttons provided inside the operator cabin as well as on the outside body of the rig that is accessible to other persons at site.d) The hydraulic circuit has a system that automatically stops supply of hydraulic oil to a particular function, in case of damage to the tubes or hoses, avoiding further accident and loss of hydraulic oil.