The future trend in material handling systems will be towards lighter, higher-efficiency equipment. The power consumption, material of construction, operating noise levels and eco-friendly features of this equipment will play a big role while introducing new products into the market.
Cement companies are expected to add 56 MT capacity over the next three years. The cement capacity in India may register a growth of eight per cent by next year end to 395 MT from the current level of 366 MT. It may increase further to 421 MT by the end of 2017. On the other hand, as per steel industry sources India´s steel sector is anticipated to witness investment of about Rs 2 trillion ($32.68 billion) in the coming years. Steel production in India has increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9 per cent over FY09-14 to reach 81.54 million tonne per annum (MTPA). The total market value of the Indian steel sector stood at $57.8 billion in 2011 and is anticipated to touch $95.3 billion by 2016. According to the data released by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the Indian mining and metallurgical industries attracted foreign direct investments (FDI) to the tune of $1,467.88 million and $8,267.99 million, respectively, in the period April 2000-August 2014. And these capacity addition and expansion is sure to drive the demand for various cranes and lifting solutions needed for the steel and cement sectors.
Says BV Raisinghani, President (Purchase), Jaiprakash Associates, ¨Based on the projected GDP growth, an estimated amount of around $2,000 billion is planned to be invested in different infrastructure sectors during the span of 8-10 years. Sectors planned for infrastructure investments are railways with an amount of $365 billion, roads $350 billion, mining $170 billion, thermal power $50 billion, and hydro power $15 billion. The airport projects will be having an investment of $45 billion, seaports $25 billion and urban infrastructure $780 billion.¨ He further adds, ¨Based on Infraline´s estimates, a combined steel requirement of approximately 19.5 MT is expected just from the generation and transmission segments of the Indian power sector in the remaining part of the 12th Five Year Plan reflecting a 100 per cent plus growth in steel demand in comparison to the 11th Plan. This augurs well for the construction equipment industry.
Infrastructure growth in the country drives demand for material handling and construction equipment directly through requirements at project sites as well as indirectly through growth in allied industries such as cement and steel. Although the market has been in a slowdown over the past few years, there are signs of recovery now, particularly in infrastructure, which will create the need for expansion as well as new steel and cement projects. However, growth in the steel sector is currently hampered by shortage of raw material - iron ore as well as coal, these needs to be addressed for the sector to grow as per expectations.
Speaking about growth drivers, Vidyakant Miraje, Business Head - Process Cranes, Demag Cranes and Components (I), had this to say, ¨The growth drivers are basically, demand in other industries and inter alia per capita consumption of steel such as construction, infrastructure - bridges, dams, and buildings, automobile, general engineering, and railways. Currently, all the above industries are facing a growth setback, thus paralysing demand for steel. The depreciated rupee, though, is an encouragement for export of steel. In our estimate, the impact of the slowdown and the shortage of raw material (ore) has constrained steel plants to operate at an average growth of 1-3 per cent this year as against the estimated growth of 9 per cent.¨
Says Tushar Mehendale, Managing Director, ElectroMech Material Handling Systems, ¨With the new government in place, a renewed push is expected in infrastructure projects and other related areas; we at ElectroMech are expecting an upswing in the coming months. We see a great potential in the coming years. The year 2014 ended on a positive note and going forward, the bullishness is expected to continue in 2015 as well. As long as the new government delivers on its promises of streamlining business and implementing reforms, the business community in India, will ensure that the economy keeps firing on all cylinders.¨
He adds, ¨The infrastructure construction industry which was very dormant is now waking up and we see ¨quick delivery¨ orders becoming a norm once again. The trend of increase in demand will become more pronounced in the next six months and we are eagerly looking forward to it. Our focus now is to make sure that we are ready to take on the pent-up demand, whenever there is a turnaround in market sentiment.¨ On the mining industry, he says, ¨Easing of restrictions on mining will also ensure further easing of raw material supply for the steel industry and is one of important steps that will go a long way in ensuring an overall fillip to the steel industry in particular. More the steel manufactured, higher will be the requirement for handling equipment in the economy.¨
Lifting equipment in the steel industry is subject to the roughest conditions like extremely high and variable ambient temperatures, difficult and heavy loads, as well as ever-changing and gruelling operations. The steel industry has the toughest and most demanding operating conditions.
Says Saeesh Nevrekar, Country Manager, WMI Konecranes India, ¨Cranes are an integral part of steel mills. Industrial cranes are heavily relied on for work in extreme and varied conditions of steel mills. Even a single day of disruption in work can cost steel mills hugely. With so much at stake on a single machine, a lot of thought goes into buying cranes. Crane demand is directly proportional to the steel production capacity of the steel mill. There are many crane manufacturers in India who make cranes for the steel industry but when it comes to large capacity, stringent conditions and advanced automated cranes, only a few can provide them.¨
¨The cranes industry in India does face a unique set of challenges and hurdles in today´s scenario. Since crane manufacturing requires a huge amount of investment, a quality product manufactured in a state of the art manufacturing facility results into a higher product cost, which turns out to be the biggest drawback in the price-sensitive Indian market. Moreover, there are over 300 crane manufacturers vying for a slice of a market that stands at approximately 12,000 units annually. This means that the economies of scale that exist in economies such as Germany or even China simply do not exist in the Indian context. This makes expenditure on R&D a difficult task since the costs would need to be absorbed by a small relatively small volume of products sold. To put things in perspective, the market size for industrial cranes in Germany is approximately 45,000 units, while in China it is 250,000 units,¨ says Mehendale.
Customers today are definitely more aware of what the global marketplace has to offer and demand the same in India. This has ensured that the major Indian manufacturers have stepped up their game through product upgrades or international tie ups. Acceptance of lighter and more compact cranes is a shift that has happened within the past 4-5 years, factors that can give several advantages to clients.
The industry has started becoming more and more customer oriented as compared to the past. By default, customers today expect a high-quality and well-timed customer service. As practice manufacturers have to place enabling structures in place ensuring zero customer complaints and prompt responses to service calls.
The crane industry has not seen too many revolutionary changes in technology over the past few years; however evolutionary changes have certainly happened. As the production processes gets more evolved and with increased exposure of the Indian crane manufacturers to the modern manufacturing techniques and global best practices, there is a definite shift towards adoption of newer technologies for industries as well. Says Mehendale, ¨The industrial cranes industry in India was traditionally dominated by the old 1960s-type Russian crane designs. However, companies like ElectroMech are at the forefront in convincing the sector to upgrade from the old technology and move towards the more modern and contemporary crane technology that is prevalent in Western Europe and other advanced markets. With the fast-changing business landscape, clients today demand an MHE model that yields a quicker RoI than ever before. Even companies, which are replacing or upgrading their existing range of material handling equipment, are inclined towards technology that is efficient, faster, safer and cost-effective.¨
Says Nevrekar, ¨The steel industry environment is one of the toughest to operate in. These days, the focus is on developing the economics of manufacturing steel by enhancing safety, reliability and lowering the possible cost over the lifetime of the equipment. The future trend in material handling systems will be lighter, higher efficiency equipment. The power consumption, material of construction, operating noise levels and eco-friendly features will all play a big role while introducing new products in the market. In today´s industrial scenario, productivity is extremely important and breakdowns for even a single day mean huge losses. Konecranes provides the Smarton crane, a next generation Smart Crane which is easy to operate, with minimum human supervision and helps in reducing downtime. Smarton is built with smart and unique features to make operations more efficient and safe.
Lowest bidder concept, a deterrent
According to Mehendale, the biggest challenge faced by the crane manufacturing industry stems from the buyers´ mindset. He says, ¨Most of the PSU tenders and several consultants are not at par with the developments in the global crane industry. Low-priced tenders are preferred even if the manufacturer is providing the bare minimum in terms of technical specifications as per the requirements of the tender. A price premium is difficult to demand even if the bidder proposes any extra features which might be beneficial. The reason for this lies with the fact that the bidders are evaluated at the same level as per the specifications of the tender. To be precise, the latest technology available in the market might not be apt for the inflexible (and often obsolete) tender specifications. This in turn results in technical disqualification of the bidder and thus disadvantageous to both PSUs as well as consultants.¨
Says Miraje, ¨Unfortunately, most buyers follow the traditional ´lowest price is best´ formula at the time of making a decision. This applies to a large section in steel manufacturers, since SAIL and its units buy based on a tendering process where the lowest bidder wins. Many other factors tend to get ignored in this process. Typically some of the other factors one looks at are experience in delivering solution for certain specific applications.¨
In the industrial cranes sector, sadly there is a lack of organised after-sales service offerings. Majority of the manufacturers´ involvement ends once the commissioning of the equipment is done, and generally, it is left to the end-user to service and maintain the crane. Says Mehendale, ¨ElectroMech realised that there is a huge vacuum in this space and the customer´s concerns need to be addressed. ElectroMech believes in a solutions approach to selling. The company just does not sell cranes, but it provides well-engineered hoisting solutions. This gave birth to Cranedge, a separate business unit that ElectroMech spun off, which caters exclusively to the after-sales service requirements of its clients. Cranedge´s services are available for all brands of cranes, anywhere in India. It pursues the concepts of offering ´Service at your Doorstep´, to reach ´Zero Downtime´ and building ´Lifetime Relationships´. As a specialist service provider, it is equipped and backed by resources which are essential pre-requisites to excel in service and ensure a high level of customer satisfaction.¨ Says Nevrekar, ¨The ladle crane´s handle is molten steel for which reliability and safety are equally important. The design features in the ladle cranes are centred on redundancy of systems, ease of maintenance and precise control. For handling critical activities in the steel industry, many advance safety features which ensure the overall safety of a crane, have been developed by Konecranes, like the Control Pro feature which calculates the safe working period, (SWP), the calculated remaining lifetime of the crane´s machinery. Condition monitoring protects the crane from misuse and overuse, and provides additional safety for the lifting function. Its ability to provide real-time data and facts about the crane use helps in maintenance. It also supports production optimisation by finding potential bottlenecks and less-used devices. The overload protection feature helps in setting a limit for load and does not allow movement of the load if the weight is over a preset limit. This helps protect the motor, gearbox and rope from excess wear and prevents accidents. The overspeed supervision feature prevents the operator from driving the crane over set speeds, and protects the crane, the load and the surrounding areas from possible collision and damage. The dual rope redundancy feature avoids molten metal to fall even when one of the ropes is damaged.¨
Highlighting the safety aspects in the hoisting mechanism in Konecranes systems, Nevrekar explains, ¨The hoisting mechanism in our cranes is very safe because of the advanced features we offer. A hoist synchronisation keeps the hooks at the same elevation during hoisting so that there is little danger of the load becoming unbalanced. The sway control helps to reduce accidents by preventing load sways and keeps the load steady even if an inexperienced operator is operating the crane. The working limit defines the area in which the crane is allowed to move, so the operation can be restricted to a particular area of the plant. The end positioning helps to designate the exact position for a load and prevents material damage. An extended speed range helps to lift the hook faster when it is empty or with small loads, to speed up operations.¨ He further adds, ¨Our cranes are built with smart and unique features to make operations more efficient and safe. We have the sway control, which helps reduce accidents by preventing load sways. The skew control ensures smooth and steady tracking as the crane travels down the runway. It reduces adverse loads on the crane runway and surrounding structure as well. The shock load control protects the crane´s structure by reducing avoidable stresses caused by heavy loads being picked up from the ground.¨
According to Miraje, the governing codes are fairly up-to-date but lack encouraging optimisation, which results in overweight, bulkier and higher power consuming equipment. Safety norms are based on age-old practices and completely outdated, he avers, saying they are, in fact, far from the norm followed in technologically advanced countries like Europe and the US.
Says Mehendale, All of our cranes come equipped as a standard with redundant safety electric limit switches as well as mechanical barriers to ensure that the hook path does not stray dangerously out of the intended work envelope. We have several electrical interlock systems hard wired in our circuitry which prevent an operator from running the crane in an unsafe manner even if he wishes to do so. Furthermore, by having smooth start and smooth stop functions as standard on all of our cranes, we ensure that the load swing is restricted to absolute minimum levels and associated accidents and personal injuries eliminated. Overloading protection is standard in our ABUS range of cranes. The safety brakes used on the cranes are rated for 1 million operations on full load and ensure a lifetime of worry free duty. Not only do our end products incorporate all safety features, but our people are also extremely safety conscious when working on the shop floor while manufacturing cranes as well as when working at the site and erecting the cranes.¨ He further adds, ¨As a standard practice, whenever we hand over our crane to our end customers for their use, we instruct them in the safe usage of our cranes. The company is also ISO 9001:2008 certified, with UKAS accreditation. We are now in the process of putting our systems in place for Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) certificate as we consider ourselves a responsible company and want to ensure the wellbeing and safety of not only our employees but also our end users.¨ Nevrekar sums up the scene thus. ¨The future trend in material handling systems will be towards lighter, higher-efficiency equipment. The power consumption, material of construction, operating noise levels and eco-friendly features of this equipment will play a big role while introducing new products into the market.¨
Solutions from Demag for Steel Industry
Hot (molten) metal ladle handling (5T-350T)
Hot metal - slab/billet/slag/tundish/mould-handling cranes
Rotating trolley cranes for handling long products
Rotating beam cranes for handling long products
Cranes with special attachments viz, electro-magnets, mechanical and automatic duplex-triplex tongs for slab handling, coil handling tongs etc.
Grabbing cranes for coal/scrap like bulk material handling and scales.
High-speed/automatic, semi-automatic cranes for coil/slab yard operations (YMS û yard management system)
General purpose (workshop duty and also production duty)
Electric hoists for localised handling
VALUE ADDED SERVICES FROM KONECRANES
Crane reliability survey (CRS): As every crane and production process is unique, we have created an in-depth analysis for overhead cranes and port cranes. This crane analysis, conducted by highly trained crane specialists, has a module that highlights fatigue in the crane structure, reliability, operational and safety issues. The Konecranes` crane reliability survey can help the client plan his future investment.
Crane runway survey (Rail Q): Rail Q generates 3D and 2D graphs of the runway rails and identifies misalignment and other problems of the cranes. It contains information on the runway alignment in an accurate, safe, and efficient manner and offers optimal recommendations for the corrective actions as well as cost- effective solutions. Wire rope inspection (Rope Q): Konecranes RopeQ wire rope inspection is a visual and non-destructive (NDT) rope inspection service that examines what one cannot see on the ropes. The service provides data on the current condition of the ropes leading to increased operator safety, while helping to lower the total operating costs of lifting equipment.
Truconnect® remote monitoring and reporting: It collects real usage data from the crane through a remote connection, provides a periodic report that illustrates the actual use of the hoist during that period, making it a great tool for improving safety, optimising maintenance and assessing the hoist lifecycle.
BMM Ispat uses Grove all-terrain crane
The first 300T Grove all-terrain crane in India, purchased by BMM Ispat lifts a number of components including 40T furnace structures and columns weighing between 8T and 16T at heights of up to 56 m at its plant in Hospet, Karnataka.
BMM is a leading supplier of iron ore and also a pioneer in sponge iron production, which is an alternative and more efficient method of producing iron from ore. The GMK6300 is a 300T capacity six-axle crane; it has a 60 m main boom and a maximum available tip height of 113 m. The crane has a fully automatic Allison transmission and Grove´s patented Megatrak independent suspension system to offer optimal performance both on- and off-road.
Mrutyunjaya Senapati, Director, Corporate Planning and Development, BMM, said Manitowoc quality was a major reason for the company selecting Grove. ¨We chose the Grove GMK6300 because the high-quality image of the company´s brand fits with our own brand. We are both leaders in our fields.¨ According to Prem Nathani, Manitowoc´s National Sales Manager for Mobile Cranes in India, the delivery of the crane clearly demonstrates the market potential India has. All Manitowoc Crane Care parts, service and training will be supplied by TIL, which also sold the crane to BMM. TIL has its headquarters in Kolkata and offices located throughout India.
Cranedge, through its offerings, provides spares support, repairs, services and overhauling, annual maintenance contracts, crane health checks, modifications and retrofits, relocation of cranes and crane safety certification. Material handling is an unavoidable evil in any production process in any industry. Thus, any unexpected breakdowns of cranes, hoists, winches and other material handling equipment, totally distorts the production process and delivery schedules. In order to reduce, and almost eliminate, the variability of such unscheduled breakdowns, it is recommended to have a proper maintenance carried out by trained professionals having a ¨crane-specific¨ expertise.