Demag is probably the only company among crane manufacturers with the largest field force. Our services include installation and commissioning, warranty and post warranty services and support through parts, says Vidyakant Miraje, Business Head - Process Cranes, Demag Cranes and Components (I). Excerpts from the interview.
Are there any new projects from the steel industry that may spur the growth of the material handling equipment segment?
Steel manufacturers like SAIL, RINL, IISCO, Tata, JSW, JSPL, JSL, Essar, and Bhushan account for almost 80 per cent of steel production (crude and finished steel). Most of the major expansion projects taken up by manufacturers like SAIL, Tata, and Essar are in an advanced stage of implementation or completion. Hence, a bulk of the cranes and other material handling requirements for these plants is already procured.
A few projects related to melt-shop, sinter plant, WRM, and BRM are still underway and are likely to generate some demand and excitement among crane manufacturers. Our estimate of these requirements is around Rs 300-400 crore.
Is there any demand-supply mismatch?
There are no constraints on the supply side. The market is already cluttered with many ´me too´ manufacturers. However, it is companies like Demag that have consistently brought the latest technology to Indian markets. Our global experience with the steel industry has resulted in specialised products that are on offer for the manufacturing as well as the finished product handling.
What are the other growth drivers?
The growth drivers are demand in other industries and inter alia per capita consumption of steel such as construction (Infrastructure - bridges, dams, and buildings), automobile, general engineering, and railway. Currently, all the above industries are facing a growth challenge, thus paralysing demand of steel. The depreciated rupee is an encouragement for export of steel. In our estimate, the impact of slowdown and also shortage of raw material (ore) has constrained steel plants to operate at an average growth of 1-3 per cent this year as against estimated growth of 9 per cent.
Tell us about the range of crane systems offered by Demag for different application for steel sector.
We have been one of the global pioneers in the crane industry. The nature of our business, global and multi industry, has enabled us to, over a period of time, understand the requirements of certain industries and develop solutions for them accordingly, as well as cascade this experience to different applications. Specifically for the steel industry, we are able to offer the following solutions:
What are the major selection criteria for crane systems for the steel industry?
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 factors one looks at are experience in delivering solution for certain specific applications.
How updated are the codes and specs especially with regard to safety?
The governing codes are fairly updated in themselves 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, in fact they are far from norms in technologically advanced countries.
What are the automation function options provided by Demag Cranes in its range?
This is a good question but demands a fairly long response. To keep it simple, we would like to state that, Demag has provided and can provide the following automation functions:
What are the major safety features in the crane systems?
Safety is something we are passionate about. Safety is important to us not only in product design and features but also in the way we manufacture the product.
Our cranes, irrespective of applications and industry, have some of the best safety features incorporated in them. There are certain features which are specific to certain processes and applications, and in the context of the steel industry they could be listed as follows:
Brief us on the latest product and technology trends in the crane systems for the steel industry?
Some recent developments pertinent to the steel industry cranes are emergency braking system for rope drums, redundancy in drives for uninterrupted working, auto-positioning for crane conditioning and monitoring system, and crane operation log and data transfer.
What are the services offered by Demag Cranes in this area?
Demag has the largest field force among crane manufacturers. Our services include installation and commissioning, warranty and post-warranty services and support through parts. Post-warranty, we also offer a bouquet of services that ensure the cranes are maintained in optimal working condition through health checks, annual maintenance contracts and other related services. Due to our expertise, we also have some non-Demag crane users approaching us to undertake maintenance services on their non-Demag cranes, and we have done so in a few cases.
We also offer refurbishment and modernisation services. The steel industry has an installed capacity of over a few hundred cranes that are a few decades old. Many of these cranes are either past their full life or approaching that stage rapidly.
Our services start with a professional crane audit which delivers to the users a report that informs them of the safe working period left on their crane. It also highlights the measures one can take to improve the safe working period. One can then undertake refurbishment or upgrade or modernisation of their crane. The approach could be as simple as addition of a safety package or modifying the hoisting mechanism, or increasing the SWL or span of the crane.
These services are offered on Demag as well as non-Demag cranes and we have executed quite a few of these in India, with successful results. When capital investment is a challenge, one can take this route to ensure they get the best out of their current cranes.
Our global experience with the steel industry has resulted in specialised products that are on offer for the manufacturing as well as the finished product handling.
Post-warranty, we also offer a bouquet of services that ensure the cranes are maintained in optimal working condition through health checks, annual maintenance contracts, etc.