We shall be manufacturing the entire range of batching plants in this facility viz, the self-loading type RLA series of batching plants, Star batcher type Dragline batching plants, Compartment batcher type Compact batching plants and the Inline batching plants, with options of planetary mixers and twin shaft mixers, says Debasis Bhattacharya, Head - Sales and Marketing, Ajax Fiori. Excerpts from the interview.
Brief us on the pivotal role played by Ajax Fiori in pioneering new concepts in concrete batching / mixing technology.
Ajax Fiori has been in the market with batching plants since 1998 when we had collaboration with ORU of Italy. Over the years, we have been the pioneers in patronising the concept of self-loading batching plants through our Radius Lift Arm (RLA) series of batching plants. These plants eliminate the need of any dedicated loading arrangement for aggregates and are simple to operate. The other pioneering concept from Ajax Fiori has been promoting the planetary pan mixers as standard with all our 30 cu m/hr batching plants, which can cater to the requirements of concrete of any slump.
During bC India, Ajax Fiori had announced a new facility exclusively for manufacturing of batching plants. Can you brief us on the same?
The new manufacturing facility exclusively for batching plants is coming up at Gowribidanur in Karnataka. Construction work is in full swing for Phase-I of the factory and we expect it to be operational by November 2013. We shall be manufacturing the entire range of batching plants in this facility viz, the self-loading type RLA series of batching plants, star batcher type, dragline batching plants, Compartment batcher type compact batching plants and the Inline batching plants with options of planetary mixers and twin shaft mixers. Moreover, we shall also be manufacturing the planetary mixers ourselves with the collaboration of Eurostar of Italy. This manufacturing facility is having an installed capacity of 300 plants per annum under Phase-I.
How do you address the issue of lack of skilled and trained plant operators?
The major concern in today's construction industry is the inadequacy of skilled and trained operators operating the plant and machinery. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to address this perennial issue. We at Ajax Fiori, are committed to provide skilled and trained operators to all our customers. We conduct classroom training at our Bengaluru factory in batches and onsite training for operators throughout the year across various project sites and strategic locations. We have a dedicated team which works on this concept with schedules for the entire year.
Has the RMC sector been able to give a push to the sale of batching plants?
The RMC sector has indeed given a push to the sale of batching plants, but contrary to industry expectations, bulk of these sales have come from metros and Tier- I cities only. All leading RMC players and specific localised players have established RMC set-ups in all these cities. Moreover, companies and entities with business interest in quarrying till now, are also entering RMC business, which looks to be a positive trend. However, the RMC segment has not been able to establish them in Tier II and Tier III, which of late has been a high growth area.
What is your assessment on the growth potential for batching/mixing plants?
All these sectors have very good growth potential in India over the next decade and beyond. The housing sector accounts for nearly 64 per cent of the annual cement consumption, but has hardly witnessed any appreciable levels of mechanisation till now. The precast industry is still in its early stages of growth and can boost both the real estate sector and the infrastructure industry. Road, power and telecom sectors are some of the major drivers for infrastructure and the potential is immense; of course government policies and investments, and the role of public-private partnership is critical for the projects to actually take shape.
What was Ajax Fiori's sales performance in the batching plants/mixers?
Ajax Fiori's sales performance has been phenomenal over the last three years, registering around 50 per cent growth year-on-year, thanks to the confidence and patronage of our ever-expanding customer base. Majority of our sales have come from self-loading mobile concrete mixers, since we are having some manufacturing constraints in batching plants. With the setting up of the new facility for batching plants, we anticipate ending this fiscal at around 40 per cent overall growth over last year.
What are the market trends in the small and medium segments?
The small and medium segments, which operate in Tier-II & Tier-III cities and out of semi-urban areas, have been our major customer base over the years, till such time they had to depend on static mixers at one end or on batching plants at the other end. While the static mixers have limitations on productivity and quality, the batching plants are not cost- effective because the size of the projects and the corresponding concrete requirement do not justify the same.
Ajax Fiori's ARGO series of self-loading mobile concrete mixers has just bridged the gap very effectively. So, wherever and whenever there is requirement of concrete around 25-100 cbm per day, these machines are the undisputed choice. The USP of these machines have been mobility within job sites, productivity of quality concrete and substantial reduction in manpower. The versatility of these machines explain the fact that they have been the perfect choice for contractors over wide applications ranging from canal linings, check dams, residential and commercial buildings, industrial structures, urban infrastructure, windmill and transmission line foundations, roads and curbs, drains and culverts, to name a few.
How do you assess the role of pre- and periodical maintenance in achieving optimal use of machinery?
Preventive and periodical maintenance and training of operators are the key aspects for achieving optimal use of any plant and machinery. It enhances the productivity, increases the machinery efficiency, reduces the down time and ensures completion of the projects on time and with quality. We at Ajax Fiori carry out various proactive measures towards this by way of periodic health check camps at prominent job sites, service contracts, annual maintenance contracts and comprehensive maintenance contracts.
Also brief us on the services provided to the clients.
We strongly believe in total customer satisfaction and this can happen only through an effective product support network. We have a pan-India presence with regional and area offices located in major cities and resident engineers located in all state, ably supported by warehouse in all the regions. We have a dedicated 24x7 service on call network and ensure least downtime for our machines. We also undertake AMC's for our machines and thus facilitating an ease of operating environment to our customers.
Why should a client come to Ajax Fiori?
Ajax Fiori is in the business of concreting solutions manufacturing equipment that make and transport concrete, wherever the need is, whenever the need arises, with whatever the nature of the need is. With such offerings, ably backed by an efficient product support network, we feel that clients will feel inclined to take Ajax Fiori along their growth path.