Vermeer is in the business of trenchless technology for three decades and over the period, has developed advanced technologies to handle different challenging projects. T Ramesh, Country Head, Vermeer Asia Pacific, elaborates more on the progress of trenchless technology in India and new opportunities.
What is the current market scenario of trenchless technologies in India? How do you compare the India scenario with the developed markets?
Trenchless technology exists in India for over 20 years. For the past over five years, the market is growing at a very high rate. The market size is around 1,000 units in the current year. Utility infrastructure development in India has contributed a lot to the growth in trenchless technology. The regulations for laying utilities in the developed countries are very stringent. In India, the regulations are coming into effect across various sectors and implementation is in progress.
How important is the use of trenchless methods at various projects in the current situation?
Infrastructure sector in India is growing at a very high rate and is one of the prime focus areas of the government. This includes various utility installations like telecom, power, water, sewer etc. While the infrastructure development is growing, it also causes a lot of social and public disturbances which are unavoidable. Trenchless technology is the most environment-friendly solution to mitigate such social and public disturbances. Especially, in urban areas where the vehicular and public movements are continuous most of the day, using trenchless technology would help in executing the infrastructure projects without disturbance to general public and also without causing social disturbance.
What are the trenchless technology solutions offered by Vermeer?
Vermeer is the pioneer in introducing trenchless technology to the world, three decades ago through horizontal directional drilling equipment. The main objective was to provide an environment-friendly and cost-effective solution to the world. We provide solution to every challenging situation in the utility infrastructure development across the world, which includes drilling under rigid situations like rocky terrains, working under complicated areas like river crossings, railway crossings, highway crossings, reinstallation of utilities etc. The solutions are for all utility infrastructures that include telecom, power, water, sewerage, and oil and gas.
What are your expansion plans in India?
Vermeer manufactures different variants of horizontal directional drilling equipment in the US and Tianjin and distributes across the globe through our channel partners. The partners provide the sales and after sales support to the customers, which includes service, supply of parts, training etc. In India, Vermeer follows the global policy of providing support through dealer network. Presently, Vermeer is into developing the sales and distribution network across the country and segments.
How do you look at the future of trenchless technologies in India? What are the opportunities and challenges?
As said earlier, trenchless technology is becoming more prominent. Presently, the major user of the trenchless technology is the telecom sector for installation of optical fibre network across the country. While this is one of the fastest growing segments, we find the prominence of trenchless technology growing in other utility infrastructure segments also, especially in the oil and gas sector. With the government focus on power, infrastructure and water and also the fact that minimising social disturbance being priority and the importance given to safety and advanced technology, we are very positive about the increasing opportunities for trenchless technology equipment in India. While the opportunities are listed above, the challenge would be availability of alternate technology which could be a threat in terms of initial investment by the user.
How are you gearing up to meet the future market requirements?
Vermeer is in the business of trenchless technology for three decades and over the period of so many years has developed advanced technologies to handle different challenging situations in execution of projects. With the robust systems available, Vermeer can augment the production capabilities as per the market requirement. Hence, we are very confident and positive that Vermeer can handle the technical requirement and can meet the growing demand for the equipment as well.
Drilling deeper - beyond the purchase price
Among the most important factors that influence decisions to purchase one product over another is cost. Yet all too often buyers neglect to look past purchase price and dig deeper to uncover the not-so-obvious expenses. Such is the case for many trenchless contractors as they navigate their way through the process of acquiring a new horizontal directional drill.
Solely looking at purchase price isn't always a true reflection of what you are actually paying. Buyers need to take into account the cost of operation as a more accurate representation of what the investment will be in the long-term. Even though you may buy a less expensive rig upfront, the day-to-day operations could cost you more over the course of the drill's lifespan than a more expensive drill with better efficiencies.
Cost of ownership vs cost of operation
Cost of ownership includes money spent to purchase the drill, minus trade-in allowances or proceeds from private sale of used equipment. Cost of operation, on the other hand, may include day-to-day operational expenses including maintenance, repairs and even tooling to some degree. At the time you are buying a new drill, specifics like drill rod durability and wear part pricing may not be the foremost in your purchase decision. However, these things - such as wear items - can add up and be a major factor in your daily cost equation. Also, considering how drilling environments will impact the condition of a drill over time will allow contractors to get a more accurate handle on service and maintenance costs over the drill's lifetime.
Once the primary operational components of the drill, those most prone to wear, have been identified; owners can more accurately estimate what will be necessary to maintaining the drill.
Securing a service agreement that covers most maintenance and repair costs can be an important expense management tool that allows contractors to more accurately estimate project expenses.
Enhancing productivity while maximising residual value
Just like anything, there is a point where equipment gets to the age that technology bypasses it, or the hard components of the drill will wear out. As time goes by, a time will probably come when the resale value becomes diminished by cost of operation; when repair costs outpace productivity and efficiency. It is important to know when the lifecycle of a drill is at its premium point - and when you should consider replacing it. The owner also needs to understand that after the drill peaks within its lifecycle, the cost of operation may start to increase simply due to hours of use.
The longer service and maintenance issues are delayed, the greater the likelihood the drill will experience more serious, long-term problems. An effective way to avoid neglecting recommended service intervals is to secure a service or maintenance package with your local dealer.