Our aim is to strengthen our infrastructure, sales and service support to customers. At present, we have good customer references in India and we are focusing on providing complete lifting solution to customers rather than just providing equipment, says Saeesh Nevrekar, Country Manager, WMI Konecranes India. Excerpts from the interview.
Brief us on the growth potential for material handling equipment business for the port sector.
Indian ports are the gateways to India's international trade by sea and are handling over 90 per cent of foreign trade. The Indian ports sector is poised for significant growth driven by new manufacturing and power projects and higher cargo traffic at ports. Increase in containerised trade, coupled with the government's active initiatives to develop the Indian ports sector, is expected to further boost growth. Many private ports also came into operation to cater the increasing container traffic at ports.
It clearly shows the growth in container traffic and the subsequent huge demand for port cranes and material handling equipment like lift trucks and reach stackers. The market size for port cranes is estimated to be close to $300 million in India. This market is expected to grow steadily by 15 to 20 per cent.
To what extent has fuel/energy-efficient equipment made a headway at ports, ICDs and CFSs?
The Indian market is developing at a rapid speed and has become more demanding than ever. Today, customers have become very keen on the delivery time of equipment to avoid the cost of delay in projects. Fuel efficiency is also one of the important factors and many times it plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. Fuel costs are increasing day by day and the fuel consumption by material handling equipment constitutes a good amount in overall operational cost, so in big inland container depots (ICDs) and container freight stations (CFSs), the saving in fuel cost is similar to making big profits.
How do you look at the connectivity issues?
For the maritime sector, infrastructure issues like connectivity of major ports, ICDs by rail and road to the market is a serious issue, transporting the shipment from ports to the nearest markets is taking time and transporters have to wait for longer time to actually load containers from the ports. The traffic near the ports and the waiting period for trucks to load container is increasing. As the ports grow and increase in capacity, it needs to be ensured that the logistic movement in and out at the ports is smooth.
Since service and quick response to reduce downtime are essential, what are the steps initiated by Konecranes to optimise the same?
We have developed a dedicated team of service professionals for service and modernisation of port cranes. For lift trucks and reach stackers, we provide services for maintenance, refurbishment and modernisation of all brands. Apart from this, we also conduct maintenance training programmes and driver training programmes for customers. Our service engineers are trained at the Konecranes Sweden factory for the lift trucks business exclusively. We also offer maintenance on a complete operational contract to customers.
What are the issues with financing of port equipment?
The government's decision-making process for giving environmental and other clearances for development of ports need to be made faster. Normally the port operators make a feasibility and capex study at the very initial stage and it takes a very long time to actually get all necessary approvals from the government to kickstart the projects. Many economical factors and cost of capex thus increases during this period, which results in less efficiency and feasibility of the projects. This is not favourable for the port operators. Due to long government procedure and changing market dynamics, financing for port equipment is not a smooth process.
What is the range offered by Konecranes and how fuel/energy-efficient is these equipment?
There is a good demand for STS and RTG cranes in India and mostly all the equipment manufacturers are from Europe and China. Konecranes supply a complete range of material handling equipment for ports like STS, RTG, RMG, ADG bulk unloader, reach stackers, forklift trucks, saddle carriers, automated stacking canes, etc.
The Konecranes range of RTG cranes uses less energy than usual with its new hybrid power pack technology. The hybrid power pack turns a fully diesel RTG into a diesel/electric hybrid RTG. Whenever possible, the crane is operated with electrical power drawn from the energy store. Like a hybrid car, it takes the energy generated during braking and converts it into electricity to recharge the batteries. Depending on usage, this solution can significantly reduce diesel fuel costs. In other words, the RTG can operate much longer on a tank of fuel.
Brief us about the potential for reach stackers.
Reach stackers work as a backbone for container handling in ICD and CFS. There is a great potential for this equipment in India; till date, Konecranes has supplied more than 44 reach stackers in India. Innovation has been our tradition, Konecranes is proud to announce the introduction of the world's first hybrid reach stacker, the SMV 4531 TB5 HLT for container handling, with a lifting capacity of 45 tonne. It features a hybrid diesel/electric driveline, electrified hydraulic lifting system, and a super capacitor-based energy storage. This innovative lift truck will cut fuel consumption and emissions by at least 30 per cent, while offering improved performance, acceleration and response to driver's command.
Could you tell us about the core competencies and strength of Konecranes with regard to material handling solutions at ports?
Konecranes has a long history of innovations and has been in the business of cranes for more than 80 years. We are committed to help our customers to increase the productivity of their operations with the lowest possible total cost of ownership, and in an economically sound and safe way. We developed our first shipyard crane in early 1950s. The world's first all electric RTG crane was developed by Konecranes in 1995. We have many patented innovations on our account, like the electric load sway damping, electric RTG wheel turning, active load control system for yard cranes, electro-mechanical load control system for STS, and many more. Konecranes has more than a hundred patents on crane technology.
Our cranes are highly advanced in terms of automation solutions, the fuel efficiency of cranes and its fast speed of operation. When the ship comes to the port for unloading, it completely depends on speed and efficiency of crane on how the ship waits for unloading/loading. The faster is the crane, the lesser is the time required to unload/load ships and it will increase the productivity of ports. Also, the modern crane comes with container identification technology which can help the operator identify the specific container location among the hundreds of containers lying in the port, so the operator can pick up the exact container in the least time. These are just a few examples of how modern cranes can enhance the overall efficiency of port operations. Konecranes also has automatic stacking cranes which operate without operator and are fully controlled remotely. This eliminates human movement inside container operational area.
Brief us on your road map with regard to port equipment.
We have geared up for the continuous and growing demand for port equipment in India. The exemption on investment on plant and machinery should boost the manufacturing and export in India. Our aim is to strengthen our infrastructure, sales and service support to customers.
At present, we have good customer references in India and we are focusing on providing complete lifting solution to customers than just providing equipment. As of now, we do not have plans to set up a manufacturing facility for port cranes in India, but it can't be ignored also in the long term. We are optimistic about the market and as per business needs, we will not be too far behind in setting up a manufacturing unit in India.