"The industry is definitely getting more customer oriented," states Tushar Mehendale, Managing Director, ElectroMech. In an exclusive interview with Equipment India Mehendale spills the details about changing customer preferences and the challenges the industry faces. Excerpts from the interview.What is the total size and value of the market for overhead cranes and hoists for industrial application?We estimate the market size for cranes in India to be in the region of 2,000 - 2,200 crore per annum. This would translate to approximately 10,000 cranes, of which the public sector demand is 30 per cent and the private sector demand is 70 per cent.Where do you see the growth coming from? Currently, India is certainly witnessing an increase in expenditure on several types of projects. From the cranes point of view, the infrastructure, power and manufacturing sectors have seen a robust demand, all sectors that point towards a relatively healthy economy. Expenditure on infrastructure and capital goods usually points to a healthy economy and this trend is likely to stay with us for the next few years. We see growth for us coming primarily from these sectors as well as the ancillary industries and sectors that will grow complementary to these.Tell us about the challenges faced by you in this segment. The major challenges faced by the industrial crane sector today relate to the low level of demand and volume as compared to major markets outside India. Due to this, Indian manufactures face a cost disadvantage due to economies of scale as compared to foreign manufactures from China and other countries. Further, the availability of components from ancillaries and other suppliers is at a much lower level in the Indian market as compared to other countries. India also has a lot of administrative and infrastructural bottlenecks related to power cost, delays in transportation, delays in import and export clearances, administrative problems, high taxation limits, high interest rates, etc. Some impetus from the government in the above listed areas will certainly benefit the segment. Other crane manufacturers can take responsibility to ensure safety, quality and technical innovation in their solutions offered.Secondly, the challenges being faced by the industry are more in line with the general challenges faced by all Indian manufacturing companies: lack of infrastructure and availability of good qualified engineers. Unfortunately for the mechanical engineering industry in general, all the good engineers have been absorbed by the IT industry in the past 10-12 years and as a result, there is a severe dearth of good experienced engineers available for working in the core industry.Thirdly, adherence to safety norms while manufacturing products is a challenge that the Indian market hasn't been able to live up to. Absence of a regulatory body for standard safety norms is a concern. Strict discipline is required in designing and manufacturing of hoisting equipment to ensure that there isn't even a remote possibility of accidents happening. The ability to safely and securely lift load against gravity without any casualties poses a challenge.What is the shift in the buying patterns of the user-industry?Initially, the customer used to have a single line focus of only the pricing aspect without bothering a lot about the technical comparisons between different offerings. However, now, the customer takes pains to go through the complete technical specifications and ensures that the end product encompasses all the functional aspects as well as other aspects like reliability, safety, ease of maintenance, etc. Given the tight deadlines on which today's infrastructure projects are executed, timelines are sacrosanct and delivery and commissioning schedules are closely monitored by the customer. The industry is definitely getting more and more customer oriented. Apart from the competition and the plethora of products available in the market, there has also been a shift in the mindsets of the consumers as well as manufacturers towards the overall aspect of customer service. As a result, customers expect good and timely service by default and manufacturers have to put enabling structures in place to ensure that their customers have no cause for complain.Tell us about the recent launch of Cranedge. How is the Indian customer going to benefit from Cranedge?Cranedge India is a company initiated by ElectroMech and is a dedicated service organisation exclusively engaged in providing post- sales service support for crane users. It was recently unveiled at the MahaTech Exhibition in Pune. These services are made available through a team of well-trained and skilled team of engineers and technicians. Launched with the objective to offer unmatched service to ensure safe and peak crane performance, Cranedge through its offering provide spare support, repairs, services and overhauling, annual maintenance contracts, crane health checks, modifications and retrofits, relocation of cranes and crane safety certification. In order to reduce and almost eliminate the variability of unscheduled breakdowns, it is recommended to have a proper maintenance carried out by trained professionals having crane specific expertise. It is exactly on such lines that ElectroMech has launched Cranedge to ensure maximum up time of the material handling equipment, irrespective of the make. Cranedge 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 build lifetime relationships.What is the market potential for Stahl products here in India? What does the competition in this area look like?With the Stahl EX product range, we are now providing to the Indian market, world class hoisting solutions for hazardous areas. The EX range of products is used by all the leading oil companies globally, as well as in India. Stahl EX is used extensively in India by Reliance, ONGC, IOC, etc. There are a handful of local Indian manufacturers in this segment. However, when it comes to comparison, none of the indigenous manufacturers can score as high marks as Stahl in matters related to safety, technical features, reliability and global experience. Given the sensitive areas in which such hoisting equipment operates, any compromises in the above mentioned factors by the clients can lead to unfortunate incidents which can lead to fatalities and loss of property. Hence, when customers opt for Stahl EX range of products, they have peace of mind in knowing that they have a highly safe and reliable product backed by decades of experience in hazardous area hoisting solutions across the globe with an impeccable safety record.Also tell us about the market potential for light weight crane systems. What is the market share envisaged?India is already evolving as the world's preferred manufacturing destination. This, coupled with the huge potential of the Indian market, has led to a sustained projected growth in the number of factories across the country. As a result, the demand for handling is also slated to rise exponentially. The majority of the factories involved in consumer goods, automobiles and light engineering have a requirement for handling small items ranging in weights from 50 kgs to 2, 000 kgs. Providing a regular crane for handling such small items proves to be uneconomical as well as operationally unviable. This is where the lightweight cranes come in the picture. The Abus range of lightweight cranes is referred to as HB Systems. These HB Systems are being deployed in a lot of industries across the globe: automobile, light engineering, machine shops, assembly areas, food manufacturing, etc. The unique features of these cranes are the compact design coupled with the finger touch handling. Thus, the end-user of these cranes is extremely comfortable and has total flexibility in manoeuvring the item being handled. The total market size for these HB Systems in India is estimated to be in the range of around Rs 50 crore, annually.