Our engineering team continuously strives to incorporate the latest technology into our products. From fully integrated control systems which drive more intuitive operator interfaces, to implementing control system-based fuel saving innovations and energy efficient direct drive transmission strategies, we do it all, says Rajen Khoda, Director of Sales - South Asia and Middle East, Powerscreen. Excerpts from the interview.
What is the situation on the ground, in terms of completion of 7,300 km of roads?
The year 2012 was very challenging for the country. Though 7,300 km of road building was to be awarded, only less than 800 km of projects could take off. This did impact the demand for crushers and screens. There was also the major issue in the iron ore mining sector. The mines in Karnataka and Goa were shut down due to various reasons, which reduced the demand heavily.
What is the overall demand-supply scenario for crushers and screens? Is the renewed focus on the road sector any indication of a revival in the industry?
There are good signs of revival of both segments ie, road building and iron ore mining. This should definitely help increase the demand for tracked crushing and screening equipment this year.
What do you think the major challenges that impact the healthy growth of the industry are?
Some of the major challenges facing the road sector are delays in land acquisition, environmental clearance, and high cost of financing. We know the government is trying to address these issues.
What have been the patterns in the sale of crushers and screens?
India is following the trend we have seen in other markets that favour tracked crushing and screening machinery in place of traditional static installations. There is, of course, a period of education and change, but it is evident from our growth that tracked crushers and screens are the way forward for India. Due to closure of mines in India, sales have been affected in the last two years. With the recent opening of mines in Karnataka, we expect to see further improvement.
Has the high cost of finance impacted the business?
Yes, this has impacted both buyer and seller. Government and financiers are trying to address this issue with lowering rates of interest.
What was Powerscreen's performance in 2012, and how do you expect 2013 to be?
Powerscreen secured a satisfactory result for the full year 2012. Although there has been some market softness for crushing and screening in India during 2012, Powerscreen has one of the most advanced and experienced dealer networks and has been working with local customers to address and help solve their concerns. The longer-term importance of this market overshadows the near term fluctuations in demand and we believe this, and other surrounding markets; will be important in Powerscreen's growth.
Brief us on the fuel/energy efficient technologies used by you.
Powerscreen has seen an increase in the demand for alternative power solutions. To meet this demand we have designed dual power options for our screening equipment range. Once positioned onsite and connected to an external electricity source, the unit can be switched to operate on electricity, meaning it will have zero emission, while retaining all the benefits of a mobile machine. By having the option to operate on diesel fuel oil or electricity, the Powerscreen dual power mobile screens can reduce diesel fuel oil consumption, operating costs, and depending on the set-up, may also reduce machine downtime due to reduced refuelling and engine servicing.
How do you look at the usage patterns of these sophisticated machines by the user segments?
There are some initiatives that are in a nascent stage though to train operators and technicians. Under the aegis of Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association (ICEMA), an initiative to set up a Skill Development council has been set up, along with the Government of India. Government and industry are addressing this issue as a top priority. This will ensure a steady resource pool over time. However, it will be at least a couple of years before the results of these initiatives will be available to the industry.
In the interim period, it is up to manufacturers like us to take an initiative to train the user community. Recruited team members are trained for a variety of jobs. Sales staff are trained on all our crushing and screening products to help make certain you get the right machines for your application, giving customers the volume, shape and size of the end product they need.
What are the major technology/product trends in this sector?
For Powerscreen, the jaw and cone crusher combination has a higher acceptance in the Indian market. The reason for this is the versatile nature of the products, making them suitable for a variety of applications.
What is your take on increasing competition and what makes Powerscreen different?
Our engineering team continuously strives to incorporate the latest technology into our products. From fully integrated control systems which drive more intuitive operator interfaces, to implementing control system-based fuel saving innovations and energy efficient direct drive transmission strategies, our equipment is at the forefront of the latest industry advancements.
Our crusher range allows for complete interplant linking, helping provide more effective material flow through the entire process. The instinctive operator systems in our latest machine releases allow operator training to be carried out in a shorter period of time. This improves the ability of the operator to understand the process control and to manipulate the operating characteristics of the plant for differing applications and machine throughput. When this is combined with innovative diagnostics and operator information, it provides outstanding plant productivity.
Any new products launched recently?
Research and development are an important part of the Powerscreen strategy. Annually, we hold focus groups and carry out numerous surveys to gain greater insight into current customer needs and identify changing market trends. As a result of this feedback, the engineering team is able to focus on incremental improvements to the existing product range and update our product development strategy to anticipate future market requirements.
The importance of fuel efficiency is factored in at the initial machine design stages. Emphasis is placed upon designing machines that give the greatest level of fuel efficiency while at the same time providing the greatest level of output.
In 2012, Powerscreen launched the Warrior 1400X screen, XH320X tracked impact crusher and the X400S with pre-screen tracked jaw crusher. In terms of specific features, the X400S jaw crushers are fitted with a direct drive system to the chamber which provides greater fuel efficiency when compared to hydraulically driven systems.
The current product line-up is continually evolving; there are a number of new products planned for 2013 including the Premiertrak 300 which was previewed at the bauma exhibition in Germany.