In developed countries, there are legislations in place which ensure AWPs are used for working at heights. We strongly believe that such legislations should come in India too, says Souma Ray, Director, Haulotte India. Excerpts from the interview...
Could you brief us on your India specific strategies?
Haulotte India is a company established in India and is a subsidiary of Haulotte Group France, one of the largest full range manufacturers of aerial work platforms in the world.We are the only manufacturer of Aerial work platforms (AWPs) who have such a strong local presence. This is in-line with our Group´s global vision of ´customer proximity´. Our efforts are to provide the best product and after-sales support to our customers. We have full faith in the tremendous potential that India has for our type of equipment. Therefore, we have made India as an important operational base for the region.
What is the current demand-supply scenario for aerial work platforms?
Although the aerial work platform industry is in a nascent stage and very small in terms of numbers in India, we are sure of the immense potential this industry has in the years to come. We have seen evolution in customer awareness of need of such a product which lets them work at heights safely and productively. Demand for AWPs are increasing year-on-year both in the end-user segment as well as in the rental segment.
Which segments are expected to drive the demand?
AWPs are used across sectors like manufacturing, maintenance, construction, infrastructure, facility management, hotels, shopping malls, hospitals, schools and anywhere where work is required to be done at height. We at Haulotte manufacture the smallest push-around type of AWP, scissor lifts- electrical and diesel, vertical mast, articulated boom lifts - electrical and diesel and telescopic boom lifts- electrical and diesel. We are a full range manufacturer with machines available from 6 m to 43 m.
Depending upon the application and the nature of job, a particular model or type of equipment becomes suitable. With the impetus on infrastructure and the smart city project that the government has announced, we expect that this is one sector where there will be exponential increment in demand for our equipment in the near future.
How matured are our construction practices/methodologies to opt for these advanced systems?
I would like to say that SAFETY is of prime importance across the world and so in India. Certainly, the construction practices/methodologies here are still behind in comparison with the developed countries but it is good to see that there is an evolution taking place in the Indian construction industry to adapt the best technologies available in the world which allow them to work safely, efficiently and productively.
After all, life of every person is valuable and use of aerial work platform allows people to work safely at height.
How do you assess the safety related issues in India?
Although safety is a matter of concern across all sectors, unfortunately its importance is not established. A lot of unwanted accidents and fatalities could be avoided if people knew what equipment and practices they could use to work safely. In India, we still use bamboo scaffoldings to work at heights which are unimaginable. So many accidents and losses of life happen because of this. Metal scaffoldings would certainly have its own applications, but the use of aerial work platforms need to become a mandatory requirement while working at heights.
In developed countries, there are legislations in place which ensure AWPs are used for working at heights. We strongly believe that such legislations should come in India too, so that people are compelled to use such equipment to ensure safe working at heights.
How do you assess the current economic scenario and the growth prospectsin India?
After years of stagnancy and uncertainties, which seriously hampered the Indian economy, things have started having a positive change over the last few months. The change of political guard at the Central Government and the vision and action plan of the new government in pushing forth quick policy decisions will certainly fuel growth across all sectors. We at Haulotte are quite buoyant about the future and sustainable growth is certainlyon the anvil.
There has been quite a bit of positive vibes overall, since the new government has taken charge. Has thisstarted reflecting on the sale of equipment?
Of course the sentiment in the market has become optimistic and buoyant. There is increase in spending, both in the public and private sectors. We are quite hopeful that business shall increase in 2015, especially after the Union Budget is announced by end-February 2015. The entire business community is expecting that the government shall be taking decisions which shall boost the economy.
How farhas Haulotte geared up to meet the expected demand?
We at Haulotte are on a constant process of evolution. We have six manufacturing locations across the world and are working in full capacity to meet the growing demands. Our principle is to offer a quality product that is used for safe, fast and productive work. Our marketing, design, R&D and manufacturing teams are working continuously for upgradation of our product and rationalisation of cost of our product so that we can make the best value offering to our customers, besides providing spare parts, service and training to them. The Haulotte India product support department is geared to meet all such requirements of our customers.
Will there be any more capex in India?
At present, we have our corporate office in Mumbai and of course we plan to have our own warehouse in India wherein we shall be stocking our machines so that the lead time of availability of machines gets significantly reduced. Also, we plan to have a workshop for taking care of repairs of machines.
What are the initiatives taken by Haulotte to sustain the growth?
Our policy is similar worldwide. Haulotte Group is doing its best to provide support (in term of services, customer training - sales team and service team) in order to be a partner to our valued customers. We have set up our Indian subsidiary in line with our Group´s objective of ´customer proximity.´ This involves the establishment of a commercial and service network closer to our customers, with teams of professionals who understand the needs and expectations of their markets and provide the support to our clients. This is what gives us an edge over our competition as customers have started valuing our local presence.