Our products are designed and manufactured in such a way that they consume less energy, produce more with better quality, guarantee a substantially longer life of wear parts and require minimum maintenance, says V Senthil Kumar, Managing Director, Propel Industries. Excerpts from the interview.
What is the situation on the ground, in terms of completion of 7,300 km of roads?
Out of a targeted 7,464 km of roads by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in 2012-13, only 1,115.8 km of roads has been done. This is mainly due to delays in allotment as only about 700 km was awarded till October 2012. There was no good response from bidders due to the slowdown in economy, viability of some projects, and lack of equity in the market, regularity and clearance issues. This has resulted in a steep drop in the requirement of crushing plants though the commercial segment is still sustaining a positive growth. NHAI is taking measures to address the issues soon so that the plans could be back on track.
What is the overall market for crushers and screens?
We are hoping for a nice take-off in the road sector in the coming months as a result of efforts by NHAI and the Government of India. World demand for construction aggregate is expected to grow at 2.9 per cent through 2013. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has projected 6 per cent GDP growth for India in the current fiscal. These projections obviously should result in a healthy growth in demand for crushing plants.
What are the major challenges that impact the healthy growth of the industry?
The major reasons impeding the growth of this industry have been identified and the government should address them soon. The implementation of GST will lead to the abolition of the multiple layers of taxation that currently exist.
What are the trends in the sale of crushers and screens in the mining segment?
The clampdown of mining in states like Karnataka and Orissa have not only brought down the demand for crushing plants in this sector but also made many road projects unviable.
Has the high cost of finance impacted the business?
Though the interest rate has gone up to 7.25 per cent in March 2013 from 6.75 in March 2011, it is not having any significant impact on our business. The GST will create a single Indian common market with supply chain efficiencies and scale up the economy.
What was Propel's performance in 2012 and how do you expect to fare in 2013?
In 2012-13, we have done well though we fell short of our own target marginally. We hope for a good revival in 2013-14 after the prediction of a good monsoon this year.
Brief us on the fuel/energy-efficient technologies used in the range of crushers and screens offered by Propel.
We have set energy efficiency as one of the most important criteria so that the equipment we produce is energy-efficient. Effective design and also precise manufacturing of parts have always made our equipment far superior in terms of energy consumption. The precision ensured in manufacturing aided by the design eliminates unnecessary vibrations in our crushers so that they run very smoothly.
How do you assess the move towards customer profit-based solutions from product-based solutions?
Our products are designed and manufactured in such a way that they consume less energy, produce more with better quality, guarantee a substantially longer life of wear parts and require minimum maintenance.
We conduct performance tests during commissioning of the plant and ensure compliance to the target. We make suggestions to the customers to optimise the plant performance.
Brief us on the steps initiated to train operators and technicians.
Customers expect the plants to perform, produce and produce with little care or no care over days, weeks months and years. Every field requires training to operators but in this field, it is paramount to train operators, as most of them are uneducated and unskilled. Basically, the crushers are designed in such a way that it can easily be handled by low-skilled operators. For example, we have an SMS warning system which alerts responsible persons at the customer's end and also our service team, as and when deviation occurs in the set parameters. We train the team during commissioning of new plants, followed by repeat training at regular intervals to take care of any change in team.
How do you assess the role of pre-and periodical maintenance?
We have proven formats in which all essential data are recorded by the customer on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. By explaining the benefits of regularly recording the data, we get the customer to eventually take preventive maintenance care and always/continuously measure the condition of crushers, leading to efficient plant performance.
What are the major technology/ product trends in this sector?
Electronics play a major role in automation in this sector. Automation of equipment and entire plant shall be the future as dependency on manpower is not affordable anymore.
How do you view consolidation in this segment?
We are seeing more demand in higher capacity (300 to 400 TPH) plants due to government regulations. This may result in the survival of only big players who can cater to the organised and corporate sector.
What is your take on increasing competition and what make Propel different?
Our good response to customer feedback and continuous improvement ensures a healthy market share. We are also widening our product range rapidly to become a one-stop solution for customers.