Escorts have had the advantage of first mover. The consequent visibility of Escorts-Fassi cranes are high and the quality of these cranes are extremely good, bringing in the good reviews and repeat business. Our current range of cranes includes cranes from 0.8 Tm to 195 Tm in over 60 models and more than 30000 configurations, says Puneet Chhabra, Divisional Manager - Marketing, Escorts. Excerpts from the interview.
The truck loader cranes, especially KBCs, were expected to replace the PnC cranes market by at least 25 per cent by 2014-15. What is the present market scenario in terms of volume?
You are right in stating that knuckle boom cranes ( or lorry loaders ) have gained acceptability and many applications have found these cranes useful but expecting that 25 per cent market to move to these cranes by 2014-15 is bit too optimistic and erroneous. Pick-n-carry cranes have their own application and provide a value preposition which cannot be replaced .The current market for these cranes is around 300 a year and being application-oriented cranes, their demand shall always be determined by how the segments of the industry accepts these. In India, these cranes are still on the curve of concept development, however, toward the exit end of concept development now.
Escorts was the first ones to introduce the concept of these cranes way back in 1995 and since then it has been a slow march, the first sector to find the acceptability was power and since then, through the course of its acceptability, it is finding takers in brick handling, municipal usage, sundry material handling at construction sites and also the marine application.
The biggest factor hampering its growth is the mindset. People are used to handling material in one particular way and the infrastructure has developed around it. I think with the passage of time and awareness, things will change. Another factor which has major impact on the growth is the absence of any rules and regulation for the truck- mounted cranes especially with transport authorities, creating a sense of uncertainty.
Which are major application segments?
The applications which have found these cranes most useful are transformer and other material handling needed by a power distribution utility and brick- stack handling that are restricted to some parts of the country.
How has Escorts addressed the issues of visibility and easy availability of spares?
Escorts have had the advantage of first mover, so the consequent visibility of Escorts-Fassi cranes is high and the quality of these cranes is extremely good, bringing in good reviews and repeat business. We have many examples of cranes clocking thousands of hours more than the perceived economic life, but still running efficiently.
The spares and service support forms a major factor in equipment purchase decision; we at Escorts have worked on our support network for over four decades and have built a network of more than 40 dealers, spread over 110 locations to render effective after sales support. Additionally, we have our central warehouse situated at Ballabhgarh.
Could you brief us on the advantages of KBCs?
It would be bit unfair to make this comparison as both these have different applications. As the name suggests, pick-n-carry cranes are used for picking a load and moving with the load for placement, whereas the knuckle boom cranes/lorry loaders are used to load on to the body or off the vehicle on which it is mounted.
However, to play up certain feature advantages available with knuckle boom cranes, it would be worthwhile to mention that these cranes can have the possibilities of putting numerous hydraulic attachments and consequently are more versatile.
What is the scenario of attachments that go with KBCs?
In India, we have seen the acceptability of many of these attachments. The attachment which would come to the top of the mind would be the brick- stack handler, clamp-shell bucket, log handler, man basket and pipe handler. As the penetration of these cranes increase, we shall see more attachments finding favour. Escorts is offering a wide array of attachments and can even work on the development of application oriented attachments. In other words, attachment offering is not a constraint.
To what extent has the economic slowdown impacted the growth prospects of truck loader cranes?
Since the truck loader cranes are at the very nascent stage of development, we do not think that the growth has been impacted due to the economic slowdown.
How do you address the financing needs of the customer?
The plummeting value of the rupee has a direct impact on the cost of these cranes, as knuckle boom cranes are imported equipment. However, these cranes are in the nascent stage of development, so the volume impact is not there as they are finding acceptability in more and more segments/applications, thus increasing the base. The financing needs of Escorts' customers have been addressed by our understandings with different financers operating in this sector and we share a good relationship with them.
What are the types of truck loader cranes offered by Escorts?
Escorts represent Fassi Gru, Italy for its complete range of knuckle boom cranes. The current range of cranes includes cranes from 0.8 Tm to 195 Tm in over 60 models and more than 30,000 configurations. In fact, Fassi has one of the most significant range of cranes in the world and is a highly regarded manufacturer, with quality as its selling preposition, as well as immense value for money. The world over the knuckle boom cranes and stiff boom cranes cater to different markets; however in India, these cranes somehow have been clubbed to cater to the same segment. As the market matures, these cranes will find their own niche. Currently both these cranes put together have a market of over 300.
How do you assess the existing safety related specs and standards?
Safety is always the most important factor; however in India, we do not have universal standards for the cranes. These are more project driven standards. Then again, the safety features which are available in these cranes are hose failure protection and locking of the outrigger extensions. The other main safety features which are available as options include interlocking of boom extension and outrigger extensions, load moment limiter, stability control, height limiter, arc limiter, etc.