Despite the economic slowdown and contrary to initial apprehensions from the major stakeholders, Excon 2013 turned out to be a success, with OEMs and aggregate and components manufacturers launching a new range of machines and components, and some of them even announcing further investment to augment capacity, in order to meet the expected demand spurt in the coming years. And most importantly, diversification seems to be the new trend as the mega show provided distinct pointers where a majority of players were charting new frontiers to sustain growth.
With scores of machines on display, the largest construction equipment (CE) expo in India saw a good turnout. South Asia´s biggest exhibition of CE, Excon 2013 organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), opened on 20 November 2013 at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC), Bangalore. The five-day exhibition witnessed new products and technologies that can well bring confidence back to the industry. The exhibition also saw increased participation from foreign countries; indeed, the increased number of participation from the components, accessories and spares sector was one development to be noted.
In his address as Chief Guest at the inaugural session, Oscar Fernandes, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways said that though the exhibition had been organised at a time when there is a downturn in the world and in India´s economy, it was heartening to see that CII has been successful in bringing in people from all over the world in such great numbers. He was also happy that it showcased India´s own achievements in developing such equipment for infrastructure growth. ´I congratulate this great achievement. I am also happy that a large number of companies from abroad have partnered in this exhibition,´ he said.
Fernandes emphasised that time management was a crucial factor in the efficient project implementation and all large infrastructure projects should have a project management system for speedy implementation. Speed management also makes a project economically viable and profitable, he said.
´At present, the government has started work on several new infrastructure projects including three airports, two ports, an elevated rail corridor in Mumbai, and almost 6,000 miles of new roads. We are also planning to build expressways through innovative financing models,´ Fernandes said.
´The government is also aware that the infrastructure projects often suffer from lack of funding or are subject to many conditions by the lenders before funding. So the government has directed the lenders to take assets into account for funding projects. We are also encouraging the development of maintenance-free roads which initially may cost a little more but in the long run, is much more economical,´ he said. ´Electronic tolling is another area where trials are going on; we have the latest technology which establishes contacts with the toll booth from almost a kilometre away, for the toll gate to open. This will help overcome major traffic logjams at toll gates,´ Fernandes said. ´We sincerely believe that there is a need to strengthen PPP in the road sector, which would act as a critical precursor for sustaining the growth momentum of the economy,´ he added.
In his address as Guest of Honour, Minister for Transport, Government of Karnataka, Ramalinga Reddy said, ´The government of Karnataka has a close association with CII to promote the industries of the state. ´We have big plans for the growth of the state across all districts,´ he said, mentioning that one such initiative was the Bangalore-Mumbai Economic Corridor.
In his special address at the inaugural event, S Gopalakrishnan, President CII, said that Excon this year had attained new heights with 17 per cent growth in number of participants. He pointed out that the pace of growth in infrastructure in India has not kept pace with demand and that it was a major challenge for the country. Gopalakrishnan highlighted that infrastructure development is a critical enabler for economic growth as the lack of it impedes India´s GDP growth rate by 1-2 per cent per annum.
In his theme address, Vipin Sondhi, Chairman, Excon 2013 said, ´The scope and reach of Excon has been growing over the years and today we see the greatest number of industry and visitor participation, making Excon 2013 the biggest ever exhibition of CE, not just in India but also in South Asia.´ In his concluding remarks, Sumit Mazumder, Vice President, CII said that in India, construction is the second largest economic activity after agriculture. Construction equipment accounts for nearly 65 per cent of the total investment in infrastructure and is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of the surge in infrastructure investment over the next five years. Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Soumitra Bhattacharya, Chairman, CII Karnataka said there was urgent need to increase public spending substantially and at the same time, create an investment conducive environment to encourage greater private sector participation in the creation of infrastructure.
The second day of Excon 2013 started with a conference on æSustainable Infrastructure Development´ organised by the Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers´ Association (ICEMA) in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Dr EM Sudarsana Natchiappan, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, in his Chief Guest`s address at the inaugural session, acknowledged the difficulty in land acquisition for infrastructure projects in the country. To make land acquisitions easier, the minister suggested that the project developers should have a human approach and take into account the needs of the land owners, interact with them, try and provide jobs through skill development, he said.
Vipin Sondhi said that with the theme on ´Propelling Sustainable Infrastructure Growth,´ the seventh edition of the premier event for the construction equipment industry is not just Southeast Asia´s largest but is on its way to become one of the top few in the world for propelling infrastructure growth in India. Sondhi felt that there are a number of benefits that would accrue from the development of the construction equipment industry. These benefits include increase in per capita income in India; creation of 30 to 35 million jobs in infrastructure and other sectors linked with infrastructure development like steel, cement, etc; a massive 5 to 6 per cent reduction in unemployment rates, and 3 to 4 per cent of the population lifted above the poverty line, he pointed out.
Sondhi said that Excon 2013 focussed on sustainable growth and revolved around six themes:
At the conference, ICEMA, in association with A.T. Kearney, released a report titled `Roadmap for Realising ECE Industry´s Long-Term Potential.` According to the report, the earthmoving and construction equipment (ECE) market is expected to grow by a healthy 20 to 25 per cent over the next few years, to reach 330,000 to 450,000 units sold in 2020, from the current levels of 76,000 units. ´This would imply a $16 to $21 billion market by 2020, up from $3 billion at the current level,´ the report said. It pointed out that the main drivers for growth of ECE industry are growth in end user industries, higher adoption of traditional applications to speed up projects, development of new applications, growing urbanisation and better availability of finance.
Amit Gossain, President ICEMA, in his welcome address, said that though the construction equipment industry has been witnessing sluggish growth in recent times, the Cabinet Committee on Investment, set up by the government, has made some progress in getting stalled projects worth crores of rupees moving again.Many individual press conferences and product launches were held over the five days, at various company stalls. The major focus of the press conferences was to announce the respective company´s future plans and introduction of new products at Excon.
Hearteningly, most of the companies are getting ready a bouquet of products with back- up services, thus signifying that they are going to be notable participants of the growth story.