Kalmar has been pioneer in many path-breaking technologies in port handling solutions. Praveen Waychal, Director - Solution Sales, India Region, Cargotec India, elaborates on the Indian port scenario and the latest container handling solutions.
Which are the major demand drivers of port equipment? What is the current scenario?
The major demand driver for any port is of course the increase in the Exim trade. The domestic demand for higher level of services and consumption of goods is increasing in India. These are sure catalysts for driving the growth of trade. We also believe the investments for creating new infrastructure along with improving the present infrastructure, government's policy support for enhancing the industrial output are the major growth drivers in India. With the impetus on infrastructure growth by the present Central Government, the demand for the port machinery saw a steady increase since 2014. We foresee that the port equipment industry would grow at the CAGR of 15 per cent.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of Indian ports?
The Indian port sector is poised for growth and has much inherent strength. Ports sector in India is being driven by high growth in external trade. In FY18, traffic in the major port in the country reached 679.36 million tonne. The non-major ports in India outpace the major ports in terms of growth. The non-major ports have grown many folds in the last decade compared with the major ports. The development of SEZs in close proximity to ports and non-major ports is a good sign as these would provide the crucial logistics support to the local industry.
The Government of India is aiming to create port capacity of 3,200 MMT by 2020. It is also executing National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP) with an outlay of $11.8 million. India has a long coastline of about 7,517 km with more than 200 ports, providing ample opportunities for development. However, despite the investments and the pace of port development projects, India is still lagging behind in comparison with other Asian countries. Automation and port modernisation are areas where our terminals have to pick up momentum. These shall help us improve in cargo handling efficiency and increase output. Many ports still use outdated technology and very old equipment which affect the efficiency and costs. We need to look for options by adapting to the latest technology in handling equipment that shall reduce our carbon footprint. The logistics cost in India is one of the highest in the world. Hence, overall logistics costs need to control to make India a lucrative investment destination globally.
How do you look at the demand growth in container handling equipment?
Container traffic in India has outpaced the global growth rates and is expected to grow 3-4 times in the near future, which throws up unprecedented opportunities for container-specific handling equipment.
In line with global trends, India also followed suit to create more container handling facilities at many locations during the past decades. However, as reported by the market watchers and significant industry players, container traffic in the country is now poised for a promising growth in the immediate future.
With container traffic expected to increase at a CAGR of 6-7 per cent over the next five years, several major and non-major ports aim to increase container handling capacities to cater to growing container traffic and maintain healthy utilisation levels. Since container traffic is huge at CFSs and ICDs, use of container-specific equipment integrated with software is of the essence. Kalmar is geared up to provide high-tech solutions to cater to this demand growth and need for high-end sophisticated equipment.
Which are your latest products and solutions in port equipment?
Kalmar is the leader in next-generation energy-efficient technologies to reduce the overall cost of operation for customers while improving the efficiency of cargo flows. We have already been supplying our Kalmar Eco reach stacker in global market which is known for its energy efficiency and cleanest technology leaving minimal carbon footprints. The reduction in the fuel consumption by up to 40 per cent on this reach stacker promises substantial savings for the customer. As mentioned above, Kalmar has also started offering all electric terminal tractors with Cummins powering solutions.
Our new Essential range of container handling solutions and forklifts are meant for customers who are looking for more value for money without compromising on the quality. We already have started supplying these equipment in India. In India also, customers are sensitive towards the energy efficiency and looking for alternative options to reduce the cost with energy-efficient solutions while leaving less of carbon footprint.
Apart from equipment solutions, we also have great focus on service solutions. We are actively involved in creating awareness about our competency and experience in projects such as equipment upgrades, crane upgrades and modernisation, and STS crane relocations.
What is the trend in electrification of port equipment in India?
Electric equipment is the need of the hour as the world is moving towards more cleaner and greener technologies for operations resulting in less carbon footprint. Apart from air pollution, we expect the electric vehicle to be quieter too which will have positive impact on the working atmosphere of the facility resulting in higher productivity, less fatigue for operators, thus improving the chances of accident-free working.
Kalmar has been pioneer in many path-breaking technologies in the port equipment and port handling solutions. We are working on the electric equipment and we will shortly have electric container handling equipment. Kalmar has taken the latest step towards its goal to offer the whole equipment portfolio as electrically powered options by 2021 with the announcement of Cummins as the electrification solution provider for its terminal tractor offering. We already have comprehensive range for electrically powered forklifts. Kalmar all-electric RTGC is an example of the combination of technology, lower cost of operations and efficient performance. Of course, every technology comes with a cost. The cost of change is high, as these technologies would require a dedicated support on 24x7 availability of electricity, development of charging stations.
What are the major challenges faced by the industry?
One of the biggest challenges we face is the categorisation of the equipment in CMVR Act which provides the guidelines for registration for the equipment with transport authorities. Because of the nature of the handling of containers, these equipment are typically over dimension and also have higher axle ratings. These equipment are designed to work in specially prepared premises and are not meant for plying on public roads.
We need a support on ease out of registration of the port equipment with transport authorities which are typically over dimensioned equipment. Present CMVR Act does not have provisions to accommodate such cases where equipment is not used on public roads but are oversized and have higher axle loads than permissible in CMVR Act. The authorities who issue homologation certificates are not willing to act on cases which are deviating on these parameters. I think Ministry of Transport can look at how they can ease out this process. This needs urgent attention.
How do you assess the future of port equipment?
As explained earlier, the growth drivers for India would keep this industry growing and only players with long-term perspective would survive the competition. There are plenty of opportunities in India for the port equipment manufacturers. With the container vessel sizes increasing, the handling methods also need to be upgraded. Faster speeds, energy-efficient operations and artificial intelligence in the equipment would add value to the whole process by improving vessel turnaround time, reducing waste, and safer operations. This effectiveness in operation would bring in the necessary efficiency. Kalmar is proud to be setting the benchmarks of productivity, reliability and efficiency by introducing path-breaking technologies in raising the standards of performance and quality of their solutions.
We see opportunities of showcasing our technological competence for the projects like port automation, crane upgradations etc.