There is abundant scope for applying trenchless technology for various projects and initiatives in India. T Ramesh, Country Head, Vermeer India, elaborates on the market opportunities and the company's plans for the market.
How do you look at India as a promising market for trenchless technologies?
India is a land of opportunities. With various government initiatives that include smart cities, rural connectivity, power to all etc, requirement of modern technologies to successfully implement these programs would be inevitable. Trenchless technology is one effective way to mitigate hassles created by unplanned digging of roads for laying various utilities like telecom, power, water, sewer, oil and gas etc, especially in the urban region where both human and vehicular traffic is high.
How are trenchless methods of construction technologies evolving in India? What is the current market size of trenchless technology equipment in India?
Trenchless technology has been existing in India for over 20 years. However, the usage is limited to few segments and for fewer projects only. While there is awareness among all segments, which has helped the market for trenchless equipment to grow, the extent to which the technology is put into use is being limited. Hence, there is abundant scope for applying trenchless technology for various projects and initiatives.
For the past 3-5 years, the market for trenchless equipment is growing at a rate of over 20 per cent year-on-year. With the government initiatives, various projects being planned by Government of India and some major industries in the telecom, power, oil and gas sector and the strict regulations being implemented towards digging of roads, the market for trenchless equipment is expected to grow at similar pace. In India, there are around 4,000 units of trenchless equipment working in various projects.
Which are the construction projects where trenchless methods are used? Which segments drive the demand the most? Why?
Trenchless methods are used in any project involving underground laying of utilities like optical fibre cables, power cables, water and sewer pipes, oil and gas pipes. Some of the major infrastructure projects under roads and bridges also require trenchless technologies for relocation of existing utilities. Among the above utility segment, the major segment that uses trenchless technology is telecom segment for laying of the optical fibre cables. This is primarily due to the simplicity of operation and magnitude of the projects in terms of their size and value.
What are the products and solutions offered by Vermeer in trenchless construction methods?
Vermeer is the pioneer in the industry of trenchless technology and is manufacturing the trenchless equipment for nearly three decades, setting the standards in usage of trenchless technology. We manufacture a range of horizontal directional drilling machines that is used in various segments for laying utilities of size ranging from 0.05 m to 1.5 m. Vermeer range also includes through its acquisitions, pit launchers, auger boring equipment etc. Our range of equipment comes with various tools used to drill different strata varying from soft soil to hard rock.
What are your aftermarket services for customers?
Vermeer's promise to customers is real impact on productivity and profit. Being an equipment manufacturer and supplier, our primary focus is to provide continuous support to the customers in terms of technical service and spare parts. In India, we are equipped with full-fledged parts warehouse with adequate parts and workshop with capability of refurbishing the complete machine.
Could you elaborate on the presence of Vermeer in India? What are the expansion plans?
Vermeer India is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vermeer Corporation, USA. Presently, we are focusing on sales and distribution and building support network. We import equipment and parts from our manufacturing unit in the US and Tianjin depending on application and requirement. Our future plans for India are open, however, the immediate focus is to expand our support network. Another challenge is availability of trained equipment operators to match the pace of equipment inflow. We would be focusing on the training needs and work towards skill development of the equipment operators.
Do you see any impact of the current economic downturn on trenchless technology market this year?
The current economic scenario is challenging across the sectors and industries. While we observe projects getting approved and allotted across the construction and infrastructure segments, we also observe slowdown with lower off-take levels. This might impact the overall growth of trenchless technology market this year.
How do you look at the future growth trend of trenchless technology in India?
As said earlier, the trenchless technology is becoming more prominent. Presently, the major user of the trenchless technology is the telecom sector for installation of the optical fibre network across the country. While this is one of the fastest growing segments, we find the prominence of trenchless technology is growing in other utility infrastructure segment also, especially in the oil and gas sector. With the government focus on power, infrastructure and water, the fact that minimising social disturbance being priority and the importance given to safety and advanced technology, we are positive about the increasing opportunities for trenchless technology equipment in India.