Industrial cranes are the backbone of manufacturing, infrastructure and construction in the country. In light of economy revival and Make-in-India drive in the country, the market for this equipment is expected to grow many fold in the coming decade.
Industrial cranes consist of a whole gamut of lift and reach equipment, used in all industry sectors, ranging from a small mom and pop workshop to manufacturing to the best of the mega infrastructure projects and even space. The variety of cranes and their range of applications are only limited by human imagination. Come to think of it, the world´s largest crane with a humungous lifting capacity of 22,000 tonne recently installed at a shipyard in the port city of Yantai in the north-eastern province of Shandong, China. This is a fixed dual-beam gantry crane which falls in the industrial crane segment. As such it would be appropriate to understand that such equipment has no limits to its developments and applications.
Small industrial cranes are manufactured by mom and pop shops in practically every nook and corner of the country. Their products range from ordinary lifting contraptions to motorised chain or rope hoist mounted on single girders to pillar cranes to wall-mounted cranes and the lifting capacity available from 500 to 5,000 kg. Next tier manufactures small and medium capacity overhead cranes. In addition, they offer better quality versions of the mom and pop product range. Most manufacturers have captured clienteles in local areas. Some progressive companies have slowly graduated as sub-vendors to organised sector of the industry.
Market information indicates that there are about 100 players in the organised sector, offering products in all classes, configurations and lifting capacities of cranes. Some have in-house design capabilities and foreign collaborations to deliver best of class and customised versions of cranes to customers.
Accounting for these dynamics, it is very difficult to accurately assess the current market size and future potential of this equipment category. However, considering the comments offered by the market, a positive and sharp growth trajectory is expected in the coming years.
Tushar Mehendale, Managing Director, ElectroMech Material Handling Systems India Pvt Ltd, confirms our assessment by saying, ¨Industrial cranes segment is highly fragmented. According to our estimates, the industrial cranes market in India is approximately to the tune of Rs 1,800-2,000 crore per annum. This market size has slightly shrunk in the past couple of years due to the slowdown in the Indian economy. Approximately 30 per cent of the cranes are required by government-owned companies and the remaining 70 per cent comprises the requirement from private sector. Region wise distribution in terms of quantities shows that Western India contributes 50-55 per cent of the total requirement, while Southern India follows with 20-25 per cent, Northern India with 15-20 per cent, and Eastern India with 5-10 per cent. Roughly 40 per cent of the total crane industry in India is dominated by the top 10 manufacturers in the organised sector. The remaining market shares comprises more than 300 small crane companies. ElectroMech has close to 10 per cent of market share.¨ He adds, ¨Pertaining to industrial crane market, 1 to 5 tonne capacity single-girder cranes are mostly procured; while 5 to 50 tonne capacity cranes in double-girder arrangement is in demand. For infrastructure projects, robust outdoor gantry cranes are best suitable. Infrastructure segments like bridge and flyovers construction creates demand for gantry cranes.¨
Technology and market trends
Interestingly, technology and innovative engineering are the continuous drivers of this industry, in terms of providing safe, reliable, energy saving and largely maintenance-free equipment. For example, use of Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) coupled with motors for hoist, linear, transverse and slew motions have delivered huge savings in energy costs. Referring to gensets powering cranes at sites, if one 250 KVA genset is required to feed one crane fitted with traditional drives, the same genset can feed power for up to three cranes, if they are equipped with VFD, thus resulting in substantial savings. Similarly, gearboxes in various drives are being provided with lifetime lubrication, thereby making them maintenance free.
Especially with reference to Electrical Overhead Travelling (EOT) cranes, which hold a very large market share, in this industry segment several innovative technologies and smart engineering concepts have drastically improved operational performance, structural reliability, automated operational safety features and operator assistance and so on. On the other side, ensuring jerk-free movement and variable but controlled speeds has been the focus in hoisting mechanisms.
Mehendale adds another dimension to this trend by informing, ¨One of the remarkable trends in MHE sector is with regards to several international tie-ups happening. This has led to substantial global influence in terms of quality and use of better technology in the industry. The trend is towards smarter and smaller size equipment with more focus on reliability, user-friendliness and safety. The industry has started becoming more and more customer-oriented as compared to the past.¨ He goes on to inform, ¨Apart from competitiona and surplus products available in the market, there has also been a considerable amount of shift in the approach of the consumers towards companies as well as manufacturers for different aspects of customer service. By default, customers today expect a high-quality and well-timed customer service. As a practice, manufacturers have to place enabling structures ensuring zero customer complaints.¨
As regards acceptance of new technologies by and large, Mehendale is wary, ¨There have been a lot of innovations in the modern crane industry in the past few years. However, there are several advancements that haven´t yet made it to PSU or for that matter to consultant tender speci?cations which are now standard in the global crane market. Innovation is a tradition at ElectroMech. We have recently developed innovative stacker crane, an electrically operated system capable of stacking pallets in vertical shelves, typically used in warehousing or stores department of manufacturing industries. Unlike forklifts, it is eco-friendly product as it doesn´t emit and fumes. We also received award for innovation few months back for the customisation done in launching girder application in cranes supplied to L&T.¨
Mehendale mentions, ¨For manufacturing industries, our crane solutions comprise single/double-girder overhead cranes, jib cranes, wall travelling cranes, gantry cranes, and semi gantry cranes. For infrastructure projects, we can supply heavy-duty gantry cranes, tunnel mucking systems and tower cranes. For warehousing industry, we have innovative stacker cranes. Apart from just supplying cranes, ElectroMech does focus on efficient crane service to ensure zero down time of cranes through its subsidiary, Cranedge. Cranedge is the only company in India dedicated to crane service. We have many customers in several industry sectors such as automotive, steel, power, general manufacturing, infrastructure, shipbuilding, construction, warehousing etc.¨
There are many initiatives put in place by the government and many more are in the pipeline. In the bargain, India has already transformed into preferred hot spot for a large number international companies in construction equipment and automobile sectors. Many 100 per cent FDI funded manufacturing units have been established in the country with a mandate to cater to both domestic and export markets. Interestingly many CE manufacturers are using their India based units as an export hub for South Asian and African countries. This is only the beginning of the growth story for industrial cranes. In due course of time, foreign companies from other industrial sectors are expected to join the fray; more good news for this industry. Mehendale rounds up the vision by providing relevant facts and figures, ¨India has emerged as a manufacturing hub with several major global companies spanning a wide range of industry verticals setting up shop here. Although the industrial market has been in a slowdown over the past few years, there are signs of recovery now with several new OEM plants are expected to be set up. This will create the need for vendor parks and thus hundreds of more ancillary units will be required, which will result into demand for industrial cranes. The Make-in-India campaign run by the Central Government has also boosted the overall industry sentiments and there is growth in FDI which is also one of the reasons for growth and establishing new manufacturing units.¨
He adds, ¨We at ElectroMech are expecting an upswing in infrastructure industry in the coming months. Infrastructure and construction industry, which were very dormant, are now waking up again and ¦quick delivery¦ orders are becoming a norm once again. The trend of increase in demand will become more pronounced in the next six months and we are eagerly looking forward to it. As the infrastructure sector begins to grow, construction equipment manufacturing would be a natural beneficiary. The construction equipment industry¦s revenues are estimated to reach $22.7 billion by FY20. With rising infrastructure investments, we see a tremendous growth potential in the CEM sector in the near future.¨
According to Mehendale, the trend is changing, but slowly. ¨The Indian MHE market is estimated to witness a CAGR of between 15 to 20 per cent for the next five years. Estimated annual demand for industrial cranes is expected to touch 13,000 units by 2017. In a nutshell, the demand supply scenario is improved in last two years, however the industry is yet to see the peak demand for industrial cranes and we are optimistic about industrial growth in India in coming years,¨ he adds.
- Shankar Srivastava