The way things have been happening, or rather not happening, for the past couple of years, I am reminded of "Waiting for Godot" one of the most famous literary works that revolutionised theatre in the English speaking world. 'Waiting for Godot' is a play in which nothing happens. It opens with two characters on stage - Vladimir and Estragon - who are waiting by a tree for Godot, the central character in the play, who never turns up; and when the curtain falls, they are still there waiting, waiting for Godot. I don't mean to be pessimistic but like in the play, nothing is happening in the Indian infra space, and the CE industry is simply waiting, waiting for the right policies, waiting for projects to be implemented.
For the last 3-4 quarters, the CE industry has witnessed a sharp decline in demand due to multiple factors: the high interest rate regime, slowdown in infrastructure investments, liquidity crunch and several regulatory roadblocks. The last fiscal witnessed deferment/shelving of large number of projects, government and private alike, all attributed to various reasons including payment delays by government agencies, impacting demand for CE.
However, the hope is still there that Godot will come, that the long-term demand drivers will remain intact, and that instead of the messenger boy, Godot himself will appear on stage! All said and done, unlike the characters in the drama, the ones in the realtime show have been busy with innovative strategies to curb the cost menace. Improvements in cost-efficiency, noise control, environmental design and ergonomics - the construction industry is facing such demands on many fronts. The good news is that not only the OEMs but also the aggregate and component manufacturers are responding to these challenges and coming up with innovative solutions. Today, the end-user segments are highly appreciative of fuel and energy effciency and are really serious about improving cost-efficiency through all possible ways. But unfortunately, the pull for green technologies that may help achieve this objective which has a direct link to the overall cost factor, is pushed to the market by the OEMs and other component suppliers. Cost-efficiency is achieved not only just through cleaner engines but also optimising the man-machine interface through a variety of machine control technologies, correcting the usage patterns and packaging solutions that takes care of meeting clients' business needs around project costs, topline and bottomline impact, and overall cost of ownership, etc. The cover story digs deep into the issues contained therein.
Meanwhile the mother of all events, bauma 2013, braved the slowdown with a record 530,000 visitors, a new record which made walking around the fair difficult. Energy efficiency and fuel savings were two of the main trends that were in the spotlight at bauma 2013 and leading players presented new solutions to these challenges at this event. In total, 3,420 exhibitors, 1,346 from Germany and 2,074 from abroad, from 57 countries, presented their latest products and innovations in construction and mining machinery at bauma 2013 on a record exhibition space of 570,000 sq m. And they did so with amazing success.