We have customized products for port and terminal-handling equipment, construction and industrial application, quarry and earthmoving machines (including both surface and underground mining), which is supported by the best after-sales product support and widest network of dealers, says Devesh Dabas, Head, Off-the-Road Business, JK Tyre & Industries. Excerpts from the interview...
What is the overall market for OTRs?
The OTR segment, which includes industrial, construction and earthmover verticals, is pegged around at Rs 2,000 crore and this segment is expected to grow further. There are some activities in the coal sector; over 30 blocks have already been auctioned. We are expecting some activities to happen in Goa and Karnataka on the mineral front.
On the construction perspective, again, the sentiments are quite positive. However, the money flow is still limited and the demand is not as has been expected. However, real push will come in the next six months time, hopefully.
What is the demand scenario from the earthmoving vertical?
In earthmoving vertical, we have two categories - public enterprises and private enterprises. Though PSUs still follow low-bidder concept, the volumes are very high and that makes them a major demand driver. Coal India is striving to enhance its production and has recently floated tenders for ultra-large 190T trucks too. From the private players, the demand is yet to pick up. Yes, the e-auctions are an indication of some activities from private players too.
What has JK Tyre´s performance been so far?
On the construction side, the overall intake of equipment has come down which has reflected in our sales too. However, we managed some growth due to the wide product range we have, especially product for unexplored markets where our base was too low.
Tell us about your R&D activities.
Our Product Development Centre (PDC) in Faridabad is one the most robust R&D centre, which is fully dedicated to product development. One of our major focuses is to develop compounds closer to the application and underfoot-condition´s requirement. We have developed our expertise in fit-to-application concept. Our product-support team assesses the application and operating condition´s requirements from tyre - whether heat-resistant for high-speed operation, cut-resistant for difficult underfoot-conditions, etc, based on which we offer the customised product solution.
What is the impact of changing buying pattern of customer on component supplier like JK Tyres?
It has had a qualitative impact. Today, the customer is willing to pay for technology, and this has also changed the service parameters. Earlier, OEMs used to give order where they used to mention the size required for the equipment, and without any input on the application-side and most of the tyre manufacturers used to provide standard offerings. Now, the interface between the OEM - tyre manufacture like us, and the customer - has become stronger, and that´s where fit-to-application concepts have been accepted. Today, concepts like MARC have changed the whole scenario.
How strong are you in the service back-up facilities?
We have strategic relationship with the OEMs and our major emphasis is on what best solution we can offer, with a ´360-degree Tyre Management Solutions´. Our tyre management solutions are so flexible that a customer can select as per his requirements. Right from the beginning of the tendering process we interact with the OEMs; our team study the operating conditions, exact requirements, and then as per the specific requirements, we offer product-solutions. There is more focus on qualitative approach. We have a dedicated team of techno-commercial people to ensure every step is taken care of; in the off-the-road segment we have 21 such professionals based strategically in mining pockets, and they are the people who support customers on day-to-day basis to ensure lowest cost-per-tonne.
What determines the longevity of a tyre?
The life of a tyre depends on many factors. Underfoot conditions change drastically from mine-to-mine based conditions of haul-road, cycle distance, vehicle speed, etc. So we will be looking at the specific requirements, operating conditions, the problems the customer faces and then come to the selection of right tread-compound, and decides what product to offer. Then also, our product-support team recommends to the end-user how to optimise tyre life through proper care and maintenance.