Sicoma Mixers India Pvt. Ltd, a group company of Italian equipment giant Sicoma srl, plans to offer its range of concrete mixers at the Bauma Conexpo Show. These mixers are designed for effective operations for ready mix, blocks and pavers, RCC, precast elements and other applications. Vinayak Gajendragad, in an email interaction with Sandeep Menezes, discusses the current scenario in the Indian concreting equipment sector.
What is the current scenario in the Indian concreting equipment segment? Going forward, what are growth and main demand drivers?
The current scenario in concreting equipment segment is evenly poised. After a brief slump in the market, the industry seems to have picked up momentum with demand for our products increasing day by day.
Key drivers for demand are mainly market sentiments, government’s firm policies about infrastructure projects and liquidity in the market. Along with that, the popularity for our products being economical, of consistent quality and yielding high productivity, many users would like to switch from conventional technology of mixing to a newer technology.
India’s per capita consumption of ready mix concrete or cement is less though it is the world’s second largest cement producer. As consumption increases, do you foresee cascading growth for concreting equipment industry?
Of course, the ready mix concrete business is relatively slower in catching up in Indian construction industry because of various factors. Cost of equipment, infrastructure required to run the business, cost of production, unfavourable transportation conditions prevailing etc., to name a few. In the face of that, there are new ready mix companies mushrooming, exploring the potential market. There is increase in awareness among users to go for higher productivity mixers. This is a good sign for us.
What are the recent technological trends in concreting equipment segment?
People prefer more automated, less manpower consuming machinery in construction segment. This is paving the way for advanced machinery and erasing conventional machinery in a phase-wise manner. Whereas this is good for the industry’s growth, it is also a gradual process.
Inadequately trained manpower and lack of adequate RMC operators continues to plague the industry.
Due to the ignorance about the fact that ‘if you take care of your machine, your machine will take care of you.’ There has been a tendency to neglect the most important component in running an RMC business which is imparting required skill and know how to operate the plants and maintain them. We need more institutes in India to address this issue which will be focusing on training the RMC plant operators and other construction machinery operators.
Moreover, due to the advancement in technology, although the manual interference has reduced, it would any way require basic level of skill to keep the plants running with which intentions they are built.
Nearly all equipment manufacturers import around 30 per cent of components. What is the impact of rising steel price and falling Indian rupee on equipment manufacturers?
This is a major issue that is affecting all manufacturers who are dependent on the import of critical components for their machinery, including us. Proper planning in import and payments may reduce this burden to a certain extent but on the whole they are the matters of concern. To alleviate this, SMIPL is already sourcing majority of its components locally barring very critical components.
About 70 per cent of equipment is purchased on financing mode and though interest rates have started softening, it still remains high.
Liquidity crunch in the market and tendency to wait and watch has affected the market’s buying power. Since interest rates are higher in India than other countries, willingness to go for finance is only limited to minimum requirements. In such scenarios, the project cost is compromised upon. People would not mind spending more time on the same project and spending less money initially than spending more money for higher capacity plants and finish the projects sooner.
What is Sicoma’s future strategy in India?
Sicoma has been actively involved in introducing concrete mixers that are relevant to Indian market looking at the trend, budget and requirement. Recently, SMIPL introduced two models of planetary mixers exclusively for ready mix market that are cost economical. This was mainly done to bridge the gap between the prices of conventional mixers and fully imported mixers. Most of the components used in these mixers are locally sourced without compromising on quality, keeping the most critical components still coming from our head quarters in Italy.
Expansion plans are to increase the capacity of our plant to produce more number of mixers and make the mixers available in stock at all times. We are in the process of acquiring some land for future production plant. The details are still awaited.
Does Sicoma intend to launch new products or increase focus on any particular business segment?
We have recently launched two products for the Indian market. In bC India, we shall be displaying one of them. These products, as mentioned earlier, are for ready mix concrete batching plants.