AJAX is all set to bounce back with resilience
To set the ball rolling, AJAX has become more resilient, adaptive and competitive like ever in this complex and uncertain period of pandemic with resilience and resourcefulness, says Debasis Bhattacharya, Head - Marketing, Sales & Product Support, AJAX Engineering.

How has AJAX strategised to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and economically challenging scenario?
AJAX has always evolved over time by adapting to the needs of its customers with a clear and consistent goal towards becoming the most customer-centric organisation with a strong customer focus.

AJAX has become more resilient, adaptive and competitive in this complex and uncertain period of pandemic. We have a strong focus on the capabilities needed to succeed in the constantly changing market dynamics especially, in this Covid-19 pandemic time, thanks to our technological innovation that has been able to meet the challenges and continuously align with the fast-changing industry trends amidst lockdown.

With the sudden emergence of a deadly new coronavirus, we had instilled the right confidence into our work-force to face the uncertainty phase with a clear mind, a new set of collaborative principles, coherent thought process, and more cohesive effort to engage our customers.

In the Response/Recover phase of Covid-19 outbreak, AJAX has leveraged its capabilities with a strong network of over 100 touch points and more than 30 dealers with triple S facilities - sales, service and spare parts. We add value to our customers, close to over 18,000 satisfied customers. They have seen, realised and experienced the value we have brought in. And we will keep on adding value to our customers. AJAX keeps in touch with all its stakeholders through digital channels and leverage digital solutions to engage customers, provide support and add value-propositions that are unique to them.

How does innovation play a way of life at AJAX amidst lockdown?
The big takeaway is to witness what's possible when innovation is in AJAX's DNA. AJAX has always strived to be a '360° concreting solutions provider' to its customers and also, the company is moving towards artificial intelligence and other advanced manufacturing concepts.

AJAX self-loading concrete mixers are versatile and have hydraulic sensing, meaning a pressure transducer and a device to add the weigh batching of aggregate, cement and water. AJAX has been focusing on improving the accuracy of weigh batching that is very critical in the quality of the concrete. Of late, we have come up with a load cell based weigh batching system (patent pending).

During EXCON 2019, AJAX also launched a first-of-its-kind next-gen self-propelled boom pump, SPBP25ZX. This patent-pending product has been designed to handle tough terrain and manoeuvre narrow roads and job sites at ease, and effectively uses its full boom length to revolutionise the way concreting is being done in housing and infrastructure projects.

AJAX slip-form paver SPX1204, the first indigenous paver designed and manufactured in India launched during EXCON 2019 has been incorporated with high-quality components and features on par with any of the pavers offered by the global players. This paver has flexibility to offer paving width varying from 3.5 m to 12 m.

How do you assess the possible impact the situation will have on India's manufacturing sector and on the economy as a whole?
India would witness a big slump in the current and coming quarter. However, it is all set to bounce back post recovery of this Covid-19 pandemic, according to leading financial rating agencies. This would drastically affect the construction equipment (CE) sales in India that are expected to drop very significantly during FY 2020-21 due to this coronavirus outbreak. Our CE industry is also set to bear the brunt of the effects of Covid-19. This pandemic has dented our economy thereby very badly impacting the overall CE industry growth with severe repercussions on the future growth prospects. But, the full financial impact of the coronavirus crisis cannot be gauged right now as it will be too early to assess. Even after the crisis is brought under control and construction works start to roll, the upcoming monsoon will be another big blow that will add further onus onto the growth and severely impedes the construction works likely from June 2020 onwards.

Post-lockdown what would be AJAX's agenda to sustain a possible market slowdown/downfall?
AJAX is geared up to fight the slowdown blues. To set the ball rolling, AJAX has come up with the rebound strategy, a detailed business continuity management plan that enlists a set of protocols and standard guidelines that would comply with the newly established norms and regulations by our government for safe and best practices. This would be religiously followed in the factories, offices and business establishments of AJAX pan India.

When organisational preparedness being the real key to combat post Covid-19 lockdown with resilience and resourcefulness, AJAX will redo the value-stream mapping across their supply-chains as this would deem to be the right opportunity to rethink, revisit, and reinforce our supply-chains.

Channel partners: Distribution strategy/delivery model as a defragmented channel structure through integrating dealer network over the digital platform is being contemplated by AJAX.

Efficiency accelerators: Firstly, with social distancing norms at factories, logistics, and warehouses, the need for reducing people density across the supply chain has become a mandate now and AJAX would chart out a plan for that by deploying 'alternate shift' practices in the factories. Secondly, with the elimination of non-value added activities that would improve the value of its products and services, AJAX would look into optimise direct and indirect cost that would result in significant cost reduction, strengthening cash flow and emerging from this downturn with a stronger and more competitive profile.

Digitisation: As the entire nation is struggling to cope with this outbreak and all sectors face some form of disruption, Covid-19 is silently shaping business transformation. AJAX is active in the digital platform and maintains a strong digital footprint. This helps AJAX to underscore the importance of digital transformation by providing unparallelled opportunities to offer personalised service to customers. Customer focus, as a way of life is the basis for AJAX's digital transformation decisions.

What is the need of the hour from the government post Covid-19 scenario?
In the wake of slowdown like this, liquidity is one of the major challenges that has adversely impacted construction equipment sales as well as the rate at which projects are completed. It is one of the major areas of challenges that the CE industry is facing today. There have been some delinquencies especially contractors not getting paid by the principal clients. Customers have become hesitant to for new equipment, especially first time buyers. But we expect a reasonable amount of business in the near future. There is no dearth of projects but financial closure has become an alarming issue. Delinquencies, especially contractors not getting paid by principal clients is a concern as is the diversion of funds from infra-related projects to social spending. We seek the Union Government to introduce a stimulus package to infrastructure and housing industry to pave the way for the economy. This is to set the ball rolling as well as to reinvigorate confidence in the CE industry.