How do you look at the demand-supply scenario in today's context?
Any industry has to grow at a reasonably accepted growth. Foundation equipment, especially piling rigs market of a particular size in India, grew at a very fast pace between 2007 and 2010. In today's context, this led to a mismatch between demand-supply. Lots of new rental companies and plant hirers are having difficulties due this mismatch. This is leading to plummeting of rental rates, quality of work and viability of operations.
In spite of our temporary, tough economic conditions and slowdown in infrastructure development, we see a consolidation happening in the foundation industry for the good quality work, and expect the emergence of specialist foundation companies. We expect this consolidation to happen in the next one to two years.
Bauer Equipment India has been growing steadily in the market, so the present situation has not affected us at all. With our widespread product portfolio and focus on challenging projects, we can adapt ourselves in a flexible way to the customers` demands.
Given the current scenario, which are the major verticals Bauer India expects more business from?
BEI is looking at various ongoing and upcoming Metro projects, hydro, roads, marine and urban infrastructure development projects where time, ground conditions and versatility of equipment will be the prime governing factors. The power sector is always going to be one of the major enablers though presently its pace has slowed down a bit due to various political and economic factors.
To what extent has the designing and consulting fraternity been encouraging the adoption of advanced technology?
This is the biggest platform on which all manufacturers will have to work for the development of the industry. There has always been resistance to adopt a new or advanced technology due to our risk- aversive nature and sometimes due to the costs involved. We, at Bauer are ready to work with them, right from the planning to the execution stage for better results. At Bauer, we see a big opportunity in this for building better solutions. Here lies the biggest strength of Bauer Equipment, not being only a supplier of equipment, but having the engineering knowledge of developing projects with our customers and the involved parties.
How challenging are the technical requirements of the Indian market? Does it in any way provide easy access to imports from LCC, especially from China?
The Indian market has been always been receptive to all type of products, from the developed countries as well as LCC. There is space for everybody. The customer looks for various factors like productivity, equipment price, product support in terms of parts and service, resale, operating cost, while making a purchase.
Bauer has an edge in not only providing equipment but a complete solution in terms of technology transfer. To have an access to larger number of customers, the Indian market has a demand of lower technical specifications in comparison to developed markets, especially in terms of electronics and ease of operation. Bauer has already worked on the same and has developed an exclusive Valueline range for the Indian market. Simultaneously, customers will have an access to our Premiumline range. Both the ranges are manufactured in Germany but with a special focus for the requirements on Indian constructions sites.
What are the technology/product trends in the market?
As leading foundation equipment manufacturers, Bauer is committed to fuel-efficient and environment friendly equipment which at the same time is highly productive. Bauer has a firm belief that the market will move towards higher capacity and more productive machines as a lot of underground construction activities and high- rise construction will necessitate effective and efficient equipment. With every machine, we give the efficiency factor in the documentation, so our customer can see the direct relation between the power of the diesel engine and the power at the drilling tool!
On the other hand, for higher capacity, efficiency and production, we offer our Premiumline drilling rigs with a tremendous variety of applications, whereas for example the full displacement pile is the most economic and efficient drilling method wherever applicable!
Is there a shift from Kelly bar piling rigs towards cast in-situ integrated piling rigs?
Again, we are talking about a single method of piles. Looking at the full range of applications, we can say that for every project, it has to be investigated what is the most suitable and most economical method. Except from the Kelly drilling method where by changing the tool, every soil can be drilled, every single-stroke method will have its limitations in the ground conditions. Furthermore, the logistics of a project have to be suitable. You will not have the ground on every site to work with a 120-tonne machine, or the concrete or reinforcement supply may not be high enough to work efficiently with these methods.
To summarise, we want the market to be opened for the single pass methods like FDP, CFA, Cased CFA, SCM, and the soil mixing methods. On sites where these methods can be used, there is a huge potential of working much more efficiently than with the conventional Kelly drilling method. Therefore, the philosophy of Bauer is to have the multipurpose machines to cover the full range of applications with one single drilling rig!
Most of the time, the rated output an OEM promises is never achieved on the site. What are the reasons for this?
First of all, I strongly disagree. If you look into our documents and if you talk to Bauer personnel, you will always get the effective values of the machine in any respect and not any nominal or theoretical figures. Every single unit which is leaving our factory has to pass a three-day test programme, where the key functions and values like torque and winch lifting forces are adjusted.
Also, it is to be noted that a piece of equipment is as good as the way it is maintained and operated.
Whenever we sell equipment, we depute a trained operator from Germany on the customer's site for two to six weeks in order to train customer's operator on do's and don'ts, scheduled maintenances, various checks, etc. But the irony is that after few months the trained operator is never found on the site and the subsequent un-trained operator never gives desired
Due to the paucity of time, pressure of job and sometimes negligence, services and scheduled maintenance is not done on time which leads to untimely downtime, leading to loss in output.
Most importantly, good equipment will never be able to deliver expected results if we do not choose the right tools. Choice of inappropriate tools always leads to low productivity.
Other factors like organisation of the site, Bentonite maintenance, steel cage sourcing, in-time concrete arrangement, good casings will all affect the productivity at any site; an equipment supplier cannot influence this.
What is the range of products and services offered by Bauer India?
If you talk with Bauer Maschinen in Germany, you would have to ask the question the other way around: is there any standardisation in the rigs? If you look at the whole range of options, upgrades and applications a Bauer rig can do, you will hardly find five identical machines in the world. Bauer India has access to the entire equipment range of Bauer Maschinen, Germany, a range that includes piling rigs, grabs, cutters, anchor piling rigs, slurry treatment plants, foundation cranes, deep vibrators, etc. BEI is capable of providing support to all the equipment being sold in Indiain terms of trained manpower, parts and critical aggregates. We are in the process of manufacturing tools along with reconditioning of critical aggregates at our works in Navi Mumbai.
Tell us about the safety features in the machines.
Actually we want to talk about safety first, as safety is the most important aspect in-built in our machines and all the parameters are checked at our plant in Germany before delivery. Some of the standard and optional features include the operator's cabin which is FOPS-compliant; this cabin is fitted with a measuring and control panel which includes electronic load measuring on main winch, mast inclination on x/y axis, PLC processor for all electrically actuated functions, emergency mode of operation for drilling rig, automatic vertical alignment of the mast, hydraulic load measuring on auxiliary rope, depth measuring device on crowd and main winch, overload protection device on main rope, B-Tronic which is electronic monitoring and control system, etc.
Apart from having all these features, the most important factor in an accident-free site is a suitably trained operator; all these mentioned features become insignificant if the user doesn't know how to use or read them.