Godrej makes aggressive entry into access equipment
Godrej aims to develop access equipment as a major line of business and consolidate its presence in this space by offering new alternatives and forging strategic tie-ups to achieve the required scale, says Cavas Dumasia, Vice President - Marketing & Sales, Godrej Material Handling. Excerpts from the interview.

Tell us about the product range and services offered by Godrej.
Godrej Material Handling is present in the access equipment space with a wide array of products like scissor lifts, articulated boom lifts and mast lifts. There are many variants in this range, such as battery-operated, diesel-operated, bi-energy models and AC powered models. Each type serves different application and budget requirements.

Since Godrej always strives to provide total solutions for all equipment it deals in, we support our customers with a variety of training programmes on operations and maintenance, spare parts, as well as different types of maintenance contracts. We deliver our services through a wide network of sales and service offices spanning 17 locations in India and an extensive network of over 50 dealers to ensure proximity to customers all over the country.

Another unique product we offer in this field is the telehandler. This is an extremely versatile rough terrain machine, used predominantly in mining and infrastructure projects. Telehandlers can be fitted with a wide variety of front-end attachments which virtually makes it a multi-purpose machine at the construction site. Fitting a personnel bucket to the boom effectively makes the telehandler an excellent access platform. This leads to optimum utilisation of the equipment, higher operational efficiency and results in a very cost effective proposition for customers.

What are the major challenges Godrej faces as an OEM and service provider?
The major challenge is getting prospective customers to see the economic benefit in using access equipment compared to older, more labour intensive techniques. The fact that input costs of manufacturing such equipment are also rising continuously does not help when OEMs need to offer more cost-effective solutions to this yet nascent market. The demand is also often impacted by volatility induced by macro-economic factors, government policies and actions.

As a service provider, the main challenge would be to deliver parts and technical assistance at project sites where such equipment is used. Being presently used mainly in construction and infrastructure, the sites are likely to be remote. This is where we leverage our branch and dealer network to reach customers' sites, wherever they may be.

What are the safety features (optional/in-built) you offer?
Godrej as a brand offers a promise of high quality and safety for all its equipment. There are various safety features built into our access equipment, such as overload protection, gradeability checks, dead man's switch, emergency control mechanisms, diagnostic systems, outriggers for extra stability on uneven surfaces, etc.

Safety is one of the very fundamental concerns of customers while selecting access equipment. However, in the Indian context, price also plays a vital role in the final buying decision. Due to the influx of cheaper alternatives in the market, initial investment involved does become a deterrent to selling technologically superior and safer machines. It is a challenging task to justify the premium cost of advanced machines.

What is the kind of efforts being taken on the safety front by companies like Godrej?
Safety is one of the core values of Godrej as an organisation. Not only does all equipment offered by Godrej conform to the highest international standards of safety but we adopt very stringent safety practices in all our factories. Continuous and ongoing safety training and audits are key to ensure safety through the organisation.

As far as access equipment is concerned, when we visit the customer location to commission the equipment, we provide training to operate and maintain the equipment. The safety features of the machine, how to operate it safely and what are the critical maintenance aspects that the user must perform daily at site are thoroughly explained to the user and maintenance staff. We also train the user on what to do in case of any emergency. We also offer various annual and comprehensive maintenance contracts along with the equipment. Preventive and routine maintenance checks ensure that the equipment is maintained in proper working condition and any likely issues are revealed before any event occurs. This is vital to the safety of the operator and for optimum performance of the equipment over its life.

Which are the segments where awareness is fast picking up?
Typically, access equipment finds use in factories and warehouses for performing maintenance near the roof, such as lighting, pipelines, electrical cabling, etc. In recent years, however, other segments have started using access equipment, such as hospitality, hospitals, airports and defence establishments, to name a few. Construction projects, whether residential, commercial or infrastructural, are also users of access equipment.

Some applications that can be addressed by these machines are maintenance of buildings, cleaning glass windows or facades, roof work, pruning of trees and working on street lights. Godrej has a wide basket of offerings to cater to these different segments and applications, and a strong network to reach all parts of the country.

How do you look at the potential for rentals of this kind of equipment?
We believe that rental of access equipment has a large potential in India. This is primarily due to the fact that many companies may gain clear benefits from such equipment but may not need to use it on a continuous or daily basis. There may also be instances of companies finding such equipment very useful for projects of specific duration, say a few weeks or months, maybe even a year or two. In such cases, it may not be viable to own such assets.

What is the value proposition Godrej provides?
Godrej offers a very wide range of access equipment that addresses indoor and outdoor applications, as well as a wide range of industries and scale of operations. By doing so, we intend to become not just an equipment supplier with a limited product range, but an access solutions provider who can be a one-stop shop for all access needs.

We also augment our product offering with various maintenance contracts to suit different needs of customers besides support with training and spare parts supply.

How do you look at the competition in this segment and what makes Godrej different from the competition?
The competitive scenario is quite intense, with a lot of global players as well as local players vying for a share of the pie. Several low-cost Chinese manufacturers are also trying to penetrate the Indian market which is yet to realise its full potential.

Godrej offers a wide range of products at different price points to meet demands of different customer segments. One fundamental factor remains common across all products we offer: safety of the person standing on the access equipment and the surroundings. Safety is one thing we do not compromise on at all.

Our major differentiator is our superior quality, safe and reliable products which actually offer tremendous value for money and are a very economical investment when you consider not just the price but the overall cost of operating and maintaining the equipment over its life cycle and the cost of preventing any unfortunate incident. This is complemented by our extensive reach with 17 offices and 50 dealers across India.