Laying Strong Foundation
India?s drive for infrastructure development has already commenced resulting in increased usage of foundation equipment. Their demand is expected to grow further in the coming years.

Foundation is the core of civil structures like high rise and commercial buildings; bridges and flyovers; elevated transport systems; industrial, marine and off shore applications; dams and barrages etc. They all involve piling by using various equipment solutions, methods and application-specific attachments and accessories, to construct robust and adequate load bearing foundations for such structures.

Spectrum of Foundation Equipment
Hydraulic piling rigs: This comprises a drilling attachment mounted on crawler-operated base. The attachment includes the rotary device as well as a crane for extracting the casing. The crawler base can be a standard hydraulic excavator of suitable capacity with the attachment mountings, hydraulic pipelines etc, or it can be an integrated design on a crawler base. Owing to the diversity of applications for which this equipment is used under diverse operating conditions, it is loaded with all required safety features and instrumentation for achieving the required operational parameters. The equipment is generally specified by the torque generated in the rotary device, diameter and depth of the bore and machine weight. A large range of application-specific attachments are available to perform the required variety of operations and working in different soil or terrain conditions. These attachments can either be procured from the equipment manufacturer or other suppliers.

Hydraulic hammer: When the SPT values of the soil are above 50, then we need to use impact hammers for driving and extraction of casings/sheet piles/precast piles. Reverse circulation drilling rig: This is used for drilling in rocks to greater depths. It is a method in which the compressed air is injected into the drill pipe below water level, just above the drill bit. This reduces the density of the internal water column and starts the circulation. The mixture of water, air and cuttings is then flushed out through the drill pipe into the setting tanks. The equipment supplied by Suretech is BUMA reverse circulation drilling rig, for which it has 90-95 per cent of the market share in India.

Vibratory hammer: When the SPT values of the soil are less than 50, vibratory hammers are used for driving and extraction of the casings, driving and extraction of sheet piles.

ICH hydro hammer: Hydro hammers are used for marine and offshore applications, oil and gas applications, for wind turbine projects etc.

Pile breaker: These are used for breaking the concrete piles to the required cut-off level. These are most advanced, efficient and time saving equipment and are used as an attachment for excavators.

Vibro floatation equipment: Hydraulic vibrofloatation equipment are used for making stone columns and deep soil compaction.

Still worker: These are noise and vibration-free machines used for the installation of steel piles and secant piles.

Journey so far
Some of the prime players of foundation equipment describe their journey in the Indian market. Each one of them is bullish that the growth of this industry is imminent.

?It?s been a decade that we are present in India. India has always been an exciting country for global players like us after China. Our Head Quarters in Italy was also excited to expand our operations here. Our major clients are ITD, Gammon, L&T, etc who are basically into high-precision drilling, etc. Most of the foundation equipment hail from Italy as all the innovations and challenging situations arise from that country. The infrastructure requirements of India are expected to go up in the future. With the kind of critical set up that we have, everybody would be hopeful about the boom in the infrastructure sectors. It?s only the implementation of business-friendly policies that are slow in India, which we are keenly awaiting. It is a good opportunity for all the international suppliers. We have to mobilise internal resources as well as rely on National Funding Plan that was supposed to happen here. We have managed to sell over 200 units in the country. But we are yet not satisfied as we could do well only for 2-3 years and the last 3-4 years have been pathetic for us. Having said that, our products are positioned in the premium segment and cater to certain critical applications and work on niche projects. Moreover, our base carriers are made by us in-house.?

?MAIT started operations in India in 1998, a small but determined beginning. Since then it has been very eventful and successful journey. When all others were ignoring India, MAIT virtually started and created a big revolution in the foundation sector in India. Today, MAIT is an undisputed leader in foundation equipment in India with almost 600 rigs supplied all across the country. Practically, MAIT has become synonym for piling rigs in India.?

?Suretech Infrastructure was established in 1990 and started specialising in foundation equipment and we have over the years built up various dealerships with globally renowned equipment manufacturers like Dieseko Group BV (ICE - Holland, The Netherlands); BSP International Foundations Ltd, UK; IHC Hydrohammer and IHC Fundex BV, The Netherlands; BUMA CE Co. Ltd, Korea; Watson & Hillhouse Ltd UK; Taets Techniek BV, The Netherlands; STA Srl, Italy; and ThyssenKrupp Bauservice GmbH Germany.?

Market round up
Use of foundation equipment has been in vogue in India for the past several decades. As a result, well known equipment manufacturers like Casagrande, MAIT, Bauer, Liebherr, Sany and Soilmec have established a strong presence in the country. Hydraulic piling rigs account for nearly 80 per cent of the total supplies, while other type of specialised foundation equipment is supplied through authorised dealerships like Suretech Infrastructure and others.

Currently, nearly 1,000 pilings of different specifications are available in India. During the peak years the annual addition was 125-180 units. However, during the economy meltdown, it dwindled to a mere 45 units a year. In fact many suppliers have survived only through strong after market support activities.

Interestingly, ?The most popular rig in India is undoubtedly MAIT HR180 or equivalent, which has 200 kNm actual operative torque. It can drill maximum 1.6 m diameter with casing, 2 m diameter without casing and up to maximum depth of 60 m,? says DV Brahme, Regional Manager, MAIT India. ?Nearly 80 per cent of the equipment population is residing with only 8-10 companies like Valecha Engineering, Larsen & Toubro, Simplex Infrastructures, Gammon, ITD Cementation and others who specialise in this field,? comments, Jagpal Singh Lotay, Managing Director, Bauer Equipment India.

The rental market for lining rigs is at an all-time low. The current monthly rental rate of 20 tonne piling rig is Rs 6 lakh as against Rs 16-18 lakh earlier. In both cases, the cost of drilling tools, attachments and wear consumables is to customer?s account.

Way ahead
Despite accelerated infrastructure developments predicted for India in the coming years, the market expects addition of new piling rigs to remain flat at around 50-55 units per year. Most manufacturers are resigned to this situation and instead are concentrating on increasing their after-market business presence to meet the upcoming challenges of low growth in new equipment requirements.

Applications of Foundation Equipment
Driven piles
Bored/drilled piles
Offshore piles
Cutoff walls
Diaphragm walls
Sheet piling
Pile breaking
Geothermal investigation
Special-purpose structures

Rakesh Raina, Country Manager, Casagrande SpA India

Surajit Mukherjee, Managing Director, Suretech Infrastructure

Despite accelerated infrastructure developments predicted for India in the coming years, the market expects addition of new piling rigs to be at around 50-55 units per year.