The Concrete Revolution
The concrete equipment market in India has witnessed significant growth in recent years, fuelled by rapid urbanisation, infrastructural developments, and the government’s focus on building smart cities. This burgeoning market encompasses various types of equipment, including batching plants, concrete pumps, mixers, transit mixers, and more. As the construction industry in India continues to expand, the demand for advanced and efficient concrete equipment rises correspondingly. This article delves into the current state of the concrete equipment market in India, key trends, and the specific requirements of user industries.

The Indian construction industry is gradually shifting towards automation to enhance efficiency, reduce labour costs, and minimise human error. Automated batching plants, advanced concrete pumps with remote control features, and mixers with digital interfaces are becoming increasingly popular. This trend is expected to continue as the industry seeks to improve productivity and quality.

Even sustainability is gaining importance in the construction sector, with an increasing emphasis on reducing the environmental impact of construction activities. The use of eco-friendly concrete, recycling of construction waste, and energy-efficient equipment are some of the sustainable practices being adopted. Manufacturers are developing equipment that supports these practices, such as energy-efficient batching plants and mixers that minimise waste.

The integration of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Big Data analytics is transforming the concrete equipment market. IoT-enabled equipment can monitor performance in real-time, predict maintenance needs, and optimise operations. AI and Big Data analytics are being used to improve the quality of concrete mixes and enhance the efficiency of construction processes.

Construction projects vary significantly in terms of scale, complexity, and specific requirements. As a result, there is a growing demand for customised concrete equipment solutions tailored to the unique needs of each project. Manufacturers are increasingly offering bespoke equipment solutions that cater to the specific demands of their clients.

Product innovations
Schwing Stetter India has made significant advancements in its product line, focusing on both sustainability and technological innovation. Said the company’s Chairman and Managing Director, VG Sakthikumar, “One of our latest developments is the TSR EV, a fully electric shotcrete machine that represents our commitment to environmentally friendly solutions. This machine reduces the need for diesel engines, operating entirely on clean, green electricity. Additionally, we are developing new telematics and remote monitoring systems, enhancing fleet management and operational efficiency for our customers. These innovations, alongside our focus on integrating concrete equipment with technologies like 3D printing, position us at the forefront of the concrete equipment industry.”

“Our products are specifically designed to cater to the diverse and unique needs of the Indian market. For example, the AM 8 (C2) concrete truck mixer, with its 8 cu m capacity, is engineered to handle the varied demands of rural and urban construction projects across India. We offer extensive customisation options to meet specific customer requirements, such as engine types, control systems, and additional features like telematics.”

“Our foray into 3D printing technology represents our commitment to innovation and advancement in the construction industry. We recently participated in a government-funded project in Mohali, showcasing the potential of 3D printing in construction. This technology offers efficiency, precision, and sustainability benefits, and we aim to leverage it further in various projects, including housing developments,” said Subhabrata Saha, Managing Director, AJAX Engineering.

“We recently launched three new models of self-loading mixers namely CSLM 2500, CSLM 4200L and CSLM 4300S. The 2500 and 4200L mixer models feature reduced horsepower engines and present cost-effective alternatives, without compromising the capacity or efficiency. The 2500 mixer model can be extremely useful in small and medium construction sites where there are constraints regarding space. The 4300S mixer has a high-flow drum design that ensures faster discharge and safer operation. We constantly bring innovations in our products and launch them in the market on a continuous basis as per the industry needs,” said Kalpesh Soni, Vice President, Marketing, KYB Conmat.

He added, “Our self-loading concrete mixers machines are IOT enabled, BS-4 and ARAI compliant, and offer better fuel efficiency, high productivity, better mix quality, faster loading, and discharge due to an advance blade design and electronic batching system with printer, produce more concrete per batch by optimised drum capacity, which reduces the overall cost per cubic meter of concrete. Further these self-loading mixers offer superior manoeuvrability by single joystick control, four-wheel steering/four-wheel drive system, also offer superior operator comfort due to reversable operator seat and balanced load distribution on front and rear axles.”

Market trends
“The Indian concrete equipment manufacturing industry is being shaped by several key trends, including the push towards sustainability, the adoption of advanced technologies, and the growing demand for customised solutions. To stay competitive, Schwing Stetter India has embraced these trends by developing eco-friendly equipment like the TSR EV electric shotcrete machine and incorporating telematics and IoT capabilities across our product range,” said Sakthikumar.

Said Saha, “At AJAX, we prioritise responsible practices, ensuring compliance with regulations and a focus on sustainability across our operations, products, and customer engagements. We maintain high standards in our manufacturing processes, adhering to legal requirements while constantly innovating towards sustainability.”

“Improvement in road construction infrastructure, increasing urbanisation rate, and higher investment to boost infrastructure activities serve as the major determinants for the growth of concrete construction equipment in India. With better road transportation infrastructure and a rise in urban population, there exists a greater demand for convenience in personal mobility, healthcare, sanitation, and water supply, among others, which in turn contributes to the boosting demand for construction equipment, attributing to the growth in the construction sector across India,” said Soni.

User preference
The Indian market offers a wide selection of batching plants, from both overseas and domestic brands. However, Pramod B Joshi, Additional General Manager (P&M Head, All India), Ahluwalia Contracts India, observes certain features are missing. “The water quality should be automatically checked and we also need an indicator showing the quality of concrete – that is, is it pumpable? Any abnormal size of aggregate coming through the weighing system of the plant should be flagged and the machine should stop automatically. The system of adding ice to the concrete should be simplified. We need more safety features. Incorporating a pollution control system would make the plant more environment-friendly. We also need the plant to show the slump of concrete after it has been mixed, at the time of discharge to the transit mixer.”

As for boom pumps, Joshi says the industry needs “compact boom placers capable of placing concrete at greater heights and boom placers that are economical to use. When the pump starts, it must show the slump of concrete so operators know whether to proceed. Also, the pump must show the quantity of concrete pumped. Lightweight booms and pipelines of a higher quality that last longer are other essentials.”

An expectation that will grow in value in the years to come is the soundproof working of concrete pumps because they are often used in existing or built-up residential areas where noise is a concern, adds Prashant Jha, Chief, Ready-Mixed Concrete & Modern Building Materials, Nuvoco Vistas Corp.

At present, the mixer of RMC plants and the hopper of the boom placer must be cleaned manually, continues Joshi. “This cleaning must be automated; it should happen without human intervention. Most accidents happen owing to human negligence at the time of cleaning the mixer. Pumps often break down when the operator hasn’t properly greased them. As a preventive measure, a pump should not work if it hasn’t been greased.”

For his part, Satish R Vachhani, Consultant Concrete Technologist, Advanced Concrete & Construction Consultants, would like to see high-quality moisture sensors incorporated in the aggregate and sand bins of concrete batching plants for better control on the water-cement ratio of concrete, the most important factor in maintaining quality of concrete.

“At present, barely 3-5 per cent of contractors and RMC manufacturers ask for high-quality moisture sensors to be installed in new plants,” he continues. “But moisture meters being installed in concrete batching plants are not very accurate. Now that high and ultra-high grade concrete is being manufactured in most metros, and durability is a major concern, it is imperative to maintain the water-cement ratio as per the mix design parameters. Checking the sand moisture manually once or twice in a shift does not achieve the purpose, especially in rainy weather. Even a very small 2 per cent error can change the water-cement ratio of the mix and marinating W/C is a very important factor in maintaining the quality of concrete. For the best result, microwave moisture sensors may be installed to measure moisture levels in material being discharged from bins, on conveyor belts or vibratory feeders. Sensors are placed directly in the flow of the material, and take 25 measurements per second as the sand and aggregate flows over the ceramic measurement surface. These measurements are then transmitted to the plant control system in real time.”

Vachhani would like major contractors and RMC producers to use rheometers to check the concrete rheology at the concrete mix design stage. Concrete pump manufacturers can help in this for mutual benefit.

“At present, we are testing concrete for workability and flow properties but the same workability mixes can have different rheology, viscosity and pump pressure and mixes can be finetuned by changing the proportions of ingredients and different PCE-based plasticisers and VMA to address the issues of frequent choking, high pump pressure and pump maintenance,” he explains. 

“Hands-on experience or qualitative estimations of pumpability through simple material tests such as slump and flow tests are insufficient. Concrete pump manufacturers should collaborate and invest in R&D with users like contractors and RMC players to study the effect of concrete mix rheology properties on pump pressure. Intensive research actions in this respect will hopefully bring an improvement in poured concrete quality and performance of equipment.”

The road ahead
The concrete equipment market in India is poised for substantial growth, driven by urbanisation, government initiatives, and infrastructural development. The shift towards automation, sustainable practices, technological integration, and customised solutions are key trends shaping the market. To meet the evolving requirements of the construction industry, manufacturers must focus on delivering high-quality, efficient, durable, and technologically advanced equipment. As the market continues to expand, the emphasis on sustainability and cost-effectiveness will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of the concrete equipment industry in India.