We keep our customers at the heart of all our initiatives and endeavour.
Vipin Sondhi, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, JCB India.
 
JCB has recently announced its plan to set up its fourth world class manufacturing facility on a 70- acre site in Jaipur. The approximate investment of Rs 500 crore has been planned to set up this facility in phases. Our idea is to keep pace with future economic growth and strengthen our position as market leader in the construction equipment industry both in India as well as APAC & MEA, says Vipin Sondhi, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, JCB India. Excerpts from the interview.
 
How do you assess the current CE market scenario and its growth prospects?  
Owing to the overall slowdown in Indian economy, the current fiscal year has been bit sluggish for the construction equipment industry. The industry will gain momentum if the government starts implementing the delayed projects and carries out active review and monitoring to ensure timely completion. 

However, in the long term, nearly all of the infrastructure sectors present excellent opportunities, with roads and highways, ports and airports, railways and power standing out as particular bright spots, with astounding sums of investment planned in the coming years. Evaluating the future growth prospects, the government has doubled the investment in the infrastructure sector in the next Five Year Plan (2013 - 2017) compared to the current one.  
 
Which are the major areas to be addressed on a war footing?
 
First and foremost, the government needs to speed up the execution of sanctioned projects. It is discouraging to see that even after being approved by the central government and achieving financial closure, many projects have not progressed. To accelerate growth and regain momentum; the government needs to select few projects of national importance and ensure smooth execution and active monitoring. Setting up of the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) is a major step towards accelerating growth. The board it seems, is determined to clear the infrastructure projects which are stuck due to multiple inter-ministerial issues. 

Apart from this, one issue concerning our industry is the lack of skilled manpower. The increase in investments would certainly result in a burgeoning demand for skilled manpower. A skilled operator operating the machine can certainly increase the machine life span as he will reduce the risk of errors and will increase the machine efficiency by handling it right. The National Skill Development Council (NSDC), a first-of-its-kind Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in India acts as a catalyst in skill development by providing funding to enterprises, companies and organisations that provide skill training. The council aims at creating skilled manpower by setting up vocational institutions in the country.

Construction equipment used in agriculture should have subsidies at par with that of agricultural equipment. Further, inclusion of earthmoving equipment in the Focus Product Scheme will go a long way in upgrading the quality of the products. The earthmoving and construction equipment manufactured in India are at par with international standards, the suggested inclusion will further help in bringing advanced manufacturing skills in operations and will boost the image of India as the engineering hub for the world.  
 
What is your take on the slump in the Chinese CE market?  
India is already seeing an increase in the import of the second-hand equipment from China and other countries. Currently, the Chinese construction equipment industry has the production capacity that is two times the size of the global demand and this will only lead to dumping of these machines in the neighboring countries. (Source: The Hindu Business Line).
In India, the government should look at putting restriction on port of entry for such imports, preferably one port on each coast. We suggest that a special team may be put in place for inspection and supervision of the imported second-hand machinery. It should conform to the related domestic laws, relevant rules concerning safety, compliance of necessary environmental regulations before being allowed entry into our country.
 
Given the intense competition, what is JCB's core focus?  

JCB has always been a customer-focussed organisation and we keep our customers at the heart of all our initiatives and endeavour. Any product's design, production, distribution and marketing have only one central focus, ie, the customer.

In terms of servicing, JCB has the largest distribution network in India. We have 57 dealers and over 490 outlets operating in India who ensure that immediate assistance is given to the customer in case of machine downturn. Strategic investments have been made in expansion and human resource development to make sure sustainable growth momentum is maintained. JCB also has over 5,500 employees who are trained on regular intervals for selling and servicing these machines.
 
What was JCB's overall performance in 2012?  
The construction equipment industry (served market) has registered a decline of over 10 per cent in 2012 and JCB has also witnessed slight decline in the overall sales. In 2013, we surely expect the market to improve; provided adequate steps are taken by our government and the formulated polices are implemented without any further delay. 

How do you differentiate your product in terms ease of operation, productivity, energy and fuel efficiency and safety?  
Since the beginning, JCB products have been known to be the leader when it comes to performance, technological advancement and reliability. We at JCB understand the project requirement and therefore, manufacture products which are robust, custom built and highly fuel efficient plus provide the best return on investment to our customers.  
In the backhoe loader category, the all new 3DX offers 20 per cent more fuel efficiency, and uses BSIII complaint JCB's ecoMAX engine that offers Rs 2.5 lakh saving on fuel cost per year to our customers.

Our latest entrant in the excavator segment is the rugged and reliable JS120, the 12-tonne excavator. Like all JCB excavators, JS120 is fitted with unique Plexus filtration system which increases hydraulic oil & filters life resulting in huge cost savings and better emissions.  
JCB VM115 comes with dual anti-vibration isolation system which reduces the vibration thus, making it more comfortable for the operator to operate the machine. This machine also has a three-point pre-loaded anti-vibration pads which also minimises the effect of vibration. 

From the safety perspective, JCB Compactors comes with solid steel canopy which makes the machine more robust and minimises the damage during any mishap. JCB compactors come with solid steel canopy which makes the machine more robust and minimises the damage during any mishap.

In the Liftall segment, JCB Liftall New 15T model 1553 comes with a wider footprint which ensures more stability and safety even in case of high lifting duties.  
 
Brief us on JCB's initiative on skill and capacity development.  
To effectively combat the shortage of skilled manpower, JCB has set up its own Operator Training Centres (OTC) and have 11 fully functional OTCs as of now. Till date, we have trained over 18,000 young men as operators, thus creating livelihood for many.

Supporting the CII mission of making India the skills capital of the world, JCB played a key role in rolling out the skills initiative in Chhindwara which has been regarded as one-of-its kind. The centre is a multi- training centre which aims at creating a talent pool of trained manpower for industry.
 
How do you look at the growth potential three years down the line?  
India has been a successful market for JCB for more than 30 years. The company further plans to strengthen its presence by expanding its already wide-array of products. Continual hours put into product development results in upgradation of existing products.  
There has been growing competition in the industry, however with such a wide and fuel- efficient range of products, we have ensured that we continue to grow with the trust of our customers who look at buying our machines because of their performance and extensive after sales support provided by JCB.
 
"JCB has always been a customer-focussed organisation and we keep our customers at the heart of all our initiatives and endeavour. Any product's design, production, distribution and marketing have only one central focus, ie, the customer."