The Indian government has recently initiated various steps for accelerating real estate and infrastructure development, opening up new avenues for the construction of machinery industry.
Sandeep Singh, Managing Director, Tata Hitachi, Construction Machinery, spoke to BE’s Ankit Singh.
Q. How has the recent slump in the real estate and infrastructure sectors affected your company?
A. The overall economy is in a major slowdown mode and is highly unpredictable. The construction equipment market has declined by around 25% in the last five months. The liquidity crunch in our industry due to delayed payments has added to our woes. Customer confidence in further investments has taken a beating and they have become cautious in expanding capacity. The government has announced several measures in the recent weeks. However, customers will like to see a steady flow in funds as well as work orders before they regain confidence. From the point of view of equipment manufacturers, it has also been a case of overproduction due to expectations of continued aggressive investments in infrastructure by the government following the elections. The excessive inventories have led to confusion in the market. With this background, we believe that recovery will be slow.
Q. How is your company ensuring quality of products?
A. At Tata Hitachi, we are aware that today, our customers realise that they need to be extremely competitive in the marketplace – and to be competitive they need to reduce operating costs and improve efficiencies. Keeping this in mind, we have developed a two-pronged product strategy – one addressing the value segment and the other the premium segment. In the value segment, the company has manufactured the EX Super+ Series of excavators – combining technology and low running costs - to enable a high return on investment. The focus is on superior reliability and longevity of products in this series, which ensures ease in serviceability leading to a lesser downtime for maintenance. This series comes with our telematics solution. In the premium segment, our offering is the ZAXIS GI series of machines – fitted with industry leading hydraulics technology to ensure unbeatable performance, high fuel efficiency and high durability. These excavators provide impressive fuel economy, swift front movements and are easy to operate.
Q. How is Tata Hitachi using artificial intelligence?
A. We try to ensure that our customers have all the information that is required for them to be competitive in their work site. Our products allow them to leverage machine information related to productivity, location and machine working, assess the need for preventive maintenance, and enable access to operation reports. Our ZAXIS GI series of excavators has an optimised hydraulic system and improved engine which showcases Hitachi’s technological prowess and expertise. It is powered with a state-of-the-art e-service for management of fleet which includes preventive maintenance, utilisation, monitoring, location and geo-fencing. Additionally, it is supplemented with ConSite – a next-generation service solution that utilises Information Communication Technology (ICT), to deliver monthly reports to customers.
Q. Tell us about your communication and marketing initiatives?
A. Tata Hitachi – a primarily B2B brand – has a robust promotion and communications strategy that reaches out to all internal and external stakeholders. Apart from participation in the mega trade shows, there are continuous, ongoing customer connect programmes that we participate in. We try to maintain a continuous connect with our stakeholders through an extensive use of social media platforms.
Going beyond manufacturing, sales and service, the company is also committed to improve the quality of life for sections of society. We organise education drives and blood donation camps and have undertaken important social responsibility programmes through literacy, healthcare, rural development and skill development initiatives. There are three guiding principles for Tata Hitachi.
First, right machine at the right time - eliminate waiting period for customers, reduce gaps in forecasting and reduce inventory build-up. Second, fix it right the first time. From a production point of view, detect defects when they occur and automatically stop production so an employee can fix the problem before the defect continues downstream. From a market/customer point of view this means to immediately address any problems that may occur. Last, quality is not only what we produce, quality is what we deliver. Not only do we believe in making quality products but our focus is on ensuring a quality delivery process where the machine which reaches the customer is of the same quality as that which is manufactured by the plant.
Q. What are the future goals of the company?
A. This year, there were elections in first quarter and that was quite disruptive and there were issues with liquidity and NBFC funding. All these led to a contraction of demand in the first half of the year. However, given the government’s focus on infrastructure as well as the various measures taken to improve business sentiment and availability of liquidity, India's infrastructure sector is poised to grow significantly. Several projects have been announced. We believe that growth for construction and earthmoving equipment segment will be intact and positive in the long run.