The client confidence we enjoy is enviable for this industry.

The client confidence we enjoy is enviable for this industry.

Ashok Malik
Managing Director, Indiana Conveyors
For over two decades now, Indiana Conveyors has been manufacturing bulk material handling equipment and systems. Today, Indiana is well known as a single source for complete bulk material handling equipment and systems. Ashok Malik, Managing Director, Indiana Conveyors, tells ICR what makes Indiana a favourite pick for its customers. Excerpts from the interview.

What is the product range offered by Indiana Conveyors for the cement market? Indiana Conveyors undertakes turnkey bulk material handling projects in various sectors including cement industry. We are engaged in design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of various types of conveyors, primarily belt conveyors, screw conveyors, chain conveyors and bucket elevators. Besides these, we also include equipment like crushers, screens, weigh feeders, dust control systems and associated equipment to provide a total solution on turnkey basis. Indiana has also been very active in supplying crucial components like idlers and pulleys for conveyors both for replacement as well as new projects. We can integrate many other items such as weighing, flow aid devices, packing systems etc so that client can have a fully integrated system from a single source.

What sets Indiana Conveyors apart from the rest?
As with all products, the competition in this field is intense but what differentiates us is the overall satisfaction that our clients get, working with us. Not just the quality of our products and systems, but the total experience starting with our understanding of the client´s needs and offering the most cost effective solution to them, the quality of engineering followed by in-house manufacture of critical components. Our bought out items are sourced from the best, companies that we have been working with since many years. So we get the best deals and the benefits get transferred to our clients. Our project managers are always available to provide the latest updates and quick answers to any client queries. Our construction and erection site management is very proactive and we engage resourceful contractors to meet quality and schedule needs. Indiana is proud of having completed each and every project it was awarded and unfortunately, this is not something that you can say about many companies today.

Indiana is one of the leading companies in this field, having been in this business since more than four decades. Over the years, we have built strong credentials in many industries including cement. The Indiana brand has a strong recall and most consultants and project contractors immediately link us to material handling projects. Now with the advent of new companies in this field, clients are able to see the advantages of associating with Indiana.

According to the 12th Five- Year- Plan, the Indian cement industry will have to add another 150 MT of capacity till 2017. How do you plan to tap this opportunity?
Due to continuous improvement in systems that we implement, we are today, in a stronger position to support this industry. Over the years, we have expanded our engineering and project offices in Mumbai as also upgraded our manufacturing facilities in Jejuri, near Pune. The benefits of these added capacities on all fronts mean better pricing and shorter deliveries for projects. Indiana has increased visibility due to our direct approach and we have also been participating in pre-order budgeting exercises for our clients leading to a closer cooperation. I see that clients are more inclined to associate with us at the pre-tender stage as they are confident of our understanding of their project requirements and the pricing, thus leaving out uncertainties when the actual project takes off.

What are the challenges you foresee in the market?
Of late, slow moving projects have posed challenges. Unfortunately, due to factors beyond our control, and for reasons that exist at clients´ ends, some projects get stuck midway. Of course, we realise that many of the reasons emerge from government decisions. We keep a track of the actual movement of the project in order that we move in the same direction and in consonance with what the project needs. Besides, there are always challenges to meet the competitive price without sacrificing quality or diluting scope. Our designers are able to optimise costs due to value engineering and our project procurement department is able to meet our target prices and work within budgets. This is possible due to our all India presence giving us the advantage of being able to identify and approach the right source. Yes, margins have shrunk and we hope to recover these when the market is friendlier. We are working with most leading cement companies and equipment manufacturers and are confident of our future in this sector.

How do you assess availability of skilled technicians for your sector?
We have adequate skilled technicians in-house and normally do not depend on outside help in this category. However, with increased volumes, this could pose limitations and our plans include developing enough in-house skills by attracting more people at the shop level, creating an awareness and education programme, etc. Many of our key managers have been with us for more than a decade, some nearly three, and availability of such strong mentors is always a big advantage. In our manufacturing plant, we are able to source skilled workmen from the training institutes and put them through a structured training programme.

Is the overall equipment manufacturing industry in the cement sector still dependent on their foreign counterparts for technology development?
The Indian conveyor industry is well established with proven indigenous technology. There are few areas where Indian companies face any technological challenges, except specialised systems for long -distance conveying or enclosed conveying. Here too, the technology is there but plant owners feel comfortable with the backing of a foreign name. Many Indian companies including Indiana, have the capabilities to design and deliver such products on their own, given the vast knowledge pool and the working experience that our engineers have gained on such systems. I wish plant owners and consultants would modify their prequalification criteria to encourage more such companies to participate and I am confident they can derive benefits from such efforts. Of course, some areas like those related to large crushing plants, storage and distribution still do well with such joint venture participation by foreign technology suppliers.

Is it true that most plant and equipment failures are caused due to substandard quality of auxiliary equipments made by Indian companies?
This is a simplistic statement. Of course, there are good companies and bad ones and project owners get to work with companies they choose. Drawing a general conclusion can be very wrong. We must remember there are many small manufacturers who take chances to develop, or shall we say copy imported equipment based on a variety of inputs. They work at very low prices because that is what gets them the chance to develop the equipment in the first place. There is no institutional support to them in terms of technical scrutiny or control. But at the end of the day, their efforts do give clients equipment at low prices though not with comparable performance. On the other hand, there have been spectacular success stories of small companies who put their resources together to develop comparable products. So it is not just the end, but the process you adopt, the resources you employ and the overall management philosophy that guides such ventures.

What is the mantra behind the success of your company?
We focus on the job, and work hard to achieve our goals. Our engineers, workmen, contractors and business associates, all work with passion. The objective is to satisfy the customer, to exceed his expectations. The client confidence we enjoy is enviable for this industry.

Our designers are able to optimise
costs due to value engineering.

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