Clearing the Roadblocks
The Government of India´s expected spending on infrastructure in the 12th Five- Year- Plan (2012-2017) is $ 1 trillion; double that of the 11th Five- Year- Plan. That in itself is a shot-in-the-arm for the ailing infrastructure industry in India. Growth of the infrastructure industry will boost the cement sector immensely and if estimates are to be believed, the industry will grow at 14 per cent for the next five years, bucking the global trend, where growth is pegged at ten percent.
Ready Mix Concrete (RMC) is one of the key sectors which will fuel future growth of the cement Industry. RMC has already become an important constituent of any construction activity in India, where close to ten percent of cement consumption is happening through the RMC Channel. However, when compared to the 50 -70 per cent figures in the developed world, India still has a long way to go. India is housing close to more than a thousand RMC plants and it is expected to clock a ten percent YOY growth in the number of RMC plants.
This burgeoning growth as a whole is threatened by logistics challenges. If neglected, these could prove to be detrimental to the industry´s growth. The logistics involved in supplying raw materials to cement manufacturing plants and also, in transporting cement to warehouses/customers through bulkers (bowsers) and trucks, should be robust and smooth. Effective transportation is all the more important in the RMC sector and frequent instances of building collapses have brought the limelight back to Quality of Concrete (QoC). Following are the major causes for the supply of substandard quality concrete:
Usage of low-quality raw materials.Deviation from Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) at RMC plants.Unregulated concrete transportation.The first two challenges have been brought under control, by completely automating RMC plant operations and also by setting up sophisticated Quality Control (QC) labs. But the third challenge pertaining to transportation still remains unaddressed and has now become the weakest link in the chain. According to an estimate, as many as 59 per cent cases of supplying substandard quality concrete and 50 per cent of RMC sales returns are due to transportation issues. It is high time to address this bottleneck and pave the way for vigorous growth of the RMC sector.
Consequences of issues in RMC transportation
Sales return Customers will turn back the substandard quality concrete and it is a straight bottomline loss to the RMC company. As there are control systems (from Siemens & Schwing Stetter, etc) for ensuring SOP, the only uncontrolled operation that could affect QoC is deregulated transportation operations.
Bad reputation in market Delayed reach of concrete to customer destination will result in wastage of customer´s construction resources and repetition of the same brings a bad name to the RMC company.
High maintenance cost A recent research says that sudden pressure imposed on drum bearings by rotating the loaded drum from a still position halves the life of bearings.
Increased probability of accidents Transit mixers are comparatively more prone to accidents than other vehicles as they are among the few types of vehicles which perform mechanical activity (drum rotation) while in transit. The huge quantity of in-transit concrete, wobbling due to drum rotation and vehicle over speeding, coupled with transit mixer freewheeling, increases the probability of accidents. Considering the high prices of transit mixers, their accidents bring dreadful losses to the RMC companies.
Lack of business intelligenceHaving no transport system in place will deprive RMC plant owners of crucial operational intelligence, using which they can optimise their business operations. For example: over- detention time of transit mixers at customer´s sites for the period of one month will provide a tool to RMC owners for better commercial negotiations with customers. The other intelligences like transit mixer productivity report, Expected Time of Arrival (ETA) dashboard will also aid decision making.
´The above challenges pose a grave threat to the RMC industry,´ says Pratap Hegde, Managing Director of telematics4u, which has done a thorough research on road transportation challenges faced by the cement industry and which is also delivering the comprehensive Cement Logistics Management Solution (CLMS) across more than 55 countries.
Telematics4u (t4u) is doing a pioneering work in the area of road transportation operations management solutions and services, for over a decade now. Backed by a vast network of 112 partners across the globe (58 in India) and state-of-the-art GPS-GPRS-GIS technology, t4u has been able to serve 2, 000 and more satisfied customers with its unique solutions. t4u delivers its s solutions through a SaaS- based platform and on various electronic gadgets.
´As an organisation, we have been investing in a technology platform to deliver transport operations management solutions as a service. We deliver business intelligence to cement logistics companies to optimise operational efficiency. Further emphasis is provided to fleet maintenance services, tyre management, etc, to ensure that cost of operations are under control´, says Vinay Prasad, Director Product Management at telematics4u.
t4u´s high-end technology solutions is not just restricted to RMC sector but it is delivering solutions for the entire cement industry logistics, which comprises of raw material logistics, retail cement distribution and bulk cement distribution. It is crucial for the cement industry to embrace these technology solutions to sail through a turbulent business environment, such as the present one.