Equipment suppliers should concentrate on training and development of personnel

Equipment suppliers should concentrate on training and development of personnel

N Vairamuthu,
Executive Director, RDC Concrete.
RMC consumption in India is very low as compared to the global average. With growing demand for infrastructure, the industry has huge potential to grow. Is the concrete equipment industry geared up to support the growing RMC sector? N Vairamuthu shares a user perspective on concrete manufacturing equipment industry with ICR. Excerpts from the interview.

Please tell us a bit about your company, your products, services and the markets served by you.
Having started operations in 1993, RDC Concrete is now the largest standalone ready mix concrete company in India. The company primarily manufactures and supplies ready mix concrete to developers, builders and infrastructure projects. Being an innovation driven company, RDC Concrete has developed a wide range of concrete variants like pervious concrete, light weight concrete, super flow concrete, self compacting concrete, fibre reinforced concrete, etc. RDC Concrete owns and operates 25 RMC batching plants spread all over India including those in major cities like Bangalore, Mangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Kerala, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.

What are the major issues faced by concrete manufacturers in India?
The total amount of cement consumed through the RMC route is too low, standing at around 7-8 per cent of the total cement produced in India. In developed nations this percentage is much higher, ranging from 48 per cent in Europe to 73 per cent in USA. Thus, there is huge scope for the development of RMC industry in India. However, there are many hurdles in the way of the healthy growth of RMC industry. Some of these are:

  • Lack of level playing field for RMC vis-a-vis site-mixed concrete. Higher rate of taxation on RMC is one of the major hurdles. RMC attracts excise duty, VAT and service tax.
  • Non-availability of land for setting up plants in urban growth centres is another major stumbling blocks in speedy growth. There is a need to reserve specified area in growth centres for setting up RMC plants at reasonable rent/cost.
  • Industry regulation through certification of RMC facilities is critical to ensure quality. In this direction, RMCMA (Ready Mixed Concrete Manufacturers´ Association) has initiated ´RMC Plant certification Scheme,´ implemented by Quality Council of India through third party independent evaluators. Proper quality requirement must be enforced.
  • Government help is extremely necessary for the growth of this sector. Government bodies such as CPWD, Municipal Corporations, etc., should mandate the use of readymix concrete in their projects with specifications for high performance concrete including the use of green raw materials such as fly ash, GGBS, etc.
  • There has been a general slowdown in both real estate and infrastructure projects, especially in metro cities. Liquidity has been a big concern for the industry.
  • There has been too much dependency on labour-intensive methods of construction. Now with labour shortage the industry is going through a tough patch.
  • Education and training of industry personnel and customers of RMC is not up to the par with the future needs of RMC sector. The awareness levels have to be improved to ensure bright and secured business of RMC.

Do we have sufficient technological capabilities in the country to build world class structures?
The demand for speedier construction, especially for residential and commercial housing, flyovers, roads, etc., has encouraged adoption of mechanised and semi-mechanised techniques of construction. The need for large volumes of concrete is helping development of RMC industry. The big and well established RMC companies are competent to meet the requirements of building world class structures in India. Such companies can make products as per the exact engineering specifications.

Are you happy with post sales services provided by concrete equipment suppliers?
In general, there are no major service related issues faced by RMC companies. However, the concrete equipment suppliers should concentrate on training and development of personnel to meet the quality standards of the industry. They should also mandate some critical safety features as a part of the plant specification.

What factors/characteristics do you consider while selecting the equipment?
We look at the total cost of ownership, which takes into account both recurring and non-recurring costs. In remote locations, availability of spares and service are the critical factors to consider.

Software and IT plays an important role in concrete mixing are there any constraints on this front?
The batching software is used in the batching plants for the production of concrete, which automates batching as per the specifications fed in the computer. ERP software is used for other business applications. However, the industry needs to adopt and adapt to new IT technologies such as GPS in the area of fleet management to optimise the usage of batching plants, transit mixers and pumps in major cities. That will help in optimising the resources available at multiple plants in the same city.

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