RMC Sector: Gearing up for growth

RMC Sector: Gearing up for growth

Rashid Merchant elaborates on the special products and services provided by RMC Readymix (India), challenges faced by the RMC industry and the thought process involved in the selection of the right system from a plethora of contemporary RMC equipment available.

RMC Readymix (India), a division of Prism Cement, is one of the largest ready-mixed concrete manufacturers in India. Set-up way back in 1996 (coinciding with the inception of the RMC industry), RMC Readymix expanded its business rapidly and today it is operating 90 ready-mixed concrete plants in 37 cities and towns across the nation. The three business verticals of the company are as below:

RMC Commercial Concrete
The Commercial Concrete vertical is RMC India´s core business, which caters to the needs of metro cities and semi-urban areas. The company caters to a gamut of concrete requirements encompassing everything from lofty buildings to a cherished individual house, solutions for mild exposure to the harshest of off shore works, from soft and aesthetic requirements to prestigious infra and industrial projects.

RMC Aggregates
Aggregates occupy 70 per cent of the volume in concrete. Understanding the importance of good quality aggregates, RMC India ventured into the aggregates business in the year 2000. RMC India manages high-tech aggregate manufacturing units in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mangaluru and Sawantwadi.

The Aggregates vertical maintains product quality by selecting the right quarry, employing the best techniques in quarrying industry to extract good quality rock with proper fragmentation.

The company relies on machinery and plants of internationally proven standards. The skilled workforce is trained to maintain these crushers in an immaculate working condition and get the best of their performance in line with international norms.

RMC Mega Projects
In 2008, the company decided to extend its core business activity of ready-mixed concrete to meet the growing demand for high quality RMC in key infrastructure sectors such as highways, power, petroleum refineries, ports and jetties. The company has set up and is operating RMC plants in remote locations that are far flung from the comforts of civilisation. This vertical of RMC India has successfully executed more than 25 mega projects.

Challenges for the RMC sector
Shortage of quality raw material:
Aggregates and natural sand are rapidly becoming scarce. So far, there are no strong legislations imposed to enforce the use of alternatives/by products in concrete production. At the same time, cartelisation by cement and aggregate suppliers is endangering the business dynamics of demand and supply. The aggregates market is traditionally known to be highly unorganised and dominated by muscle power. As such, the RMC players have to face the brunt of problems such as inconsistent quality, erratic availability, frequent price hikes, etc. Inconsistency of physical properties of aggregate, viz., shape, size, grading, etc., has also been a perennial issue and a bane for the Indian RMC industry at large. I had got an opportunity to work in one of the Gulf countries for a couple of years I was genuinely spellbound by the consistency of the properties of aggregates available there.

Absence of strong regulations:
Absence of any quality recommendations from the government allows new entrants lacking any technical know-how to operate plants and sell sub-standard concrete. So also, lack of tough health and environ¡mental regulations make it easy for fly by night operators to set up plants and carry out seasonal business.

High levies and taxes make RMC costlier than the site mixed concrete. The most important aspect here is the current tax structure. The purchaser has to pay excise duty and applicable VAT in the state to buy RMC from the market. High taxation on sale of commercial concrete has driven many purchasers to make concrete at project sites. A good percentage of the construction industry is still served by unorganised companies who forge invoices and quantities to save taxes. Probably the introduction of GST can help.

Lack of expertise:
The general lack of understanding among most concrete users about the requisite care and precautions to be taken during the handling of concrete in its nascent stages becomes detrimental for the structures cast. Lack of awareness about the advancements in the field of concrete technology often leads to designing of heavy and obsolete member sections.

RMC special concrete
Concrete in today´s world can fully or partially replace steel or other construction materials and it is no more considered as an option in most architectural works. Since mid 1990s, advances in concrete technology and rheology have been quite significant. This combined with development of new chemical admixtures and supplementary cementitious materials have enhanced the performance and sustainability of concrete. Concrete has come a long way and has reached a stage where it is no longer referred to as mere concrete. It now has to be mentioned with its characteristic attributes like ´high strength,´ ´high performance´ or ´self-compacting´ concrete.

In line with such improvements
in the spheres of durability and performance, RMC Readymix (India) has evolved a whole new series of RMC Specials. These products are custom designed to meet home and project requirements. They have been used extensively in the America, Japan and European countries in a plethora of engineering applications.

Selection of RMC Equipment
It is extremely vital to have a deft selection from a plethora of contemporary RMC equipment available. Aspects to be mulled over are quality of machinery, capital investment involved, past performances (if any), operations and maintenance costs, after sales service and spare parts support (JIT preferred), warranties/guarantees to be provided, and finally the delivery schedule.

We have been satisfied with the post sales services provided by some reputed companies having their own pan India service network; but companies having a smaller network or ones who operate through dealers have always been sluggish in responding to our needs.

Chinese equipment are comparable to those provided by their European counterparts as far as the equipment performance is concerned. However, for efficient after-sales services, a pan India network is mandatory for both. An important revelation is that in the case of equipment, the Europeans strictly follow the process of standardisation whereas; the Chinese are quite flexible, which is an added advantage to the Indian buyer.

Finally, it has been noticed that in today´s cutthroat competition, customers are aspiring to possess mobile batching plants with minimal involvement of civil foundation works, and which can be easily relocated and erected in shorter time frames.

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