Wake-up call

Wake-up call

As early as 1909, concrete was delivered by a horse-drawn mixer that used paddles turned by the cart's wheels to mix concrete while headed towards the site. In 1916, Stephen Stepanian of Columbus, Ohio, developed a self-discharging motorised transit mixer, the predecessor of the modern ready-mix concrete truck. Development of improved ready-mix trucks was hindered by the poor quality of motor trucks in the 1920s. During the 1940s, the availability of heavier trucks and better engines allowed mixing drum capacities to increase, which in turn allowed ready-mix concrete producers to meet the high demand for concrete that developed as a result of World War II.

Ready-mix concrete is particularly advantageous when small quantities of concrete or intermittent placing of concrete are required. It is also ideal for large jobs where space is limited and there is little room for a mixing plant and aggregate stockpiles.

Ready-mix concrete industry is a highly competitive industry. The competitors range from small-scale, owner-operated private suppliers, to operating units/subsidiaries of large, vertically integrated cement and aggregates manufacturers. Usually, vertically integrated manufacturers possess greater manufacturing, marketing, and financial resources than others in the industry and enjoy competitive advantage.

The world market for ready-mix concrete is projected to reach $105.2 billion by 2015. This is primarily driven by the rapid growth in infrastructure and residential and non-residential sectors in various parts of the world. The rapidly growing demand for the ready-mix concrete in urban areas will also contribute to the market growth.

In India, the industry took off in 1990. Industry volume is 30 million cum per annum comprising five major players. India's urbanscape is rapidly changing with nearly 40 per cent of the population expected to live in urban India by 2030. Urbanisation propels the need for concrete. In advanced western nations, the percentage of cement used for conversion to concrete is as high as 70 per cent while it remains abysmally low at 5 per cent in India. Given the impetus on infrastructure development, the demand for concrete will skyrocket. No wonder then that the Chinese have been farsighted as they have acquired two global leaders in concrete equipment - Putzmeister acquired by Sany Heavy Industries and Schwing Stetter by XCMG. China is the world's largest market for truck-mounted concrete pumps, accounting for around 4,000 of the 6,000 machines produced worldwide last year. The global concrete machinery market clocked $16.7 billion in 2011. Now the battle has come home with companies such as Putzmeister, Schwing Stetter, Ajax Fiori, Universal Construction Equipment, Apollo, and Greaves gear up to expand the market as the current government wakes up from its slumber.

Here's wishing you, dear reader, a fulfilling year of 2013 with 'concrete' gains and hope to 'cement' your bond with ICR!

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