While most conveyor belt manufacturers provide products, we provide solutions
Continental Belting Group (CBG) believes in building strategic long-term client relationships. 85.55 per cent of the company's revenue comes from existing customers. Continental Belting received nominations for the ET NOW - Leaders of Tomorrow Awards in 2012 and 2013 - the only belt company nominated in the broader field of engineering companies. Rohit Arora, Vice President - Marketing, Continental Belting Group, elaborates on the winning strategy, their outlook on the sector and the market and where do they see themselves in the future. Excerpts from the interview.
As one of the leading suppliers of conveyor belt to the Indian cement industry, what is your outlook about this sector?
The Indian cement industry has shown excellent results even from the global context having achieved remarkable benchmarks such as highly efficient 60kwhr/tonne energy consumption - the lowest in the world and the highest volume production per annum next only to China. Despite these achievements the industry is going through a rough patch saddled with over-capacity mainly due to demand slack prohibitive costs and an infrastructure policy mismatch.
Cement manufacturing efficiencies depend largely on cost effective conveying mostly by means of conveyor belts beginning from the transportation of limestone at the mine to the end of the circuit where the cement bags are loaded by telescopic conveyor belts onto trucks. The Indian belting industry has a fair reliance on cement companies for utilisation of at-least 12-15 per cent of their produce. Cement is a serious business for us and from the long term perspective our fraternity is bullish on this sector.
Tell us about Continental Belting and its presence in the market?
CBG started in 1964 is today a well establish global player with a reputation of supplying next-gen conveyor belting solutions. The annual revenue of CBG is close to Rs120 core (US$ 20 million). We deliver conveyor belts to over 95 per cent of the ET500 conveyor belt user companies having global footprints in all the continents. We have a wide range of solutions in the industry with belt widths up to 3200mm conventional fabric reinforced belts, steel cord belts, kevlar belts, pipe belts, sidewall belt,s heat resistant belts suited up to 250¦C and many more products. We take pride in having India's largest inventory of ready stock conveyor belts waiting to be shipped. Our emergency response teams including our logistics partners strive hard to ensure even same day shipments.
How much is the scope for efficiency improvement using well designed solutions?
Our designs have yielded up to 39.9 per cent energy saving working at lower stresses to yield higher performances. We have converted bad-case-scenario in some giant cement plant to 200-800 per cent performance enhancement (from 3 moths initially to 24 months in ROM limestone conveyors).
Could you throw some light on sales and distribution network of your company?
We have a proficient marketing and sales team in nearly all Indian states and beyond the national borders in practically every continent. With most companies seeking efficiency by just-in-time inventory we understand that the dynamics of the business is not just providing good quality but in the ability to deliver in the shortest possible time. We have setup adequately stocked gigantic and strategically located regional depots to ensure that our customers get deliveries within 24 hrs from the closest depot.
Have you launched any new products lately?
Performance is beyond just quality. Today power saving has become an important parameter. We have recently launched our 'Power Saver' range of conveyor belts which have low rolling resistance and excellent rigidity reducing energy losses. This product has shown promising results with power saving in the range of 28 per cent to 39 per cent.
How aware is the industry about the latest developments happening in the bulk material handling equipment?
Very very well. The cement Industry is very open to experimentation and finding newer or different ways of doing things. The industry has a huge appetite for change. Cement industry professionals form a fair audience in most of the material handling exhibitions and conferences. Consultants have played a very important role in shaping technology in cement plants. In-fact, many of the developments done by us are thanks to encouragement received from the cement fraternity.
What are the challenges in front of the industry?
Specifically referring to the rubber conveyor belting Industry the fluctuation in the rubber prices as well as the rising cost of other inputs such as synthetic fabric carbon black etc due to strengthening dollar poses a challenge. Unfortunately such enhancements are not our privilege when it comes to the price of finished product.
On the demand side the market is ever expanding since many of the European and American manufacturers have disbanded there plants and are now enjoying strategic tie-ups for technology as well as buy-back with Indian belt manufacturers. This has opened new vistas and has helped upgrade the technology capital.
Where do you see the industry headed in future? And what are your plans?
Chasing efficiency, the size of plants in the steel, cement, power and other sectors is getting larger and consequently the requirement for conveyor belting too is increasing. The local as well as global requirements are projected to be strong. The Indian belting industry is set to make the best of this opportunity.
Every industry has it's unique requirements and while the trend is to have a standard product for all industries, we are working towards tailoring products as per specific industry requirements. Our new plant which is on the anvil is specifically focused on niche products such as sidewall belts, pipe conveyor belts, filter press belts etc. These high technology items would not only generate additional revenue for our organisation, but would also help the country save a lot of forex.
Why should a customer come to you?
Healthy competition leads to innovation and is necessary to bring about a positive change. Our role begins where the role or our competitors or as I would rather call our challengers ends. While most conveyor belt manufacturers provide products, we provide solutions. Interestingly, in over 90 per cent instances customers do not really know what they need and neither are most of our challengers confident of determining the customer's genuine requirements. The user may not always know what is best for him but he definitely knows one thing and that is that he is looking at an enhancement in performance efficiency and reduction in cost/ton handled. We look at problems as opportunities and can assure our customers enhancement in performances ranging from a minimum of 20 per cent-300 per cent. We do it by having a very keen eye for fine details to determine the precise requirements based on the application data backed by a world-class manufacturing plant.
Just to cite an example we had worked on the conveyor of cement major where the life of the mine to plant conveyor carrying limestone was enhanced from 3-4 months to over 3 years. We see a huge potential in this blue ocean. As one of the market leaders, our challengers look upon us for innovative and improved ways of doing things. We have earned our respect for fair play.