The slowdown in infrastructure development, a major driver for the construction equipment industry, had resulted in reduced demand in recent years. However, with a new stable government in place, infrastructure development is expected to be back on the fast track soon. The 6th Annual Equipment India Conference, held along with the bC India event, drew a plethora of speakers from across the industry sharing their views and concerns about the industry.
The speed of infrastructure development is expected to pick up with several ongoing mega projects like the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) with industrial hubs and infrastructure linkages and the ambitious smart cities project among others, spurring demand for construction equipment. Industry professionals, too, seem optimistic about the future despite the decline the industry witnessed in the past few years.
The inaugural session saw Pratap Padode, Managing Director, ASAPP Media, sharing his thoughts on how just like the country needed a new government; the industry too needs a new drive to revive. ¨There is evidence of hope all around and the evidence of business to revive,¨ he reiterated. ¨But the action is yet to happen on the ground.¨ The first session focused on ´The Road Ahead for the Construction Equipment Sector´. Moderator Abdul Majeed, Partner, PwC, shared the optimism and added that he was confident that India will move forward and achieve projected growth. ¨People are sceptical about infra funding and that needs to change,¨ he added. Other speakers, including Vikram Mehta, Managing Director, Spartan India; Premraj Kashyap, Managing Director, KYB-CONMAT; P Ramesh, Managing Director & CEO, Wirtgen India; Amit Bansal, Sales and Marketing Director-India, Caterpillar India; and Nitin Lall, Head-Construction Technique India, Atlas Copco, also shared their concerns about how the equipment finance market has become tough in the past few years and financial institutions have become stringent. Tushar Mehendale, Managing Director, Electromech, opined that the Indian market was not an easy place to be and shared how the downturn had made him and other players look at markets beyond India. The discussions also focused upon the enormous opportunities currently available for the equipment industry and the growing demand for green and energy-efficient equipment.
The second session of the conference focused on the ´Positive Tailwinds in India´s Infrastructure Market´, an open forum dialogue between the panel and the audience. The panellists, including Rajan Malhotra, Regional Manager, L&T; Avadesh Singh, CEO, Egis Consulting; and Kamal Verma, Managing Director-India, Aqualying, shared their views on how the government´s ´go ahead´ to projects in sectors like roads and highways, airports, smart cities and other urban and rural infrastructure is expected to create huge demand for construction equipment. In line with projected demand, the market value of construction equipment is expected to rise, with the earthmoving sector continuing to make headway.
The final session of the conference focused upon ´Methods and Strategies by Procurement Managers´ of major companies as the industry looks to get back on track owing to the positive announcements by the government and fast-track clearances to big-ticket projects. The panellists, including BV Raisinghani, President (Purchase), Jaiprakash Associates Ltd; Ahamed Mohideen, Deputy Vice President-Plant & Equipment, Lodha Group; and Sanjeev Gupta, General Manager-Plant & Machinery, CICI, deliberated upon the demand for various equipment segments and strategies and methods for sourcing high quality and energy-efficient equipment. The conference also discussed the issue of land acquisition that needs to be addressed on a war footing to ease the obstacles faced by the industry in the country. Further, panellists shared their views about the rental equipment market and the challenges faced by industry players in this niche segment.
It was also suggested that the industry should use Equipment India magazine (CW´s sister publication) to recommend a policy of control on rental equipment to the government. After a stimulating discussion, the conference was followed by the 2nd Equipment India Awards.
(For the awards, read more on page 74).