We managed our resources and balanced our cash flows to keep ourselves intact during the pandemic

01 Dec 2020

- Amit Singh, Director, Apco Infratech

The pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on the construction industry and companies are deploying the best possible measures at their disposal to sail through these difficult times. Despite the current situation, Apco Infratech emerged as the 2nd fastest growing construction company in the medium category at the CONSTRUCTION WORLD Annual Awards in October. Amit Singh, Director, Apco Infratech, shares more about the company's performance in the past few quarters and its future plans.

How has the company progressed in FY2020-21 especially amid the challenges of the April-June quarter and the subsequent July-Sept quarter? How has your order book grown?
Looking at the company’s progress during the April-June quarter and further, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and severe lockdown in the months of March, April and May, the logistics of all projects were disrupted and, therefore, overall performance of projects declined from previous expected performance. In spite of all these hurdles, the overall execution of projects was better than most of the industry because of our meticulous planning. We had set up targets on a year-on-year basis, i.e. 67 per cent growth. As for the order book, the company has already bagged EPC projects valued at around Rs.60 billion. So during the inception of the calendar year, the company’s main focus was on execution. We are also positioned to take orders worth over Rs.40 billion in the October-December and January-March quarters.

Your company has bagged the highest number of projects in the roads segment in the past two years. How has the pandemic impacted your orders? Apart from roads, which other segments is APCO working on?
The pandemic has affected the global supply chain to the core but we have managed our resources and balanced our cash flows to keep ourselves intact in such a situation. As mentioned above, the company has managed to get projects in its kitty since the beginning of the year, which helped us balance our spinning wheel and get out of this situation. APCO will foray into different sectors of infrastructure down the line in a few years but currently we are mainly focusing on roads, bridges and tunnels.

The strategic Z-Morh Tunnel project was awarded to your company in January 2020 and work started in July 2020. Your company is also developing certain packages of the Bundelkhand and Purvanchal highways. How did the Coronavirus impact work on these projects and what measures did the company take to sail through the disruption caused by the pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has gravely impacted all major infrastructure projects owing to semi-paralysed logistics, coupled with the mass exodus of labour and trained technical personnel. Amid the pandemic, we have adopted new technologies for the efficient management of projects. Reaching up to normal levels of pace of production demands a drastic shift from conventional management to pro-employee, pragmatic management policies. All the constraints have helped our company to adopt the paradigm shift by choosing technology and nurturing in-house talent. Policies were laid down with all necessary measures for social distancing and hygiene around the clock to combat the pandemic at project sites, which helped us hold back the labour workforce. We have always had huge, well-maintained camps and facilities for labour. These camps helped keep the progress of projects on track even during the lockdown as most manpower was deployed from the project site camp; thus, no disruption occurred. Coronavirus awareness campaigns were regularly carried out across our project sites as an integral part of our labour welfare policy.

How has owning your own equipment fleet benefited you during these tough times? What kind of capital expenditure have you planned for this financial year?
Having one’s own fleet always gives you an upper hand as control is inhouse and dependency is minimised—for instance, for roadworks, earthmoving equipment plays a crucial role in quick execution. Total dependence on rental or hire machinery obstructs the timely execution of a project. As the supply chain got affected in the pandemic, it could have been a mammoth task to execute projects and get things under control.

Capital expenditure is somewhat directly proportional to the order book and topline projected for the year; it constitutes between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.

How have labour and material costs affected your company this year?
Owing to the ban by the Central Government and different state authorities on commercial activities and movement, there was undoubtedly an acute crisis of labour and the livelihood of workers got affected too. The construction industry being labour-intensive, there has been a substantial increase in material and costs owing to shortage of production as demand tends to rise—this has been noticed in every nook and corner of the industry. Further, these factors have not only affected individuals and organisations but also lives across the nation.

To share your views, write in at feedback@ConstructionWorld.in

Related Stories