Excon 2017 proved that the construction equipment industry is bouncing back, after a bad slump, and in answer to the Government’s ambitious plans.
By Mitalee kurdekar & Jayashree Mendes</strong>
The sun was out and shining bright. Those who attended the last edition of Excon will know that this is no small blessing. While Excon 2015 was a bit of a wash-out, both in terms of the rain-affected outdoor displays and the lack of sales due to the sector’s terrible slump between 2012-2015, Excon 2017 stood out in stark contrast. Not only did the Bengaluru weather play along by remaining at its sunny, yet pleasant best, but construction equipment (CE) makers were also seen sporting a sunny disposition throughout the duration of the mammoth expo, buoyed by the recent policy changes and subsequent pick-up in sales.
The 9th edition of South Asia’s largest exhibition for the CE industry really couldn’t have gone any better. Organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Excon 2017 was held from December 12-16, at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC). The Government of Karnataka played host state, while the Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association (ICEMA) was the sector partner, supported by the Builders Association of India (BAI).
Spread over a display area of 2,50,000m2, the exhibition consisted of 925 exhibitors. This list included 275 foreign companies, which represented over 20 countries between them. Also, there were country pavilions including those of Germany, Italy, China, South Korea and the United Kingdom. In all, the event witnessed a 16% growth in terms of the number of exhibitors, as opposed to the 2015 edition. Over 40,000 business visitors from various parts of the world attended. What set the crowd apart, was that there was a great number of quality visitors, in terms of prospective customers, and not just passers-by.
The theme chosen this time around was ‘Smart Technologies Fueling Next Gen Infra’. In keeping with this timely topic, the CII also held an Infrastructure Summit on the sidelines of Excon 2017, in order to discuss opportunities in infrastructure development through Public Private Partnership (PPP). In addition, there was a CEO’s Round Table Session, which saw the participation of leading CEOs from both international and Indian companies within the construction sector.
The event was inaugurated by Anant Geete, Honourable Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Government of India. Speaking at the inaugural session, Geete said, “The constitution of equipment makers has good opportunities as there is phenomenal investment being experienced in the infrastructure sector, and we have also launched a slew of schemes to promote the capital goods industry. In the coming years, around Rs 7-8 lakh crore is expected to be spent.”
Also present at the inauguration was Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog, Government of India, who stated that he sees the construction sector as one of the biggest drivers of the Indian economy in the coming years. “In the next five decades, we aim to do very compact and dense urbanisation as compared to what we have done in the past. The government has not only provided impetus to 100 smart cities, 50 metros, etc., but we also see a significant impetus to the railway and irrigation sector,” he suggested.
Vipin Sondhi, chairman, Excon 2017, and MD & CEO, JCB India, said, “The construction industry is headed for better days of a projected stable growth of 10% CAGR over the next five years, compared to 7% in the previous decade. The Government of India has made infrastructure creation a major pillar for sustained growth and announced a number of projects in roads, railways, metro rail, mining, irrigation, power and urban development, which are growth drivers for our industry.”
The CII-ICEMA Report on the ‘Indian Construction Equipment Industry’ was also released during the inaugural session, which highlighted that in value terms, the Indian CE industry reached a high of about $5.8 billion (including spares and exports) during 2016-17. The report further indicated that the over 30% jump in 2016-17 was attributed to resurgence in buying driven by the legacy clean-up of stalled government orders, particularly in the roads sector.
Post the inauguration, there were subsequent sessions on ‘Government Projects – The Key Enabler’, ‘Infra Development – Voice of Customers’, and ‘Future Technologies – Its impact on construction equipment industry’.
Vinod Aggarwal, MD and CEO, VE Commercial Vehicles, spoke of the shifting industry scenario when he proclaimed, “All the uncertainties and disruptions are now behind us. There are only positive things to look forward to, for instance, there is a lot of focus on infrastructure. The transition to GST is becoming increasingly smooth with people getting used to it. Also, there are more efficiencies coming in the logistics space. As a result of that, migration towards high tonnage trucks like tractor trailers is taking place. For example, we have manufactured 6X4 tractors, and the number of these tractors being sold is currently around 1,500 per month, which was previously almost negligible.”
As always, both OEMs and component manufacturers used Excon as a platform to launch a series of new products, technologies and solutions to address the changing needs across segments including earthmoving, mining, roads, concrete, material handling, etc. We saw IoT solutions and telematics playing a major role, with many vendors incorporating these in their machines.
Nitin Chalke, MD, India, Eaton Corporation, said, “Most of our recent innovations have been about power density. We are finding ways in which we can be more efficient, both in terms of fuel efficiency and productivity improvements. In addition, there is now a tremendous focus on digitised products within the industry. Therefore, we are looking at telematics, IoT, and collecting more real-time data from the machine. This helps us understand when the machine is likely to fail, so we can carry out preventive maintenance, and ensure that the equipment uptime goes up, as a result. OEMs are working on those technologies, and our solutions are helping them achieve that goal.”
First-time Excon participants, Emmedue, from Italy, were keen to use their time at the expo to raise awareness about their brand M2. The advanced building system brand is being promoted in India by Bengaluru-based B K Chemtech Engineering (India). “Our technology is very suitable for the Indian building construction industry’s needs, and we are all set to start operations at a plant in Andhra Pradesh soon,” said Stefano Soriani, regional sales manager, Emmedue SPA.
There was no doubt that there was enough exposure to potential customers, as the crowds kept pouring in. “We have received a very good response. It’s now time to consolidate and review the quality of the enquiries,” said Juby Varghese, country manager, India & subcontinent, Top Werk India.
Overall, Excon 2017 was a spectacular success. With policy and sentiment both on their side, CE makers are positively upbeat about the sector’s progress. And business is reflecting this shift. With things finally falling into place, let’s hope that the political juggernaut continues to favour the CE industry, and in turn construction as a whole.