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Dhansar Engineering Company is creating enduring value by providing optimised mining solutions.

Story & photos:

Ashish Bhatia

Established by Basant Kumar Aggarwalla at Jharia, Bihar, in 1956, Dhansar Engineering Company Pvt. Ltd. (DECO) offers diverse services like site levelling, grading, excavation, slurry evacuation, surface mining, drilling and blasting. Claimed to be a leading mining contractor in India, the company is creating enduring value for its clients and stakeholders by providing optimised mining solutions. Also specialising in the widening of national highways among others, DECO has in its fleet over 100 excavators of Volvo, Komatsu and Terex make. It has over 300 trucks in its fleet. Of these, all are of Volvo make. Venturing into contract mining in 1971 when coal mines were nationalised, DECO bagged a project from Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) at Jharia. It also bagged projects at Raniganj and Ramgarh. A big stride came seven years later as the company bagged a project from Coal India Limited. ‘’The nationalisation process resulted in the government seizing our assets as well as those of the other contractors. This was for less than anticipated compensation. It left us to fend for ourselves. Our colliery went for a paltry sum of Rs.2.74 lakh,’’ said Manoj Aggarwalla, Director, DECO. The price of coal went up from Rs.28 to Rs.30 per tonne post-nationalisation. Today, the price of quality coal is Rs.8000 per tonne.

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Fulfilling contract obligations in parts of India, DECO got a major breakthrough in 1999. The company won an earth excavation and filling work contract at the Tehri Dam project. The bagging of contract at Rajarhat, West Bengal, got the company to look at Volvo Trucks. Impressed by its abilities, DECO acquired a set of Volvo FM7 tippers. The market was dominated by large dumpers. The successful execution of Tehri project led to the inking of BCCL contract. Posing a unique set of challenges, the company, in 2009, won three major contracts worth Rs.8000 crore. To be executed in the next five years, the contracts included the mines of Kusunda, Jogta and Gazlitand. In Jogta and Kusunda, the company reached mining depths of up to 170 m. Domain expertise, local knowledge experience in planning of mining operations, dedicated and skilled team of engineers, technicians and drivers helped. The use of right equipment and Volvo tippers helped too. DECO placed an order of 100 tippers in 2008. Mentioned Aggarwalla, ‘’The high quality of Volvo trucks ensures that they work in deep mines and under arduous conditions where other trucks give up. Indian mines are the toughest. There are big boulders, and work often involves a depth of over 150 m.’’ The first Volvo in the Deco fleet is over 90 months old. It is to show signs of ageing according to Aggarwalla.

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The Volvo FM400 tipper in the DECO fleet has clocked 45,000 hours. They continue to play an important role in key projects like Hindustan Zinc the company is executing. At the Hindustan Zinc site, DECO’s truck fleet tackled steep gradients with a surface reduced level of 400 m as compared to an average reduced level of up to 30 m. “Exposure to a project like this imparted us with the necessary skills to manage a project in seamless, efficient and time-bound manner,” mentioned Aggarwalla. ‘’It was here that the trend toward a blast free operation began. It was no longer necessary to move machines out of a mine. There was a reduction in idle time. Productivity increased,’’ Aggarwalla expressed. The beginning of a blast free operation also presented the company with an ability to prioritise projects and to be innovative. Having over 300 Volvo trucks in its fleet, DECO is perhaps the only mining contractor in the country that has a 100 per cent Volvo fleet. Averred Harsh Agarwalla, Managing Director, DECO, ‘’We attribute our success to our partnership with Volvo Trucks. Our decision to buy Volvo trucks has helped us to grow.’’ Stating that they were the only choice when the decision to first buy a Volvo truck was taken, Aggarwalla said that they continue to live up to their expectation. In awe of Volvo’s ‘Reman’ concept where the core aggregates are replaced at competitive rates, DECO has owned all the Volvo truck models that were launched in India.

With an emphasis on timely vehicle maintenance, work discipline and no compromise in business principles, DECO has pruned its average cost of debt. It is thus able to offer competitive prices to its clients. Clients of the company include Central Coal Fields Ltd., Hindustan Construction Company, Larsen & Toubro Ltd., Tata Iron and Steel Co. Ltd., among others. Cultivating a culture to value resources, DECO, to attain a high level of efficiency, is ensuring that its machinery clocks maximum uptime. “This is done through cohesive communication and constant monitoring by a team of experts at the mining sites. It is a key to improving productivity,’’ opined Aggarwalla. He claimed that only a few companies have survived and successfully tackled local challenges. Mentioned Manoj Aggarwalla, that it is not easy. “Even today, we face an uphill task of sustaining. The size of the land parcel is getting smaller. It is unsuitable for collective mining and dumping. The frequency of projects has also reduced. This is having an effect on the scope of earnings,” he stated. With 90 per cent of the revenues coming from mining, DECO’s operational challenges include the dearth of skilled manpower. The company is constantly increasing its efficiency. Clocking a turnover of Rs.750 crores in FY2016-17, it is confident of providing optimal mining solutions. With a mining capacity of 1.25 cu.m., DECO is creating an enduring value for its clients.

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