Schwing Stetter is riding high on success. Deepti Thore looks at its strategy and new offerings.

V. G. Sakthikumar, managing Director, Schwing Stetter india

Concrete construction equipment manufacturer Schwing Stetter India is riding high on success. Claimed to have had a best performing year, 2021, since its inception in 1998, the company is staying ahead of its game by adhering to what it calls best engineering practices. Known to have already surpassed its 2020 turnover on a Year-To-Date (YTD) basis in 2021, the 100 per cent subsidiary of Schwing GmbH is executing new strategies to maintain its leadership position. It is eyeing expansion of business, for example, by increasing exports and adopting Industry 4.0 standards across its manufacturing facilities. Stressing on 2021 turning out to be one of the best years for the company after 2018 and 2019 despite the impact of pandemic, V.G. Sakthikumar, Managing Director of Schwing Stetter India in an exclusive conversation said, “We were quite prepared in terms of meeting the market demand which was coming up due to various measures tahen by the government post the 2019 election. There was emphasis on the revival of the economy, exports, and a lot of incentivisation for the MSMEs.” Taking required precautions, following protocols announced by the Ministry of Health, the company took care of its workers, ensuring smooth operation of the company’s processes.

The strategy

With the migration happening from CEV Stage III to CEV Stage IV emission standards for construction equipment vehicles, Sakthikumar shared that the company has already sold out all CEV Stage III machines with a full migration to CEV Stage IV. Talking about the company’s strategy, he explained, “When we had a chance to fit a BSIV machine, we decided that we will not just swap the engine from BSIII to BSIV, we will build a model ground up with the help of customer feedback gathered over the last three years.” Keeping in mind such customer requirements, the company introduced the Self-Loading Mixers (SLM) in the market, SLM, claimed Sakthikumar, has earned the company a 25 per cent market share in the respective segment over the past three years. After gaining popularity in the segment, the company developed the SLM 4600. With it, customers can look at higher carrying capacity and attaining higher speeds as a valuable upgrade of their portfolio. With a motive of expanding its footprint in the North-east region of the country, the company launched the new SLM in Guwahati first. Commenting on the market response in the North-East region, Sakthikumar said, “With the Indian Government’s impetus on infrastructure projects and the focus on North-Eastern states, it seemed more appropriate to launch the SLM in Guwahati first.” The company is also carrying out CSR activities in the region to train the candidates on handling infrastructure equipment and in turn provide them with crucial employment opportunities.

Besides migrating to new emission norms and launching new products, Schwing Stetter India also engaged in other initiatives to stay on the growth path. To transition towards Industry 4.0, Schwing Stetter India inaugurated its fifth manufacturing factory at Cheyyar, in Tamil Nadu. Spread across a 50,000 sq. m. built up area, the new state-of-the-art facility is the global manufacturing hub for Schwing’s concrete boom pumps, stationary pumps, self-loading mixers, shotcrete pumps, excavators, wheel loaders and motor graders. Built to be sustainable with a natural green cover, the facility ensures digitalisation of all equipment and production processes with an extensive usage of telematics, IoT and robotic machine learning. The smart factory is said to have a centralised energy management system, wastewater treatment and visual and real-time displays on the shopfloor. In addition to this, as a part of the women empowerment initiative, the company has employed women on the shopfloor. They currently account for ~25 per cent of the Schwing shopfloor workforce. The company additionally trained students from the lower strata to help them pursue higher education.

On the exports front, Schwing Stetter has already penetrated the international markets, from Africa to Association of Southeast Asian Nations besides catering to the internal needs of the Schwing subsidiaries across the globe. Catering to the export market of Bauma, Munich and Eastern Europe it is also eyeing a penetraion in Brazil, the USA and GCC markets. Talking about the increase in exports, Sakthikumar averred, “We think the geopolitical developments are favouring us with more interest being shown in our India manufactured products for exports to neighbouring regions.”

Dealing with the crisis

Experiencing one of the best quarters from Jan-March 2020, Schwing Stetter was quite prepared in terms of meeting the market demand. After the initial lockdown in March 2020, the company’s factories and normal operations resumed only in the month of June 2020. The company was challenged on several fronts in the first phase of the pandemic. Pressure is known to have mounted with a small window for fulfilling the export order book. Located near the Chennai port, Schwing Stetter India benefitted from its strategic location giving it access to the vessels. The April 2020 turnover, relatively higher by 20 per cent is a testimony, pointed Sakthikumar. “We were permitted by the government to work out the foreign exchange too,” he said.

Talking about the expansion project, Sakthikumar drew attention to the planned November 2020 take off coming to a grinding halt . He blamed the lack of permissions for undertaking operations, the issue of 600 construction migrant workers confined to the contractor’s site for an unduly long period among issues adding to the challenges in executing as per planBetween March-July 2020, by building a medical facility with food and shelter, Schwing Stetter India was able to restart operations in August 2020. The factory was inaugurated in February 2021.

Future prospects

Drawing attention to the upcoming highway projects, Sakthikumar cited the pandemic marred period not deterring the government from awarding new contracts. With investment in infrastructure, Schwing Stetter India has been rolling out construction equipment since the start of 2021. New demands and new requirements are being discussed in various types of projects. “It’s not only metro rail, high speed train, or dedicated freight corridors or expressways or Greenfield roads and the national highways but we see projects going beyond the usual,” emphasised Sakthikumar. “We can see a lot of movement in industrial sites, logistic parks and real estate signalling further signs of revival,” he added. Expressing optimism on the future prospects, Sakthikumar opined that times to comes will be good for the sector.

Sakthikumar shared how in construction equipment, India ranks third after China and the United States of America. With the infrastructure void being filled rapidly, the need for construction machinery is increasing. The sales of such machines are increasing as a result, he stated. To meet this demand, Schwing is increasing its production capacity. For the boom pump, the company has expanded capacity by 5x compared to pre-Covid times. Similarly, for the SLM this increase amounts to 15x. Having adequate space for fueling the expansion plans, the new hub in Cheyyar will add a manufacturing line for the hydraulic excavators with a 7500 units per annum capacity. From CKD assemblies as of current, the company hopes to do complete assembly beginning January 2022. To support this plan, the company will source a majority of components from the local suppliers. “It is not only the fifth factory, we are in the process of expanding our current facility to meet the demand which we are anticipating for the coming years,” Sakthikumar exclaimed.

In 2019 when the finance minister announced the facility of having a custom bordered warehouse in the manufacturing plant itself, Schwing Stetter did so at their new factory in Tamilnadu. It is claimed to be the first factory to get the facility. With a new testing lab and a welding training school installed with the simulators, Schwing has also committed to train 10,000 operators of construction equipment over the next four years. The company has also signed an Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Uttarakhand government for the Char Dham rail connectivity project for which it is the prime supplier of construction equipment. To ensure a low operating cost and a higher uptime on its machines, Schwing is also offering aftersales services through nine service centres wherein the submitted machines can be managed, end-to-end. The company also offers buy backs and limited warranty provisions.

SLM 4600

Schwing Stetter recently launched the SLM 4600. the flagship product in the SLM segment is best suited for infrastructure projects across rough terrains. the slm 4600 has been deployed from the company’s manufacturing facility at Cheyyar, in Tamil Nadu which is also it’s global manufacturing hub. Targeted at the urban development segment, the flagship model has been designed to meet higher output requirements of concrete batching, mixing and placing. It will cater to both the domestic and international markets. An outcome of the efforts put in by Schwing Stetter’s R&D team, from market study and integration technology like IoT and telematics, the equipment adds to the advantages of contractors known to work on smaller projects and preferring optimised equipment investment. The new SLM abides by the new emission norms and offers better fuel savings. Fitted with the latest CEV Stage IV, CRDI Engine, the new SLM mixer is ergonomically designed to offer best safety to the operator. Built to produce high volumes of concrete on an hourly basis, the equipment offers better fuel efficiency due to EGR and it’s extraordinary hydraulic system. Some of the other features of the mixer includes precision batch output through its telematics, lesser mixing time which in turn improves the overall output. it also lessens wear and tear in turn offering a lower maintenance due to an innovative drum design with higher thickness. The compact and manoeuvreable self loading concrete mixer machine, offers unparalleled productivity, versatility, efficiency, comfort and above all enhanced safety. Providing higher accuracy in water batching with the unique digital flow meter, the new SLM is equipped with a distinctive double threaded spiral which gives it homogeneity and higher strength of concrete. Some of the other mixers in the range include models SLM Bee 2.1, SLM 2100, SLM 2600 and SLM 4300.

The SLM comes with optimised hydraulics to get the maximum result from the engine; it helps increase the productivity of the machine and also reduces fuel consumption by almost 15 per cent. “The operator using the machine to make concrete will make big savings on cement as the the calculation is mind boggling,” Sakthikumar mentioned. The machine is designed such that it returns 40 per cent of the machine costs to the operator through savings both on cement and fuel within two years of operation, he explained further. Talking about the rental companies which provide these machines on hire, Sakthikumar opined they stand to gain from long lasting parts, fuel savings and higher productivity. The machine is also designed to meet operator requirements and comfort. The wall panel, the dash dashboard on the steering assembly can be shifted to suit the height of the person like in passenger vehicles. The cabin of the SLM come with an option for air conditioning as well. “With so many benefits offered we are already seeing our numbers and inquiries going up phenomenally, because our machines are standing out compared to what others are offering in the market,” sakthikumar claimed.

Also read, Schwing Stetter ‘Super Six’

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