Can you please share with us the performance of the Organization in the last three years (i.e.) pre-Covid-19, in Covid-19 and post relaxation in lockdown?
Tata BlueScope Steel has always been at the forefront in offering value added through premium solutions and services to customers. Our journey in the pre-Covid times has been immensely satisfying as we have been able to exceed the expectations of our esteemed customers as well as grow our top-line and bottom-line. During the Wave 1 of the pandemic, our priority was to ensure the safety and health of our teams while continue to cater to our customer requirements. We took several measures to ensure business continuity and the results were seen during post relaxations in lockdowns. We could surpass our previous milestones in terms of volume and financials while taking care of our employee wellbeing. The 2nd wave has hit our country in a big way and our team is well prepared to tackle the situation.
The ongoing Pandemic and its impacts are going to last for atleast a year or two. What strategies have you adapted to adjust with the ‘New Normal’ and get going with the business as usual?
The pandemic has affected a substantial part of the world creating many new challenges for multiple sectors. Even in such times, Tata BlueScope Steel has displayed consistent performance adapting to the new normal. With comprehensive guidelines including enhanced hygiene measures, physical distancing and modifications in working environment; we have effectively delivered an optimal performance with a robust business continuity plan for our customers; driving productivity inspite of all odds! With standardized operating procedures for keeping our staff safe, we have ramped up our IT infrastructure enabling work from home; built workforce and channel partner confidence through on-going communication. Our frontline manufacturing staff on plant sites have displayed great resilience to the situation resulting in us achieving the production targets. Our office employees have worked relentlessly all through this phase with zeal and dedication to meet customers’ expectations which reflects in our growth story.
Covid 19 has battered almost all the industries. How is the PEB industry adjusting to the “New Normal”. What is the market share and growth rate? Which are the emerging growth drivers for the PEB sector?
Intense digitisation was only a catch phrase for a pre-pandemic construction era. Things have changed drastically now. And so, the customer demands. Like every challenge is an opportunity, here is our chance to reset and change as per current expectations. Adapting newer technologies for optimising operational efficiencies has become the new normal. Engineers will need to adapt to the new normal and re-engineer the way they do their business and carry out their daily work. For example, the use of technology to communicate and transact businesses as well as working from home. Right from design & engineering, to a swift supply chain integration and a disruption in logistics have sooner become a reality. Being digitally-inclined will ensure timely project delivery and healthy profitability.
The pandemic has served as an alarm for us as a community and a nation; to be prepared for any given emergency. With optimised usage and performance-based structures, the demand has already surged for factory-built, modular and rapidly deployable emergency buildings or pre-engineered steel structures that empower communities to respond faster. New normal is to go for PEB with less labour-intensive construction. Shifted Focus on PEB is due to its significant cost benefits and reduction in construction time of manufacturing plants, warehouses, etc, compared to that of traditional construction model. The rising demand in India, combined with the fact that global manufacturing companies’ focus to diversify their production by setting-up low-cost plants in countries other than China, will be the growth mantra going forward.
Your take on healthcare as an emerging growth driver for the PEB sector
The surging number of cases have put an unprecedented strain on our healthcare systems and infrastructural facilities. Reinforcing and accelerating the need for state-of-the-art, compliant, hygienic Grade A healthcare centres in India. Given the current situation, the healthcare facilities need to support an overwhelming number of patients, with adequate facilities maxing out on space or service by ramping up Covid special hospitals on a war-footing. Here, pre-fabricated structures offer value solution helping us meet with the growing demands of healthcare expansion with a quick turnaround time. Enabling speedy construction and flexible design specification, these modern and modular structures have gained much value within the sector as against conventional structures. Tata BlueScope Steel has always endeavored in enabling innovative solutions for improving lives by creating socially relevant infrastructure solutions. We offer ready-to-install life-care structures that promise strength, durability, energy efficiency and time-saving. Enabling sustainable and swift structures for optimum healthcare functioning.
How does the volatility in steel prices affects PEB project?
The volatility observed in steel pricing in recent past and at present is unparalleled. Of-course there are reasons for the same, however this does pose a challenge to PEB projects as these contracts are generally fixed price contracts and with stiff timelines. If there are availability and supply chain related issues due to lockdowns/ restrictions it adds to the complexity. At Tata BlueScope our endeavor is to adopt to new age technologies and give best possible value additions to our customers. Further we feel, the pricing situation should normalize in the long run.
Please take us through your manufacturing units?
We have a plant at Jamshedpur that manufactures metal coated and colour coated coils. Our requirements for cold rolled steel are fulfilled by Tata Steel’s consistent supplies of best in class raw materials, ensuring quality product. This highly sophisticated facility has highly automated color coating and metal coating lines. In addition to that we also have manufacturing plants for downstream businesses. One at Sriperumbudur (Chennai) and the other at Bhiwadi (Rajasthan). However, to ensure strategic alliance pan India, and to be closer to our customers; we have constructed two more plants, in Pune and closer to Jamshedpur, with a hybrid business model. Here, we have an advantage to supply roll formed products to the end customers from our own plants ensuring consistent quality right from raw material stage to the end product. We are the only company to do so!
How are you overcoming the shortage of skilled manpower? What are the skill nurturing trainings you provide?
At Tata BlueScope we invest a lot in skill development of our teams. We have qualified teams to support our front end as well as back end technical functions like design/detailing, etc. We have a dedicated team of skilled manpower tied up with our certified erectors. On time to time basis we are nurturing and developing the skill sets of the team for new solutions, technologies and with tools to face the external challenges. This is a continuous process for us.
In this ongoing Pandemic period, how can the government hand-hold the industry to propel the sector?
In these unprecedented times, Government has taken several measures to boost economic growth and support the industry. Since PEB industry is dependent on investments in Capex, government could further augment its spending on infrastructure projects which are ongoing and can fast-track new projects. Some incentives to encourage private sector Capex like PLI schemes, Make in India are launched and can be further strengthened. If there is a possibility of allowing end users to take GST input credit for investments done in PEB, that can give some boost to the sector
How do you see the economy, opportunities and challenges in this pandemic situation and please give us a brief idea about the strategies outlined to tap in the future potentials?
As mentioned earlier, this situation is dynamic and we see some headwinds especially in H1 FY22. There are challenges ahead of us, as market sentiments are fluctuating due to uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, decision making has slowed down a bit due to economic factors and also current pricing scenario. With complexities in supply chain, on-site manpower, etc, induced due to localised restrictions the efficiencies in manufacturing and construction at industry level may get affected. For Tata BlueScope, our pan India presence with our decentralised manufacturing plants and network of trained erectors, it helps us to cope up with the situation and continue to offer better service levels to our customers. Digitalisation of all tools and latest software in design, product development, automation at plant level will help the industry to optimise the resources. The pandemic has also opened up some windows of opportunities in segments like healthcare, mid- and high-rise buildings to be converted into buildings in steel. The need for pre-engineered and pre-fabricated, ready to install members to reduce onsite complexities is felt even more today if not in the past and this is an opportunity for PEB industry to serve our esteemed customers.