You take on Budget 2022-23. How is it going to benefit the RMC (Ready Mix Concrete) sector?
Union Budget FY23 had a clear indication of addressing long term structural reforms with a major focus on infrastructure developments. Considerable impetus has been given to, four multi-modal national parks contracts to be awarded in FY23, PM Gati Shakti masterplan for expressways to be formulated in next fiscal year, 100 PM Gati Shakti terminals to be set up in the next three years and focus on public investment to modernize infrastructure over the medium term, leveraging tech platform of Gati Shakti via a multi-modal approach.
The booster for the infrastructure industry will bring about a spurt in RMC demand, RMC growth is certain for the next few years. Due to the focused government policies and the focus on smart cities, the construction industry in India has already been booming. Numerous infrastructure projects such as roads, metros, and airports are in the pipeline for the next few years. Major demand is expected from the mid-and high-rise segment, especially for slum development and rehabilitation projects. Furthermore, there has been a consistent increase in orders for concrete supplies to metro works, commercial spaces such as industries, factories, malls, and software parks.
How is the market for RMC shaping up in India?
Prior to 2020, RMC market was growing at a CAGR of 7-8%. The two Covid years had considerably dimmed volumes, but now since the economy is gradually unfurling, there has been a sudden ramp up in volumes. We are seeing daily run rates of nearly the same or even slightly more than that of 2019. With all the impetus from the government on infrastructure and SOPs from the state governments on stamp duties of residential buildings, markets are seeing new residential and commercial buildings coming up in big numbers. We also see a good increase in the addition of new customers and have been noticing an increase in the number of budgetary quotes.
How has the RMC vertical performed in the last three years, i.e., pre-Covid-19, in Covid-19 and after relaxation in lockdown?
Profitability for us at Infra.Market has almost reached pre-Covid levels. The volumes have returned, and we also see significant growth in the coming days because of the consistent infrastructure pushby the government. The thrust of the government in developing Infrastructure will be a major growth driver in India. We are witnessing significant development in roads and highways, metro rail, airports, ports, and urban infrastructure. This will boost concrete consumption and flourish the industry. Further, the government initiative on affordable housing, smart cities, and dedicated freight corridors will continue to provide opportunities for setting up new RMC plants across India. The Indian construction industry is expected to witness a hefty move towards complex architectural structures in commercial buildings, elevated driveways, coastal highways, bullet trains, etc.
What are your RMC offerings and their area of application?
Being one of the fastest growing in the category, we provide an array of innovative construction solutions. Self-compacted concretes for leaner and densely reinforced structures, architectural concrete for artistic applications, colored concretes, concrete in bags and buckets for repairs, high early strength concretes for faster construction, ultra-high strength concretes for the high rises, low carbon concretes, highly durable concretes for structures desiring higher service life, specially designed fiber reinforced concretes for factory floors, waterproofed and water repelling concretes depending upon the application, high rise and long-distance pumping solutions are few of the product variants we offer to our consumers.
What is the USP of your product compared to your competitors?
We are a technology driven Ready-mix Concrete solutions provider. With an intent to leverage automation and effective use of our own app, we provide consistent quality, high performance, and reliable concrete to our customers. All our plants are fully automatic and interfaced with the weighbridge. Our app helps in having complete control of the production and delivery process. Our trucks have been installed with GPS and other sensors to ensure that the concrete is monitored right up to the construction site.We have also extended these services to our customers for them to have full transparency and information about our delivery schedules.Additionally, we have now introduced e-ticketing to go paperless in the future.
Can you share a few anecdotes of your value-added concrete applications at the client’s end?
We have been much appreciated for the timely delivery and quality of services that we provide. For the construction of FOB between Kurla and Sion station, or real estate constructions, we were quite applauded for our prompt and seamless services. Our efficiency was recently admired by a new client in Engineering Equipment for whom we supplied 1000 kg/cubic of light-weight concrete.
With the focus increasingly becoming environment centric with ‘Sustainability’ as the buzz word, how are you assimilating and accommodating sustainability with your RMC?
Infra.Market is committed to producing green concrete using various combinations of cementitious material. We have been implementing various initiatives aimed at reducing water consumption both in our concrete as well as operations. All our plants have concrete recycling systems, cement dust collectors, fogging, and water sprinkling systems to protect the environment. We promote the use of manufactured sand and are also working on using recycled aggregates to make our concrete greener and more sustainable. We have a vast range of low carbon concrete that uses less Cement thereby reducing carbon emissions. Additionally, Infra.Market offers a lot of self-consolidating concrete aimed at reducing fuel usage at the site for compaction and to bring down the decibel levels at construction sites.
A large chunk of the market in RMC is held by unorganized players. What would be your marketing strategies to increase your market share?
This is a worldwide phenomenon; all RMC markets have a mix of organized and unorganized players. We at Infra.Market are extremely focused on providing technological excellence to all our customers. It’s an honor and pride to affirm that we are the only RMC manufacturer to provide complete transparency and end-to-end visibility of the RMC manufacturing and delivery process to our customers. Everything, right from batching to delivery status and subsequent acknowledgment of deliveries is available on our app. We also have the finest technical team who are in constant touch with our customers to evaluate and provide better mixed proportions, thereby delivering the perfect concrete mix design compliant as per their needs. All of this is also digital, which leaves no room for inconsistency and provides the same experience for all our customers irrespective of geography. We also have centralized control over our mix designs which are electronically controlled centrally, allowing no inconsistencies or errors. These processes are very difficult to replicate for unorganized players.
What are the challenges faced by RMC players?
The availability of good quality aggregates with consistency in sourcing is one of the critical challenges the RMC sector faces. Of late, even supplementary cementitious materials are also not available with the same consistency. Setting up commercial plants in metro cities is a challenge due to space constraints and traffic regulations. To meet the growing demand, allocation within the city limits is required for RMC to operate. Pollution prevention measures and adherence to compliances are followed by a few select players, giving an unfair advantage to fly-by operators. There is a dire need to have stricter enforcement of rules that are equal to all operators.
How are you overcoming skilled manpower shortages?
Infra.Market is one of the biggest recruiters of Graduate Engineering trainees and Diploma Engineers in the sector. With the opening of new avenues and digital mediums, a wider range of employment opportunities have been created and we believe that we have a very strong training ability and commitment to train and empower the young talent. We also believe a fast-paced organization like us needs talent who can challenge the conventional and come out with breakthrough solutions that are way different from traditional methods of working. We have teams that are a rich blend of youth and experience. The mix helps the younger group to learn from the experienced and letsthe experienced individuals uncover the fresh talent.
Your take on the government policies and regulations and the tweaks require to propel the sector?
Policies on faster urbanization of Indian cities will drive the need for RMC plants to be setup within city limits. Stricter implementation of norms would help only the complaint to operate, and this would lead to increased tax revenues as well as transparency to the end consumer. Specific areas to set up RMC plants should be demarcated in the urban development plans. Lower tax slabs would make the product more affordable and competitive against site mixed concrete which would not only make the cities pollution free but also help increase construction speed and quality and also reduce the burden of employing labor at site.
Lastly, what are your growth plans for RMC vertical for the next three years?
We intend to grow aggressively in this segment, the idea is to represent ourselves in every town and city of our country and promote RMC over site mixed concrete. And by the end of three years, we would certainly like to see ourselves in a category defining position.
Anil Kulkarni, National Category Head of Concrete, Infra.Market