|Mr. Ramesh Palagiri
Managing Director & CEO,
The WIRTGEN GROUP is an internationally operating group of companies in the construction equipment industry. As a technological leader, they offer mobile machine solutions for road construction and road rehabilitation, plants for mining and processing minerals or recycling material and for the production of asphalt. Mr. Ramesh Palagiri, Managing Director & CEO, Wirtgen India in conversation with CE&CR, shares his views on their high-quality products, development of innovative processes and their efficiency, and more.
Civil Engineering & Construction Review: How is the construction equipment market currently doing in India? What will be the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the sector?
Ramesh Palagiri: COVID-19 will have a devastating effect on the infrastructure industry and also on the financial performance of the companies. There is a lot of uncertainty with regards to demand of machinery. As of now, we cannot not be sure of the total impact and the timeline; before things come back to normal.
Our estimate is that it would take at least 6-12 months before the situation returns to normal. So, we are having a relook at all our plans and doing the necessary adjustments to our business.
CE&CR: While in some sectors of the construction industry, electric power has been used for many years, this is something which increasing numbers of OEMs are investing growing amounts of time and money in. What are your views on the same?
Ramesh Palagiri: The WIRTGEN GROUP VÖGELE brand of pavers have developed electric screed heating since many decades. This extensive experience, in combination with continuous further development, means that VÖGELE screeds are now brought to temperature quickly and evenly.
Short heating-up time, constant and even heating capacity and the heat pattern of a screed clearly shows the contribution made by electric screed heating to high paving quality. During paving, the intelligent generator management system ensures that regardless of engine speed, the generator output required for an optimum temperature of the full pave width is always available – whether the machine is being operated with or without bolt-on extensions. This reduces both the energy required and the fuel consumption.
CE&CR: What is your view on the government’s focus on ‘Make-in-India’ initiative, ‘Atmanirbhar India’ and support for the MSME segment? Will this have a positive impact on the construction equipment industry in India?
Ramesh Palagiri: The first step required is to ensure that the rules across the states are the same, so that there is no confusion for the infrastructure activities to get into full swing at the earliest. For the equipment demand to pick up, the government has to invest more on infra projects, but with the COVID crisis being the top priority, looks like this year could be a tough time for the government to focus on infra sector, as they would already have quite high revenue expenditure.
CE&CR: Are Wirtgen’s road construction equipment more fuel efficient than in the past? If so, how, and to what degree?
Ramesh Palagiri: The WIRTGEN GROUP has been continuously innovating its products and all our road technology brands – Wirtgen, Vogele and Hamm are not only global market leaders but also innovation leaders, the average age of a machine being not more than 3 years.
The WIRTGEN GROUP has been consistently developing products which offer better efficiency in terms of fuel consumption and this helps in sustainable development and less carbon emissions, lower life cycle costs and better productivity of these machines.
CE&CR: What kind of knowledge of technology is essential for rental companies to help their contractor customers?
Ramesh Palagiri: The rental market for the road building equipment is still not very well-developed in India. The market is developed to a certain extent for Compactors, but for other equipment like Concrete slipform pavers or Asphalt pavers or for Recycling or Milling machines, it is still at a very nascent stage. This may change due to the current scenario as many companies may be vary of CAPEX and hence, prefer rental machines.
It is early to comment on technology as the market needs to be developed first for this segment.