The International Railway Equipment Exhibition (IREE) is the only international event in India for the Railway and its related sectors. The Indian Railways participate in the IREE in a big way, displaying their capabilities and future requirements. IREE attracts participation and visitors from around 20 countries.
IREE 2015 provided a glittering centre-stage for all rail-technology related organisations and individuals to display their strengths, advancements and future plans. Participants such as Ingersoll Rand and NBC Bearings tell us about their experience of the event and their own plans for growth of their respective businesses. In conversation with Dipen Shah, Territory Leader for India & Africa, Ingersoll Rand Power Tools, Ingersoll Rand India Limited and Sanjeev Taparia, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, NBC Bearings (National Engineering Industries Limited).
What kind of new business opportunities did IREE 2015 create for the sector and for your company?
Shah: As a global leader for Power tools, Ingersoll Rand values the opportunity to participate in this mega event and showcase our product range. IREE 2015 provided an excellent platform for us to demonstrate the value we can deliver in modernization of manufacturing in this critical industry that plays a key role in India´s growth story. Ingersoll Rand already has couple of success stories in providing bolting, fastening and lifting solutions to rail coach manufacturers within and outside India. We can leverage those in addressing manufacturing efficiency and productivity related concerns in Indian railways sector.
As for the overall sector, IREE 2015 was a successful event in many aspects. It provided an opportunity for Indian Railways and its suppliers and partner companies to collectively showcase the latest relevant technologies under one roof and demonstrate their abilities.
Taparia: As far as NEI is concerned, the products offered to the railway sector contributes substantially to our total revenues. In India, NEI has had a long relationship with the Indian Railways since 1952, providing products such as roller bearings, axle box, spherical and cartridge tapered roller bearings. The recently concluded IREE served as a very apt platform for NEI. We got to demonstrate our new, specially-designed products such as CTRB Class K, LHB Coach bearing (UIC 130/230) and the Insulated bearing for Traction motor Application. Even for all other players in the industry and suppliers at large, we believe it is an excellent platform to network and meet prospective International clients.
Did IREE help the sector gain some momentum?
Shah: Although it is too early to comment, it can be said with confidence that there´s overall excitement and a positive mood amongst the players in this industry. With increased focus of Indian government to modernise the rail infrastructure within the country, IREE 2015 happened just in time to set the ball rolling and bring potential vendors and partners to the business table for exploring opportunities.
Taparia: This exhibition is one of its kind and serves as a very relevant platform for all of us to meet and conduct business. It is a place where exchange of ideas happen and surely it helps the sector to gain momentum.
How was the response to your company?
Shah: About 200 business visitors visited Ingersoll Rand´s stall at IREE 2015. Visitor profile ranged from end customers and consultants to liaisons and component suppliers. Lot of visitors were excited about the opportunity to witness a live demonstration of pneumatic and cordless power tools at our stall and experience the power and performance of the tools first-hand. We think this will result in greater appreciation by potential clients of the value Ingersoll Rand power tools can bring to the manufacturing and maintenance operations in this industry. We now have better understanding of the players in this industry and their typical needs and problems that they would like to overcome. This will allow us to provide targeted solutions to their fastening and material handling needs.
Taparia: We demonstrated our new products which are specially designed for railways for new applications. We are hopeful of securing more opportunities for these products in the near future. This is expected to improve our share of business within the railway sector and discussions are on.
What kind of opportunities do you envisage for the sector with the Make in India campaign?
Shah: Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s Make in India pitch is focussed around enhancing the ease of doing business, encouraging public-private partnerships and harnessing the potential of 3 Ds - Democracy, Demography and Demand. With GOI already having unveiled plans to invest $137 billion in its rail network over the next five years, many domestic and foreign manufacturers are starting to focus on Railways in India. We can expect more foreign companies to start setting up local manufacturing and service operations which will drive up foreign direct investment (FDI).
In addition, existing local manufacturers will invest in capacity expansion to meet the increasing needs of this industry. Increased participation of the private and multinational players in this industry will generate requirement for skilled workforce; so expect more jobs to be created in this sector. PM Modi´s Skill India initiative should complement greatly in this development. Needless to say, creating jobs will drive up the purchasing power of the people, thereby setting up a cycle that ensures money keeps flowing through the economy.
Taparia: The Make in India campaign puts investment in railways on the fast track, making Indian Railways a commercially viable organisation. This, in turn, is bound to stand us in good stead, or any organisation that has business relationships with the Indian Railways. The encouragement to private sector participation can open the floodgates of FDI in the sector and that, in turn, can fill up the gap created by lack of funds. To sum up, we foresee a very positive growth story for the Railways in the days to come with the apt implementation of Make in India reforms.
What can you tell us about your future plans?
Taparia: NEI is committed to supply high axle load bearings for newly-built freight corridor wagons. NEI has also developed LHB coach bearings for passenger coaches. All of this will surely improve our business alliance with the Indian Railways and take the relationship forward. We also have plans for expanding and foraying into the international markets while we continue to be the biggest exporter of railway bearings.