Allen Antao, Executive Vice President Business Head (Process Equipment), Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co Pvt Ltd

Allen Antao, Executive Vice President and Business Head (Process Equipment), Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co Pvt Ltd

7:41 AM, 13th September 2017
Allen Antao, Executive Vice President and Business Head (Process Equipment), Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co Pvt Ltd
Allen Antao, Executive Vice President and Business Head (Process Equipment), Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co Pvt Ltd.

Aligning with the manufacturing strengths of the world

In an interview, Allen Antao with Chemical Today Magazine talks at length about the global dynamics of the process equipment market. He also delves into the opportunities offered by India to strengthen the country as a global powerhouse.

By Shivani Mody

Process equipment landscape in Indian chemical industry.

We manufacture equipment for the process industry. Oil & gas constitutes the pre-dominant part of our portfolio which covers refining, petrochemicals, fertilisers and chemicals. The power sector is a growing part of our portfolio.

In India, there has been substantial investment in the refining and petrochemicals space in the last few years driven by investments by the major oil companies and of course, Reliance. Investments in the fertiliser sector are now seeing some momentum. The overall growth in the Indian economy will necessitate growth in the core sectors which in turn will fuel increased demand in all these areas.

Factors supporting growth in the global process equipment market.

Since the global liquidity crisis in 2008, there has been a slowdown in demand for process equipment, primarily because of the squeeze on capital investment. When we thought that we were getting out of that phase, we saw a sharp drop in oil prices which affected all those industries which are oil dependent. Global economic slowdown has further served to dampen demand for process equipment.

Elevated oil prices boosted the viability of shale gas production in the US which had a positive impact on fertiliser and LNG investments there. The reverse happened when oil prices hit near historic lows. All in all, the industry has seen very challenging times since 2008. Both, the upstream and downstream sectors have been badly hit.

Changing dynamics in Indian market.

The India situation seems to be in a slightly brighter spot as compared to the rest of the world simply because it is a faster growing economy. In this kind of a growth environment, there will definitely be increased core sector demand for process equipment.

There are other factors driving growth in India. To list only a few:

  • The increasing push for cleaner fuels is driving new investments in the oil & gas sector in India.
  • Several environmental protection initiatives initiated by the Government of India are driving the adoption of cleaner processes.
  • The focus on renewable energy will give rise to new investments in the power sector, boosting the demand further.

India is a power house in fabricated equipment for the chemical industry. This not only comes from the fact that there is substantial high end investment in manufacturing capability but also from the fact that Indian technical talent is a much sought after resource. All major global engineering companies have set up their engineering hubs in India to leverage this critical resource.

What could hold India back is the availability of pressure vessels grade materials, a significant quantum of which still has to be imported. Indian steel manufactures still do not make the critical grades of steel used in process equipment manufacturing. In a depreciating rupee environment, import substitution would have a beneficial influence on cost. In addition, logistics makes imports disadvantageous from a cost and time perspective. Locally available materials required for chemical equipment manufacturing in this country will allow Indian manufacturers  to take pole position on fabricated equipments, worldwide.

Impact of mergers & acquisitions on the process equipment business.

Scale is essential for survival and growth. Mergers and acquisitions and consolidation put more power in the hands of the merged entity, both financial and technological. It widens the customer base and generally makes for better competitiveness and healthier bottom lines. The capabilities of these companies to make investments become stronger which become a strong driver of growth both up and down the value chain.

Consolidation, as against fragmentation, improves the gene pool of companies.

Company’s growth plans, strategy for India and global markets.

We see India and the Asia-Pacific region, in general growing. We expect a growing Indian economy to generate increased demand. Simultaneously, the new tiger economies in the far East like Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia are seeing large scale new investments both in fertilizers and also in upgradation and modernisation of refineries. The Middle East has always been, and will continue to be, one of our primary markets. Several new investments in the US are also very attractive.

Although the global market, in volume terms, does not present a very optimistic outlook right now, we believe that it will turn for the better going forward. The identified pockets of opportunities offer bright opportunities.

Innovation focus for the company.

In our business, we are responsible for the mechanical and thermal engineering of our products based on process dictated specifications provided to us by our customers. This is different from the conventional understanding of design of a product where a designer holds complete sway over the technical specifications and aesthetics of the product he is designing. That said, in our products, Engineering being at the core of Design, the differentiators centre around the latest design technologies like finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics etc.

In more productive manufacturing, lies an important answer to the question of global competitiveness. The use of digital technology has moved beyond plainly mining and analysing data for better decision making. The application of the latest development in electronics is transforming manufacturing at a very rapid pace. Indian engineers are at home in adapting, applying and exploiting these modern manufacturing opportunities. In many ways, the shop floor as we knew it five years back is continurously changing and will be unrecognisable when seen over a five year horizon. For us, leveraging the latest technologies is a strategic imperative.

IIOT in process equipment.

New availability of opportunities, in terms of the amount of robotics that we are using now, is unimaginable. Today, the advancement in available technologies allows us to do jobs with fewer people, making us more productive, more globally competitive, reduces cycle times of manufacturing and makes our customers happier with better quality products. We have experience that when one moves from inconsistent manual processes to very consistent automatic processes there is a sea change in operational performance which impacts all aspects of a business.

Challenges faced as a process equipment manufacturer.

As a process manufacturer, training and skill development is a major challenge. Other stimulating aspects of our work include upscaling capabilities, maintaining relationships with global clients, ensuring that we are current in terms of technology, higher productivity of our workforce etc.

In terms of global demand, we are a major player in the field and we rank amongst the top fabricators in the world. We export 85 percent of what we make, so we have access to global markets that we have built over the years. To keep growing, we will need to continue to build that channel. For which we will constantly have to keep ourselves upgraded in terms of design capabilities, manufacturing capabilities, ensuring that we are continuously developing and upgrading our skill sets, providing a creative work environment for our people and engaging with our clients in a very responsive manner. These are the things we do best at Godrej and these are our competitive strengths in the market which will fuel our ambition for the future.

© Chemical Today Magazine

 

See the Interview in Chemical Today magazine

http://www.worldofchemicals.com/digitalissue/chemical-today-september-2017/23

View the magazine on Mobile, download the Chemical Today magazine app

http://bit.ly/21W5H0z

http://apple.co/1ZwID77

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