Managing Director & CEO,
The Wirtgen Group is in direct sales and service model and get continuously updated on the customer requirements. “We involve our customers when we plan for our Next Gen machines. This ensures we are always updated on the demand and strive to offer innovative solutions, says P Ramesh, Managing Director & CEO. Excerpts from the interview.
How do you envision the changing dynamics of service industry in the CE space and how innovatively Wirtgen India has transformed itself to address the challenges?
In the road building and road rehabilitation segment of business, the Wirtgen Group clearly distinguishes itself from competition, in terms of innovation of its products, the value for money, reliability and the direct application and service support what we offer to our customers.
We offer a complete end to end 360 degree solution for road construction and road repair starting with the Kleemann crushers, Benninghoven Asphalt plants, Vogele pavers, Hamm Compactors and then finally recycling and stabilisation with Wirtgen recyclers and also concrete paving by Wirtgen slipform pavers.
A machine’s productive lifecycle is determined by the life of its major components. How do you ensure the same?
Aftermarket services is definitely a strategic differentiator for us and that is the reason we have a strong application support team to help our customers, both for rigid and flexible pavements and also we have an operator school -where we offer trained operators to our customers along with the machines, specially for the paving products.
Designing service products depends on customer-focused metrics. What is your take on this?
Our motto is ‘Close to our Customers’ and we live it every day. We are in direct sales and service model so we are continuously updated on the customer requirements and we involve our customers when we plan for our Next Gen machines. This ensures we are always updated on the demand and strive to offer innovative solutions.
What is your take on the knowledge gap?
In the last three years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of construction equipment in the market. So, naturally there is a huge gap between the requirement and availability of trained and skilled equipment operators and technicians to operate and maintain these machines. There was a gap earlier also, but these days, it has become evident because of increase in construction activities and growth in the number of equipment in the market.
What are the major challenges the steps initiated by Wirtgen to bridge the skill gap?
For us, operator training is one of the most important factors and is a necessity today. For paving products, we have started our operator training school and have trained almost 260 operators last year. Most of them are now employed with our customers. We are continuing this and added milling stream this year to our operator training school.
As far as our asphalt and concrete pavers are concerned, the final right finishing of the road depends on how effectively our machines are being used. In this scenario, we have revived our training school almost one-and-a-half year back. For our paving products, we are taking fresh ITI candidates and train them at our training school for almost two months on various aspects of concrete and asphalt paving. Then another almost four months training is given on our machines at various projects with our service engineers. In all these six months, we provide free training and accommodation to the students.
Also, we provide them stipend so that they are motivated to continue with the training. We also assure them job opportunities and continue stipend till they get a job. After the candidates attain the desired training, we approach our customers for recruiting them at their various projects. They can start with the second line operators in the project sites. Now most of our leading contractors are looking for good operators to handle these expensive and sophisticated machines. Majority of them (about 80-90 per cent) are getting jobs. In case there is a delay in recruiting, we will keep them at our fleet for a month or two. We found the success rate of retention is about 70 per cent in the people whom we have given job with our customers, which is a good sign. We are also doing a lot of site training and skill upgradation programmes in association with the Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC) for operators who are already there at project sites. We have a team of four people to go to typical road project sites where our machines are working and we do a training session with the operators working with these paving, cold milling and other equipment, just to upgrade their skill sets which they already have. These are the two major activities we are doing as far as upgradation of skill sets is concerned. Our training schools are operating in Pune and Talcher.
Could you throw some light on your after-sales service portfolio?
For us, maintaining close, trust-based partnerships with our customers following their purchase of a Wirtgen Group machine is all part of the service. Detailed advice and a high level of technical expertise are the hallmarks of our service operations. We uphold our service pledge – with fast, no-fuss help on site at any time. Even if the problems are complex!
With the aid of good equipment and the necessary special tools, our service engineers will get your machine straight back on the road or carry out preventative inspection to ensure reliability in operation. The convenient locations of our worldwide subsidiaries and dealers ensure short routes and speedy assistance whenever you need us. We provide comprehensive technical support and professional applications consulting. The local specialists can additionally call on the knowledge of the experts at our brand headquarters if need be.
Please also throw some light on the new launches during Bauma Conexpo India?
At BC India 2018: The Wirtgen Group will showcase premium solutions from a single source. Exciting new products, some 20 exhibits, experienced applications specialists and an extensive range of services-for the complete road construction.