INDIA AS GLOBAL MANUFACTURING AND R&D HUB
“With the government spends increasing in airports, metros and railways, we see a good growth in demand for escalators and elevators,” says Ashok Ramachandran President, Schindler India & South Asia
INTERVIEW: SAPNA SRIVASTAVA
What Are Your Focus Areas And Markets In India?
Residential remains the biggest focus market. Railway modernization is a big project currently for installation of heavy duty escalators. We have started manufacturing escalators for public transportation in Pune, which until now was only done by multinationals.
Presently, Tier II &III cities have been the biggest growth drivers. South Delhi which is a pure residential market is doing very well for us. West Bengal and rest of the East region too are growth markets for Schindler. In the first month itself we got the Mall of Ranchi project and in the last two months we have sold about 50-70 units.
The affordable segment is huge and we are developing products to suit that segment. These have trademark Schindler quality and safety features, sans the luxury interiors & add-ons. We have recently installed 500 elevators in the free housing provided by Telangana government.
What is Schindler’s latest offering?
We have launched a new company worldwide called Schindler Ahead. It is an IoT platform where all involved parties are connected and necessary information is shared in real-time. Schindler Ahead connects equipment, customers, passengers with Schindler Contact Centers and technicians via its digital closed-loop platform.
We have already connected a few thousands of our existing elevators on cloud, in India. We can predict the problem and fix it before it breaks down. Every elevator is equipped with this system and the client can opt to activate it. We have trained around 1000 people to work on this technology.
The Flipkart office in Bengaluru is a case study where we have connected the Flipkart HQ on our IoT platform and now the break downs are almost zero. Advantage for Schindler is that we have a great consumer connect in the market. Our after sales services is excellent as we have more than 1000 trained Schindler people across 30 cities. They are globally trained and certified for two years. We even conduct surprise checks to make sure everything is up to mark.
What have been the operational challenges for the Company?
We have installed more than 3000 elevators so far and our target for this year is 10,000. This is actually double of what the headquarters wanted from us. The biggest challenges in India for us are power fluctuation and lack of high-end data connection, especially in smaller cities. We are trying with various vendors from Jio, Vodafone to Airtel and others.
Skilled labour is still a major issue we face. The developers treat elevators as not so important part of the building, even the architects do not have deep knowledge of the elevator designs, technology and engineering. We are called when most of the building is finished and it’s too late to make any changes.
The slowdown in real estate will have a short term effect only. It’s more the margins that are under pressure. Pockets like Hyderabad is booming whereas Mumbai is struggling. Some parts of Karnataka are doing very well, the south and north in general are doing very well.
Schindler has set up a plant and a global R&D centre in Pune to make India the hub for manufacturing and knowledge centre to export products and the technology.
Some unique initiatives
The newly opened Schindler University in Pune is all about developing skills in India. Right now we are training only employees and would soon launch an academy for partners. These courses are compulsory for Schindler.
A Schindler employee doesn’t only get training on technical and management aspects, but we also conduct courses on happy and healthy living and de-addictions for those who have habits that are hard to get rid. We are also pushing gender diversity in a big way. We now have women field employees including two ladies who are trained to install elevators.
We are a Swiss public listed company but 70% is owned by the Schindler family. So relationships matter the most to us. We always look long term.