Can you elaborate on the turnaround of HEC?
Even when HEC made a profit in 2006-07 after consecutive losses for 17 years, there were very few believers in HEC’s turnaround. It was necessary to bring about a change in the mindset of all employees to ensure that the profit in 2006-07 was not a one-time phenomenon. We tried and succeeded in building confidence among employees that HEC’s revival was sustainable. Another significant achievement was the reduction in the number of trade unions from 33 to five by conducting elections.
Various cost reduction measures were initiated, including handing over of HEC township power supply to Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) resulting in the saving of about R1 crore per month. The company has made a dramatic turnaround and there is a marked improvement in the performance of the company. It achieved sales of Rs 681 crore during 2010-11 compared to Rs 159 crore in 2004-05, and has been making profits continuously since the last five years.
How do HEC’s products compare with other players nationally and globally?
Most of our customers are satisfied with the quality of HEC’s products. The products that HEC offers customers is technology-wise as well quality-wise comparable to the products in the global market. We have bagged many orders through competitive bidding in the face of competition from global leaders as well as Chinese companies. Some examples are orders of different sizes of heavy duty cranes from customers like Bokaro Steel Plant and Durgapur Steel Plant in the face of competition from domestic firms and companies from China and Taiwan.
Any plans of diversification?
HEC has a very bright future in the years to come and can achieve a turnover of R5,000 crore within the next five years. The company will play an important role in many areas and we have identified some possible alliances too. We are set to foray into special casting and forging for nuclear and thermal power plant, underground mining equipment, coal washeries, export of mining equipment and heavy duty modern machine tools with contemporary features. As part of forging strategic alliances, HEC has inked agreements with Hegenscheidt MFD of Germany for collaboration of railway machine tools, BELAZ of Belarus for heavy duty dumpers, SCHALKE of Germany for licence for manufacture of coke oven machines and others.
What kind of support do you get from the government?
Facility and technology upgradation and orders are still major issues. Net worth of the company is still negative and as such it is not able to participate in many tenders where positive net worth is one of the qualifying criterion. The government has provided all possible support in tie ups with many world leaders and we expect continued support in this regard. Facility upgradation needs huge funds for which government support is required.