By Arvind Padmanabhan
New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) Finland-based Konecranes, a leader in lifting devices, has set up an engineering centre in Pune to serve as a global interface for design and other services between its customers and manufacturing facilities.
The $2 billion company also said it has chosen New Delhi for its next annual conference where 170 top executives from 20 countries and members of the board will deliberate over four days from Wednesday on future strategies.
"We've had a presence in India in the past where we have catered to steel mills, ports and harbours. Now we are expanding operations with an engineering centre," said Pekka Lundmark, the group's president and chief executive.
"The fact that we are also holding our annual brainstorming conference here in New Delhi reinforces our vision that India has emerged as a number one strategic target for Konecranes in the future," Lundmark told IANS in an interview.
The company, which makes products like industrial cranes, lifting systems, reach stackers, straddle carriers and forklifts, said it would also look at investing in a manufacturing unit in India eventually. It does not make tower cranes.
"The engineering centre is a logical extension of our business in India where we are drawing on the excellent engineering talent pool available here locally. But eventually, we will also set up a manufacturing hub here," Lundmark said.
"At the moment, we are investing in people. Once our plans for a manufacturing hub fructifies – which will be the next logical extension of our presence here – we will be talking of several million dollars in investment."
The Konecranes chief executive explained that a lot of sophisticated designing is called for in a business like theirs where most products are tailor made to suit the customers' needs.
"This engineering centre will not only serve our expanding market base in India but also our global operations," he said, and estimated the size of the Indian market for lifting equipment at $200 million, growing at 30 percent annually.
He said the Pune centre had started operations with 30 engineers for applications such as computer aided design (CAD), project plans and precision drawings and that the headcount was soon expected to rise to over 100.
The company has already supplied its equipment to Bhushan Steel and the Essar group among industries, as also to the ports at Kandla, Kochi, Goa and Haldia. Its third segment of business caters to shipyards.
"We have realised that China is not the only market in Asia with huge potential. India has an equal potential and will be an equal player as far as the business and future for Konecranes is concerned," Lundmark said.