Going Up! Giving a lift to mobility in India

Interview with Gilco Global’s Aman Moudgil and Sh. Deepak Moudgil

Some six years ago Indian mobility solutions company Gilco Global was born out of an alliance with Spanish vertical transportation provider Orona. Here, General Director Aman Moudgil and Managing Director Deepak Moudgil recount the origins of the company and fill us in on the state of the mobility sector in India today.

Hello to you both. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Just to put us in the picture, can you give us some background on the origins of Gilco Global?

Gilco Global was founded in 2014 out of a collaboration with the Spanish elevator group Orona. I and Gaurav were already from the construction sector through our various ventures with specialization in engineering design and project management consultancy and had been working on specialized projects from concept to commissioning in the hospital, hospitality and infrastructure sectors. Hence, we were accustomed to buying elevators and mobility solutions for our customers in the past and were well aware of the customer’s perspective and technology requirements for the market in India. As a result of our strong experience in the real estate and infrastructure sectors, Orona extended the invitation to collaborate, which we accepted by creating this company. Additionally, my father, i.e. Sh. Deepak Moudgil, who had retired as Director (Projects) with the oil and gas consultancy Engineers India Ltd, joined us after his retirement and brought with him vast leadership experience across all levels and complexities. We began the journey facing several challenges in creating the resources required to sustain marketing, sales, aftersales and back-office processes. However, the biggest challenge was raising awareness of the Orona brand, which was not known in India, although on a world level it is rated amongst the top elevator companies, has a strong network of over 250,000 solutions running in over 100 countries and is the largest complete lift production capacity in Europe. In fact, one in every 10 lifts in Europe is an Orona. The biggest USP that Gilco Global extends to the Indian market is that represented by Orona, we are selling solutions which are a 100% European product and conform to the EN 81 lift standard with great emphasis on passenger safety and comfort both. Gilco Global has an exclusivity arrangement with the Orona Group for the entire Indian market. Orona is the first company to be certified under ecodesign (ISO 14006). Gilco Global represents the philosophy and quality of Orona in India and has had a strong presence there for over six years now, providing both a quality product and quality services to its customers.

What services does the company offer today?

Gilco Global specialises in the field of mobility solutions for a variety of applications, including elevators, escalators, moving walkways, dumb waiters, car elevators, car docks, and automated car parking solutions for urban infrastructure (for use in hotels, hospitals, residential housing structures, commercial, industrial, etc.). We also supply solutions for the aviation sector, including automatic baggage handling systems, baggage scanning, gate seating, mechanical sweepers for runway applications and specialised equipment for ground handling. We are committed to sincere business and customer satisfaction and have strategic alliances with leading solutions providers from Europe. Some of our USPs include:

We are a comprehensive mobility solutions service provider, having expertise in systems ranging from elevators and escalators to mobility solutions for the aviation sector (such as baggage handling, etc.) through strategic alliances with the best in the world.

Customisation. This is one of the big USPs that separates us from the competition. We can tailor solutions according to our customers’ requirements.

Comprehensive support. In addition to our capability in the solutions that we supply, we have proven experience in supporting our customers in integrating mobility solutions at their sites by applying our know-how to the design and implementation of civil structures.

Gilco Global represents the philosophy and quality of Orona in India and has had a strong presence there for over six years now, providing both a quality product and quality services to its customers.

What were the drivers behind going into partnership with Orona? What were the attractions of the lift industry for you?

We already had a strong foothold in the construction industry and benefited from the decades of leadership experience of Deepak Moudgil (who headed one of the largest oil and gas consulting firms for over 40 years). Moreover, our other venture, i.e. Global C was founded by myself and Gaurav and is currently amongst leading Project management firms in India. It has experience spanning 60 million sq. ft. of urban infrastructure and strong associations in the Maldives, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. We were approached by Orona through our acquaintances in Spain, as they were looking for a credible and established partner to help them set up in India and to be responsible for the Indian market (which happens to be the second-largest elevator market in the world, after China) and also to help their vision of expansion into SE Asian countries. The lift industry was already very well known to us. Although we had experience of procuring them for our projects in the past, we analysed the market more carefully by having market research done through a globally renowned company, whose findings stimulated our interest in the business venture. Through series of discussions and evaluations in India and Spain, Gilco Global was officially created in January 2014.

How do the company’s consulting services fit in with the manufacturing side? Are these separate facets of the business, or do they complement each other?

Gilco Global renders comprehensive support, which includes learning the customer’s requirements and mapping the right solution for them, taking site measurements and whatever is required to design a solution that meets the customer’s needs. We ensure that the correct solution is manufactured through persistent follow-up between the design offices in India and Spain, coordinating the logistics so as to ensure timely & safe delivery of the manufactured solution. We then undertake the installation of the solution, as well as its subsequent maintenance. Hence, it’s a perfect marriage of consulting and manufacturing support going hand in hand, with the sole objective of customer satisfaction. Apart from this, we are one of the very few companies here in India who have expertise and experience in assisting customers in coordinating and executing design and civil works so as to install mobility solutions that meet their requirements. In this regard, we serve as a one-stop service provider for their building mobility needs.

Deepak Moudgil, you are the managing director of Gilco Global. You came from a very broad background spanning a wide variety of industries, including infrastructure and petrochemicals. What would you say are the chief benefits that your earlier experience has enabled you to bring to Gilco Global?

Over 40 years of rich experience in managing mega-projects with large complexions from concept to commissioning helped in setting up this venture and establishing its good practices, systems and processes with a “f irst time right” approach for Gilco Global, giving immense value for money to clients, as well as in-house staff development.

How would you characterise competition within your sector in India?

With all the global giants having already been present in the Indian market for decades, and with most of them manufacturing the solutions partly in their factories in India, the competition here is fierce. Furthermore, the “cheapest is the best” mentality of consumers here makes the task even more difficult for us, as we offer a superior product of the same specifications we are providing in Europe and other markets. While we have very competitive prices to strengthen our foothold in this interesting market, we are more on the lookout for value-conscious customers here who consider their purchases wisely and do “apples with apples” and “life cycle cost” comparisons for evaluation.

What are some of the factors that differentiate your company from the competition?

Some of the salient facts about our organisation and our USPs from the competition here are:

  • Among the top elevator companies in the world.
  • The quality of solutions offered here is the same as offered in Europe.
  • Competitive pricing for the
    Indian market.
  • Comprehensive support (we render support in civil works and structure design of hoistways, too).
  • Fast in-house installation team.
  • Eco-friendly, highly energy-efficient solutions (ISO 14006 certified and VDI 4707 Class AAA BREEM rated).
  • Customised and personalised services for our existing and potential customers.
  • Strong and growing presence in India for more than six years.

Are there significant differences between the European lift market and that of India?

Yes. The European lift market is more focused on sustainability and efficiency with minimal environmental impact and total ownership cost for the customer. On the other hand, the market in India is driven more by the need for faster elevator solutions (which may not be efficient) to cater for the rising skylines of cities here. Furthermore, a higher population density with diverse etiquettes in India puts more pressure on elevator systems, which have to be more robust, if not efficient or environment-friendly.

Are there any peculiarities of the requirements of the Indian market that weren’t originally served by the Orona product list?

We have been serving the Indian market with the same product as offered in Europe and the rest of the world. Our technological advancement and solutions using all technologies and systems, including traction-based, hydraulic and/or rack-and-pinion-based systems, make us capable of meeting the diverse needs of the Indian market.

Orona was the first lift manufacturer to achieve the ISO14006 ecodesign certification. Could you tell us something more about that, and is this a significant factor in the Indian market?

While the Indian market is very price-conscious and not as aware as Europe, which lays more emphasis on sustainability and life-cycle assessment when evaluating and making purchases, including elevators, there is a growing awareness of these factors in the Indian market. With our competitive pricing for this market, these factors give us an edge over the competition with regard to the total ownership cost of our elevators compared with other solutions selling here. We have to make great efforts to educate the clients on these aspects.

Independent certifying entities accredit that Orona products meet the requirements of ecodesign due to clean management in all product phases.

Sustainability is of great interest in many areas of industry these days. Do you attach importance to the issue and, if so, how do you approach it?

ORONA is the first company, in the sector worldwide, to be certified under Eco design (ISO 14006). With this certificate, Orona goes beyond expressing its commitment to the environment. Independent certifying entities accredit that Orona products meet the requirements of ecodesign due to clean management in all product phases, from design and development through to recycling and recovery of materials at the end of the product life cycle, as well as minimal emissions, good production practices and reduced consumption.

The Orona 3G X-10, X-15 and X-16 solutions have achieved Class AAA energy certification under the VDI 4707 guideline in all five established usage categories. This is the top energy rating that a lift can be awarded. The VDI 4707 guideline evaluates a lift’s energy consumption when it is in standby mode, as well as when it is operating. In usage category 1 (low traffic), consumption in standby mode is given more importance. In category 5 (very high traffic), consumption during operation is given more importance. The Orona 3G solutions have achieved Class A certification in both situations and in all usage categories, which confirms the high levels of energy efficiency achieved by the lifts in standby mode, as well as during operation.

The Class AAA ratings were achieved with installations where the Orona 3G solutions possessed the following characteristics and options:

  • Gearless drive
  • Automatic standby for car lighting, ventilation, displays and actuator
  • LED lighting in car
  • Orona Grid energy regeneration system

The installations were examined and certified by the prestigious entity Liftinstituut B.V., Europe’s foremost specialised safety authority for lifts and other equipment used for vertical transport of people and goods.

Do you have plans to bring any lift-manufacturing processes to India? Presumably there could potentially be cost savings?

As we have an edge over competition here in terms of quality of products, solutions and services we offer and our current pricing very close or at times narrowly beating the competition, a further price reduction could give us an exponential increase in sales. Despite challenges posed due to fully imported solutions and inherent benefits from local manufacturing, there are no such plans known to me as of now (which only ORONA management can decide (if at all)).

Could you tell us something about your company’s non-lift offerings? What is the split between lift and non-lift business?

Apart from building mobility solutions, where we have a strong presence in the Indian market, we are keen on promoting our world-class aviation solutions in the airport sector in India, which is poised to grow, due to the government’s strong initiatives to render connectivity to every remote part of the country under the ambitious UDAN scheme.

Of course, the world has been preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic in recent months, and the aviation and construction industries have been particularly badly affected. What have been the main challenges arising from this for the mobility solutions industry?

While COVID-19 has both short-term and long-term psychological and financial impacts, I feel that the short-term impact has been very severe for our industry, which was already reeling with multiple challenges from lack of capital and credit avenues to insolvencies, multiple frauds and the regulatory burden of the Environment Laws and the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, and there seems to be no likely relief in sight. To contain the pandemic, like many nations, the government of India also imposed a lockdown, restricting the movement of people and gatherings. In the construction sector, hordes of workmen toil together to meet the timelines. However, due to the restrictions put in place by the government, all construction activity and most of the business activity across the country has come to a halt. There are multiple consequences of the lockdown that could further aggravate the situation for the sector, such as reverse migration and disruption of supply chains, among others. Cumulatively, the above circumstances could present obstacles in meeting the obligations of construction and engineering contracts, and could lead to multiple legal wrangles for the industry following the lifting of the current restrictions. To say that companies engaged in the construction and engineering sector will be affected as a result of the current unprecedented situation would be an understatement. The various restrictions put in place by the government to control the effects of the virus may trigger shortages of raw materials and manpower, and disrupt supply chains, further creating handicaps in performing contractual obligations. Contraction in demand would be the least of the sector’s worries. Some elements in construction and engineering are imported from countries which may be affected worse, creating a domino effect on the entire sector. However, one must safeguard against the inevitable by adopting corrective measures in time. The first step is to evaluate contract clause(s) to ascertain the extent of liabilities upon breach, and the last step is to proactively adopt all measures to mitigate liability by invoking the correct legal mechanisms in good time.

And what have been the issues of coronavirus for you within the company? How has manufacturing been affected?

Although the entire world has been badly hit by COVID-19, our offices here in India adopted strict measures to prevent any spread of coronavirus in our workplaces (offices & sites). People with symptoms were asked to work from home, and only a limited number of people were allowed to come to the workplaces. No visitors or any other employees (other than those with permission) were allowed to enter the premises. Additionally, periodic sanitization, the observation of social distancing, and staggering of lunch hours for workers are being strictly maintained. While the whole of India was under a strict lockdown for some weeks, our workers were working from home and rendering support in the best possible manner. While we continued to give support to hospitals where our lifts are installed, we kept a check on our installations remotely through our people who were working from home during the lockdown. We revived our operations completely (adopting all cautions as per guidelines issued from the MHA, Govt of India) from 3rd May 2020. In India, we are working strictly to maintain the following set of guidelines as defined under MHA. These are some of them:

  • Social distancing, both in offices and at work sites.
  • Ensuring that all our workforce are wearing masks and keeping hands clean with the sanitiser provided. We have ensured that a sufficient quantity of sanitiser is maintained in all work areas, and pocket sanitisers have also been issued to every person.
  • All persons are screened at the main gate and their temperature recorded.
  • We are using a workforce tracker app to record attendance automatically. The use of attendance punch machines has been discontinued.
  • Any person with fever or any symptoms is prohibited from entering and is asked to stay at home.
  • No visitors are allowed in the office.
  • All workers are advised to wash their hands periodically with soap and follow all the necessary precautions.
  • Lunch times are staggered, ensuring the minimum number of people in the cafeteria at the same time.

Here in India, while we continued to give support to hospitals where our lifts are installed, we kept a check on our installations remotely through our people who were working from home during the lockdown.

Do you see any possibility of turning the coronavirus challenges into opportunities in the future? Would you say that technological innovation has something to offer in this regard?

The first part of 2020 was a rough period for the industry and the challenges are not over yet, but we had already secured more orders compared with the previous year, which we are in process of executing this year. Hence we are focused on delivering them to ensure that 2020 doesn’t put a brake on our run of growth in India. The product quality demonstrated by the completed installations is the best testimony and is helping us with continuous referrals, in addition to other initiatives from our marketing team.

Even though our solutions carry the latest certifications in line with best practices to support energy efficiency and climate action (our products carry CE, ISO 14006, BREEM Class AAA, etc. certifications), the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic helped us promote the contactless solutions and sterilisation features that our partners had designed in their R&D facilities some time ago (obviously having no knowledge of the COVID-19 scenario, but having the shift to voice-activated devices, etc. in mind). These solutions have now been tailored for such applications to promote sterile operations and they have been implemented for some of our customers who had a requirement for them.

Executive Profiles

Aman Moudgil, BE (Hons), MPM®, CIPM®, MIE is one of the founding directors of Gilco Global. He has rich experience in leading multi-sectoral businesses in the fields of construction project management, e-commerce, industrial processes, and manufacturing. He is a key member of the development & implementation of six sigma in various processes along with the implementation of ERP which has been crucial in various stages of the company’s output. He is also a Partner in a leading Project management company, Global C. He has been recognized through various forums as a young emerging leader and has authored several international papers in technical journals and conference proceedings.

Sh. Deepak Moudgil serves as the Mentor and Managing Director of Gilco Global. He has over 50 years of experience covering the entire management chain from Marketing, Project Management, Procurement, Costing, Planning, Construction Management, Technical Auditing, and Corporate Administration. He has wide project management experiences in infrastructure (airports, urban development, green buildings, highways, water, and waste management, etc.), refineries, petrochemicals, cross country pipelines, gas processing, offshore platforms, terminals & storages, and non-ferrous metallurgy. He is recognized for sound, practical management style centred on impact-driven models and strategies and contributed to futuristic strategies of EIL diversification, corporate rolling plan, human resources planning.

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