An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Yatish Kumar, Chairman & Managing Director, Braithwaite & Co. Limited

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Braithwaite was established in 1913 as the Indian Subsidiary of Braithwaite & Co. Engineers Limited (U.K.), for undertaking fabrication of Structural Steel Works. The Clive works in Calcutta commenced manufacture of wagons for Indian Railways from 1934.

Rail Analysis: Please let us know about your journey in Indian Railways and Braithwaite & Co. Ltd. (BCL) ? What have been the most challenging projects you have come across in your very eminent experience in Railways?

Mr. Yatish Kumar: After taking charge as CMD / BCL on 28th May 2019, the prime challenge was to turn around the Company from the sinking ship and bring some stability with the limited available resources. Today, BCL has registered a sales growth of 142% (from Rs 130.89 Cr. to 317.03 Cr), Profit growth of 262% (from Rs 2.60 Cr. to Rs 9.41 Cr.), Growth of newly wagon production of 64% (from 530 No to 869 No), Growth of cast steel bogie production of 41% (from 970 No to 1371 No) and Growth of repair wagon production 400% (from 919 No to 4590 No).

In the short tenure of one and a half years, lot of steps has been taken to keep the growth momentum high and we are marching ahead for further growth in upcoming years.

Some of the key initiatives are :

  1. Employee motivations (wages revisions, medical benefits etc)
  2. Recoup of vendors confidence in participating our business
  3. Business diversification
  4. Employment in key vacancy
  5. Smooth working capital management
  6. Energy efficiency measures etc

During the year 2018-19, some exceptional contributions are being highlighted as under :

  • Credit Rating of the Company has been upgraded from BB+ to BBB- in October, 2018, which is now further upgraded to BBB.
  • BCL became debt free Company except Rs 10 Crores interest free GOI Loan. Thus, bank interest payment has become almost nil.
  • Foraying into business in the Non-Railway Sector, BCL has received order for manufacture of 302 nos BOXNHL & 5 nos BVCM wagons from M/s GATX. BCL has also successfully executed repair of 15 Nos. Flat Wagons for M/s Balmer Lawrie (a Central PSU).
  • BCL has diversified into various new fields of manufacturing during 2018-19, viz. S.S. Benches for various Zonal Railway Stations and sub-assemblies (i.e. supply of door/Side wall/End Wall arrangement) for zonal Railways.
  • BCL has been rated as “Very Good” by DPE in 2018-19, as compare to “Poor” in preceding two years. The current year’s rating is expected to be announced by DPE soon.
  • Due to vigorous follow up, SBI enhanced BCL’s Credit limit from Rs 59.20 Crs. to Rs 75.20 Crs.Based on persuasionon higher Working Capital requirement, the Govt. of India infused Rs. 50.00 Cr through Equity participation.
  • Further diversification from manufacturing to service sector has been successfully done by grabbing two year contract of wagon repair in Mughalsarai worth Rs 255 Crores from East Central Railways. BCL also started doing retrofitment of twin pipe for Indian Railways.
  • BCL has successfully executed the prestigious job of re-commissioning and heritage run of old ‘Beyer Garret’ Steam Locomotive for SE Railways being the 1st time in the history of BCL

During 2019-20, we are carrying forward the growth trend of the previous year in our journey forward. The highlights of the first 7 months of FY 2019-20 are summarized / tabulated as :

Products 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 – For the period ended 31.10.2019
Wagons (Nos) 530 869 707
Repair Wagon (Nos) 919 4590 4835
Basic Sales (Rs Cr.) 130.58 317.03 324.96
Profit before Tax (Rs Cr.) 2.60 9.41 9.24
Net Worth (Rs. Cr.) ** 5.81 63.68 72.92

* Infusion of Share capital of Rs. 50 Crore in the company by the Govt. of India in 2018-19

Rail Analysis: Please tell us about your recent collaboration and MoU with Jindal Stainless Steel and the vision it intends to fulfill of a world class railway infrastructure in the country?

Mr. Yatish Kumar: Aiming at its advent in structural infrastructure applications Braithwaite signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Jindal Stainless to develop stainless steel foot-over-bridges (FOBs), road-over-bridges (ROBs) etc., on the sidelines of the ongoing International Railway Equipment Exhibition (IREE) in New Delhi.

This MoU intends to fulfill Railways’ vision and aspiration of world-class railway infrastructure in the country by synergizing the expertise of India’s largest stainless steel producer

MOU signed between Jindal Stainless and Braithwaite & Co

“ Jindal Stainless and Indian Railways’ trusted fabrication expert, BCL. This collaboration comes at the right time as Railways is currently in the process of modernization on a massive scale. Jindal Stainless will be supplying stainless steel to BCL for developing FOBs on railway platforms, ROBs on municipal roads, smart city skywalks, road bridges, and rail bridges ”

Rail Analysis: The Main business of BCL is the manufacture of new cars, the repair of wagons, the manufacture of steel structures and the manufacture of cranes, please let us know about new opportunities for these services in the modernization of Railways today?

Mr. Yatish Kumar: Modernization of Railways today involves successful operation of new and innovative wagons, which BCL has already developed in the past (few of them are Milk Tank Van for National Dairy Development Board, BOXN 25 M wagon for Dedicated Freight Corridor and BTFLN Wagon for Indian Railways, etc.). Presently, BCL has been declared a “Prototype Hub” by the RDSO. A new and innovative design for cars of Railways is already in the pipeline, which will be developed in 2020-21.

BCL is also a pioneer in the manufacture of steel structures across India. BCL’s glorious past showcased with ‘Howrah Bridge’, ‘Vidya Sagar Setu (2nd Hooghly Bridge) — Kolkata’, ‘Thermal Power Plant at Kolaghat & NTPC, Indian Railways & Delhi Metro Railway Corp’, few of them. Braithwaite becomes RDSO Approved Vendor for Steel Bridge-Girder. BCL has also signed MoU with Jindal Stainless for development and manufacture of new stainless steel bridge for Railways.

Gantry Crane manufacture and supplied

BCL also has a glorious history in the field of Crane manufacture and supplied in major Ports and Steel / Power Plants. BCL envisages various orders in the area of Crane manufacture and Maintenance from Indian Railways and other PSUs. A dedicated project division has been set up to cater with such activities to serve IR and other PSUs. live SAIL, NMDC, NHDC, NHPC, NTPC, etc.

Wagons as per customers’ specifications & service requirements

In a nutshell, from the above it can be said that BCL will make a huge contribution in the areas of manufacture and repair of wagons & steel structures and crane for Railways in its modernization drive.

Rail Analysis: In the reference of Freight corridors, please let us know the opportunities it will provide to your company and also tell us how you will aim to generate a major parts of its revenue from wagon manufacturing?

Mr. Yatish Kumar: BOXNS is a type of wagon that is specially designed for Freight Corridors. We are also closely in touch with DFCCIL for supply of new model of special type wagon with appropriate technology for creating additional capacity of freight transport.

In 2018-19 we have generated 54% revenue for new wagons, and 40% for repair wagons, i.e Services. BCL is gradually moving towards manufacture of repair wagon, i.e. Servicing from newly built wagons by opening up of various sites for servicing of wagons at various railway sites, and as such will be able to generate good revenue from repair wagon apart from wagon manufacturing.

Rail Analysis: In India the coastline of 7500 km which necessitatesthe use of Stainless Steel infrastructure. High content of air-borne salts in marine environments causes rapid corrosion and degradation of infrastructure. What is the view point on it and what solutions can you suggest?

Mr. Yatish Kumar: Bridges, especially in these areas, are exposed to severe risk of collapse due to rapid corrosion. As per industry data, around 1,35,000 rail bridges exist in India, of which more than25% are over 100 years old and need immediate replacement.

The idea of using Stainless steel to build sustainable infrastructure with optimizing lifecycle costs. Stainless steel has high impact resistance, does not get deformed, and can absorb more energy during collision. This prevents loss of life during accidents and mishap.

Easy design, fabrication, and reduced life cycle cost give stainless steel an edge over any other metal. Additionally, the inherent properties of corrosion resistance, fire resistance, high strength-to-weight ratio, easy weldability, and speed of construction and moreover low maintenance make stainless steel an ideal choice for any infrastructure.

Rail Analysis: Now the Indian railways uses the stainless steel on the bridges, so how do you view this progress and the subsequent opportunity?

Mr. Yatish Kumar: It gives me lot of pain when we came across the loss of lives and property that arose from the collapse of the railway infrastructure, especially bridges and FOBs made out of ordinary carbon steel.

A better solution is always with us based on our experiences for conversion of mild steel wagon to SS wagons.

We tried to convince Indian railways to convert all FOBs to stainless steel in view of the above.

Railways wanted to scrutinize the new material through all relevant yardsticks, including cost as stainless steel in bridges was used never before. We were in touch with JSL to come up with a proper stainless steel solution.

They also took a lot of pain as it was not easy to convince them without going through the proper test results. Several tests to examine technical fitment, including fatigue resistance, yield strength, elongation and Ductile to Brittle Transition and Toughness (DBTT), weldability were performed on the proposed stainless steel for almost a year. 

After year-long exercise of rigorous testing, JSL presented two solutions to the Railways. The test reports and lifecycle cost were also presented to the Railways, along with global examples.

“ The reward was overwhelming when the material passed all tests and the Railways agreed in-principle to use stainless steel in bridges, starting with the western region of the country. Central railway division is also likely to opt stainless steel for upgrading its infrastructure.”

We have signed MOU with JSL in this respect and in terms of opportunity it is huge. We are also exploring the possibility of its uses in ROB.

Rail Analysis: Anything you would like to share with our readers?

Mr. Yatish Kumar: Current Initiatives and developments :

  • Recent ventures for newly built wagons like EU wagons, BLC wagons etc.
  • Entered into development of new wagon models to cater freight movement needs for Indian Railways.
  • Entered into new field of manufacturing of Stainless Steel Bench for Indian Railways.
  • Heavy Structural components for Railways like Side Wall, End Wall, Door, Roof etc.
  • EOT Crane manufacturing and reconditioning for Railways / Non-Railway Organisations.
  • Operation & maintenance of wagon POH workshop of Indian Railways.
  • Retro-fitment of twin pipes in the existing fleet of wagons all over the country.
  • Takeover of Foundry of M/s BSCL, a PSU under Ministry of Railways.
  • Braithwaite becomes RDSO Approved Vendor for Steel Bridge – Girder. MOU with M/s Jindal Stainless Limited for business co-operation in promotion, participation and execution of different projects related to over bridges, road bridges, rail bridges etc. using Stainless Steel, across India.

BCL’s Plan is to take various measures for sustainable development to maintain the growth momentum and to upgrade the Company to next level to be a listed Company / Miniratna status in a 3-year Horizon.

This Interview is a part of our December 2019 Magazine: Subscribe to our Magazine Today!

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