Poised for growth

 Greg Pasley, vice-president, Building Solutions, Tata BlueScope Steel Ltd, provides an overview of the PEB industry in India

interviewed BY SUMANTRA DAS

How do you see the pre-engineered building (PEB) industry in India and what is the current scenario?

Economic indicators show that growth in the PEB industry is expected to outpace India’s GDP growth. The Indian PEB industry has shown a healthy growth rate of around 10% (Y-o-Y). Currently the India industry has greater manufacturing capability than demand. Therefore, a lot of PEB companies have decided to add heavy structures and multi-storey buildings to their portfolio. But, for Tata BlueScope Building Solutions, engineered steel building solutions has been our core focus area. We strongly feel that we can offer a very significant advantage in this area to our customers.

What about increasing awareness of PEB’s in India?

The concept of PEB is evolving from box like steel structures to aesthetically pleasing ones. PEB offers distinct advantages such as shorter project completion time and overall cost efficiency as compared to conventional buildings. Owner’s today understand the value of early occupancy and hence initial acceptance for PEB’s over conventional buildings is growing constantly. This shift is higher in industrial applications, followed by infrastructure and commercial structures.

Which areas are yet to be explored in the PEB industry?

Over the years there has been a visible evolution in the PEB industry. The acceptance of pre-engineered building systems has been high in the industrial segment especially for manufacturing applications in automobile, equipment, consumer goods etc. While manufacturing is certainly a ‘primary demand driver’ it is closely followed by infrastructure and the commercial segment.

In my opinion, warehousing is going to create fresh business opportunities due to shortage of ‘storage facilities’ required for organised retail and agricultural applications where equal amount of importance is being given to stocking goods without causing any damage. It is here that our leak-proof systems will find an increasing usage.

Can you highlight the emerging trends in the PEB industry?

PEB designs are unique to match the operational requirements of each customer which results in optimum usage of space. This has significant advantage for several applications. The potential of the warehousing market has not been fully explored as far as PEB solutions are concerned. Currently, investments are being made in making industrial and commercial buildings. Once the focus shifts to Indian infrastructure, PEB usage in those applications will go up as well.

Where does India stand in the global PEB industry scenario?

India’s PEB industry is fairly similar to that of other countries. We are facing challenges in conditions at construction sites. We are setting up higher safety standards in projects undertaken by us. As a policy, we do address safety at the same level across the globe, despite the country we are in.

Quality control is more variable in India. Here at Tata BlueScope, we take care of quality control processes and procedures with our highly technical team. We always make sure that all our products have a technical edge in the market place.

What are the new technologies adopted by your company?

Our brand offerings and their time-tested performance helps us stand out in the market. We have been able to provide a leak-proof roof system through our BUTLER building systems brand. The technology of the truly floating monolithic roofing system (MR-24) is backed by strong research and development. Our MR-24 standing seam roof system meets the widest range of FM approvals class in the region. The FM approvals certified roof systems are regarded by MNC customers as the roofs which are rigorously tested for wind uplift and fire rating.

How is your company planning to tackle the cost-versus-quality issue in India?

Cost vs. quality is not only an Indian phenomena but a global subject. Everyone demands for best quality at the lowest price. In this scenario, we have to offer the best solution that matches our global standards at the right price. Our superior products provide us with a competitive edge and we will continue to provide better quality products and services in the market. We just cannot ignore quality for price.

Tell us about your innovations and R&D.

We do have new products that we use overseas, coming through our research centres and other BlueScope facilities. In India, we are currently offering, what the market is looking for. We will selectively bring in newer products as the market evolves and draw more on our experiences overseas. Both Tata Steel and BlueScope Steel have R&D centres across the globe and we have access to the latest research.

Elaborate on your future growth strategy.

We are committed to grow our engineered steel buildings business in India by offering innovative engineered solutions to meet customer needs. Our short term plan is to build on construction capability, which is an area of constant challenge and evolution as we need to maintain and advance the safety standards.

The medium- and long-term plans are actually very similar in terms of setting ourselves up for controlled growth within the market, to expand our capabilities, build on our brand name and be able to expand our footprint within India, and outside as well.

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