Ready for a constructive role
India’s construction industry that is growing at the rate of 30% annually makes a good case for rapid growth of construction chemical sector. Though the industry has not been in the forefront to adopt chemicals as integral part of construction, much due to lack of awareness, the situation, however, slowly but steadily improving. With all the emphasis is now on infrastructure development which has opened up new opportunities for big construction companies including foreign ones, the demand for construction chemicals is surly going to grow manifold.
“The Construction Chemicals industry has grown up steadily in last decade due to relatively include awareness as well as entry of several companies to India. The construction chemical industry has come up to age in our country,” says Samir Surlaker, Managing Director, MC-Bauchemie (India) Pvt. Ltd.
As the country is witnessing huge project developments, the sectors like power, roads, and housing besides others are going to fuel demand for construction chemicals. “The sectors that would be fuelling the growth would be basically infrastructure and housing. There is a huge demand for power, transportation and housing in India which would continue to have an effect on the industrial growth,” says DS Ramachandra, Marketing Manager, Construction Systems, BASF India Ltd.
According to some estimate, the market size of India’s construction chemicals industry is Rs1700-1800 crore, with potential to see growth rate of 20-25% per annum. “It has potential to grow to Rs5000 crore if the industry promotes itself professionally and increases the level of awareness of construction industry. The construction industry should be convinced that usage of construction chemicals is a benefit and not undue cost,” says Surlaker.
Construction chemicals can broadly be categorized into five groups–concrete and mortar admixtures; water proofing compounds; floor hardeners; protective coatings and resins; and adhesives and sealants.
Being a developing country, Ramachandra says, still lot of new construction is going to take place to meet huge demands coming from various industries. “Hence most widely used construction chemical would be admixtures, be it for the sake of workability or waterproofing. Obviously, the other chemicals that are bound to gain importance would be waterproofing,” he adds.
Dow Corning’s Commercial Manager for the construction industry in India and South Asia, CRG Prasad agrees: “The most widely-used and accepted construction chemicals used in India are admixtures, curing compounds, water repellents, cement additives and grouts.”
Of these, he says, Dow Corning’s expertise in the construction chemical market is specifically with regards to water repellents and cement additives. The US-based company looks to expand its share in this rapidly growing market. “We aim to increase awareness of the benefits of construction chemicals based on our innovative silicone technologies, and are focusing on our existing product range that is available globally,” Prasad adds.
As the awareness is growing about the benefits of construction chemicals, customers are asking for value for money, creating demand for quality products. That’s where the organized players like BASF, Pidilite, Dow Corning, MC-Bauchemie, Choksey Chemicals, Sika besides others want to capitalise. These companies are constantly working on innovating new products.
“We are constantly striving for setting the industry standards and have several patented technologies with us like Epocem, Sikaflex, Viscocrete, etc with several more in the pipeline,” says Subu Venkataraman, Managing Director, Sika India Pvt. Ltd.
Dow Corning says it works with different construction-related institutions involving the specifiers and influencers in order to help upgrade the construction standards in India, by providing access to its global expertise, technologies and innovative products. “In addition to our manufacturing facility in Pune, we also have an application engineering laboratory, where we work with our customers to enable them to better use our products and technologies,” Prasad adds.
He adds that the use of silicones in construction chemicals such as water repellents and cement additives is a new trend in this market. “This is happening because of the increasing awareness of the benefits that silicones can provide. As an example, silicones, being inherently water-proof, are both water repellent and “breathable” so they can keep rain from entering a building while letting water vapour trapped inside the building escape,” Prasad adds.
Surlaker of MC-Bauchemie says the develop technologies to suit and solve actual site problems in civil engineering based on state of art technologies. “To this effect we work together with leading universities and technologists to transform laboratory researches to field conditions. In recent years we have contributed several new technologies to end users, like Acid Resisting concrete, Hydro structure injection systems, Dense packing concretes based on Quantz Technology and very low pore volume thick coatings for drinking water and waste water industry based on Dynamic Sync Crystallization to name a few,” he adds.
But the industry has lots of challenge to overcome. Firstly, the construction chemical industry in India is still a very fragment one, with about 300 companies operating in this segment and only big 4-5 players account for more than 40% of the market share. Surlaker who is also the President of the Construction Chemicals Manufacturers’ Association (CCMA) which was formed last year says they felt the need to bring together all the manufactures to increase awareness to obtain overall growth of industry. “We have formed an apex body with main aim of increasing awareness as well as to increase the quality standards of construction chemicals. In a very short time of six months the membership is over 25 manufacturers and growing,” Surlaker says.
“One of the challenges for the industry is that still most of the products were not covered by Indian codes. The role of the government as well as the Indian players is to work together to come out with some codes covering the construction chemicals,” says Ramachandra of BASF.
For Surlaker, the most important improvement for this industry would be standardization of construction chemicals. “The standardization is a must for end users to compare between different products. Secondly, most of our specifications are prescriptive i.e. we mention the formulation ingredients. We have to change specification to performance based as to effect produced to durability enhancement,” Surlaker says, adding that most of the government specifications are outdated. “We do not have BIS standards for all these materials hence there is resistance in government sector to use these materials in bulk. This can be improved by introducing BIS codes for commonly used Construction Chemicals. Government can also adopt international codes of practice like ASTM/EN etc. to hasten process,” he opines.
According to Venkataraman of Sika, some of the biggest challenges for the industry are absence of a regulatory body to ascertain the quality of construction, especially in the building projects segment; non-insistence of banks and insurance companies to ascertain the quality of the assets that they finance/insure unlike in several advanced countries, Indian codes of practice not in line with ASTM/DIN standards as far as usage of chemicals is concerned.
“The govt can help the industry and in general the architects, consultants and stake holders by creating a separate code of practice for construction chemicals as a whole and laying the standards which the products should match,” Venkataraman adds.