Construction chemical manufactures are gearing up to meet the increasing demand for sustainable and affordable applications.
Growing investment in India's construction sector is offering tremendous growth opportunities for the construction chemicals industry.
A FICCI report estimates the current construction chemical industry at Rs 3,500-4,000 crore, expected to grow to around Rs 7,000-8,000 crore by 2019. And, adhesives make up for around 10-12 per cent of the overall market.
With close to 300 companies operating in this segment, the time is ripe for the industry. Top players are introducing latest global technologies to India and customising them for use in local conditions. As Samir Surlaker, President, Construction Chemicals Manufacturers Association (CCMA), says, 'Construction chemicals are no longer synonymous with only concrete admixtures and waterproofing, but is also expanding to meet varied fields such as machinery foundations, soil stabilisation, protective coatings, repair systems, rehabilitation of heritage structures, beautiful floorings, chemically resistive coatings, plasters, tile fixing solutions, screeds and the like.'
The market is expected to grow at around 15-20 per cent per annum in the near future.
Ankur G Choksey, Managing Director, Choksey Chemicals, believes that this will mainly be driven by the market's untapped potential and steady growth in construction over the next five to seven years. He says, 'Government initiatives such as metro and road projects, participation of overseas investors and big contractors, and 100 smart cities has propelled the construction chemical and waterproofing segment in the past few years. Its increasing awareness, more emphasis on infrastructure and the National Manufacturing Policy will also help increase demand.'
Muralidhar K Shenoy, Country & Commercial Director, Advanced Materials-EAMEI, Huntsman International, sees the key growth drivers to be waterproofing and admixture in housing and commercial construction, along with structural adhesives, sealants, grouts, flooring and chemical anchoring. For Vamadev GB, Marketing and Technical Manager, Fosroc Chemicals (India), 'Heavy investment in infrastructure in highways; dams and barrages; metro rail; rapid expansion in building, defence, rail network including dedicated freight corridors; and power expansion including wind and nuclear will lead to increase in demand.'
Affordable and economical
The focus is on sustainable products. 'However,' JP Rao, Managing Director, Niteen Parulekar Architects (NPAPL), adds, 'these need to be recyclable and in adherence to green building norms.'
Generally, eco-friendly chemicals are more economical. Choksey says, 'It does not require any special curing, and hence is less time consuming.' Choksey Chemicals offers solutions for green buildings and affordable waterproofing through its products such as ceramic technology-based Sunshield; acrylic elastomeric Colour Membrane; and Splash, with its highly self-impregnation quality.
A leading supplier of high quality PC-based admixtures, Auracast series from Fosroc caters to the key requirements of high strength in case of precast, and high flowing concrete with early strength in case of tunnel form, majorly used in affordable housing. Its products, including cementitious grouts, are used in the erection of precast elements, mould release agents, water-based curing compounds, water-based decorative-cum-protective coatings, waterproofing coatings; membranes, sealants, tile adhesives and tile joint grouts also add value to such structures.
MYK Schomburg India's products - most of which is designed to be either VOC-free or low-VOC - can be applied to affordable housing, green buildings and infrastructure-led developments. Preetham Yeada, Associate Vice President, Commercial & Corporate Strategy, MYK Schomburg India, says, 'We have products such as MYK Aquafin 2C, MYK Coat WPU 1k, MYK Saniflex, to name a few in the waterproofing range, which can be used in green buildings. In affordable housing, our range includes MYK Aquafin TG, MYK Tuffcrete, and MYK Aquafin TC 107 AR. We have the PC-based and Natha-based concrete admixtures that are extensively used across metro rail, hydel plants, power plants and roads projects.'
Offerings from Huntsman International include epoxy adhesives used for bonding of marbles, granites and construction stones; integral waterproofing and acrylic and latex products for repairs and maintenance; and silicone sealants for sanitary and kitchen applications. Shenoy adds, 'Our adhesives and sealants such as Araldite Standard, Araldite Builder Klad-X, Araldite Rapid, Araldite Klear 4 Plus, and silicone sealants are 100 per cent solids, solvent-free with zero-VOC.'
Advancements in adhesives
Adhesives play a vital role in construction. Today, consulting firms are taking a close look at its adherence properties under extreme climatic conditions and proven track records.
Vamadev mainly classifies adhesives in to three categories: 'Structural adhesives for joining RC segments in metro projects and bridges; water-based acrylic or styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and epoxy adhesive used in repair and rehabilitation or as bonding agents and; cementitious tile adhesives for fixing floor and wall tiles.'
According to Rao, 'Adhesives are available in the liquid, semi-liquid forms and its usage depends on the type of application and construction envisaged at the design stage.'
He mentions examples of self-adhesive waterproofing materials, paint-based waterproofing materials and thermo-treated waterproofing.
Adhesives are used to improvise and enhance adhesion properties of different materials. Adamsab CB, Vice President-Operations, Mantri Developers, shares, 'Adhesives like Nito bond from Fosroc are used for bonding old and new concrete; Weber from Saint-Gobain and MYK Laticrete for masonry are used; while for floor and wall tiling, RTF 2 and RTF 4 adhesive from Ramco and Bal Endura from Ardex Endura are widely used.'
Choksey Chemicals has recently introduced Tech O Thane PU, a water-based polyurethane coating for terrace garden systems. With strong anti-root properties, it helps to move out heavy and costly waterproofing systems, providing a cost benefit to the end-user. Furthermore, Huntsman's Araldite adhesives range contains a selection of adhesives from the latest epoxy, polyurethane, methacrylate technologies to address the challenges of high-performance bonding applications. The company offers innovative solutions to address the global demand for alternative energy, environmentally-sound technology and processes. 'We have innovative aerospace products offering high strength combined with low weight - saving energy and improving safety,' says Shenoy. 'In India, our 'Karpenter' range of waterborne PVA adhesives for furniture and interior applications are VOC-free. We are among the first to initiate products that are free from hazardous dibutyl phthalate and formaldehyde.' Considering cost and performance, there is a visible shift from solvent-based to water-based adhesives. 'Consultants are considering its safety aspects, skills needed for application during construction, along with quality requirements for green construction,' says Rao. Mantri Developers also prefers water-based adhesives (dilution strictly as per product norms) over solvent or acrylic-based from the performance perspective. Adamsab says, 'It is less expensive; its application is generally fast and produces less emission, while solvent-based adhesives takes time to dry.'
The corrosion effect
The issue of corrosion is severe indeed, particularly in marine, humid and wet environment.
For this, 'Varied solutions are available depending on the type of construction and corrosion-resistance property of the materials recommended by the consultant,' says Rao. 'Anti-corrosive paints and sacrificial anode systems are in practice towards arresting the corrosion properties of materials.'
Adamsab shares some tips to address the issue of corrosion in the company's projects. He says, 'To remove rusting or scaling on rebar over the dowels, if left for more than six months, we use Fosroc's Rebaklen RR. Nitozinc primer (epoxy-based) is then applied to avoid further corrosion. All structural steel members are applied with anti-corrosion paints. And, for reinforced concrete, Ground Granulated Blast-Furnace Slag is recommended for its anti-corrosion elements.' Adamsab also points out to the use of epoxy grouting to prevent corrosion in reinforcement steel, if exposed in honeycombs. He adds, 'Master Emaco primer and repair mortar (Master Emaco S348) from BASF and Conbextra GP2 from Fosroc can be used to repair the voids and honeycombs in concrete to avoid the corrosion of steel embedded in concrete.'
Quality in check
With quality being paramount, companies are focusing on testing and production facilities.
With products compliant to RoHS, SVHC, REACH- Huntsman International meets the global HSE standards. The company has a well-equipped quality control laboratory in Mumbai with facilities to check all the incoming raw materials and finished goods to meet stringent quality requirements. Shenoy says, 'We have a trained quality control team and process along with well-defined specifications for raw materials, finished goods and packaging materials.'
An ISO-certified company, in Choksey Chemicals' manufacturing facilities, Choksey says, 'Our dedicated quality control team does the detailing - from raw material testing to final product - as per the defined standard procedure.' With an ISO:9001 quality management system, Fosroc's testing and production facilities are supported by skilled manpower to ensure quality.
'In addition, through our network of highly trained civil engineering team and technical training academy, we train applicators and distributors for correct installation and safety procedures,' says Vamadev.
Companies like MYK Schomburg India maintain strong internal procedures to ensure the use of best quality materials. Yeada says, 'Our raw materials and vendor selection processes are as per the ISO 9000-2008.'
Owing to growing awareness and current market trends, the future looks lucrative. 'The trend is more towards green building products that are sustainable and cost-effective,' avers Choksey. His company holds a major market share in the range of polysulphide sealant for the infrastructure segment across India. With Fosroc holding a market share close to 15 per cent pan-India, Vamadev views the future trends moving towards PC-based admixture, PU cement flooring, water-based products for green solutions and tile adhesives in the building segment. And, being an energetic and fast growing organisation, Yeada of MYK Schomburg India sees tremendous growth in infrastructure projects, waterproofing and the flooring business in India. Among the leading players in the epoxy adhesives segment, Huntsman International aims to grow considerably with favourable conditions in infrastructure with its polyurethane sealants and waterproofing solutions. Additionally, Shenoy says, 'We expect demand for glass bonding adhesives, sealants and tapes to grow rapidly in commercial and residential buildings.'
Considering future requirements in the company's projects and the sector, Adamsab avers, 'Ready-mix plaster (ready-to-use) including supply and application from the manufacturers will help reduce the hindrance involved in organising raw materials and manpower.' Consultant Rao foresees maintenance-free and longevity-based products as crucial. Its longevity needs to be synchronised with the lifespan of the structure. With upcoming innovative applications based on nano materials, a maintenance-cum-service-free product supply can be the call in the near future.
Tuning In-house R&D
Manufacturers have realised the pulse of the market - a combination of innovation and technology is the key to the buyers' requirement.
That said, Choksey Chemicals constantly upgrades its R&D facility by investing in modern technology equipment such as advanced PLC machine for manufacturing insulation glass sealant. Further, with an enhanced R&D infrastructure and team at its Hyderabad plant, MYK Schomburg India has been and will continuously invest in R&D at regular intervals. Fosroc's technology centre in Bengaluru has a dedicated team of technologists, working on solutions worldwide, apart from its other global centres.
'We invest significant resources and time annually and aim to lead the market in application-friendly solutions,' says Vamadev. Moreover, Huntsman's recently established Tech Centre in Mumbai is equipped with state-of-the-art hardware and software, and highly experienced and qualified personnel. Shenoy informs, 'Our main focus here is to work on products and applications such as epoxy adhesives and formulations used in electrical engineering and electronics, coating and construction, and composites.'
Creating Standardisation and Transparency
Samir Surlaker, President, CCMA, emphasises on promoting technological innovations and industry awareness. 'We involve in local research to improve product quality and robustness. Overall, in the organised sector, the quality of construction chemicals is quite at par with international counterparts. R&D has been active as ever. A relatively open import policy has opened doors to availability of modern materials in India. We believe that increasing awareness among end-users will help increase the volumes of construction chemicals used. And, in order to create standardisation and transparency among end-users, CCMA will be part of key IS Code committees to formulate codes.
- Seraphina D'Souza