Some conventional and some innovative products are driving India´s plumbing industry, but things could be much better.
India has a healthy piping industry worth about Rs 10,000 crore covering all sorts of pipes for potable water and drainage piping solutions, according to KL Kindra, Vice President, SFMC India Pipes.
So, how has the industry been moving?
´With real-estate expansion, demand for CPVC and UPVC pipes has been growing at 15-20 per cent; however, the overall pipe market has shrunk by 15 per cent in the past 18-24 months,´ opines P Ranga Rao, Marketing Manager, Sudhakar Group of Industries. ´After two years of marginal growth pan-India, we hope sales will bounce back in the ongoing year,´ adds Kindra.
With regard to pipes for real estate, user-friendly plastic pipes dominate the market, often driven by the plumbing contractor, while demand for GI pipes is low, according to Sunil Kumar Duggal, Director, Northern Sanitation. ´PPR pipes have become the norm in Europe and the Middle East for offering cost, longevity and quality advantages,´ says Kindra. ´Indian real-estate developers are moving towards PPR pipes, alternatively CPVC pipes, for the same reasons. Both offer a leak-proof monolithic fusion joining system. Stronger PPR pipes can better withstand breakage and, hence, are more suited for major pipelines distributing potable water in a colony. In contrast, GI pipes cause rusting, lower the quality of water and aren´t preferred. UPVC is preferred for wastewater and drainage purposes.´
Mantri Developers uses plastic pipes for most potable and wastewater applications. ´We opt for CPVC pipes for inner hot and cold potable water applications as these can withstand higher temperatures (up to 2000) than normal PVC pipes, which are only suited to cold water applications,´ says Pratik Mantri, Director, Mantri Developers. ´For sewage lines, we use easy to install, lightweight, corrosion-proof PVC pipes. We use GI medium-class pipes for external applications where strength is a consideration and GI heavy-class pipes for fire-fighting purposes as these can withstand high pressure and are corrosion-resistant and non-combustible.´
Pipe and valve combos
Plastic pipes, the choice of most developers for being corrosion-free and scale formation-free, can be teamed with plastic or brass ball valves. Brass ball valves are stronger and more resilient to stress, temperature, change in water conditions and water line pressure.
´Developers looking to extend the life still further of the thousands of valves that a project entails can opt for brass ball valves with handles made of mild steel with dacromet anti-corrosion coating,´explains Abbas Shabbir Lehry, Managing Director, Lehry Instrumentation and Valves.
The valve handle is the only part of the valve that corrodes for being exposed to the environment.´
Gas piping entails a different choice. ´Small (16 mm) diameter PPR pipes can be used for gas piping purposes in the real estate segment,´says Kindra. And Mantri shares, ´We use fire-resistant, strong MS pipes for gas piping (LNG) shafts and externally. Non-combustible, non-corrosive, easy-to-install, aesthetic copper pipes make the best choice for the stretch from the meter to the kitchen burner. Also, these are available in the smaller diameter (12 mm OD), which is mandatory for oven connections.´
Viega, Georg Fischer, Geberit are just a few of the global brands selling in the Indian plumbing space, each with its own USP.
A premium product, the Viega Pexfit Pro system is a composite pipe system for drinking water and heating installations. Made of physically cross-linked polyethylene (PE-Xc) in dimensions of 16 mm to 63 mm, these pipes are temperature and pressure-resistant compared to CPVC pipes, insensitive to corrosion and incrustation. A Pexfit Pro series variant has three layers- PE-Xc internal pipe, an aluminium layer and white external coating - making the pipe stable. Once bent into close radii, the pipe permanently retains this shape, which makes it ideal for renovation projects, says Manoj Maithani, Vice President-Sales & Marketing India, Viega.
Viega´s Pexfit Pro system comes with the advantage of Viega´s press connection technology to ensure leakage-proof joints. Once crimped using the Viega pressing tool (tool calibration and bevelling are not required), these joints become permanently leak-proof. ´Real-estate developers with premium projects are using our piping systems,´says Maithani. Whether made of polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) or red brass, Viega´s press connectors feature the SC-Contur, an indicator of any un-pressed connecting fittings during a leakage test or when the system is filled. ´A complete installation can be inspected centrally on the manometer as long as the components are all fitted with the SC-Contur,´he adds. ´Only threaded connectors must be inspected individually in advance; central inspection is a huge advantage for those executing large projects.´
Product plus installation
Global brand Georg Fischer offers a variety of plastic pipes in the building technology segment, including polybutylene and HDPE pipes for water/gas/compressed air supply, PERT for water applications, silent drainage for soil and waste drainage application, and fuseal drainage systems especially for hospital drainage. ´Our latest product is the iLITE plastic piping system offering quick and safe connection of piping materials while providing an excellent flow rate,´shares Chandan Bhagat, Manager-Building Technology, Georg Fischer Piping Systems.
Among Georg Fischer´s many USPs is its track record in India. Through its Mumbai office, its team of trained technicians and installers has successfully completed over 60 five-star hotel projects, more than 10 embassies and many high-rise buildings in the city. ´Customers are appreciating that Georg Fischer systems symbolise longevity (systems designed to work more than 50 years), low pressure loses, no maintenance costs, no corrosion, no incrustation, and low thermal conductivity,´says Bhagat. ´We offer fast, error-free and leak-proof installation of our piping systems, supported by our own tools and machines. We have set up a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Ratnagiri.´
Single piping system is a western plumbing concept entering the Indian plumbing segment, according to Duggal. It involves the use of a single pipe for waste disposal instead of the three-piping system for soil, waste and venting. ´With Geberit India and other players entering this segment, awareness about the economy and convenience of this methodology will hopefully spread,´he says. ´But it remains to be seen how successful single piping is in India, it requires less labour for installation but the venting traps must be foolproof.´
All considered, it is certain that the Indian plumbing scene is maturing. Now if only the economy would pick up!
Valve standards: What you should know
Pipe standards are up-to-date vis-a-vis global standards, but valve standards are not, says Abbas Shabbir Lehry, Managing Director, Lehry Instrumentation and Valves. ´In India we follow the CW617N manufacturing standard for valves, which allows up to 2.5 per cent of lead. India has yet to move towards safer, lead-free valves. Internationally, the standard C46500 allows only up to 0.25 per cent of lead.´ ´Indian standards still prescribe the use of gate valves and globe valves for plumbing, when butterfly valves and ball valves have proven to be much more efficient and economical,´he adds.
- Charu Bahri
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