Feature

Plumbing Right

June 2015
Which piping and sanitary systems are best fit products and why? CW explores further.
India´s piping market is worth around Rs 15,000 crore and is growing at 20 per cent annually. ´Demand for fittings is growing at 12 to 15 per cent per annum,´ says Atul Sanghvi, Executive Director, CERA Sanitaryware Ltd.

New demand driver
Real estate development largely drives the plumbing fittings market. Now Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the Government´s ambitious project to extend sanitation facilities to every household by 2019 is expected to boost demand for certain plumbing products. As per the 2011 census, only 46 per cent of 25 crore households in India have a toilet.

´The basic sanitation system schemes of the Government of India may spur demand for low-end fittings in coming years,´ says BSA Narayan, Managing Director, Maple Engg-Design Services (India) and Vice President, Indian Plumbing Association. ´We are helping various organisations design schemes making use of such products.´ According to Gajanan S Dikondawar, General Manager, Innovation & Technology, Supreme, ´The construction of toilets in rural areas will spur demand for cost-effective plumbing and drainage products, underground drainage systems and perhaps even readymade toilets and readymade septic tanks. Creating toilets in every school and the smart cities project will also spur demand for quality plumbing and piping products.´ To add to its existing range of products in these categories, Supreme is planning to come out with readymade septic tanks and other potential requirements.´

Plentiful choices
Today, real estate developers have plentiful sanitaryware, piping and fittings choices. Metal piping options include copper and iron and steel variants. In plastic, the selection includes unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (UPVC) pipes, chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) pipes, polypropylene random copolymer (PPR) pipes and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes. So, on what basis do developers choose certain products over others?

´Cost is the leading determinant for choosing a certain internal piping system for a project,´ says Chintan Daiya, Partner and Director, D´Plumbing Consultants. ´Other factors are ease of availability, ease of installation and compliance with local and international codes and standards. In some countries, systems are also evaluated for their impact on health.´

By those measures, CPVC systems come out winners. ´They usually satisfy all the criteria better than other options like copper, PPR, PEX and other composite (sandwiched) pipes. It helps that awareness has grown tremendously about CPVC systems,´ explains Daiya.

´Developers prefer PVC products (UPVC, CPVC and PPR) for internal water supply pipes and fittings. CPVC pipes are generally preferred for green buildings and buildings that use solar water heating systems. Developers usually prefer CPVC or copper plumbing for high-end projects and PPR products for medium end,´ opines Narayan.

´Developers demand PPR, CPVC or UPVC piping for internal plumbing as these are inert to impurities in water, corrosion and leakage free with a long service life,´ says Parag Chheda, Joint Managing Director, Prince Pipes & Fittings Pvt Ltd. ´We cater to all these three options through our Greenfit, Smartfit and Easyfit piping ranges.´ And Dikondawar says, ´Solar hot water systems mandate the use of hot and cold water plumbing systems like Supreme´s Indo Green PPR and Lifeline C-PVC.´

For external water supply plumbing like down-takes and for connections with municipal mains, Daiya recommends UPVC pipes (with solvent welded joints for smaller apartment complexes). ´HDPE is recommended for bigger townships, though developers and municipal corporations tend to go in for ductile iron, malleable steel or cast iron piping,´ he adds. ´DI and HDPE pipes are preferred for external water supply,´ says Narayan. ´We also offer pressure pipes adhering to IS 4985, IS 15328 and other standards, for water transportation,´ adds Chheda.

Sanitary preferences
´In sanitaryware, developers look for pan-India players with a large reach and offering value-for-money products,´ explains Sanghvi. CERA is also empanelled as a preferred sanitaryware brand with the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), the apex body of housing developers.

´Developers are putting much more emphasis on layouts and product designs,´ says Salil Sadanandan, Managing Director, Kohler India. ´They are also keen to earn water efficiency points in the LEED green building rating system.´ Kohler offers several water-saving water closets, sensor faucets and showerheads, such as Brive Plus that pushes the water-saving standard from the conventional 3 or 6 litre flush systems to 2.6 or 4 litre systems; Kohler Rainshowerheads featuring KatalystÖ air induction technology that injects 2 litre of air into the water flow per minute for a better showering experience; the Steward waterless urinal; etc.

´Today, demand for sanitaryware is veering towards products that score high on aesthetics as well as help save energy, water and space,´ opines Pau Abello, Managing Director, Roca Bathroom Products Pvt Ltd. To this end, Roca has introduced the eco-click water saving system that cuts water consumption by half and the frontal cold water start system that prevents the boiler from firing up when it is not needed. Other innovative eco-friendly technologies from Roca include the adjustable flow system, controllable levers, automatic shut-off, intelligent electronic faucets that limit the flow of water to 6 litre per minute, thermostatic faucets equipped with temperature control and waterless urinals with electronic flush systems. ´Roca´s integrated washbasin and water closet (W+W) saves both space and water by filtering the wastewater from the basin and reusing it in the discharge of the cistern,´ shares Abello. The In-Tank Meridian is a wall-hung toilet incorporating an integrated tank.

Developer´s pick
Developers largely choose products for practical reasons like long service life and high performance.

´We use plastic pipes such as UPVC pipes, CPVC and PP-R pipes for our projects,´ says Prasanna Venkatesh, Senior Vice President, Contracts - Plumbing, Sobha Ltd. ´We avoid using metal pipes like galvanised iron pipes because those aren´t suited to handle the sort of water most commonly suppliedûhard water with high TDS levels. Metal pipes scale and get corroded very fast.´

´We use CPVC pipes in walls for washing water and drinking water as they are extra chlorinated and therefore ideal for water supply,´ says Manoj Shrivastava, COO, Homestead Infrastructure. ´CPVC are high-functioning pipes and superior to PVC and HDPE. They can carry both hot and cold water but have low tolerance for sub-zero temperatures. We use galvanised steel pipes as extensions to CPVC where higher level of support is required for load-bearing fittings and fitments.´

´We use copper pipes because they are reliable, resistant to corrosion and tolerant of heat,´ says Sumit Bharana, Director, Era Infrastructures. ´An all-copper plumbing system costs a little more than other, less-reliable materials. But since copper piping is more durable, easier to handle and faster to install as forming and joining take less time, sometimes the installed cost of a copper plumbing system can be less than so-called cheaper materials.´

According to Chheda, ´Developers of townships and large real-estate projects are aware of safety aspects of piping and this has created space for new classes of piping products. Prince is a pioneer in manufacturing lead-free Easyfit pipes and fittings that ensure that consumers drink safe water.´

Municipal guidelines
´Municipal norms also drive developers´ choices in places where they lay down detailed guidelines. In Mumbai, for instance, the municipal corporation (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) approval for piping systems has recently been abolished,´ shares Daiya. Instead, the municipality has deemed as per its Water Bylaws that any ISI-approved product be considered as approved.

´IS standards like IS:15778, IS:16088 and IS:15801 exist for CPVC and PPR. IS standards haven´t been set for materials such as composite (sandwiched) and PEX pipes. So for these, we turn to international standards (like ASTM, NSF, ANSI, UPC, DIN, EN, etc.),´ adds Daiya.

Municipalities in Gurgaon and Sohna, Haryana, where Homestead Infrastructure is developing real estate, clearly state the plumbing fittings to be used is in their bylaws. ´They describe the pipes, fittings, such as taps, cocks, valves, meters, cisterns, baths, water closets, lavatory basins, etc. They specify that plumbing work has to be carried out by a licensed plumbing contractor and that all plumbing fittings should be IS-certified,´ says Shrivastava.

´Also, nowadays municipal departments are laying emphasis on zero discharge. Waste-water must be routed to a sewage treatment plant for treatment and recycled back for flushing, cooling towers and irrigation purposes. However, any overflow from the plant may be drained to the nearest municipal manhole,´ adds Shrivastava. ´Municipalities in Noida and Gurgaon where we have our upcoming projects have laid down plumbing norms for the size and method of installing communicating pipes, the point of discharge of pipes, pipe support, IS certifications, etc.´ says Bharana. In cities where Sobha Ltd operates, such as Bengaluru, Thrissur, Coimbatore, Chennai and Pune, the municipalities do not lay down plumbing norms. ´They just insist on leak-proof plumbing that doesn´t waste water nor contaminates water owing to faulty installation. Information about plumbing options is best had from the National Building Codes, Bureau of Indian Standards and the Uniform Plumbing Code of India,´ shares Venkatesh.

Evolving market
An expanding market encourages customer-specific innovation. To cater to developers of townships and large real estate projects, Supreme is focusing on offering end-to-end piping solutions products. It has gone beyond its piping range to include leak-free, drip-free and long-lasting fittings-taps, showers, faucets, valves, and others-made of 100 per cent virgin plastic material. Supreme is also positioning itself as a knowledge leader by conducting training and education courses for plumbers through its Knowledge Centre.

´We have also introduced cost-effective, durable, money and time-saving plumbing innovations such as the thick-walled, high-density Skyrise premium building drainage system with low noise properties for tall buildings, and the maintenance-free 100 per cent watertight Nudrain underground drainage system with readymade inspection chambers and manhole,´

adds Dikondawar. Nudrain has found application in Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Mysuru, and other places.

Indeed, new systems promising better water flows and a cleaner environment are welcome.

Green piping
Plumbing plays a role in getting green building certification.
According to Prasanna Venkatesh, Senior Vice President, Contracts-Plumbing, Sobha Ltd, ´Buildings can score up to 19 points under the IGBC LEED Water Conservation subhead for certified buildings. This mandates the use of leak-proof piping systems and water-saving fittings.´

´To help buildings achieve certain green ratings, sanitaryware and faucets must conform to established norms,´ says Atul Sanghvi, Executive Director, CERA Sanitaryware Ltd.´ CERA offers such a range. In fact, it pioneered twin-flush water saving WC systems in India.´

Quick Bytes
India´s piping market : Rs.15,000 crore.
Growth rate: 20% annually.
Only 46% of 25 crore households in India have a toilet: 2011 census.
Real-estate development largely drives the plumbing fittings market.
As there are no Indian standards for composite materials and PEX pipes, international standards are followed.´

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