Hybrid, High-End, Hot!

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Hybrid, High-End, Hot!

Hybrid, High-End, Hot!

01 Mar 2020 Long Read
CW explores emerging trends in construction chemicals.
Demand for all sorts of construction chemicals has started to stabilise this year after a lull in the second half of 2019, according to Preetham Yeada, Associate Vice President, Commercial & Corporate Strategy, MYK Arment.

Sanjay Bahadur, Group CEO, Construction Chemical Business, Pidilite Industries, believes demand is still sluggish; queries are slow to come. Real estate per se is still down, although low-cost housing is seeing some momentum. Bahadur expects this trend to continue.

Yeada expects infrastructure to drive demand in the near future as the real-estate market is still moving slowly. In infrastructure, a change in some specifications laid down by a few government bodies, such as the use of crystalline waterproofing compounds in PQC (pavement quality concrete) road projects, is helping to grow the use of construction chemicals in various applications.

Bright future

Despite the ongoing slowdown, India’s construction chemicals market is expected to touch $2,600 million by 2025, growing at a robust CAGR of 13.7 per cent between 2017 and 2025, according to Persistence Market Research. The concrete admixtures category is slated to hold a market value of over $1,200 million by the end of 2025 while the waterproofing chemicals segment is expected to grow the fastest, registering a higher CAGR of 14.4 per cent during the forecast period.

Basab Saha, General Manager, Marketing, South Asia, Dow Chemical International, agrees with this forecast. He expects the Government of India’s push towards a $5 trillion economy to increase institutional and consumer spending and, in turn, give added thrust to infrastructure over the next five years, such that construction is likely to contribute 10-11 per cent of the GDP. The government’s focus on Housing for All, tourism and Make in India will enable the residential and commercial sectors to grow substantially.

Persistence Market Research also estimates that the concrete admixtures category will hold a market value of over $1,200 million by the end of 2025 while the waterproofing chemicals segment is expected to grow the fastest, registering a higher CAGR of 14.4 per cent during the forecast period.

Bahadur believes admixtures will grow the fastest based on current trends and proposed investments in infrastructure while waterproofing is expected to enjoy good growth as it is an evergreen sector.

Infra projects are boosting demand for admixtures, while waterproofing is seeing growth from commercial buildings and infra projects, says Jaswanth Sobhana, National Business Segment Head, Construction Systems, BASF.

Customers who are more knowledgeable about technology advancements and seek construction speed and quality have become key drivers within the market, says Saha, noting that this and the change in customers’ mindset from traditional structures to functional constructions such as residential skyscrapers or insulated warehouses is enabling the waterproofing construction chemicals market.

Industrial grout systems is another segment shaping up well owing to investments in oil and gas, according to Sobhana.

Green solutions Regulatory bodies such as GRIHA and other rating agencies are pushing for the use of green products associated with low volatile organic compounds (VOC) and low carbon emissions, for better consumer health and environmental sustainability, observes Saha.

Customers are demanding more sustainable solutions, especially those who are implementing green buildings, opines Sobhana.

BASF has risen to the occasion by offering waterproofing products with low VOC content. In the admixture space, BASF offers Green Sense Concrete, an optimised mixture programme in which recycled cementitious and non-cementitious materials are used in combination with specially formulated BASF admixtures. The result is an environmentally preferred, cost-effective concrete that meets, and often exceeds, performance targets. The positive impact of using Green Sense Concrete on sustainability criteria may be quantified by certified eco-efficiency analysis or a lifecycle analyser tool.

With the ongoing focus on green buildings, products compatible with the national imperatives of energy conservation and eco-friendliness are increasingly finding acceptance in government specifications and with specifying agencies at large, says Yeada.

Hybrid, advanced solutions

In waterproofing, solvented products were the norm when BASF introduced hybrid polyurethane based products over a decade ago. Today, hybrid polyurethane/polyurea products are a popular choice, especially for commercial building projects, and are often used in combination with thermal insulation, says Sobhana. In insulation, polyurethane foams are popular; now, BASF offers products that are HCFC-free, in line with government regulations. “Climate change and the increasing demand for energy are growing the demand for cooling solutions, including roof and wall insulation, which is spurring application development and innovative hybrid solutions,” according to Saha. One such solution from Dow is the Acrylic PU hybrid, a liquid-applied membrane coating for roofs as well as a unique green polymer technology for cool roofs. This solution is gaining momentum and seeing greater acceptance for construction applications.

Advanced solutions from the industry incorporate new ideas in additives, processing techniques and product formulations to make construction materials more durable, and protect them from water intrusion, sunlight, wind abrasion, organism attacks and even spills and stains that affect appearance and performance, shares Saha.

“Most hybrid and advanced solutions maximise substrate life, reduce maintenance, improve aesthetics, meet customer demands for superior performance and contribute to environmental sustainability by cutting energy costs,” he explains. “Treating substrates with hydrophobic materials make them energy-efficient by reducing two leading causes of structural heat loss – heat loss from the evaporation of absorbed water in untreated materials and thermal conductivity.” Citing another example, Sobhana says, “In the repair and protection segment, BASF has come out with a new solution for wastewater treatment plants, for ETPs and STPs in particular, which used to be a two-layered protection, one for waterproofing and another against chemicals in the water. BASF’s new product offers both these protections in a single coating. It is being used for water management structures of the Bangalore Development Authority as well as for ETPs of various industries across the country.”

Pidilite is seeing growing demand for its higher end polyurethane waterproofing products, such as its Superseal range of products, which are more expensive but engineered to offer better performance and a longer lifespan.

Application services

Applicator training is something every major provider engages in. MYK Arment offers structured training programmes to applicators and maintains a database of such trained hands.
“We recruit and train applicators and issue them a certificate based on their proficiency (application, supervisory, etc) that we call it a BASF passport,” shares Sobhana.

“We provide customers with a list of contractors trained to apply our products,” says Bahadur.

However, not every vendor offers supervision. “BASF offers supervisory services for all its major projects to monitor quality and we insist that certified applicators execute the work,” says Sobhana.

“We cannot offer supervisory services to every user,” says Bahadur. But, in response to a clamour for greater involvement of the product vendor in large commercial projects such as five-star hotels, Pidilite now offers application services to such larger clients. Bahadur reckons application accounts for about 25 per cent of Pidilite’s waterproofing business.

A sure sign, indeed, that customers are availing the expertise of vendors for better outcomes.

What Buyers Want?

What do customers look for in a chemicals contractor?

Satya Priya Yadav, CEO, e-novation Centre and Co-founder, RSP Developers : While deciding on a waterproofing contractor, we rely on their experience and knowhow of tried and tested technologies. We prefer the chemical manufacturer to not only help us in evaluating the requirements and solutions but also in implementation as this aspect of construction also needs its own expertise and precision. So, another important factor is the presence of a well-trained and disciplined team that understands the application requirements. Practically, our experience tells us that on a construction site, teams cannot work in isolation and close coordination between various teams is crucial.
Pankaj Jain, Director, KW Group: We prefer chemical provider companies to apply the product because they are experts in their area. That is how we went about the construction of KW Blue Pearl and KW Delhi 6.
BM Thakur, GM, Projects, New Modern Buildwell: Opt for a verified and tested waterproofing contractor with experienced and qualified staff to carry out the work.

What do customers look for in a chemical?

BM Thakur: KRYSTOL is a permanent and reliable hydrostatic waterproofing solution. It shortens construction schedules, reduces initial and long-term waterproofing costs, self-seals micro cracks for the life of concrete, increases the longevity of reinforced concrete, and is BIS-certified. We have applied this product in one of our projects (REPL Knowledge Park) where the water table level is high and so were the chances of leakage and seepage. The product is effective. There is no spot of water anywhere.

Pankaj Jain: We mostly prefer Dr Fixit because it offers a wide range of innovative construction chemicals for waterproofing as well as building repairs. We opt for polyurethane-based waterproofing treatments for general waterproofing, where the exposure is moderate, as in basements and decks. Epoxy-based waterproofing is recommended for areas like water bodies, swimming pools and water tanks.

Satya Priya Yadav: We match the design of the structure with the right chemical or waterproofing technique. We prefer three-layer acrylic polymer waterproof coatings for rooftops and modified PVC membrane waterproofing with fibre reinforcement for the event area.

What are some best practices that users recommend for the best outcome?

Satya Priya Yadav: Invite the application teams of relevant companies to first understand the implications and impact, and then make a choice. As the developer, fully participate in this decision-making process.

Do not depend on others to handle this important matter. A minor slip here could really undermine the strength of an otherwise robust project. Pankaj Jain: Carry out pre-tender interviews before inviting shortlisted contractors to tender. This makes it simpler to reject unsuitable candidates. Also, don’t select purely on the basis of the lowest price. Analyse offers on different parameters. Identify the best value tender, based on predefined selection criteria that relate to the aspects of the contractor performance you value most, such as past performance, relevant experience, technical ability, sustainability, health and safety record, innovation, management skills, resource availability, and proposed methodology.

BM Thakur: Select a feasible/viable/quality product and maintain the timeline/schedule.

A New Flooring Solution

BASF has launched the next generation of high-performance flooring systems, MasterTop XTC, for the construction industry. Formulated with the innovative Xolutec technology, an inorganic modified high-density cross-linking resin polymer, MasterTop XTC provides an easy-to-clean seamless floor surface with exceptional resistance to abrasion and impact. With unique features such as being odourless, self-smoothing and with a faster return to service, MasterTop XTC is an environment-friendly and user-friendly flooring solution that greatly improves the overall installation process.

- Charu Bahri

To share your views on the market for Construction Chemicals in India, write in at feedback@ConstructionWorld.in

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