Scaling new heights
The Indian pre-engineered building market is expanding both vertically and horizontally, as it takes on structures of greater height and complexity.“We estimate that the organised steel building solutions market, spanning pre-engineered buildings and smart steel (light-gauge steel frames), is worth over `60 billion annually and growing rapidly,” says S Krishnakumar, CEO, Building Solutions, Everest Industries. “If you also take into account the unorganised segment, the market would be much bigger.”“The pre-engineered building market is expected to demand over 600,000 mt of steel per annum,” reckons D Raju, Managing Director, Kirby Building Systems & Structures India.Undeniable proof of the evolution of steel buildings as a strong alternative to conventional construction is the fact that the pre-engineered building industry has grown to enjoy 45 per cent market share within the construction industry, according to Piyush Nahar, General Manager, Marketing, Tata Bluescope Steel.And Nikhil Bothra, Director, Epack Polymers, pegs the share of pre-engineered buildings in the overall construction industry at 33 per cent.Growth rateGautam Suri, Founder, Interarch Building Products, notes that the demand for pre-engineered buildings in India has been growing in double figures year-on-year. He cites industry predictions that the market will grow at 11.63 per cent CAGR to reach $3.56 billion by 2020.Krishnakumar expects the organised segment of the industry to grow at 15 per cent in coming years.Bothra expects anywhere between 10-20 per cent annual growth based on market predictions; essentially the pre-engineered structure segment will grow faster than the Indian steel industry and the construction sector. Growth driversToday, pre-engineered buildings are not just confined to industrial or logistics applications, but have gained diverse applications in commercial multi-storied (G+6) buildings (including IT parks) and, more important, in metro rail projects, stadiums, airport hangers, steam turbine generator buildings in power plants, etc, according to Nahar.As key growth drivers, Suri identifies the booming industrial segment and the e-commerce industry, which has boosted the growth of warehouse spaces and distribution centres. Going forward, he expects government investment in urban infrastructure such as hospitals, institutions, malls, metro station sheds, airports, recreational buildings, social infrastructure and retail to spur growth. In future, Krishnakumar expects most of the demand for steel structures to come from the warehouse and industrial sectors, typically automotive and food processing factories, airports, power plants, power distribution, metro stations and depots. The implementation of big-ticket projects will improve the scope for the organised sector, which places equal emphasis on processes and outcomes.“Robust expansion plans within the logistics and e-commerce sectors in the next five years will trigger greater demand for warehousing sheds,” says Nahar.“We see huge scope for providers in airport construction,” says Bothra. Under the UDAN scheme, the government proposes to build 486 new airport terminals within five years. He believes most of these airports will be constructed with pre-engineered building technology.Hybrid buildingsNahar identifies a prospective segment that will trigger demand for state-of-the-art pre-engineered buildings – the creation of large warehouses by developers such as GMR, Indospace, ESR, JKS, etc, with the idea of leasing out space to multinational corporation customers looking to create warehousing corridors closer to their markets.With the development of connectivity infrastructure, both industrial/commercial and popular, such as airports in Tier-2 cities, metro lines, railways, roads and waterways enhancing reach to hitherto less developed areas, Krishnakumar foresees the development of large industrial parks and warehouses and logistics facilities in such places, all of which, will create enormous scope for pre-engineered structural steel structures. As most of these structures will also necessitate an office environment to supplement the basic industrial/commercial function, Krishnakumar expects greater demand for hybrid buildings by combining a primary factory/industrial structure made of built-up sections with light gauge steel for concurrently creating office/administrative spaces.Rooftop solar solutionsIn the early days, speed of construction was the overriding driver of demand for steel construction for all forms of infrastructure, says Krishnakumar, as “steel construction saves almost 40 per cent time in comparison to conventional building methods”. However, he notes that sustainability and sensitivity to limit the consumption of resources across the project lifecycle are now driving demand for steel building solutions.One outcome of this trend, according to Krishnakumar, is that “customers are increasingly conscious of the possibility of making the building energy-efficient and resource-scarce by the use of dry construction techniques exemplified by our Rapicon wall panels and our rooftop solar solutions.” “Demand for solar-compatible pre-engineered building roofing systems is on the rise, as users look to maximise the environment-friendly credentials of such structures,” affirms Nahar.One-stop solutionsNowadays, “some clients require pre-engineered building vendors to take up the civil foundation work along with the pre-engineered building packages as turnkey solutions,” observes Nahar. “To this end, leading pre-engineered building developers are offering complete solutions to the projects market, far from being just a primary foundation component.”“Customers are increasingly looking at the convenience of engaging vendors who offer one-stop solutions,” agrees Krishnakumar. “They don’t want multiple agencies to work in their buildings and the hassles of coordinating between them.”Everest has, therefore, integrated the expertise and product range of its various verticals to include factory-made wall panels, façade solutions and rooftop solar panels.Multi-storey constructionNow, pre-engineered buildings are gaining popularity in the multi-storey building as well as the institution segment because demand for green buildings is increasing and the focus is increasingly on timebound construction. Steel frames are faster to erect than reinforced concrete frames, providing an overall time saving of around 40 per cent, says Suri. “Steel building floors created with the metal deck system can be handed over faster for fit-outs as no shuttering or water curing is required. Steel frames are significantly lighter, which reduces the load on the foundation, and thereby the cost of the foundation. Moreover, steel is a stronger material than RCC; the thickness of the columns is less for the same loading, so occupants get more floor-to-floor area.”“We have adapted new innovative methods across design, fabrication and construction to come up with highly customised, unique structures, including high-rise residential and commercial complexes either completely in steel or composite construction, which is slowly being accepted by developers,” says Raju. “We are currently executing commercial office buildings of G+20 floors.”With safety at the job site gaining prominence over the past few years for both small and large projects, Kirby India has trained its manpower and certified builders on safe erection practices and improved and implemented innovative safe practices across all its job sites.Suri especially sees a big role for steel building solutions in the school and college building segment. “Modern educational buildings are required to achieve strict performance targets – fast construction, architectural excellence, aesthetics and flexible spaces to meet future educational needs. This makes investing in a durable, structurally strong steel building the most prudent decision,” he says. In fact, Interarch delivered a 600-bed, G+2 hostel building for Thapar University in a record 175 days!Owner: IIT MadrasLocation: ChennaiStructure: Rooftop extension on six (hostel) buildingsArea: 10,140 sq mProject requirement: IIT Madras houses over 12,000 inhabitants. To increase the number of student occupants, the management decided to build on top of its existing boys’ hostels, which are 55-year-old RCC buildings. The management preferred to use a light-gauge framing system.Timeline: Tata BlueScope Steel completed the project in the mandated 100 days.Challenges: “To meet the challenging timeline, we speeded up the design of the structural members and material supply, and ensured adequate resources on hand, including a skilled construction and installation team,” says Piyush Nahar, General Manager, Marketing, Tata BlueScope Steel. “Safety concerns included the risk of working at a considerable height, and removing the existing parapet and RCC solar pedestal. We installed a 3-m safety net to curtail accidents, installed scaffolding from the ground to the third floor and carefully planned the removal of the solar panels to ensure minimum damage to the existing roof structure. Working without disturbing operations was another challenge. We are happy to report that we caused no upheaval to the curriculum of students.”Products used: Smartbuild (light-gauge framing system) with Lysaght Trimdek from Tata BlueScope Steel.“Demand for solar compatible PEB roofing systems is on the rise.”- Piyush Nahar, General Manager, Marketing, Tata Bluescope SteelApplication: Hindon AirportOwner: Airports Authority of IndiaLocation: Ghaziabad, Uttar PradeshArea: 85,000 sq ft, including the terminal building (38,000 sq ft), office building and canteen buildingProject requirement: The new Hindon Airport will have a peak-hour handling capacity of 300 passengers. It was proposed to have eight check-in counters, two arrival carrousels, four frisking booths, and a car park with the capacity to handle 90 cars. The terminal building will be equipped with a public-address system, fire-fighting and fire-alarm system, flight information display system, CCTV and baggage scanners.Timeline: Four monthsChallenges: “Completing the foundation work took time because of land issues,” says Nikhil Bothra, Director, Epack Polymers. Products used: Double-insulated roofing system, LED lighting, double-skinned insulated wall panel, rainwater harvesting system and low-heat-gain glazing.“We see huge scope for providers in airport construction.”- Nikhil Bothra, Director, Epack PolymersApplication: HospitalStructure: G+7 storey hospital buildingOwner: Fortis HealthcareLocation: BengaluruArea: 12,004 sq mProject requirement: Interarch was chosen for its sustainable and energy-efficient construction system to execute a G+7 hospital building in an existing hospital facility in Bengaluru. “The project was a challenge as we needed to execute the building between an existing hospital block and a parking building,” says Gautam Suri, Founder, Interarch Building Products.Timeline: “We got limited working hours for site activities and had to follow stringent quality and safety conditions and not hamper hospital activities,” shares Suri. “Owing to the non-availability of storage space at site, we developed a distant yard and fetched materials to site. To accommodate site constraints, we strictly adopted the ‘just-in-time’ material delivery system. We could not install a large crane and completed the erection from two available sides of the building. It took 24 months to complete the project.”Challenges: “Achieving international precision standards in implementing a brownfield structure between two existing buildings was challenging,” says Suri. “The other complexity was (incorporating) multilevel mezzanines considering all the complex functional loads. Value engineering helped optimise overall design and improved the economics, which offered more column-free space and clear floor height.”Products used: Interarch structural steel system, decking sheet profile for the mezzanine.Application: SchoolOwner: Shiv Nadar FoundationLocation: Faridabad, HaryanaStructure: G+2 school building Area: 46,000 sq ftProject requirement: The Shiv Nadar Foundation got permission to establish a new school in Delhi NCR. Building a school by the conventional method of construction would have taken at least 24 months, which would have significantly delayed project implementation. The management wanted the structure ready for occupancy before the start of the ensuing academic year with all vestiges of construction removed before the first student/faculty entered. This essentially meant a concept-to-commissioning cycle of about six months. Thus, it was steel to the rescue.Timelines: The Everest team got the order to start design work on the project in December 2014, with the mandate to complete the structure in June 2015. Everest handed over the project by mid-April 2015. Challenges: “The key challenges included coordination with other vendors at site with whom our work schedule had to be synchronised,” says S Krishnakumar, CEO, Building Solutions, Everest Industries. “Meticulous planning and synchronised action made it possible to reduce site erection time and complete the project in just 120 days. To save time, we ensured the factory commenced production of the steel structure while the foundation was being cast at site.”Products used: Pre-engineered built-up sections, light-gauge steel framing, heavy-duty boards, fibre cement boards, cement planks, false ceiling.