Monday, June 21, 2021

Interaction- Dr Subash Cipy, Cipy Polyurathanes

Our USP is innovation and creativity


CIPY POLYURETHANES is an innovative technology driven company with a modest beginning, from a 600 sqft tin shed and a meager capital of $200, it has metamorphosed into a leading company with three state of the art manufacturing plants at Pune and Bangalore. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, DR. SUBASH CIPY, MD, CIPY POLYURETHANES PVT. LTD, talks about the Construction Chemicals market, impact of Covid-19,their pioneering role in offering new products and a lot more.





Give an overview of the CC market in India in terms of cost/quality equations, sector challenges, and growth prospects.


Based on a published report by Persistence Market Research, the market size of construction chemicals in India is roughly estimated at around $6 billion in 2018. The CC market has been experiencing a sizeable growth over the last decade, but it is still at a growing phase when compared to the other developed countries. The Govt’s plan of constructing of 15,000 km of roads since 2017 has fuelled the demand for construction chemicals, specifically admixtures and plasticizers. Increase in foreign investment, urbanization and growing usage of ready-mix concrete (RMC) are a few of the prominent factors driving the growth. However, there are challenges in this market like scarcity of skilled man-power, volatility in raw material prices and lack of interest for implementation of quality standards by infrastructure developers.



What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your business, your expectations from the govt and what are your strategies to overcome these sluggish market conditions and expand market share.


The Covid-19 pandemic has intruded in to the Indian economy at a time when it was already in a susceptible state, having been hit by the double whammy of economic downturn as well as credit crunch. Ever since the lockdown 1.0 was announced on 18th March, 2020, we had to suspend all manufacturing operations, but to resort to the newly found culture ‘work from home’. We resumed operations a month later, but a few stray cases of Covid hitting directly at our employees forced us to shut down abruptly which had disrupted the business to a great extent during Q1 and Q2.


As the most of market segments like auto, engineering etc started looking downwards, we altered our strategy to target pharma, healthcare and hospitals as our new growth areas. Our hygienic coatings for hospitals and healthcare units started showing encouraging results. As you know, the prolonged corona outbreaks strained the health system at large, forcing the hospitals to operate at near-surge capacity. Today, in our country, the ratio of number of beds per 1000 people is very low, as compared to the situation in developed countries. According to WHO standards, 3 beds per 1000 is the minimum requirement for India, which translates to3. 6 million beds over the course of next decade and so we foresee a spurt of activities in new hospital projects.


We desperately need Govt’s support for vulnerable businesses like ours which suffered very badly during this period. A comprehensive package of policy reforms, financial incentives and monetary measures is the need of the hour to re-energise the economy.




Detail us on the range of construction chemicals offered by your company and their applications.


As you are aware, Cipy is primarily a manufacturer of CASE (Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants and Elastomers) products and are involved only in a few niche segments of construction chemicals. We do not produce run-of-the mill type products like plasticizers or admixtures and mostly deal with polymeric resins rather than cement based products. We are into the foray of high-strength epoxy and PU injection grouts which find extensive applications in construction industry. In waterproofing sector, we cater to high-end categories such as liquid applied membranes and plural spray applied polyurea elastomeric linings. However, I wish to point out that we are a very small player in the construction chemicals market, where as our parent company Pidilite Industries are the market leaders in this segment.



What are the USP’s of your products/solutions Vis-à-vis competition Advantages of using your CC in terms of savings on construction cost, time, and labour.


The construction chemical market is segmented by product types such as concrete admixtures, surface treatments, repair and rehabilitation, protective coatings, industrial floorings, waterproofings, adhesives, sealants, grouts, anchors and cement grinding aids. Unlike other CC manufacturers, our activities are just limited to floor coatings, protective coatings and liquid waterproofing membranes in CC segment.


Our USP is innovation and creativity. I have spent 44 years in this arena since 1976, and feel that product innovation is the key to Cipy’s success as the market leader. Hybrid EPU flooring, where urethane linkages are infused into the epoxy polymer matrix, is our product USP, which makes us stand tall amongst the various competitors. In india, we are the pioneers and market leaders with over 25% market share and offer a myriad of technologies for floorings, right from the conventional epoxy, PU, EPU, PU-Concrete to polyaspartics.



Which sectors are major demand drivers for CC in India.


The construction chemicals are forecast to witness an exponential growth, especially in admixtures and plasticizers. Building133 kms of concrete roads every day will consume copious amounts of plasticisers and admixtures. The Govt’s ambitious programmes like housing for all, rural housing, 100 smart cities etc will be the key growth drivers in CC segment. The growth drivers of the Indian infrastructure sector, which maintains the demand for construction chemicals, are government initiatives, infrastructure needs, housing development, FDI, and public and private partnership projects.



What is your outlook on the opportunities from renovation and repair of old existing structures for the construction chemical and waterproofing business? Can this area be considered as a new growth driver to strengthen business volumes for players like you?


If you look at the already placed concrete structures and buildings scattered in the country for the past 5 decades, there are around 55-60 billion cubic metres of concrete lying every where. The construction industry has slowly transitioned from 15 MPa strength concrete to 50 MPa in the span of 50 years and till two decades ago,the average strength of concrete was 15-25 MPa, which meant that a large inventory of lower grade structures exists as a legacy of the past. Low strength concrete, high w/c, site mixing, non-use of concrete admixtures, coupled with chloride attacks and carbonation, resulted in structural distresses which call for repair and rehabilitation and so there lies ample growth opportunities for this segment. The repair and rehabilitation involves many processes: Removal of old concrete, exposure of corroded reinforcement, use of mechanical or chemical means to remove corrosive scales, use of bonding agents, application of polymer modified mortars, and use of protective coatings. Despite the challenges, growth in this segment will be phenomenal, because of the noticeable manifestation of structural distress in the form of cracks, delamination failure and even sudden collapse of the structures.


Low strength concrete structures, because of the high w/c ratio, carry a lot of capillaries and porosities and hence are vulnerable to seepage of moisture. We offer many solutions to this perennial problem by offering liquid applied water proofing membranes based on PU, pure polyurea and hybrid polyurea.



Have you launched any new products or launching new products in the near future.


We have a state-of-the-art laboratory where new products are being churned out incessantly. Recently, we launched the epoxy terrazzo floorings for the first time in the country. Hybrid polyurea is another development which finds uses in waterproofing applications. ESD flooring, sans carbon fibres, is again a brand new concept in conductive / static dissipative flooring segment. MCU Coating was also introduced into the market which is a rage in the developed countries. We have recently unveiled MMA floorings which are the quickest setting floorings available in the market. We are now seriously working on sports floorings based on polyurethanes and hybrid acrylics.



What is the company’s approach towards innovation, environment and sustainability?


The core strength of Cipy is R&D where innovative ideas are conceived and designed. Cipy enjoys a prime status for producing many innovative products with ‘the first time in India’ tags. At Cipy, sustainability means a cohesive business approach to continual improvement in environmental protection and social responsibility. We envisage a greener world in which our innovations help reduce the consumption of the depleting oil sources. Our endeavor is to produce products based on renewable resources, employing green chemistry.


Natural products like castor oil, castor oil based polyols, cardanol based phenalkamines are predominantly employed in our formulations. We do not use any hazardous chemical like chrome or lead.



Provide us details on your manufacturing facilities.


We have currently three manufacturing set ups at Pune and Bangalore. Bangalore plant is dedicated to epoxy floorings, while Bhosari (Pune) plant is for polyurethanes and Talawade ( Pune) is for epoxies, construction chemicals and polyureas. In Talawade, the production capacity is around 16000 tons of epoxy, 6000 tons of Polyurea and 5000 tons of construction chemicals. And we have the capacity to produce 8000 tons of polyurethanes at Bhosari, and 3000 tons of epoxies at Bangalore. The new state-of-the art fully integrated facility is getting ready at Shirwal, 70 km away from Pune.



As a manufacturer tell us about the critical challenges faced while introducing high end products in India? To what extent does cost influence a customer’s purchasing decision?


When cementitious products were abundantly used in waterproofing segment, we had revolutionarily introduced resinous based coatings which were quite costlier than cementitious counterparts. We also introduced plural spray applied polyureas for high end applications. Yes, we had faced challenges, but educated the customers about the value proposition these innovative products bring in. Market is slowly adopting ‘value for money’ products, which is a paradigm shift from cheaper materials to cost effective products.


Yes, price is a big factor in this segment. As you’ve guessed rightly, the floor coating has become a commodity market where price plays the villain. The crucial task in this price sensitive market is retaining the price structure without upsetting the quality and performance and the only way we found to overwhelm this volatile situation was to go for backward integration. our strategy is very candid. We are well armed to confront the locals as well as multinationals and beat them on price and quality, because we are the only company who has backward integrated products like amine and amide curing agents, colour concentrates, NCO pre polymers and polyester polyols.



Future outlook on the industry and from a company perspective.


Even an optimist would say that it may take a minimum 6 months for the economy to return to normalcy, post Covid syndrome. Most of all industries are struggling for sustenance. If we look at our revenue scenario, our core segment is auto and engineering which are badly hit. We will change our focussed areas to pharma, F&B, hospitals and heath care units, which have fortunately thrived in this Covid turmoil. We have developed a hygienic clear coating, which is an anti-microbial coating based on waterborne polyurethane, engineered to provide exceptional properties and use as antiviral coating on all commonly shared surfaces like walls, glass panels, doors, door handles, seatings etc. This product is intended to be used as a maintenance coating to upkeep the all-contact surfaces free of infection of viruses, bacteria and microbes. As we are now surrounded with infective dangers and the need for hygienic coatings will gain a lot of significance for future as epidemics breakout at every decade, disrupting our normal lives.

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