Sunday, January 24, 2021

Interaction- Dr. Subash Cipy, Managing Director, Cipy Polyurethanes Pvt. Ltd

 

Cipy was built with a vision of creativity and innovation

 

 

 

This is an innovative technology driven company which is today one of the leading players in the industrial flooring industry. Developing customized flooring solutions for customers is the company’s key USP. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, DR. SUBASH CIPY, MD, CIPY POLYURETHANES PVT. LTD, speaks about the latest trends in the industrial flooring industry, his company’s product offerings, company’s approach towards innovation, environment, sustainability and future outlook on the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

Give us an over view on the Industrial Flooring industry in India, latest technology trends and market dynamics. What are the types of industrial flooring currently in demand.

Various figures are being flaunted in the print media on the market size of resinous floorings in India. And I feel, it could be roughly around 600 Crores, barring cementitious underlays and vinyl overlays. Though the floor coating made its diffident debut in mid-eighties in the country, it gained momentum only during Narasimha Rao-Manmohan Singh era in the wake of the onslaught of economic liberalisation. Since then, the floorings grew by leaps and bounds. A miscellany of technologies such as Epoxy, EPU, PU and PU concrete are currently employed in formulating floor coatings. Epoxy floorings still dominate the market, followed by PU-Concrete, EPU and PU floorings. Self levelling floorings are the most preferred in auto, engineering and pharma facilities, where as F&B and Carparks favour anti-slip floorings. The newest technologies emerging in India are Polyaspartics and MMA. They both are rapid setting flooring systems, specifically meant for facilities that run uninterruptedly, where any downtime is directly correlated with a loss in productivity and revenue.

 

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on sales of your company’s products and what are your strategies to overcome these sluggish market conditions and expand market share

As you know, our GDP was on a downward slope much before the pandemic had hit the country and Covid 19 has since then pushed the Indian economy into a tailspin. As regards the Covid ill-effects on Cipy, I wish to state that our core segment is auto and engineering for the past few decades. This sector is unfortunately under severe stress since mid-2018, much before Covid reared its head. The downslide began with a slowdown in demand and then the NBFC defaults exacerbated the crisis and the situation, post Covid turmoil, had further deteriorated. And quite naturally, our sales had detrimental impacts during this mayhem. To overwhelm the current sluggish market conditions, we made a paradigm shift in our strategy to target segments like pharma, hospitals and healthcare that have fortunately thrived during this catastrophe. We developed a few hygienic floorings and wallings for these segments which are showing inspiring results.

 

Tell us about the various types of industrial floorings offered by your company, in terms of types and applications.

With the experience of four decades in technological innovation in polymeric floorings, we are the market leaders in the country and offer a myriad of technologies, right from the conventional epoxies, polyurethanes to MMA. We have waterborne, solvent-borne, and solvent free flooring systems in self levelling as well as roll-on versions, for diverse application areas in varied industries ranging from pharma, auto to F&B. We have also ventured into decorative floorings which include metallic epoxies, flaked floorings and epoxy terrazzo floorings for commercial spaces.

 

What are the USP’s of your products/solutions Vis-à-vis competition

Out of many USP’s we possess, I would say that developing customized flooring solutions for customers is our key USP. Though we sell more epoxies than our competitors due to the sheer market size, we are dominating in PU floorings predominantly, as we brought this pioneering technology for the first time in india in eighties.

Though a few manufacturers produce PU-Concrete floorings, they seldom manufacture PU self levelling and roll-on floorings. With the latest addition of MMA to our unrivalled flooring portfolio, we are the only flooring company in the country who have the whole spectrum of flooring technologies, whereas our competitors are involved in limited technical know- hows.

 

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

Cipy was built with a vision of creativity and innovation. After over four decades, this thought still drives us and our credo remains unchanged since the inception. Our inherent strength is the unceasing research to develop innovative floorings that empower us to stay ahead of the national as well as global competition. Our R&D plans are strategically programmed to ensure that the end products meet the evidently identified market segments. As regards environment and sustainability, I wish to enlighten the verity that by 2050, our planet will have around 9 billion people and so the sustainable use of vastly depleting natural resources is therefore increasingly imperative. When we used castor oil, a renewable resource, as one of the raw materials to synthesise our first urethane coating in 1976, Cipy has since been building a sustainable future for more than four decades. From the manufacturing of floorings using natural resources like castor oils, vegetable oils to the recycling of raw material drums, the sustainable practices are part of our company culture. Most of our products are either solvent-free or waterborne and so are green, keeping a close vigil on VOC and environment.

 

What are the demand trends driving the market for industrial flooring products in India? Which sectors are major demand drivers in India.

The flooring market swings on several factors such as demand from industrial and commercial sectors, favourable governmental initiatives like ‘Make in India’, rise in investment in infrastructural development, liberalised FDI norms etc. When we introduced floor coatings in mid-eighties, the pharma and F&B segments were in a very nascent state. The advent of Maruti Suzuki metamorphosed the automobile scenario of the country to a different dimension and we made rapid strides in auto and auto-ancillary segments. Today, our growth areas are heath segment with our hygienic floorings and F&B with our PU-Concrete floorings. Carpark flooring is another emerging market segment and we did execute the country’s largest car park project of 2,80,000 sqm at Reliance, Mumbai. The futuristic growth trend is for epoxy terrazzo floorings for airports, shopping malls and multiplexes. As many new airports are being announced recently by the Govt, we see a surge in demand for decorative floorings.

 

Tell us about the challenges faced by the industrial flooring market in India. What are the steps taken to overcome them?

Many still contemplate that floorcoating is an avoidable luxury and our unaccomplished task is to convert these unyielding non-users into users category. We need to convince the non-users that the uncoated concrete floors corrode and erode and need protection and decoration like metals and walls. Oils, fuels and chemicals penetrate through the unprotected concrete floors and go into the ground, thus polluting the ground water. It is also our endeavour to convert tiled floors to ‘floors from cans’. Another challenge we face in the market is the mushrooming of unorganised players who flood the market with low cost epoxy floorings. Our intent is to make the gullible customers aware of epoxy’s shortcomings and its higher filler loadings and convince them to switch over to more robust PU, EPU or PU-Concrete floorings. The recent challenge is the spiralling price increase in key raw materials like epoxy resin, MDI and polyols as well as the scarcities, which have put the floorings on the back foot. The major challenge is however to sustain our market leadership and pioneering status in the coming years, which itself is a foremost toil in view of many new companies entering into the fray. As a stratagem, we have now espoused segment centric approach, in lieu of geocentric, to target and exploit diverse flooring sub-segments.

 

With price being an important factor in any product, what is your strategy for the volatile market?

With many players in this crowded arena and the price becoming the decisive factor, we have made our strategy to retain our Numero Uno position by going for backward integration. We are the only flooring company in the country to control the whole value chain from conception, development, production and backward integration to sales and flooring installation. Unlike other flooring companies, we have the-state-of-the art reaction plants where we manufacture epoxy curing agents, modified epoxies, colour concentrates, polyurethane prepolymers, polyester polyols etc, which enable us to compete with both the locals and multinationals.

 

Any new product launches from your company , their unique features

Our R&D are incessantly churning out innovative products to meet the present and futuristic challenges. We have recently unveiled MMA floorings in the market which are the rapidest setting floorings available in the market. Also, we are seriously working on Sports floorings, a new domain for us, based on polyurethanes as well as hybrid acrylics. Recently, we launched the first indigenously developed epoxy terrazzo floorings in the country and bagged the esteemed Chennai airport order. 1K, MCU floorings are also being introduced which is quite a rage in the developed countries. We have also developed a hygienic, waterborne polyurethane anti-viral clear coating, engineered to provide exceptional properties to use on all commonly shared surfaces like walls, glass panels, doors, door handles and seatings in hospitals and healthcare facilities. 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. Very shortly, we will be launching non-yellowing PU-Concrete floorings, another first of its kind in the country.

 

Future outlook for the industry and from your company’s perspective

The ramifications of Covid continue to ripple across the world, with the pandemic triggering the greatest global economic crisis since the great recession. IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook reports that this disaster would cost the world economy $28 trillion in lost output for the next five years. In our country, the index of industrial production (IIP) had also plunged to ultra low in June 2020. However, after strong declines in the first two quarters of this fiscal year, the industry is poised to regain its lost ground. GST collections crossing 1 lakh Crore consistently in October and November have warmed everyone’s hearts.

Further, the total production of passenger vehicles, three wheelers, two wheelers and quadricycles in the month of November 2020 was 22,96,701 units, as against 2,258,290 units in November 2019 marking an incremental growth of 1.70%. This is a good news for flooring fraternity, as performance of auto segment is directly proportional to the growth of floorings. As a strategy, we would continue our domineering grip on auto industry, but at the same time, would build our ascendency in F&B, Pharma, hospitals and carpark segments. Further, we are making strong inroads in to decorative floorings so as to become the market leaders for both industrial and commercial flooring segments.




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