Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Construction & Waterproofing

Assess Build Chem February 2023

The USP of our solutions is that we recommend an entire system as opposed to only a single product

Assess Build Chem Private Limited provides Modern construction chemical solutions such as Admixtures, Concreting Aids, Waterproofing, Repairs, Protection, Flooring and Specialty Materials for application in Building Construction, Infrastructure (roads, airports, ports, railways), Water and Wastewater Treatment, Energy Sector and Power Plants, Industrial Structures and Heritage Structures. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, SAMIR SURLAKER, FOUNDER & DIRECTOR, ASSESS BUILD CHEM PRIVATE LIMITED, speaks about the latest trends in the waterproofing industry, his company’s product offerings, demand drivers and a lot more.

Give us an overview of the CC & Waterproofing chemicals market in India, latest trends, and market dynamics.

Waterproofing is an essential for any building / or construction, new or old, as it enhances the life cycle of construction as well as provide an aesthetic, healthy lifestyle within the building environment. Good waterproofing enhances durability of the building, enhances fire and structural safety, maintains aesthetics, and promotes health by avoiding moss and fungus growth in the living areas. For Infrastructure projects, it primarily protects the structures from deteriorating quickly, enhances its service life and reduces maintenance costs. Despite our experience with waterproofing and the fact that the construction industry has been working in this field and with materials for many years, good waterproofing remains an enigma. This is primarily due to a lack of official guidelines / codes and standards as well as the large variety of materials available in the industry.

The construction industry is aware of Construction Chemicals. As an industry, we started gaining traction in the last 10 to 15 years. As construction grew and became more organized, the CC industry too grew at roughly 15% to 18% percent over the last many years. The pandemic not-withstanding, the waterproofing along with the CC industry will grow. Waterproofing is becoming a key differentiator in terms of quality of construction and the real estate industry is now attributing much more importance to proper waterproofing.

The waterproofing industry is split into the materials industry [a part of Construction Chemicals] and the application industry. Both segments of waterproofing, need a relatively low cost of entry into the market. This has prompted many entrepreneurs to enter the field. India is a cost sensitive market, leading end users to ignore quality for price. This mindset often ignores life cycle cost of the product and looks merely at the initial costing, posing a key challenge for the industry. Some other challenges in the industry include:

  • Standardization of Products and Systems
  • Specifications for use of waterproofing systems is still “Prescriptive”. Over time we need to move to “Performance” based specifications

Latest trends in the industry have been focussing a lot on material performance, rather than a combination of machinery, materials, and manpower. The need for good applicators is equal to the requirement for good materials in the industry.

Detail us on the range of CC & Waterproofing chemicals and its applications offered by your company.

Assess Build Chem Private Limited prides itself on being a solution-driven company and believes in addressing waterproofing by addressing the key areas of water ingress, namely:

  1. Capillaries and Voids in the concrete body itself
  2. Joints [Construction and Expansion]
  3. Cracks and Surface Defects

Our waterproofing solutions range right from:

  1. Concrete and Mortar Improvement: Integral Waterproofing Additives and Admixtures, Crystalline Systems, Admixtures for Plastering, and other specialties.
  2. Joint Treatment: Expansion Joint Tapes, High Performance Flashing Tapes, Special Mortars, Coatings and Reinforcement Meshes and high-performance injection grouting systems from reliable European partners such as F. Willich and Co. and Rascor GmbH.
  3. High performance barrier coatings: Acrylic and PU Coatings to Crystalline Systems, to cater to every kind of situation.

We also work a lot in substrate improvement in terms of providing solutions for repair and rehabilitation, such as structural repair mortars, micro-concretes and concrete cosmetic mortars. We provide special solutions for heritage structures, such as Lime Mortars, Lime Injection Grouts, Stone Densifiers, Chemical DPCs and Sealers, using which, we can clean, repair, waterproof and protect them for future use. We manufacture a full range of solutions for the construction industry:

  • Concrete and Mortar Additives
  • Concreting and Finishing Aids
  • Waterproofing Systems
  • Tile and Stone Fixing Solutions
  • Sealers and Cleaners
  • Industrial Products like Grouts
  • Floor Hardeners and Polishing Aids
  • Repair of Concrete & Heritage Structures
  • Anti-Carbonation Coatings
  • Soil Stabilization systems

We also provide injection grouting solutions for Sealing, Ground Consolidation and Soil Stabilisation. These products are used in Tunnelling, Metro, Building & Industrial Projects worldwide to solve very challenging problems in water ingress or soil stabilization. These solutions include Polyurethane Foams, Flexible, Structural and Special Polyurethanes Resins for Waterproofing, repairs and slab lifting, Methacrylate Gels and Polymer Reinforced Gels for Curtain Grouting / Expansion Joints and Silicate Resins for Cavity Filling, Slab Lifting and Anchor Fixing in tunnels and foundations. We encourage end users and consultants to ask us for solutions specific to their needs and we help them with complete solutions.

What are the USP’s of your products/solutions. Advantages of using your CC & Waterproofing chemicals in terms of savings on construction cost, time, and labour.

Our products are produced in a controlled environment, with the highest quality raw materials available. Our products are designed and enhanced for easier application and based on our knowledge of waterproofing materials and the application expertise of our Applicators, we are in a unique position to design and recommend waterproofing solutions for any type of construction. Viz. Buildings, Industrial or Infrastructure. With a deep understanding of materials, we also tailor-make solutions for unique projects. Hence our motto “Let us be your knowledge partners for the correct usage of construction chemicals”.

The USP of our solutions is that we recommend an entire system as opposed to only a single product, as we believe in following the principles of Civil Engineering. Our complete range of products consists of the systems provide the perfect combination of materials to make our works durable and hence our acceptance in the market.

Technical solutions apart, tremendous consistency in manufacturing, quick turn-around times for dispatch and high degree of quality control have been a hallmark of our fast-increasing repute in the market. In addition, Assess Build Chem focusses extensively on training. Basic videos to explain concepts to training on-site and internationally for our application partners, we believe in discussing the correct solutions with our clients and application partners and this makes us unique in our approach to solving constructional problems.

We constantly upgrade our material performance. For e.g. our cementitious systems are inching closer to acrylics in performance and acrylics are inching closer to basic PU Coatings. The industry will get much higher performance at a lower cost and that will lead to much more user friendly, economical, and durable waterproofing solutions.

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

Our company is a believer, and our promoters are some of the first people in the industry to focus on sustainability, environment, and innovation. Most of our product systems are so developed, to minimize the use of high VOC ingredients in our formulations. Most of our bulk raw materials are sourced locally to minimize the impact of transportation on its carbon footprint. Our materials are designed to have a long performance life and help the structure be maintained with lowest resource requirements, making the structure sustainable. The products being environmentally friendly have the same impact as concrete, even when the structure is demolished, leading the structure to remain green through its service life.

In addition, our innovations such as green concrete technology [concrete with low cement contents and ingredients from local sources (local crushed sand)], temperature reducing coatings, additives to use crushed sand / industrial waste for plastering and concrete products, mineral systems to resist acid attacks, curing compounds that save water and other similar systems do make an impact on structures to render them green, sustainable, and durable.

We are also making strides into better surface preparation with High performance, environmentally friendly, water-based coating removers and noise and vibration free, soundless, concrete, and stone breaking / demolition agents. These are fit to prepare surfaces for old structures without use of vibratory or cutting tools, thereby preserving integrity of the structure.

Challenges faced in terms of availability of skilled labor in your industry and how to overcome them.

Although are material systems are developed, tested, and verified for performance, in waterproofing, the application of these material systems is equally important. Availability of skilled labour, especially for our application partners is a perpetual challenge. We believe in training to alleviate this to a certain degree. Application workshops for engineers, supervisors and on-site helps us to discuss and share new ideas and perspectives in application, develop new specifications and methodologies and overall help us to deliver a better experience for the end customer.

We are also connected to the Institute for International Talent Development (IITD), who in association with the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) is now making large strides in training, testing and certification of skilled waterproofing personnel. The joint initiative will train waterproofing professionals and entrepreneurs to advance their skills in structural waterproofing. The main objective of the program is to help participants upskill or launch startups in Waterproofing. The highlight of the program was a joint CIDC-IITD certification provided to the participants. This Certification places the attendees in CIDC’s national database, recognizes their qualifications, improves their skills, and their employability. CIDC and IITD both aim to expand the footprints of this program across India. These certifications will soon become mandatory in tenders of known private and public organizations such as CPWD, PWD, MES, etc.

This would be a huge step to alleviate the challenge of availability of skilled labour.

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

We have a host of modern technology products on offer for the market. Special additives for the concrete block, precast and concrete products industry from our SS – ConCast Range, modern plaster additives like SS – PlastProof IL that can help use of crushed sand and convert hand applied plasters to spray plasters that crack less and need less curing, high performance integral waterproofing additives such as SS – ConProof CR are some of our latest offerings.

That apart we have launched SS – Hydronil PM, a hydrophobic – waterproof breathable mortar for facades and waterproofing protection. This product is making excellent strides in repair and waterproofing of water tanks and water retaining structures. It is mineral, breathable, waterproof upto 5 bars and can be finished to a smooth surface for easy cleanability.

We also offer special systems for Heritage Structures such as OPC free lime-based mortars and injection grouts [SS – HistoRep and SS – HistoFill Ranges], along with specialty coating removers and sealers. That apart specialty soil stabilization solutions [SS – SoilSeal Range] and injection grouting solutions remain the mainstay of our specialized materials to solve a variety of constructional problems. Incrementally we have upgraded performance on almost all our waterproofing and repair products.

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?

The Indian waterproofing market is at a turning point in terms of understanding the waterproofing segment, price, and quality. This is a time when the market is flooded with cheap imports and me-too products, with lesser focus on material properties, testing, certification, and application techniques.

This makes it a challenge to introduce high technology products in the market. The high-tech products make application easier and last much longer but may be pricier. The low-price products available make similar claims but may not stand up to testing under rigorous international codes. The cost factor tends to equalize the products, without considering the life cycle cost of using a much better product. So, to introduce high end products is challenging, but will gain traction as life-cycle costs, ease of application and durability become the key parameters driving purchase decisions.

The Indian waterproofing segment can be divided into:

  1. a price market where any product or low-quality application is acceptable if it costs less,
  2. a quality market, where product performance according to global standards is very important.

We cater to the more demanding quality market as we believe in the mantra of “Get Waterproofing Right the First Time”. In such a market although price does influence the customer’s purchasing decision, the focus is more on correct high-quality materials and impeccable application.

Which sectors are major demand drivers for CC & Waterproofing chemicals in India.

The major material segments for the CC industry is still admixtures, followed by tiling, dry-mix products, waterproofing, flooring, and repairs. With the growing investment in construction that India is seeing, the opportunities for the construction chemicals (CC) industry to grow is tremendous. As always, the major demand driver for waterproofing is new construction in buildings, followed by Infrastructure. New Metros, Road, Rail, Airports and Water Supply and Treatment projects will drive the major demand for waterproofing, especially waterproofing additives, joint treatments, and injection grouting systems.

Programs such as the PM Awas Yojana (PMAY) will boost demand in the building construction industry as well. The industrial sector has been on an even keel the last few years, but greater international investment in India may change this help drive up the demand for waterproofing in this segment too. We also expect remedial waterproofing to grow into a segment in the years as maintenance of structures take centre-stage.

Brief us on your manufacturing facilities and expansion plans.

Our products are manufactured in well-equipped Plant in Goa under strict quality control using State-of-Art Technology and Quality Assurance Systems. We are also an accredited ISO 9001:2015 Company, which helps us maintain quality across the products and services.

We are comfortable in terms of capacity to meet the demand for materials in the coming years. We are expanding our Goa plant to a big and modern facility, which would be supported by a state-of-the-art-training centre and laboratory for better interaction with our customers.

Once demands pick up, we can leverage the capacity of our additional plant at Gujarat. With the two facilities in Goa and the one in Gujarat, we are confident of providing our customers with their needs in terms of both quality and quantity as they have come to expect from us.

As far as the product lines go, we are continuously improving our product lines to meet the stringent market demands. We believe further capacity expansion in terms of R&D projects and improving market reach are needed. These steps will help us move forward positively. Expanding our reach is also something we are continuously improving on.

What sort of government initiatives or measures will boost the Construction & Waterproofing industry in India.

The Indian waterproofing market is now at a turning point in terms of understanding the waterproofing segment, price, and quality. This is a time when the market is flooded with cheap imports and me-too products, with lesser focus on material properties, testing, certification, and application techniques. The government of course has been propagating the Make in India program, but generally the acceptance of MSME manufacturers has not seen the same response. As such it becomes a challenge to introduce indigenous products in large scale projects.

The waterproofing material industry still relies heavily on imports for solutions. The government should assist the CC industry to encourage R&D and manufacturing high technology products in India. The price sensitivity of the end users also makes it a challenge to introduce high technology products in the market. The high-tech products make application easier and last much longer but may be pricier. The low-price products available make similar claims but may not stand up to testing under rigorous international codes. So, a MSME first, R&D backed policy from the Government can give a fillip to better waterproofing in the country.

In addition, a focus on utilizing more of “certified” waterproofing professionals in government projects will fillip higher quality waterproofing and construction.

We cater to the more demanding quality market as we believe in the mantra of “Get Waterproofing Right the First Time”. In such a market although price does influence the customer’s purchasing decision, the focus is more on correct high-quality materials and impeccable application.

Future outlook on the industry and from a company perspective.

The Indian Waterproofing and CC industry is progressing well. The top material solution providers and application machinery suppliers are introducing the latest technologies worldwide to India and are customizing them for use in local conditions. Standards for use (IS Codes) are rapidly evolving and we often practically use international codes to bridge gaps for our construction.

We are now doing much more local research as opposed to the last decade to improve product quality, robustness, and ease of application. From a company perspective, this is a positive trend as we are in the high-technology segment of waterproofing systems. The acceptability of new technology will drive forward our growth in the waterproofing segment of the CC industry.

The focus on sustainability and durability is also increasing and customers are becoming aware of the latest materials and application technology. Standardization, evolution of codes of practice, focus on sustainability and increasing awareness along with cutting edge technology will be keywords in the development of the waterproofing industry and will drive growth tremendously in the years to come.

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