Sunday, April 21, 2024

Cover Story February 2024

Interaction – Sunny Surlaker, Director, Assess Build Chem February 2024

We cater to the more demanding quality market as we believe in the mantra of “Get Waterproofing Right the First Time”

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, SUNNY SURLAKER, 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.

Waterproofing is an essential component of the building / construction scenario as it looks to enhance 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, helps maintain aesthetics, and promotes health by avoiding moss and fungus growth in the living areas. For Infrastructure, it primarily protects the structures from deteriorating quickly, enhances its service life and reduces maintenance costs. It is thus a key area to maintaining sustainability of structures. Despite the experience with CC and waterproofing, it’s an industry plagued by lack of co-ordination between the users, applicators, and planners, leading to poor outcomes in performance.

The Construction Chemicals (CC) industry is now mature and pegged at roughly `17,000 Crores.  With a CAGR of 17-20%, the pandemic not-withstanding, the waterproofing and the CC industry grew well. Waterproofing will be seen as a key differentiator in terms of quality of construction and the construction industry will henceforth attribute 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 showing a relatively low cost of entry into the market, has prompted many entrepreneurs to enter the field. India being a cost sensitive market, often prompts the users to ignore quality for price, impacting the waterproofing performance and eventually the durability of structures. 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 key challenges in the industry include:

  • Standardization of Products and Systems, as end users cannot discern or compare systems.
  • Specifications for use of waterproofing systems are still “Prescriptive”. Over time we need to move to “Performance” based specifications

Generally, the industry focusses only 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.

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, Plastering Additives, and other specialties.
  2. Crack and Joint Joint Treatment: Expansion Joint Tapes, High Performance Flashing Tapes, Special Mortars, Coatings and Reinforcement Meshes and high-performance injection grouting systems from Rascor and F. Willich.
  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 also provide specialist solutions for heritage structures, whereby we can clean, maintain, repair, waterproof and protect them for future use. All in all, we have a full range of solutions for the construction industry. We manufacture:

  • 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.

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”.

Firstly, 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 range of solutions provide the perfect combination of materials to make our works durable and hence improve our acceptance in the market.

Technical solutions apart, we have a 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.

Advising users on selection of correct / optimal material systems, correct application, and use of correct tools, along with high quality materials for durable waterproofing is what sets us apart. 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.

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 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, improving the structures’ sustainability 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.  

Although 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.

That apart, we constantly research and develop our products to be easy to apply, more robust and cure defect free. Our heritage mortars and specialty mortars are a testament to this. This two-pronged strategy helps us to improve end performance for our material systems.

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 are some of our latest offerings.

That apart we have launched SS – Hydronil PM, a hydrophobic – waterproof breathable mortar for facades and waterproofing protection. 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.  

The major material segment 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. The major demand driver for waterproofing is new construction of 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.

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.

The Indian waterproofing market is now at a turning point in terms of understanding the technology, 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 boost to better waterproofing in the country.

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.

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. Our Sister Concern, Institute for International Talent Development, is also working to certify site personnel, planners, engineers and owners to develop a holistic waterproofing industry to the nation.

Leave a Comment

    Advertiser's Gallery

    Special Focus

    EXCON 2023

    Yet Another Stellar Edition

    Media Partnership

    Issue Archive