21 April 2018

Special Focus- Floorings Industrial

The floor test

 

Along with the ascent of  new technologies there has been a growing emphasis on sustainability and durability  in the industrial flooring market. VEENA KURUP examines the market trends.

 

One of the few areas of construction witnessing a sea-change in structural advancement is beneath our feet – flooring, to give it a name.  Apart from refining the structural appeal it has also brought in a new dimension to what was once considered as a plain gray substrate. Though at a  nascent stage when compared with the large spectrum of construction chemicals  a discernible shift towards growth is being witnessed in the flooring industry.

 

As per the Specialty Chemicals report released by FICCI, the flooring sector contributes to about 14 per cent of the total construction chemical industry revenues. The report values the revenue generated from the total construction chemical segment at Rs.3600 crore, of which the flooring industry is placed at about Rs.500 crore. Among tthe specialty flooring solutions which  cater to a variety  of sectors,  a sub-segment witnessing increasing mass popularity is the industrial section.  Global construction companies foraying into the Indian market are now  increasingly  setting  up  manufacturing units this is today a major demand driver for the industrial flooring segment.

 

Merchandising Green Phase

Industrial flooring compounds are mostly epoxy and polyurethane based  arwhich meet the  demands of resistant surfaces in tough working conditions. Industrial flooring compounds are generally used  to address abrasion, load impact, chemical attacks, moisture penetration, strengthening of damaged floors, as well as in improving the aesthetic appeal. In addition,  technical developments have enabled these flooring compounds to  have  special surface abilities which  ensure slip resistance, static resistance, fire resistance, antibacterial resistance and even energy and sound resistance.

 

A prime necessity to utilise such specialty chemical solutions is the common phenomena of corrosion. According to NACE International’s US Corrosion Study, the direct cost of metallic corrosion is $276 billion annually, representing 3.1 per cent of the US Gross Domestic Product . However, unlike damage accruing from  natural calamities,  corrosion concerns can be effectively addressed  at a cost. Industry analysts aver that a third of this cost can be saved by the utilisation of current technologies and through customer awareness. By restricting the ingress of moisture,  flooring solutions provide a ‘sealed’ structure to make the surface resistant from corrosion.

 

Durability and sustainability are the  key words today in construction. Concrete structures are being designed with a 100-150 year design life. This can be achieved only when the concrete floor is protected with correct flooring systems. Technology, while has refined the structural appeal of construction activities, has also escalated  concerns towards protecting Earth’s  resources. In this new phase of construction Green is the  driving mantra. A very recent and evolving product innovation  are solvent-free industrial flooring compounds.

Sustainability is a key factor for product development at MC-Bauchemie (India) Pvt Ltd. The speciality chemicals major  ensures that  all the  industrial flooring compounds it produces are totally solvent-free and REACH Compliant.  “In our experience, our flooring systems themselves have shown a life in excess of 15 years on some structures. If the system can last that long, the structure it protects can have a virtually inexhaustible design life,”  says Sunny Surlaker, Head, Admixtures Division, MC-Bauchemie (India) Pvt Ltd.

 

A  recent entrant into the Indian industrial flooring segment, Flowcrete, too abides by the same philosophy of functioning as per the green-approach. M Vivekanandan, Managing Director, Flowcrete India Pvt Ltd., is led to say, “Our water based and low VOC formulations result in less Ozone pollution, and also ensure fewer emission of smog forming chemicals,”  In addition, the flooring compound major also provides solutions like Flowsport, Mondeco, Isocrete, Flowfresh and Isowarm from recycled materials enabling it to considerably save the natural resources and structures more energy efficient. 

 

 

Speciality chemicals firm Chowgule, which will be soon completing 100 years of its operations, is also treading the  green path of solvent-free industrial flooring products. Totally solvent-free products are manufactured without involving nonylphenol and alkylphenol compounds.Energy efficient floors catering to the environmental and operational needs of the industrial sector are  also being  welcomed by architect community today. Effective flooring compounds, apart from adding an aesthetic appeal also make the surface areas  load and energy resistant. The compounds offering such resistant abilities are being highly recommended  by the architects involved in industrial construction, as they contribute positively towards maintaining  inner-working conditions. “Green is the   epicentre of construction today. Contractors have well understood the importance of flooring compounds with low VOC or zero VOC abilities, however a major concern is on  the availability of skilled labour in the application front,” says  Sandeep Shikre, LEED AP, President & CEO, SSA Architects.

 

Challenges & opportunities ahead

Lack of awareness and availability of skilled labour are the principal problems  facig  the industrial flooring segment. The sector today has workers who represent two ends of the spectrum. While a  few contractors  display tremendous technical skills others simply follow construction procedures without thinking of the technical ramifications. Since many projects demand very quick turnaround, the inability to fulfil  technical requirements lead to several bad practices which lead to failure. 

 

Improper installations coupled with low thickness floorings leading to floor failures, lack of professionals in installation despite the availability of quality resin products and presence of low cost epoxy resins etc can be outlined as the few other major hindrances faced in the flooring market.

 

Surlaker points out a bad practice common to his industry, “A moisture barrier is often a missing element in industrial floorings.Resin based floorings are often applied without cross checking the moisture-content of the concrete floor or the ambient dew-point, scratch coats and levelling coats to even out the floors are generally missing from the specifications.”

 

The solution here is to  raise awareness and the  Construction Chemical Manufacturer’s Association (CCMA) has embraced the education agenda to achieve the desired results.

 

The presence of unorganised manufacturers in the sector is the other major concern impacting the introduction of new advanced flooring solutions. This  forces  the customers to opt for low cost products as against products ensuring total warranty based compounds.  Hence, despite the availability of quality products the lack of trained  sealant applicators affect the quality of structure  considerably.  A few manufactures however are involved in  converting these hurdles into opportunities. Chowgule ABP focuses on serving its customers as a complete end-to-end solution provider, with its  team monitoring the entire installation process.

 

The emphasis now for flooring compound manufacturers is on product innovation – which takes into account issues like sustainability, green and corrosion, not to mention the cost factor.

 

Given the low awareness and price sensitive  nature of the Indian market, the main challenge is to get consumers to accept products which, while seemingly expensive, are  invaluable while considering the long-term benefits.

 

The Indian government’s initiatives towards favouring the construction of eco-structures, implementation of National Building Code and Green Certifications for  the industrial and manufacturing sector is expected to further brighten the prospects for the flooring market. The growing focus towards development of Special Economic Zones, Industrial Hubs, machine run or automated manufacturing facilities etc is also expected to boost the growth  of the flooring segment across  India. Despite  the  the technological best practices being introduced in the the flooring market, standardisation still pose as a major challenge when it comes to  wide-spread  acceptance of  solutions. Hence, it is of utmost importance for governing and regulatory bodies to come together in defining quality standards for industrial flooring segments. This will aid the sector in preventing  the inflow of  sub-standard products in the flooring market. 

 

Growth Drivers

  • Strong marketing & increased customer awareness
  • Skill development among workers
  • Product innovation
  • Low cost products
  • Adoption of modern techniques for delivery
  • Increased infrastructural investments
  • Policies for promotion of construction chemicals
  • Define quality standards

 




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