23 October 2019

Industry Focus-Scaffolding & Formwork

India offers enormous opportunities

 

In the construction industry, scaffolding refers to a temporary platform or structure that are erected with the help of wooden planks, bamboo poles or metal frames, on which workers stand or sit, while building, repairing, cleaning or attending to other tasks above the ground level. Likewise, the construction teams use formwork as temporary or permanent casings when they have to mould wet concrete or hold it in place until it hardens enough to the desired level so that it can support its own shape and weight, reports Suresh R Menon.

 

Lately, with time-saving techniques becoming the norm for construction activities, modernizing of traditional scaffolding and formwork business has gained relevance. During the last few years, this industry has witnessed a lot of innovations both in technique as well as materials used in the business. Simultaneously, cost-effective scaffolding and formwork solutions that allow companies to achieve economies of scale in the construction industry have seen a surge in demand. Furthermore, longer life and reusability factor of scaffolding and formwork solutions also save on costs. With labour safety issues becoming critical, use of conventional scaffolding material is all but dead.

 

The advancement seen in scaffolding and formwork products has made construction processes both convenient and economical. For example, development and use of lightweight, handheld aluminium formwork have made monolithic concreting a huge success. In urban areas, where space is scarce and demand for housing is high, monolithic construction has emerged as the new age solution to the problem.

 

As in the case of most industries, competition, chiefly from multinational players, has compelled local manufacturers to develop affordable products and systems as an answer to all kinds of construction. Galvanized scaffolding, construction fencing and road barriers, aluminium ladders, safety products like welder helmets, goggles and gloves are also some of the products that scaffolding companies manufacture.

 

IMPORTANCE OF SCAFFOLDING & FORMWORK

Whether a project is small or large, scaffolding equipment is always needed as it is the most important construction tool involving the safety of workers. Scaffolding allows employees to navigate safely around tall structures, thus creating a secure workplace. Meanwhile, formwork is used as a mould for structures wherein fresh concrete is added for eventual hardening. In a conventional concrete construction, 20 per cent of the standard cost can be attributed to formwork.

A good formwork system is the one that is robust enough to withstand load and facilitate speedy and safe execution of reinforced concrete construction. Once a project is over, formwork needs to be removed. The process of removing the formwork is called stripping. Nowadays companies go for reusable stripped formwork to minimize costs. Reusable formworks are called panel forms while the fixed ones are called stationary formwork. Types of formwork available today include traditional timber formwork, re-usable formwork, engineered formwork, permanent insulated formwork, precast concrete or fiberglass form that is used either independently or in combination.

 

 

GROWTH POTENTIAL & MARKET SIZE

With government promising to fast-track projects as well as construction companies looking to minimize costs, the scaffolding and formwork industry is headed towards rapid expansion. In 2012, aluminium formwork in India grew its market share to 13.5 per cent from 9.2 per cent in 2010. According to industry insiders, this segment is expected to grow at a rate of 25 per cent annually from 2013 to 2016 to cater to the dearth of livable housing units. The shortage as of 2013 was estimated at 2.4 million housing units.

Under the circumstances, construction activities will propel demand for scaffolding and formwork industry in the years to come. Currently, the market size is pegged at over `800 crore and the space is teeming with local and pan-Indian players. Our government is also doing its best to promote the local players by offering cheaper equipment loans through state-run institutions.

 

 

CHALLENGES

In recent times, the need to have customized formwork solutions has increased tremendously. A discerning customer is the biggest challenge facing this industry. Such customers prefer deploying automated formwork systems because they are reliable, safer and qualitatively superior. Thus, scaffolding and formwork manufacturers have to offer equipment that is easier to handle, reusable, high on efficiency, can withstand various types of construction processes and also command a competitive rate.

Shortage of manpower that is well-trained and can handle modern equipment is also a big challenge for the industry. Acute labour shortfall has added to the pressure on manufacturers whose margins are squeezed by rising construction costs. Another challenge facing the scaffolding and formwork market is its unorganized nature. Although entry of global manufacturers has brought in a semblance of discipline, a certification body for all formwork manufacturers is needed to ascertain quality. The formwork industry is fed by activities in the construction sector, which itself is impacted by economic upturn and downturn. With too many players vying for projects, a delay or suspension of construction activities can easily set the scaffolding and formwork industry back by many months. During the last couple of years, the scaffolding business witnessed a serious dip owing to a lull in construction activities. However, with the government announcing stimulus via attractive schemes, clearance of old stalled projects, etc, the scaffolding industry is seeing a new round of bidding.

 

 

KEY PLAYERS IN THE INDUSTRY

RMD Kwikform India, MFE Formwork Technology (Mivan), Doka India, Peri India, Layher Scaffolding Systems,
Nav Nirman Formwork Systems, Paschal and ULMA are among the key players in this field engaged in manufacture and supply of formwork and scaffolding systems for construction sites.

MFE Formwork Technology or Mivan is clearly ahead of the curve by hogging nearly 50 per cent share in India's aluminium formwork market. The company has its footprints in over 20 countries. Meanwhile, Doka India is very popular amongst businesses because of its comprehensive value-added services. Besides scaffolding and formwork systems, the company also offers consulting, planning and other ancillary services.

 

 

FORMWORK SYSTEMS

Currently, there are four distinct formwork systems in place globally. They are:

Mascon Construction System: Developed by a Canadian engineer WJ Malone in the late 1970s, this system is generally used for forming the cast-in-place concrete structure of a building. Being cost-effective, adaptable and simple to use, Mascon Construction System is widely used all over the world. As much as 90 per cent of this system constitutes aluminium.

MFE Formwork Technology: Formally known as Mivan, this formwork construction system finds wide acceptance in India. Primarily made from aluminium, this system is highly cost-efficient as it can be reused more than 250 times. So despite the initial cost appearing high, the ultimate cost for each square feet of forming area works out comparatively lower when compared to traditional methods.

Paschal System: The uniqueness of products under this system is they can be used in craneless sites. Additionally, they seamlessly fit in places where use of aluminium is restricted. They have recently forayed into India by opening their first production and distribution facility in Visakhapatnam. They mainly focus on products comprising modular universal formwork and innovative modular slab formwork.

Peri Group: They are the Uno Monolithic Housing Formwork specialists. This system is widely used, where large numbers of residential units with identical dimensions are extended vertically and horizontally. Peri is among the world’s biggest players offering formwork and scaffolding systems and has 55 subsidiaries. The Group has handled prestigious projects in Sweden, Canada and Russia. This exposure makes Peri one-of-a-kind in masterly execution of twisted skyscrapers, which are gaining popularity in space-starved cities.

 

 

COMPETITION

With rising construction activities, competition among scaffolding manufacturers is increasing. The market is being driven by those customers who want to hire companies that offer value-added services. In a bid to become the most sought after, manufacturers are turning into active value-added providers for effective implementation of their formwork assignment. These value-added services include offering products like climbing, load bearing, safety, floor and wall systems, in addition to the main formwork products. Many also offer consultation services.

Several formwork companies are also investing in skilled labour force. With massive shift in technology, where systems are getting automated, skilled labourers are required to handle these products. Furthermore, there is competition from multinational players since India appeals to every global player for its still under-tapped construction market.

All global scaffolding and formwork biggies worth their salt have either set up their own manufacturing units or have tied up with regional players to tap the Indian market. Apart from bringing in the latest technology, these scaffolding companies are also offering value-added services to bag projects. Thus, in the prevailing circumstances, a combination of technology, skilled labour, cost-effective systems and value-added services are required to keep oneself abreast of competition.

 

 

FUTURE OF SCAFFOLDING & FORMWORK INDUSTRY

With emphasis on construction and infrastructural development, FDI in retail, the much-debated Land Acquisition Bill and higher target for PPP infrastructure projects, India presents manifold opportunities to scaffolding and formwork manufacturers. In the wake of ongoing and new project announcements, scaffolding manufacturers have picked up pace in sync with the construction industry. Like their counterparts in the developed countries, Indian construction sector too prefer using world-class technologies that are economical and easy to operate. One of the areas that is propelling demand for scaffolding and formwork manufacturers is the spurt in high-rise projects. To facilitate work on such projects, formwork manufacturers have focused on developing hydraulically-operated climbing formwork that is in great demand since it enables building-contractors save time and meet project deadlines. Since modern metros are low on space and high in housing requirement, the trend of building high-rises will continue in the near future.

Besides, high-rises in space-crunched cities, affordable housing for masses is also driving demand for formwork suppliers in urban, semi-urban and even rural India. Thus, this segment has got a new lease of life with the government announcing ‘Housing for All’ schemes, which is encouraging real estate construction in tier-II and tier-III cities and towns. The move has, consequently, spiked demand for formwork manufacturers. With metros experiencing a relative lull in construction activities, scaffolding and formwork manufacturers are channelizing their resources to strengthen their dealer and service network in relatively smaller cities and towns.

 

 

KEY PLAYERS

  • RMD Kwikform India,
  • MFE Formwork Technology (Mivan),
  • Doka India,
  • Peri India,
  • Layher Scaffolding Systems,
  • Nav Nirman Formwork Systems,
  • Paschal
  • ULMA



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