07 August 2020


We have a pipeline of new technologies and products to offer in 2014-15



Armacell is a manufacturer of engineered foams and the world leader in the market for flexible technical insulation materials. The company produces thermoplastic insulation materials, covering systems, fire protection and noise control solutions as well as special foams for a multitude of commercial and industrial applications. Armacell in India specialises in the manufacture of thermal and acoustic insulation, edge protection and custom seals and gaskets for original equipment manufacturers which it produces at its Pune based plant, which is also its hub for exports. KESHAB CHOPRA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ARMACELL INDIA PVT. LTD. spoke to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES on the role played by his company in the country’s insulations space and the prospects ahead.




Give us a sense of Armacell’s business focus here in India in the last couple of years against the background of the economic slowdown?


Armacell decided to enter India in 1999 which is when they hired me – I was their first employee. It was decided to set up an insulation business here. At that time the rubber insulation market in India itself was not present. Insulation meant polyurethane foam and fibre glass. The company decided to invest here because it was realised that India would be a key market for the future. They were happy with the feelers they got from the market and in 2004, Armacell decided to invest in a manufacturing facility in India - it was the first global insulation company to do so. So we had a fully-owned subsidiary firm and we set up this manufacturing facility in 2005 and commissioned it in 2006. That was the first stage of our operations. The second stage was when the market really picked up from 2006. It was a case of being at the right place at the right time. We decided to add our capacity in 2009 and commissioned capacity expansion in 2010. Getting to the point you made about the slowdown in the economy although the rate of growth has slowed down in the last two years we do not see as a downturn. Our business has not decreased and we are happy with the growth – it can always be better, yes.




Tell us about the areas of your business?


Our major driver for business is still the construction industry, and it is normally commercial construction which could mean offices, IT parks, hospitals, multi use commercial buildings. Our products are used primarily where there are centralised air conditioning systems. These normally happen in the metropolitan cities. To give you the geographic spread of our business the top 10 cities of India would contribute to most of it. The other business comes from residential and industrial applications. With the standard of living going up, most high-end residential complexes require AC systems so we are also focused there.




Could you talk about your product portfolio?


We make special insulation which is used primarily for lower temperatures applications – below ambient and above ambient as well. Our temperature range can go up to -200, which is really low, to +150. So that gives us advantages in air conditioning, refrigeration, and low temperature applications. Our product itself is foamed rubber for insulation applications, a technology which Armacell developed in 1954, and which has been used by many over a period of time since then. The key for any insulation material is to have the right balance of low thermal conductivity which enables good energy efficiency.

The second is long-term characteristics and the third is good fire behavior, because it is the mechanical and electrical services which are common throughout the building. In India there is no government mandate on fire itself but many private companies, on their own, have very strong requirements on fire and that focus enables us to offer really high quality products to these customers so that people in their facilities really feel safe. If you see campuses of IT companies, they have very high people density with thousands of people concentrated in a small area. A fire outbreak there would be disastrous for anyone of them.  Against that background the kind of products which they select need to have high fire resistance and that is where we come into the picture.



Tell us about the acoustic solutions offered by your company?


We offer acoustic products which are again made from rubber which is the core technology we have.  The customer segments here are commercial constructions as also industrial applications. Our acoustic solutions are very efficient in terms of noise absorption and noise barriers and are used globally by TV channel companies in their studios, the Reliance studios, the Big Cinemas; they are also used in Terminal 3 in New Delhi. I also understand that they are used by well-known personalities in their home theaters and by several celebrities from the film industry. Apart from commercial buildings they are actively used in niche applications because they are extremely reliable and efficient. The product we have in the market in the acoustic segment is Armasound.




Are there acoustics applications in the area of infrastructure?


I would certainly say they have found usage in our airports. They don’t have a presence on Indian roads though. In some countries abroad there are roads that are acoustically treated. However in India, acoustic sensibility—which offers a very high level of comfort—is not high and that has pretty much to do with the evolution of society.




So what is the state of evolution in India as far as your products are concerned?


For India in market terms the primary areas of concern would be fire and security. In India, as a whole, you have different segments with different stages of evolution in terms of requirements of end users for safety and comfort. The large metros are different from the small towns and the villages. We have product categories which can offer each of those; these products address the basic need of availability and efficiency; and we have products which can go beyond high degree of safety and comfort. We also offer value-added products which reduces the skill sets required for application at site, are very easy to install and are very reliable.




What is the advantage Armacell brings to the Indian insulation market?


The USP we bring to the market is reliability of the product. The reliability and consistency with which we make our products is the same every time, this is what Armacell offers. The other set of advantages we bring is technical parameters, innovation and pre and post application support and field support.




Tell us about your manufacturing facilities – also plans to expand or set up new plants in other geographies if any?


Pune is currently the only manufacturing plant we have in the country. We have a fully integrated plant here in Pune where we mix our own raw materials. We have  lines manufacturing Armaflex, lines for our acoustic products and some auxiliary lines. We also export to the other countries from our Pune plant.




What is your view of the opportunities for firms such as yours in growth zones like industrial corridors and smart cities?


There is definitely a great business opportunity there and we are working with the people who are involved in the developments. That is normal part of our business operations but we would like to go beyond that. Our role would also be to highlight to the technical bodies there the kind of specifications that need to go into buildings constructed in these zones. 




What are your strategies to push your products in new markets?


We are already well represented in the top 10 cities where we have business but with the growth of the Indian economy and the percolation of wealth we see an evolution in building standards and comfort levels in B-class cities as well. Therefore, over the last few years, we have created an infrastructure and distribution network to service our prospective customers. We see the percolation happening but it is a slow process and it will take its own time. Right now our products are available, have found usage and people view them as efficient.



What is your outlook for the business through 2014-15?


It is quite positive. However we feel that to continuously grow we need to bring new technologies and products into the market. We have a pipeline of new technologies and products which we are bringing to the market from our parent company. Armacell globally is quite strong in terms of technology. 



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