21 November 2018

Table of Contents for Industry Focus: Construction Chemicals

Interaction- Samir Surlaker, Director, Assess Buildchem Pvt Ltd And Advisor, CCMA

The construction chemical industry has  come up to age in India


Over the years, the Construction Chemicals industry has seen development from a product based sale to a performance based sale and the future will be dominated by easy to use products and dry-mix / ready to use products. SAMIR SURLAKER, DIRECTOR, ASSESS BUILDCHEM PVT LTD AND ADVISOR, CCMA speaks to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES on the progress of the industry, major demand drivers for CC in India, role of R&D and the future outlook and the future trends of the Construction Chemicals Industry



With the CC market to grow at over 15 per cent by 2020, how do you assess the market in India in terms of cost/quality equations, sector challenges, and growth prospects?


Construction Chemicals as a whole exist to address the shortcomings of reinforced concrete and help to increase the durability of RCC Structures by mitigating corrosion and deterioration. Today, quality, speed, economy and durability are demanded of construction. These qualities can only be achieved by efficient use of construction chemicals. All old structures when due for Repairs will have to use the Construction Chemicals. In addition, Construction Chemicals engulf a large range of products for every industry in India. With growing infrastructure, construction chemicals are used in Concrete and this would mean the usage would be tremendous in Roads, irrigation projects, power sector, railways etc. The field of waterproofing, flooring, industrial construction, too is seeing a positive upswing. The growth in the construction industry, combined with the increasing demand for faster and safer construction, will propel the growth of the construction chemicals industry.


The primary challenge in the growth of this sector still remains low awareness of correct usage of Construction Chemicals. Besides this some of the other key challenges remain:


  • Low awareness about the correct usage of Construction Chemicals and their incorporation into General Construction
  • Standardization of Products and Systems is a concern, end users cannot discern or compare systems
  • Specifications for use of construction chemicals is still “Prescriptive”. Over time we need to move to “Performance” based specifications
  • The fragmented nature of the industry, with a large number of players in the unorganized sector
  • Cost sensitivity of the end-user as opposed to measuring the benefits provided by correct usage of Construction Chemicals


Quality-wise, the industry has definitely seen an upswing with local manufacturer’s now investing in R&D to meet quality standards of their international counterparts. Keeping these points in mind, the industry is definitely poised to grow, only the Y-O-Y rate of growth being a factor of the construction industry influences.



Having been a part of the CC industry for a few decades, can you list down the progress of the industry over these years?


The remaining professionals from my generation fondly remember laying the foundation stones for the industry in India. The focus at the time was introducing a product system into the construction system, where none existed. Once this awareness of different types of construction chemicals were laid, usage starting becoming more mainstream, especially with the bigger construction companies across India.


Today Admixtures, Curing Compounds, Structural Grouts, Waterproofing and Epoxy Flooring systems have come into its own, with these systems almost becoming commodities today. On the technical front, construction chemicals have become easier to use, more robust and offer a lot more benefits for the same cost. Quality Control, Production Machinery and Systems, R&D improved drastically. Our raw material suppliers too are taking a cue from this and are introducing the latest generation materials to incorporate into our products. Awareness about the product systems is also improving. The formation of the Construction Chemicals Manufacturers’ Association (CCMA) will inject a lot of standardization and quality into the industry.


Over the years, the industry has seen development from a product based sale to a performance based sale and the future will be dominated by easy to use products and dry-mix / ready to use products. Reducing application labour, use of improved machinery and multi-functional products will usher in the next era in the field of Construction Chemicals.




Which sectors are major demand drivers for CC in India?


The major segments in the industry still remain admixtures, followed by tiling and dry-mix products, waterproofing and flooring follow these segments. Repair and rehabilitation holds the smallest revenue share in the industry, but may see a big boost soon based on government incentives for rehabilitation and maintenance of bridges.


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 is new construction primarily in Infrastructure followed by Building Construction. New Metros, Road, Rail, Airports and Water Supply and Treatment projects will drive the major demand for Construction Chemicals. Programs such as the PM AwasYojana (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 Construction Chemicals in this segment too.


Due to efforts of CCMA and our member companies, the awareness about construction chemicals and their correct usage is also growing. This allows our playing field to expand tremendously. Construction Chemicals are no longer synonymous with only concrete admixtures and waterproofing, but the image is also expanding to meet new and varied fields like machinery foundations, soil stabilization, protective coatings, repair systems, rehabilitation of heritage structures, beautiful floorings, chemically resistive coatings, plasters, tile fixing solutions, screeds and the like.




Are there any challenges involved in the CC industry — policy, implementation? How do we need to tackle them?


Being part of the Construction and the chemical industry simultaneously, presents us with a set of challenges very unique to the CC industry. The construction chemical (CC) industry, though present for over 30 years in India has seen very limited growth. Even today, with more people aware of us, we are still dubbed as a rising industry. Paints, Cement, Concrete, etc. as industries have by-far overtaken Construction Chemicals both in terms of Revenue and Visibility. This is a challenge that we have to overcome, to enter into the ambit of higher authorities recognizing the industry enough to plan some policies and their implementation. Even new initiatives like GST was difficult to implement for the industry, as there was no unified classification for the industry, and this lead to some discord in the way different companies classify their products.


The small size of the industry keeps us below the government’s vision for upcoming industries. Wheels are in motion to interest our Government in accepting Construction Chemicals as a recognized industry segment; back us with incentives and rationalization of Government taxes, duties and levies. Tax breaks in GST for the construction chemicals industry would be a big boost for us, since most construction in India is still a cost sensitive market for construction chemicals. Getting materials to the end users at lower cost with fewer burdens on manufacturers will boost the growth of the industry as a whole. It would also help boost performance and quality in construction.


In this regard, we plan to communicate views of Construction Chemicals manufacturers and end users to central and state Governments by taking help of FICCI, CII etc. Of course as the awareness grows, the market will get bigger. With that we hope the challenges of getting recognition and having policies affecting the industry will become easier to implement.




Your comments on the efforts taken by Indian construction chemical companies on the R&D front.


The construction chemical industry has come up to age in our country. Overall in the organized sector the quality of construction chemicals is quite at par with international counterparts. All system like QA/QC, ISO 9001, 14000, etc. are in place. The entry of multinationals in this field with direct access to international technology has raised the bar of quality. This was to be met by local manufacturers, who are also constantly improving in this area.


R&D in our field has been active as ever. A relatively open import policy has opened doors to availability of extremely modern materials in India. This coupled with Indian Ingenuity has taken R&D efforts far in our country. Even smaller players in the market today have basic concrete and mortar laboratories to evaluate effects of their materials on construction.


Many players are working with universities and academia to ensure academic research can be applied to the field. With this trend we believe, India can become a world standard in cutting edge development of construction chemicals. We believe, raising the standards within the industry itself will holistically improve usage statistics of CC in the construction industry.




How do you expect the market for construction chemicals to shape up in the coming years?


CCMA has about 50 member companies at the moment, representing about 80 per cent of the total business. For the past five years the growth rate for the industry is roughly 17 per cent CAGR based on available figures. The projected growth rate for this sector could be CAGR of over 20 per cent , in the near future. With the growing investment in construction that India is seeing, the opportunities for the construction chemicals (CC) industry to grow is tremendous. Due to efforts of CCMA and our member companies, the awareness about construction chemicals and their correct usage is also growing. This allows our playing field to expand tremendously.


We hope that with increasing government investment in infrastructure as well as building construction and industries, the industry is only set to grow. That gives us time to come forward with standardized product systems, that are durable as well as sustainable and environmentally friendly.




Your views on the future outlook and the future trends.


The time is ripe for the industry, when the top players 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. There is also standardization and technical backup in terms of products from the top International and National Players in the CC Field. Quality Control and Application technologies in the country too are evolving. We are now doing much more local research as opposed to the last decade to improve product quality and robustness.


Sustainable construction should aim at reducing the environmental impact of a building over its entire life cycle, including construction, occupation, maintenance and demolition. In a fast developing nation like India, costs are essential and sustainable construction can help economize cost of the structure over its life cycle. While some building practices are guided by short-term economic considerations, sustainable construction is based on best practices that emphasize long-term affordability, quality and efficiency. Sustainable construction should aim at environmentally friendly construction, and this includes reducing repairs, rehabilitation, rebuilding and decommissioning a structure. Most of these issues can be addressed by the right usage of Construction Chemicals. Standardization, evolution of codes of practice, focus on sustainability and increasing awareness alongwith cutting edge technology will be keywords in the development of the CC industry and will drive growth tremendously in the years to come.



Tell us about the recent trends in the CC industry in India. Also tell us about the technological innovations in the CC industry.


Latest technological trends emerging worldwide are slowly but surely catching a foothold here in India. Be it PCE Admixtures for Concrete, time saving tile adhesives, beautiful resin-based floorings, more robust and effective waterproofing systems, or technical mortars like grouts, repair mortars, and protective coatings; these materials are currently accepted and used across various top-tier projects in India.


This effect has to filter down towards normal/day-to-day usage, something we believe, will happen as the awareness about our industry and correct usage of construction chemicals grow.


Some of the latest and greatest systems in concrete protection and concrete additives have already found their way into the market, as the construction chemical industry is quite up-to-date with the latest worldwide developments. The latest generation chemicals to achieve this include:


  • The latest generation Hyperplasticizers based on PCE Technology, which can help reduce the water content and porosity of concrete.
  • Latest general of mineral admixtures including aluminosilicates, nano-silica dispersions and special sealers, which help densify the concrete structure, help mitigate internal cracking and therefore help to reduce effects of deterioration.
  • Specialist anti-corrosive and waterproofing admixtures to be mixed into the concrete to reduce corrosion.
  • Special Mineral coatings on concrete to reduce ingress of water, chlorides and Carbon Dioxide or prevent chemical attack (pH > 3) on the concrete.
  • New Generation Repair Mortars, Corrosion Protection, Bond Coats based on international standards such as EN 1504
  • Carbon Fibre – Epoxy and Carbon Fibre – Cementitious Matrix (FRCM) systems for structural retrofitting
  • Anti-Carbonation Coatings for Concrete.

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