15 December 2018

Interaction- Sharokh Bagli, CTO, Strata Geosystems India

Strata's products are competing in the global market

 

 

A pioneer in soil reinforcement technology, Strata Geosystems offers a spectrum of sustainable solutions for various sectors like highways, railways, real estate, mining, landfills, airports, canals and ports. In an exclusive interaction, SHAHROKH BAGLI, CTO, STRATA GEOSYSTEMS (INDIA) speaks to ROHAN AMBIKE about the company’s products and services, the status of geosynthetics in India, the demand drives for products and the path ahead.

 

 

 

What is the present growth trend witnessed in the Geosynthetics sector? Give us an assessment on the demand-supply gap in the sector in India?

 

Recently in September 2018, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping (MoRTH) has mandated that it is essential to incorporate geosynthetics in all infrastructure projects under the Ministry.

 

This has opened a tremendous scope for the use of geosynthetics for infrastructure projects, particularly road projects. Besides, the Indian Roads Congress as well as the Bureau of Indian Standards are coming up with several standards, codes of practice and guidelines for the use of geosynthetics.

 

 

 

Tell us about your geosynthetics product portfolio, in terms of types and applications.

 

Our products are essentially geosynthetics. These include:

 

1) High quality knitted PET geogrids (StrataGrid™), uniaxial, of strengths varying from 40kN per metre to 400kN per metre in the machine direction. The applications include:

 

Reinforced soil structures including walls and slopes, commonly used for grade separatorsand bridge approaches.

 

Reinforcement for components of a flexible pavement.

 

Ties to support geocells along a slope.

 

2) Geocells for several applications including load bearing and slope erosion protection. The product, supplied in the style of StrataWeb® is manufactured in various designs according to application.

 

Geocells are versatile and have numerous engineering applications including but certainly not limited to:

 

Reinforcement for components of a flexible payment including its subgrade.

 

Improvement of the subgrade for rigid pavements.

 

Load bearing such as in container yards, parking lots, factory flooring etc.

 

Constructing gravity walls and including check dams.

 

Fascia for reinforced soil walls and slopes.

 

Structures of military significance.

 

 

3) Other associate products include precast concrete modular fascia blocks for reinforced soil structures, precast reinforced concrete fascia panels, precast concrete crash barriers.

 

Strata has also included concrete structures in its portfolio. These include underpasses and box culverts, and complex structures such as precast segmented concrete arch bridges.

 

Besides the above, Strata Geosystems offers comprehensive design engineering solutions around its products. Comprehensive design engineering solutions may require use of other products to complement Strata products such as nonwoven geotextiles and Strata does not hesitate recommending these products which form the “Total Solution”. Solutions from Strata are cost-effective.

 

 

 

What are the advantages of using geosynthetics in the construction sector?

 

The advantages are humungous. Essentially the key dictum is to save the environment. Judicious use of polymeric geosynthetics reduces the requirement of use of natural material in construction, such as soil and gravel and their quarrying. Reduced usage reduces the carbon footprint by virtue of less hydrocarbons being used for excavation, crushing and transportation. But it is not just about the environment alone. Natural resources are getting scarcer and expensive. And while designs with geosynthetics give leaner structures, material costs are reduced and there is overall savings. Besides, with lesser activities due to less material in construction, the time for construction is reduced, and the commissioning date can be brought forward which in turn ensures faster returns on investments.

 

Geosynthetics are transported and stored in rolls (StrataGrid™) or in folded straps (StrataWeb®) and these are easily handled and laid out at site. No skilled labour nor sophisticated equipment is required, other than light hydras.

 

 

 

What differentiates your products vis-à-vis competitors? In what way will your client benefit.

 

There are two initiatives of Strata that makes us stand out predominant over competition:

 

1) We have a rigid QA / QC regime ingrained into our system. Our parameters have been benchmarked such that we better international competition, and we have a systematic approach to quality control to ensure that these parameters that form our standards are achieved.

 

2) We strive to improve our geogrids and geocells all along. Our new factory at Daheli will manufacture state-of-the-art geogrids and geocells. You must have observed that the sky is the limit when it comes to applications for geocells. We are continuously improving upon the geocells, making them more application oriented, rather one style for all purposes. This requires a deep understanding of the mechanics of the geocell, considering established principles of mechanics and less of empiricism.

 

In the case of geocells, yes, there is competition. We love competition!It’s flattering that the very guys who used to oppose application of geocells for highways in fora such as the Indian Roads Congress are now manufacturing geocells. But the competition is way, way behind us when it comes to quality and development of the product.

 

 

Cutting-edge technology/products developed by your R&D centre.

 

Nothing can be “cutting-edge technology” for long if we sit back and bask in our current glories. As highlighted earlier, we are continuously upgrading our technology for which we have a Development Cell apart from the regular Design Department, which closely coordinates with the needs of the civil engineering and defence, the Design Department and the Factory.

 

We do not desire to call the development Cell “R&D” for we take upon ourselves projects that require out-of-the-box thinking, sometimes bold decisions rarely taken before, but based on sound engineering principles. A case in point is the Vapi Landfill for hazardous industrial waste, where for the first time in India, we had a vertical containment for hazardous waste, thereby saving valuable space in an urban area and increasing the capacity of the landfill. Our resurrection of NH-48 (or NH-44 according to new nomenclature) at Churaibari, Assam is another example where geocells were incorporated within the pavement section to rehabilitate the rain-beleaguered highway within 15 days, while otherwise, the authorities struggled for several months without any breakthrough. Disruption of the highway had completely isolated Tripura from the rest of the country.

 

 

 

Reasons for low penetration of geosynthetics in the Indian market. What are you doing to disseminate awareness about them in the construction sector?

 

Yes, we started late for several reasons, including

 

1) The codes and guidelines requiring upgrading to state-of-the-art technology;

 

2) Reluctance by the government engineers at even higher cadres to adopt new technology unless push comes to shove as in the case of NH-48. However the MoRTH is well aware of the technology and the Hon. Minister as well as the PMO are giving full support to the use of geosynthetics for infrastructure projects and we are hoping to gain lost ground.

 

3) Yes, there is a bright future for geosynthetics and the market is wide open. Besides, we manufacture quality products as compared to the Chinese and in spite of Chinese products being priced absurdly low, Strata India products are well accepted in the global market.

 

 

 

 

Tell us about some major projects where your products have been used.

 

1) Expanding the National Highway 8 (The new NH48) at the Ahmedabad-Vadodara stretch from four to six lanes. In this project, we supplied, designed and constructed the reinforced soil walls using StrataGrid™ as soil reinforcement and StrataBlock™ as fascia. In total, we constructed 46 structures over 294,900 sq.m. fascia area.

 

2) Rehabilitation of National Highway 44 near Assam- Tripura border. The roads were destroyed due to heavy rains and a part of Tripura was isolated from rest of the country. The conventional repairs were unsuccessful. Strata recommended StrataWeb within the pavement section and the access road (~500 meters) was constructed within 15 days of receiving the materials. This project was monitored by Prime Minister’s Office and has been acknowledged by Assam PW (Buildings and NH) Department.

 

3) India’s first vertical landfill- We constructed the retaining structures of reinforced soil usingStrataGrid™,StrataBlock™ and StrataSlope™. This doubled the total dumping capacity. The total fascia area of reinforced soil containment system is 6,600 sqm.

 

4) Improvement of load-bearing capacity of the subgrade of the access road to container yards at JNPT. We constructed the access road from the main artery road up to the container terminal, which is a distance of approximately 1.8 kilometres (about 1 mile).

 

5) StrataWeb® gravity wall: We constructed an aesthetically pleasing retaining wall for a residential property.

 

 

Which sectors are major demand drivers for your products?

  •  
  • Highways
  • Rural roads
  • Port hinterland infrastructure
  • Railways
  • Airfields
  • Irrigation
  • River training works
  • Thermal and hydel power plants
  • Military applications