07 August 2020

Table of Contents for Mat-Vantage

Interview - S Shanmugasundaram (Innovative Civil)

Indian construction industry can see a sea change by using the solutions we offer

Innovative Civil Engineering Solutions Pvt Ltd is a company that designs and manufactures next generation building materials (Magnesium Oxide or Besta™ boards, ALC, High Frequency Welded Steel Columns and Beams, and pre-fabricated building systems to address the growing demand for fast, efficient and sustainable construction methodology. S SHANMUGASUNDRAM, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INNOVATIVE CIVIL ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS PVT LTD spoke to SHRIKANT RAO on the role played by his firm in construction space. 


Briefly give us a background of your firm and the products and solutions you offer?

Ours is a professionally managed company. We are basically a team of project managers and structural engineers who are into modular prefab system with a view to provide energy efficient and green building solutions. Our Company has a Strategic Technology tie-ups with Well & Able International Pte. Ltd, and Ong & Ong Pte. Ltd - 360° Solutions (an Architecture, Design, Engineering and PMC Company), both from Singapore for Turn-key Solutions, Technology Upgradation and Global accreditations.   Our system is totally dry wherein no local construction materials or concrete is used. The whole system right from the skeleton, slab and wall system is engineered completely and brought to the site and placed on top of the foundation. It is very time efficient – you can actually save 60 per cent of the time compared to conventional construction. If conventional takes 24 months our system can do it in 9 months time. It is very versatile and can be used for any type of building – this could include residential, hospitals, schools and industrial units and you can also construct any number of floors. We have solutions for all kinds of requirements including rehabilitation houses and low cost homes. Our system has been accredited by BCI Singapore with the best buildability and constructability score. All the products involved in our system are green certified. Another big advantage of our system is that the whole building can be relocated in its entire life cycle anywhere. You need not dismantle it to debris. 


What are the opportunities which your firm is seeking in the new?

The government is looking to take up construction of smart cities and in that case we will also get involved. Ours is a system which gives you solutions on all the parameters of construction. We don’t offer a component but total solutions. All our products offer enhanced safety, they are tested with internationally accredited labs with complete test certifications and even the procedures and processes are highly systematic and professional. Structures built with our solutions are highly earthquake resistant in that they are very ductile and can withstand very high amount of dynamic load which is normally generated during earthquake. Since its receptiveness towards seismic forces is very high structures will remain standing with minimal damage. It will be a big advantage where human lives can be saved. Another thing is that it is highly labour efficient in the sense that where you require 150 labourers in conventional construction our system only needs 15 to 20 labourers at the maximum. Indian construction industry can see a sea change by using the solutions we offer.


You mentioned subtraction in time and in terms of manpower. What about cost?

As far as the cost of the system at present for projects in various categories – like residential or commercial – is concerned we found that it is almost at par with the cost of conventional construction. With our technology a warm shell could be planned and constructed anywhere between Rs 1000-1100 per sq ft. Even in the case of conventional they are talking of Rs 900-1200. So there is not much of a difference.


What is the level of awareness for your technology in India and how are you contributing towards that end?

Our aim is to change the Indian construction industry from a very primitive brick and mortar, highly labour intensive system to one which is at par with all other disciplines which have grown in terms of technology like the biomedical or the hospital industry.  We want to change the fundamentals of the construction industry here in such a way that workers will be proud to work in better conditions. For example with our system being totally dry, the site will be clean and they will have a good environment to work.


Give us an understanding of the projects you have done so far which could serve as models for construction in India?

We have done a lot of buildings across the globe in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Australia and Africa but in India our entry is fairly recent. We are just 6-8 months old and we are trying to catch up with the market. There are a lot of enquiries here which we now expect will be converted into business in a couple of months time. Our solutions can be used to build tall structures up to even 50-60 storeys high. We have done a 14 storey high rise building in Singapore; a 23-storey residential structure in Malaysia; there is a 19 storey commercial and residential building under construction in Thailand which we will be delivering soon. There are a lot of high end apartment buildings, hospitals and low cost rehab homes we have done. Our technologies and products have been very well received.


What kind of a reception do you expect in India?

We are trying to impress upon the Government of India to encourage this technology whereby it can support the entire revenue pattern of the Indian construction industry by making construction work move faster and in a safe manner. For example, if the Indian construction sector will reach the $2 billion mark by using conventional methods, by using our technology it could become a $5 billion industry mainly because the shortening of the construction time period. So what you plan to do for the next 3 years could be done in just one year. One can therefore expect the volume of business to be definitely much higher. As far as State governments are concerned we are now talking with Andhra Pradesh and the other splinter state which has recently emerged. We expect demand for infrastructure and for housing to come up there. In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for toilets across the country we are trying to introduce our model for a public toilet. We are looking to offer a toilet which is energy efficient, mobile and easily maintainable.


Tell us of the projects that you are currently looking to do?

We are planning to do a couple of residential, school and hospital building projects in Bengaluru; a couple of industrial and multistoried residential projects at Coimbatore and Chennai in Tamil Nadu. What we do is we provide the total product and the technology. On the installation side we can offer support to local people by training them over a period of time on the construction. The Indian market size is very huge. At present our aim is to try and create awareness through expos and as it spreads we want local representatives to take the idea forward and make our cause stronger.       


Tell us about your manufacturing units and the raw material used in your construction products?

We have our own manufacturing unit in Chennai. At present we have a small capacity because we are in the process of creating market demand. Once that is created we plan to expand in a big way. There are various raw materials but the basic ingredients are silica sand, magnesium oxide, magnesium chloride and gypsum. Some of it is produced in Chennai, some in Vietnam and from other places. Also we are planning to go out into the export market from India to Sri Lanka, Maldives, Africa and the Gulf because we can easily cater to those markets from here. That would be an ideal thing with the markets now opening up. Countries like Italy, Australia and China are doing a lot of prefab houses and exporting to the global market while India is not. So there is a very big opportunity for Indian industries to profit from the business in the global market.  I am looking at a very large scope of business in India. Wherever we have gone we have seen a very vibrant demand. The outlook is very good for our products and solutions.

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