Can you please share with us the performance of the Organisation in the last three years (ie) pre-Covid-19, in Covid-19 and post relaxation in lockdown?
Kirby Building Systems & Structures India (Kirby India) has performed extremely well. In 2019 before Covid-19 as it was the best performing year for us with all records in each and every area of the business in the last two decades of its operations in India. We also did well in Covid-19 which was, however, an exceptional year because of impact on sales for nearly two months due to nationwide lockdown. Post relaxation in lockdown which was being lifted in phases we continued to face many problems such as supply chain constraint because of local restrictions on movement of goods, manpower shortage for construction sites, etc, for nearly three months. Despite all these problems, we continued to focus on improving our business performance and achieved our overall targets in 2020 and are continuing to perform better than last year in 2021.
The ongoing Pandemic and its impacts are going to last for atleast a year or two. What strategies have you adapted to adjust with the ‘New Normal’ and get going with the business as usual?
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic will continue and no one know as to how long it will last or it may become a part of our daily life in coming years. The impacts have definitely changed the way we are living our life at both personal & professional level as the world is getting adjusted to the new normal until this pandemic vanishes which is very unlikely to happen. Covid which has already created havoc across the globe is not expected to be behind so easily as new variants of coronavirus continues to emerge with India reeling under severe impact of second wave where the complete healthcare system is on verge of collapse.
Kirby India has always given first priority to the safety, hygiene and well-being of its employees both at plants and jobsites which includes staff, workmen and labor totaling to more than 13,000 people. This is well evident by providing a safe and healthy working environment as there are many new challenges which have emerged because of this pandemic. Following measures have been implemented at plants and all the jobsites post lockdown - Mandatory wearing of face mask during working hours and within the work place / jobsites, social distancing norms during entry & exit and at workplace premises; temperature screening during entry and exit and self-declaration by all the employees - staff & workmen including hand sanitization; screening of driver and assistants including sanitization of all the vehicles, material, construction equipment, machinery, tools & tackles at plants & jobsites; regular briefing on Covid-19 safety & hygiene through sign boards, posters, etc, and health check-up and campaigns through basic exercises.
The company will continue to maintain all the above safety and hygiene measures across all the projects till the pandemic goes away or is very negligible with proper cure available in the market for everyone including kids & adults.
Covid 19 has battered almost all the industries. How is the PEB industry adjusting to the “New Normal”. Which are the emerging growth drivers for the PEB sector?
Kirby India has catered to all the industry segments & sub-segments related to manufacturing sector where any leading top 3-5 companies are our customers. We provide steel buildings that suit to the requirement of that particular industry segment as PEB is one of the advanced construction technology where in each and every building is unique in nature and highly customized as per the customer’s requirement. These buildings are simply engineered – design & drafting using very high end engineering softwares, manufactured with very sophisticated advanced machinery at our manufacturing facilities under quality controlled environment, transported in long trailers as the sections are very wide and have larger heights and installed at the site by using simple nut & bolt connections without any welding or manual work. Each and every building is very different with the consumption of steel varying which can be determined only after the building is designed with all the parameters incorporated into it. These buildings can be further incorporated with other materials to give aesthetic features to make it appealing and other panels as and where required by the client.
E-commerce and warehousing are playing a major role for the PEB industry in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as they are one of the major sectors generating demand for PEB with other industry segments slowly & steadily coming back to normalcy. Other sectors which are expected to drive demand for PEB include Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Agro Related, Pharmaceuticals, Defense, Tyre, Textile, Data Centers, etc. Demand for PEB in the public and the government sector as well is rapidly increasing including low cost housing where government is adopting prefab technology for speedy implementation. The industry is accordingly working towards increasing the demand and gearing up for the advances taking place in construction segment instead of suppliers stepping in to meet the demand.
Kirby India has already ventured into construction of commercial buildings either completely in steel or composite form which is slowly being accepted by builders & developers as being witnessed in major cities across India. The company has already executed some high-rise buildings for commercial & residential segments and is currently executing over G+20 floors commercial office buildings and many more are in the pipeline. This will definitely lead to increase in demand for steel structures in coming years in commercial segment and Kirby India being a leader will continue to achieve excellence and create new benchmarks for the industry as a whole.
However, residential segment is yet to see the use of PEB as this will take some more years before it is fully adopted though some buildings have come up across cities using steel construction. With increasing popularity of PEB, we at Kirby are very sure that demand for high rise buildings using PEB will significantly increase in coming years across both commercial and residential segments.
How does the volatility in steel prices affect PEB projects?
One of the major challenges that the industry is facing over the last few months is with regards to the steel prices that have shot up by more than 70 per cent and is continuing the increasing trend every month. This has put a dent to the speedy implementation of projects specifically in the industrial & infrastructure sectors as getting price increase and availability of raw material has also become difficult. We, as an industry are looking forward to government support in such a way that more preference is given to the domestic steel consumers instead of exporting the steel and support the local industries by supplying steel at an economical price.
Please take us through your manufacturing units?
Kirby India has grown manifolds over the last few years from simple box like buildings for warehouses to very complex industrial buildings to high rise structures. The company is now adapting new innovative methods across design, detailing, fabrication & construction which has widened their scope of operations. Kirby India has state-of-the-art world class manufacturing facilities located at Hyderabad and Haridwar with each one having an annual installed capacity of 100,000 MT. Both the facilities are well equipped with latest machineries for any type of steel fabrication and quality atory consisting of all equipment for any type of testing both incoming raw material and outgoing fabricated building components with very stringent safety practices and quality processes being followed at both the manufacturing units. All these have resulted in both the facilities being accredited with ISO 14001: 2015 and OHSAS 18001:2017 certifications. The Hyderabad facility was recently further enhanced with addition of most advanced machineries such as CNC Sawing & Drilling Line, CNC Plate Drilling Machine (for high thickness plates), Structural Steel Bevel Cutting Machine and other balancing equipments. This enhancement will further strengthen Kirby India’s manufacturing capabilities and enable us to provide very high and quality finished buildings to all our customers thereby able to meet any type of requirement – industrial, high rise commercial complexes, car parks, hotels, bridges, flyovers, etc.
How is the lack of uniformity in Standard Code affecting the PEB industry? Which Standard you prefer, AISC / MBMA or IS standard? Why?
Kirby's buildings are designed as per the international standards in norms with AISC, MBMA, IS, etc, and as per the customer's requirements or as specified in the tender documents. The company uses its proprietary software for design and detailing of PEB structures, in addition to the standard packages which include AutoCAD, STAADPro, ProSteel, Tekla, ETabs, Bocad, etc. and allows all the buildings to be customized as per the unique building specifications of the customers. Over these years, Kirby India has evolved from a mere manufacturer of PEB to a total solution provider capable of supplying a packaged solution for all building requirements. Like a true leader, we constantly focus on setting new standards in the PEB industry.
How are you overcoming the shortage of skilled manpower? What are the skill naturing training you provide?
Industry is also facing challenge in the form of availability of skill sets, whether it is in manufacturing or engineering or in designs pertaining to construction. We must constantly and continuously be updated with the latest technologies. Professionals have good qualifications, but they only know about old, conventional fabricated structures and are not up to date with the new advancements. We are working with educational institutions like NIT, NICMAR and other engineering colleges and plan a good course on a national level so that the students are updated with the latest technologies and advancements and are thus ready to join the industry as professionals. Another important aspect which is not a challenge per say but is a must-do is the continuous improvement on the safety at job sites. We make sure that the erectors, builders, etc, are continuously updated about the quality and safety standards as per the global standards.
In this ongoing Pandemic period, how can the government hand-hold the industry to propel the sector?
Government is extensively promoting Steel as one of the key building material for construction as it is 100% recyclable; environmental friendly; savings in natural resources such as water, sand, etc; thereby giving preference to pre-engineered buildings which is one of the advanced & sustainable construction technology. This will lead to increase in demand for Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings (PEB) which is definitely going to increase in coming years as there is paradigm shift towards steel construction with higher acceptability across manufacturing sector and commercial high rise buildings. Other sectors expected to create demand for steel buildings include E-commerce & warehousing, automotive, textile, engineering, food & beverages, consumer goods, agro based, etc. Government’s focus on higher infrastructure spend, increasing urbanization, rising acceptability of sustainable construction technology such as green buildings, make in India scheme, etc, is likely to create a much more vibrant market for steel construction in India. Kirby being a pioneer and market leader in steel construction in India is one stop place for customers as their most trusted partners for their steel building requirement and turn their dream into reality by contributing towards their growth & success. Kirby is definitely poised for a big PEB growth wave and take India to the higher growth trajectory by contributing to the infrastructure development through its sustainable and advanced steel construction technology.
How do you see the economy, opportunities and challenges in this pandemic situation and please give us a brief idea about the strategies outlined to tap in the future potentials?
In the early 2000, warehouses were the initial driver for PEB but over the last two decades PEB has ventured into many other applications for different industry segments. Kirby India has grown manifolds over the last two decades executing simple box like buildings for warehouses to very complex industrial buildings to high rise structures. The company is now adapting new innovative methods across design, fabrication & construction which have widened their scope of operations thereby continuously implementing newer ways of providing delightful experience to our customers. We continue to serve our customers in the same way as we have doing for over the last two decades as we need to continue to maintain their loyalty, trust and confidence in our products & services in this pandemic situation. By putting our customers’ interests first, Kirby brand is taking the lead without any major compromises but by introducing some new ways of working with the customers and finding other ways to help our customers pass through this crisis which will be beneficial to the long-term health of our company.
Kirby India has already ventured into construction of commercial buildings either completely in steel or composite form which is slowly being accepted by builders & developers as being witnessed in major cities across India. The company has already executed some high-rise buildings for commercial & residential segments and is currently executing over G+20 floors commercial office buildings and many more are in the pipeline. This will definitely lead to increase in demand for steel structures in coming years in commercial segment and Kirby India being a leader will continue to achieve excellence and create new benchmarks for the industry as a whole. However, residential segment is yet to see the use of PEB as this will take some more years before it is fully adopted though some buildings have come up across cities using steel construction. With increasing popularity of PEB, we at Kirby are very sure that demand for high rise buildings using PEB will significantly increase in coming years across both commercial and residential segments as this will also enable developers & builders to gain faster return on investment and deliver their projects on time.
How has technological innovations aided faster construction of steel and metal structures and thereby timely completions?
The impact of the steel industry on global GDP and economic development cannot be overstated, especially when its role is critical in buildings and infrastructure. An integral part of infrastructure, steel also helps to connect people to education and social opportunities as well as support health, safety, and security. This is all in addition to buildings and infrastructure’s important correlation with other steel consuming sectors. Given steel’s role in the global economy, it is important to understand the forward-looking factors influencing the sector as well as steel producers—particularly in light of the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic. Steel represents a significant share of the material used in construction – industrial, commercial & multi-story residential buildings and other construction avenues. Beyond the immediate economic volatility currently experienced by the global economy, there are a number of underlying trends driving the future demand for steel in the building and construction sector especially steel structures. At the heart of many of these trends is progressive urbanization, infrastructure development, Make in India, Atmanirbhar Bharat, Product Linked Incentives (PLIs) and the growth of so-called smart cities which can create a significant opportunity for steel producers to evolve their thinking of how steel can play a role in the buildings and cities of the future in the form of pre-engineered steel buildings (PEB). The material embraces full, end-to-end lifecycle thinking, starting with the architect’s vision and design thinking through to the end-of-life or perhaps re-purposing of a building many years in the future. Construction companies are also moving towards standardization, modularization, and prefabrication of building and infrastructure components to drive efficiencies and minimize potential project schedule overruns. Such modularization is expected to improve the productivity and margins for contractors, while standardization is driving improvements in quality and shortening project schedules. Steel sections can be produced off-site at shop floors and then assembled onsite using nut & bolt connections. This saves time and increases the efficiency of the overall construction process resulting in faster project completion. Also with companies looking for faster project completion which in turn will give faster returns on their investments, PEB is the only one stop solution to fulfil their requirements. All these buildings are unique in nature with different steel sections and customized as per the requirement of the customer.