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The RMC market in India is now seeing steady growth, says Prashant Jha, Chief Ready-Mix Concrete Officer, Nuvoco Vistas Corp

The RMC market in India is now seeing steady growth, says Prashant Jha, Chief Ready-Mix Concrete Officer, Nuvoco Vistas Corp

How is the market for RMC shaping up in India?
Despite the initial downturn due to Covid-19, the Ready-Mix Concrete or RMC market in India is now seeing steady growth. With a valuation of USD 2378.11 million in FY2020, it is expected to grow at a healthy pace of 16.21% by FY2026. This recovery is projected on the basis of the construction and infrastructure industry picking up as normalcy returns. This period has also seen a rising awareness of ensuring innovation through Value Added Products, especially in ensuring sustainable construction. With limited resources, concrete products with lesser carbon footprint would gain higher acceptance from both the consumers and regulatory bodies.
This can be achieved by working towards changing concrete manufacturing and processing. For instance, focusing on the water impermeability of concrete can help us in ensuring more durable structure. Similarly, dry-mix concrete that needs water to be mixed onsite can help in improving economies of scale and removing the necessity of setting up batching plants. In this regard, Nuvoco had recently launched InstaMix Xpress, a ready-to-use, bagged, dry concrete. It is ready to use in just three steps - open, pour, and mix the contents with pre-determined quality of water. It meets our objective of sustainability in construction by limiting the use of resources, such as water and manpower while remaining cost efficient.

Which are the RMCs you have introduced in the market in the recent past?  What is the USP of the RMCs?
In response to an emerging demand for value-added concrete, we have introduced a number of products under our concrete segment with the overall objective of ensuring high quality, durability, and ease of use while remaining cost effective. With these goals in mind, we have introduced a light-weight concrete named, Structural Xlite. With a density of around 800-1,600 kg per cm3, it is significantly lighter than typical concrete which weighs in at a density of 2,400 kg per cm3. Lighter weight translates to ease of application and less utilisation of resources, bringing down the cost.
Other than this, we have also introduced specialised versions of concrete to meet specific demands. For instance, we have developed radiation-proof concrete solutions for cancer hospitals. Similarly, another variant can withstand extreme temperatures with improved resistance to water. We have focused on rationalising the usage of water and manpower in our concrete products. Our recent innovation in wet concrete is a step in that direction. It can be poured onsite without any additional water. At 8 hours, it also has a longer retention time than the typical retention time of 4 hours, allowing for longer transportation or application time.

What are the innovations going on at your R&D to bring out strong and sustainable concrete?
Over the last few years, we have focused heavily on ensuring sustainability through our products and manufacturing processes. At Nuvoco, we believe strongly that economic growth must be accompanied with a responsible attitude towards saving our natural resources. With this in mind, our R&D arm, Construction Development and Innovation Centre (CDIC), has been focusing on developing products that use less manpower and water during application. Another key focus for the company has been in ensuring high quality durable materials.
Efforts have also been made to rationalise the use of resources during manufacturing while reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. For instance, we have been successful in reducing water consumption from 267 litres to 235 litres per ton of cement. Our Waste Heat Recovery (WHR) initiatives have helped to reduce emissions, generating an additional 25 MW of electrical energy. The CDIC has also worked towards developing more sustainable products, such as Concreto Green cement and Concreto Ecodure or Green Concrete. Concreto Green consumes 25% less water while further strengthening concrete by 70%. Concreto Ecodure uses a pozzolanic additive to increase strength and prevent sulphate ion and chloride attacks on reinforcements.

There are reports of building collapses during monsoon; being a leading RMC manufacturer what role RMC can play in protecting the building from collapse?
It is highly distressing to read the reports of building collapse during monsoons. Apart from the economic loss of homeowners, such unreliable structures also pose a serious threat to the life of the residents, often leading to high fatality rates. The reason behind most such occurrences is usually unreliable construction with materials that are far below par. This leads to collapse during heavy rains.  
Because of its strength and durability, RMC can play a vital role in ensuring that such incidences do not occur. Structures made with RMC are far more durable than other construction products because of which RMC usage is now standard in state and central infrastructure projects. By standardising RMC use for residential properties, we can ensure the same quality for construction for urban residents. RMC can also be used to carry out further repairs for buildings that are marked as precarious or needing repairs.

How is the unorganized nature of the RMC industry affecting the organized players? Has the introduction of RERA and GST helped in expanding the organized players' market share?
The unorganised players in the sector can cause invaluable damage through their unregulated manufacturing practices and products. Such products are inevitably of a poor quality with low durability of construction. These constructions are also more susceptible to damage by water ingress and temperature fluctuations. This affects the public perception of RMC which also impacts the organised players. In truth RMC, developed responsibly by regulated and established companies like Nuvoco, is one of the most sustainable and durable construction materials that can help build strong structures while economising on resource consumption. The introduction of RERA and GST is highly welcome in this regard. RERA encourages the use of durable construction by making the builder liable for repairs and structural defects for 5 years after handover[1]. This is in stark contrast to the earlier usual warranty of 12 months. This will encourage builders to utilise high quality and reliable construction materials from the regulated layers in the construction industry.
At the same time, lowered GST rates will ensure that regulated companies can offer cost effectiveness when compared to the lower price points by unregulated buyers. When one considers the assurance of quality and higher durability of dependable RMC, the overall costs become lower than those offered by unregulated players. That said, we don’t yet have definitive figures into the expansion of market share by regulated players. Hopefully, we should have a better insight into these developments soon.

Your take on the government policies and regulations and the tweaks required to propel the sector?
Over the last few years, we have seen government policies playing out in two main areas, improved regulations of the real estate sector and higher spending on infrastructure projects. The first can be seen through measures like introduction of GST and RERA. GST encourages proper taxation practices to be followed by the various players in the industry, including construction companies and developers. On the other hand, RERA will help in protecting the interests of home buyers. Ultimately, these measures will bring greater transparency and accountability in the sector, which must be welcomed by all. Equally welcome is the government’s focus on spending on public infrastructure. It provided the ailing construction sector a much needed fillip post-Covid. Various governments have also taken steps to standardise the RMC usage in such constructions. This will help in further adoption of RMC in construction projects.

What are the challenges facing RMC players in India?
The biggest challenge facing the industry today is in the area of resource procurement, both in terms of raw material and manpower. There is a crunch in the availability of high quality materials, which impacts our production volumes. The industry has also changed rapidly and needs skilled workers, which has again proven to be quite difficult, especially during the immediate aftermath of the pandemic when there was an overall shortage of labour.
Our other challenge comes from local norms and rules that can prohibit the establishment of batching plants in urban areas. It means that concrete has to be transported over long distances from the batching plant that are sometimes outside city limits. Given the perishable nature of concrete, this can be difficult to manage. It also increases the overall costs and the carbon footprint.

Lastly, what are your growth plans for your organization for the next three years?
In the short-term we are focused on strengthening our position in the building material industry by ensuring high-grade, high quality products. Our aim is to meet the increasing demand for building materials as the real estate industry shows healthy signs of recovery with an accelerated pace of new developments in residential, commercial, and infrastructure projects. Encouragingly, we are seeing more projects originating in both the private and public sector, showing an all-around recovery. In the long-term, we continue our focus on strategic interventions and working towards continued development by incorporating new ideas and innovations. Our efforts have always been driven towards realising our vision of ‘building a safer, smarter and sustainable world’ by continuing to invest in our R&D wing and introducing strong, durable, eco-friendly,, and cost-effective building materials.

 

[1] https://mccoymart.com/post/rera-gst-impact-on-real-estate/

 




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