The construction chemicals industry is unique as it is a crucial link between the construction industry and the chemical industry, and the construction of durable structures is not possible without the correct use of construction chemicals, says Samir Surlekar, Managing Director, MC-Bauchemie (India) Pvt. Ltd, and, President, Construction Chemicals Manufacturers’ Association.
Though cement is the best construction material available it has inherent shrinkage and cracking mechanisms, which lowers the lifecycle of constructions and structures. To remove these defects construction chemicals like concrete additives (plasticizers, superplasticizers, integral water-proofers, polymer dispersions etc.) were designed and introduced. All in all durability can be achieved by improving the quality of concrete as well as protecting concrete from deterioration mechanism due to chemical, physical, thermal and environmental attacks. Protection technologies commonly referred to in India as waterproofing are also an extension of construction chemicals.
In addition, the construction chemical industry provides solutions for repair and restoration of distressed structures. Construction chemicals thus help increase the entire lifecycle of structures either by improving quality of concrete, repairing or restoring it and also by protecting concrete long term.
At the moment, the awareness about the correct usage of construction chemicals to enhance construction and its durability is in its infancy. This awareness is at the moment limited to top tier constructors, and quality conscious engineers on selected projects. Our target is to raise this awareness to practically cover the entire construction industry in India. Unrealistic expectations and incorrect usage of the products slow skill development in the field of application of construction chemicals and developing trustworthy partnerships between owner, constructor and technology provider (construction chemicals providers) is hampering the rapid development of the industry and also affecting durability of the structures. With various incentives and awareness creation drives by CCMA (Construction Chemicals Manufacturers’ Association) as well as our individual members, this trend is steadily reversing.
Faced with innumerable products the end user is confused and cautious to new technologies as there are different claims and wide spectrum of price structure. The awareness is low and market is growing haphazardly. It will take some time for industry to stabilise to the European/international level with respect to quality, value addition and awareness. These things said, with the formation of CCMA we look forward to increasing the awareness of our industry and correct technical use of our products multifold, which will be a boost to expanding the industry.
Approach to creating awareness
Most specifiers and builders are receiving knowledge mostly through marketing personnel, marketing literature and product presentations. These opinions are biased, focused only to improve the sales. As always recourse is to be made to sound civil engineering principles to correctly use and apply construction chemicals.
Construction chemicals have to form a part of syllabus in engineering colleges as students are the future of the industry. Construction chemicals are to be added to courses which focus on other building materials. More students should be motivated to pursue this line for postgraduate and doctoral level. As in medical field universities should invite technical and practical experts to conduct lectures in this field.
Also, the awareness has to be brought in government organisation stressing the need of construction chemicals to enhance the durability of structure as well as construction chemicals help to green building concept to protect our environment.
The Construction Chemicals Manufacturers’ Association aims to increase the awareness to obtain overall growth of industry. The government and industry must support this organisation. Recognition of CCMA by other associations in the construction fraternity can increase awareness manifold. The key objective for the association will be to promote the growth of the construction chemicals industry by raising awareness and quality standards. The response from construction chemical manufactures is positive with leading companies joining in to form a strong apex body. Many raw material suppliers to the industry, local as well as transnational companies, have already joined or are actively considering joining the association in the capacity of associate members. With this development, CCMA is slowly but surely becoming the voice of the construction chemicals industry.
Furthering the cause for technical development, a handbook is planned on the correct usage of construction chemicals in collaboration with Indian Concrete Institute. Attempts are already on to introduce technical topics in the academic syllabi. Training programmes are in advanced stages of design. These roving seminars will be taken to rural areas as well as engineering colleges. Another initiative is to open up local chapters all over India.
As far as government projects are concerned, most of the specifications are outdated. We do not have BIS standards for all these materials and hence there is resistance in government sector to use these materials in bulk. This can be improved by introducing BIS codes for commonly used construction chemicals. Government can also adopt international codes of practice like ASTM/EN etc. to hasten process. If organisations like FICCI and CII can take up issues with government bodies, the industry will get recognition. In a very short amount of time BIS has agreed that CCMA will be on key IS Code committees to take the viewpoints of expert CCMA members in the formulation of codes.
Three years down, we are firmly on track in our objectives to increase awareness. With three successful International C3 (Construction Chemicals Conference) events in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai behind us, we are also taking the initiative further, to India’s regional centres with our C3R (Construction Chemicals Conference Regional) events in Rajkot and Nagpur. This initiative continues as further regional events in Rajasthan and eastern India are planned. The participants for these events were end users, specifiers, government decision makers etc. These seminars also focus on problems faced by decision makers to specify and use these products with confidence. The success of our seminar series is a good indication that the interest in correct usage of construction chemicals is fast gaining ground due to the benefits in speed, durability and lifecycle costs it provides.