With the new thrust on development of infrastructure, Arvind Nanda, CEO and Founder Director, Interarch Building Products Pvt. Ltd, terms the current period as a brand new opportunity for pre-engineered building and construction in India.
The Indian construction industry has witnessed a growth trajectory quite comparable to the development of the overall economic infrastructure of the country. The pre-engineered steel buildings market is experiencing robust growth fuelled by infrastructure development and the increasing popularity of PEB systems in the industrial sector. Sectors such as automotive, power, logistics, pharma, FMCG, and capital goods provide huge growth opportunity for PEB in India.While initially there was a big need for construction of basic infrastructure post-independence, the available technology at that time and strong British legacy inculcated fascination with concrete and stone structures, symbolising strength of presence and permanence.
Over time, the need of the hour evolved to a need ‘within the hour’ where turnaround time and scalability have become important for construction across micro and macro projects for private, corporate and institutional use. This need-gap has been filled by pre-engineered steel structures. The erstwhile new and cost intensive concept in India has now become a widely accepted solution with proven benefits for construction in the Indian environment.
It has been an interesting journey for the PEB industry over the last almost three decades in terms of observing the changing trends in the Indian construction industry. There have been times when pre-engineered solutions were not much in demand, but, gradually with the due course of time, people are becoming more aware and inclined towards it.
The greatest challenge for prefabricated and pre-engineered buildings in India is the perception shift from conventional construction to pre-engineered steel structure. Though it’s changing over the years, the pace is still slow and people are still not experimenting that readily. People still tend to look at the conventional methods of construction as the cheaper and the best method, overlooking the long-term benefits. However, we are hopeful that just how for the past decade, we have seen a significant shift of industrial construction towards the pre-engineered steel market, we will see in the coming time, India infra and commercial projects shifting faster to pre-engineered structures.
Stemming from the PEB industry, what is taking shape is the new heavy engineering and larger infrastructure projects which is the next in line for infrastructural development of the country. Projects like airports, international terminals, power plants, ports etc. require heavy steel structures and a different approach in comparison to PEB. We see a wave which is likely to become a trend soon, from here on, in the infrastructure division. Going with our forecast, we, at Interarch, have even set up a separate business division called ‘Interarch Infrastructure’ which will only cater to the heavy structural needs and requirements. DIAL T3 is a good citation here.
Needless to say, the focus on infrastructure in the 12th Five-Year Plan is opening many doors for the development to take place at a fast pace. There are investments happening in sectors like retail, urban development, industrial, aviation and hospitality, as we speak. Interarch has invested Rs.150 crore in Gujarat and about Rs.100 crore in Tamil Nadu to set up another manufacturing plant which will cater to the needs of southern region.
Thanks to the speedy progress of the metro rail system, the scope of PEB is immense.
Also, the increasing emphasis on green building construction seems to be adding to the growth of PEB in India. Many PEB manufacturers have developed high efficiency windows and insulation for roofs, walls, ceilings and floors. The use of skylights and solar panels on rooftops will meet daylight and captive power requirements, while, at the same time, reducing emissions and gaining carbon credits under clean development mechanism.
Many of the industry stakeholders are scouting for adopting multiple business strategies such as venturing into engineering design, project contracting, manufacturing heavy structural steel buildings, and focusing on vertical integration whereas merger and acquisition strategy will support them to grow inorganically and enable them to broaden their geographic reach and product portfolios.
The beauty of pre-engineered building solution is its versatility across sectors. This is further corroborated by some of our projects wherein we have had the privilege to work with some of the most diverse set of construction projects – from agriculture, rural retail, and healthcare to amusement parks. In fact, many modern corporate parks and commercial buildings are also now turning to pre-engineered metal structures. The Reliance Corporate Park is one such example.
Being in the same industry, I would also like to say that housing construction spaces are also getting fascinated by pre-engineered constructions with customised solutions. Responses from private construction players has proven that the precision and cost effective timelines for delivery of PEB structures has led to a higher level of demand over the past few years.
Another vital aspect which works in PEB’s favour is the growing and much-needed thrust towards eco-friendly construction. Metal building solutions are inherently green products and have a far smaller impact on the environment as compared to traditional brick and mortar construction. The energy efficient methods in producing steel used for these structures, and the high recycled content, help in substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Interestingly, even after demolition, these buildings don’t accumulate wastage like asphalt shingles, concrete, brick and dust. The only byproduct is metal scrap which is 100 per cent recyclable.
However, as I view the industry in retrospect, I would term the current period as a brand new opportunity for pre-engineered buildings and pre-engineered construction in India with the new thrust on development of infrastructure. PEB solutions are a perfect fit for large scale construction of airports, ports, warehousing sites as well as for power stations. The format of these buildings as well as the required timelines and quality of construction are natural advantages. With the complete 360-degree view of a building structure right from the engineering to manufacturing at our plants and final assembling at site, we have experienced great results within the infrastructure space.