MC-Bauchemie (India) Pvt. Ltd is a joint venture with MC-Bauchemie, Germany, which manufactures over 200 construction chemicals. Samir Surlaker, who is also President of Construction Chemicals Manufacturers Association, discusses the various aspects of construction chemicals now that construction and infrastructure sector are set to boom again. Interview by Lalitha Rao.
What are the latest innovations in concrete engineering?
The latest innovations in concrete engineering are attributed to state-of-the art concepts, which in turn are made possible by use of construction chemicals. Construction chemicals provide solutions to a wide variety of issues in concrete engineering and technology. Providing these solutions is the key reason for the existence of our Industry. For example, we provide solutions for improving rheological properties of concrete during placement; e.g. workability time, slump retention, retardation etc. Then there are additives that make concrete more durable, more impermeable, better finishes etc. Using admixtures we can pump concrete to great heights, or we can modify rheology to allow concrete to be placed underwater.
Following this there are curing compounds to ensure the concrete does not crack. There are speciality-coating systems that ensure waterproofing as well as special applications such as protection of concrete in sewage treatments plants, where pH levels are extremely low. We now have material systems that can take care of concrete in exposure levels where pH is from 0 to 14. That apart various forms of HPC such as high strength concrete, acid resistant concrete, self-compacting concrete, and waterproof concrete mark the latest innovations in concrete.
What is the role of standards in concrete composites?
Standards are very important in design and construction of concrete composites or as colloquially known, RCC. The standards we use are in constant need of being updated. We do not have BIS standards covering the latest innovation in concrete engineering; hence there is resistance in government sector to use these materials/concepts widely. This can be improved by introducing BIS codes for commonly used construction chemicals and concrete materials. Government can also adopt international codes of practice like ASTM/EN etc. to hasten this process. The latest standards are very important and it is imperative we put it to use to improve construction for our nation. In this field, CCMA has assumed a leading role in BIS committees to form state-of-the-art codes. BIS have generated a letter, evaluating the performance of members of BIS committees, and in it they have duly recognised the contribution of CCMA to the committees. We have initiated new topics for code formation and the progress is rapid in this area.
What is your advice for executing a project through quality-based performance?
The most important improvement I would like to see for this industry is standardisation. The standardisation is a must for end users to compare between different products/technologies. Secondly, most of our specifications are prescriptive. We have to change specification to performance based as to effect produced to Durability Enhancement. There is standardisation all over the world and with open information gateway we can be at par to state-of-the-art in this field. Standardisation will be the need of the hour. Method Statements and QA/QC systems must be adopted in all projects and strict adherence to this will certainly improve durability in construction. Factory-made products will enhance quality and speed of construction.
Do you agree India is staying ahead when it comes to construction chemicals technology?
In terms of technology, India is keeping up with the world and the latest and greatest of technology is already being applied in India. Be it in terms of materials, mix design, placing, finishing and curing technologies, the latest innovations are being eagerly used in India. Even though we are one of the largest consumers of cement in the world, this technology application is at the moment limited to top tier constructors, and selected projects with international partners. The awareness needs to be extended to general construction as well. That being said, with the kind of top professionals in our industry, concrete engineering and its awareness will rise fast across our construction in India. As an indication, RMC has arrived and precast is emerging fast.
As infrastructure booms, construction is the need of the hour, and with construction, the need for concrete technologists will be essential.
How can awareness of construction chemicals and concrete be created?
The consultants, designers, architects and builders are receiving knowledge mostly through marketing personnel and marketing literature and product presentations. These opinions are biased, focused only to improve the sales. Construction chemicals and concrete have to form part engineering colleges’ syllabus as students are the future of the industry. Construction chemicals and concrete are to be added to courses that 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 organisations stressing the need of construction chemicals and to enhance the durability of concrete structures. Skill development of technicians will play a large role in bringing awareness. CCMA (Construction Chemicals Manufacturers Association) seminars, has proved to be an excellent medium to increase the awareness. Over 500 professionals attended and participated actively in the latest edition of the C3 seminar in Chennai.