Photo: MFE Formwork Technology (I) Pvt. Ltd

The second half of 2014 saw great improvement in sentiment due to change in government at the Centre. Indeed, the government lived up to expectations and initiated steps in the right direction. In the last session, it took the Ordinance way to introduce insurance and land reforms, the key to investment and setting up industry. However, at ground level, results are yet to be seen.

A lot of changes have occurred in the residential building segment in last decade. Ten to 12 years ago, there were many projects entailing one or two buildings by smalltime developers. Slowly and steadily this is being replaced by townships comprising 10 or more buildings varying from four to 11 storeys with facility like gardens, clubs etc., or a cluster of two or three blocks of 30+ storeys. This happened not just in metros like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi but also in Tier II cities like Pune and Ahmedabad. This phenomenon has started in Tier III cities as well.

Further, reputed corporates like Tata, Mahindra, HCC and Godrej are now active players in the residential building segment once dominated by families. Corporate houses do not hesitate to adopt best construction practices even if it costs a little more to get desired quality or speed of construction. Scale of project automatically brings economy. At the same time land cost has skyrocketed in most parts of the country, breaking dreams of millions to own a house despite rise in incomes. Many state and city government bodies have launched affordable housing projects for weaker sections of society.

MFE Formwork Technology is into manufacturing ‘make to order aluminium formwork’. With the exception of a couple of commercial projects, it is normally used in residential buildings of all kinds i.e. from ground storey structures for rehabilitation by the Karnataka government to affordable housing projects by Tata and Mahindra to 40+ storey towers by private developers. The product is firmly established to the extent that it is known as ‘Mivan Formwork’, earlier name of the company.

It is a revolutionary aluminium formwork construction system, which has been successfully used and developed since 1991, for forming cast-in-place reinforced concrete building structures. Characteristics of MFE Formwork are that it makes use of concrete as the principal building material for the prime reasons of cost and accessibility: cement, sand and stone are readily available in most places. Concrete also brings additional benefits in terms of its build quality and strength, resistance to earthquake tremors; resistance to fire, rot and vermin attack, low noise transmission and durability, and ensuring long life with little maintenance.

The MFE system for forming concrete structures is probably the most versatile modern construction system and unlike other systems it is equally suited to both high- and low-rise construction.

MFE (formerly Mivan Far East) is a world leader in aluminum formwork system having worked in over 28 countries throughout the region, like India, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Kenya, Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, Thailand, Oman, Sri Lanka and Egypt. MFE has offices in Malaysia, India and Dubai.

It was introduced in India in 2001-02. During those days construction of a floor every five-six days was beyond imagination. Also, the concept of replacing masonry with concrete wall met with stiff resistance. Another challenge was to convince developers to buy formwork as it was a huge upfront investment at that time. The common refrain was, ‘I would rather buy land than invest in formwork.’ It took almost three to four years of effort to establish the benefits of aluminium formwork over traditional formwork. There was no looking back after that with the exception of 2008 & 2009 when the whole world was facing recession. Today, the situation has changed dramatically. It is just a matter of buying formwork as using aluminium formwork is the unwritten best construction practice.

In 2008, MFE began looking into friction stir welding. FSW is the joining of solid state pieces meaning that the metal is not melted. Friction stir welding was invented in 1991 although it took many years before it was widely used. Today, friction stir welding is used in aerospace, oil and gas, shipbuilding, railway fabrication and many other fabrication processes.

MFE is the first company to use this technology in manufacturing aluminium panels in formwork industry. The company manufactures the formwork with very strict tolerance. Variation in panel size is restricted to +/- 0.5 mm, which is probably the most stringent in this segment. Currently, it has more than 50 supervisors across India helping clients to first setup of formwork. With the quantum of formwork supplied in last 18 month, every nine minutes somewhere in India MFE is constructing one house.

Source: MFE Formwork Technology (I) Pvt. Ltd

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