Jayachandran V, Chief Operating Officer-Roofing Business, HIL Ltd
Producing cement based asbestos sheets is very old techniques followed world over. The product is very versitle and widely used in the industrial structures and in rural area. There have been some improvements in the manufacturing process over a period of time. We catch up with Jayachandran V, COO- Roofing Business of HIL Ltd.
What is the Present Technology used?
The Asbestos fiber cement technology is nearly 120 years old. The Hat Chek Process is the most widely used technique and this technology is supported by other processes such as extrusion, flow on, spray deposition and filter pressing. We, at HIL have used the above technology to design a trademark product ¨NewKor¨.
Our manufacturing process is fully automated. We have developed an in-house Auto Trolley Handling System (ATH) and installed digital monitoring and control system to further reduce human interaction in the manufacturing process.
What kind of fibers are used?
At HIL, we use Chrysotile Serpentine Asbestos (popularly known as white asbestos) to manufacture asbestos cement sheets. Chrysotile is one of the six varieties of asbestos that is used commercially and makes upto 95 per cent of asbestos used globally. It is is not associated with any health hazards to employees when used under controlled conditions. We, at HIL are acutely aware of these conditions, and we can state with authority that great vigilance and utmost importance is rendered to this aspect.
We have adequate dust collection equipment, and we also collect dust samples for Asbestos fiber count on a regular basis to monitor and ensure that limit is well within the permitted norm of 0.1 fiber per CC.
So we can safely claim that HIL sheets do not pose a health hazard to people who work or live under it as per evidence based on published literature such as M J Gardener & C A Powell ´Mortality of Asbestos cement workers using almost exclusively Chrysotile fibres´, and M Meldrum, ´Review of fibre toxicology´, HSE (UK) to name a few.
What is the total market for the product, for flat sheets and other related products?
The market size of corrugated Cement sheets is estimated to be at 4 Million MT/year and it is growing at a steady pace. The demand is directly related to the improved standard of living in the Rural India.
The flat sheets (referring to our Flex-o-boards) can be used for false ceiling, Mezzanine flooring, partition and cladding. This is an extremely versatile product with a wide variety of applications across both commercial and residential projects.
How is the competition with metal sheet manufacturers?
Driven by steady demand in rural markets, fibre cement sheets are widely used and are the best option available for roofing requirements due to its quality, longevity and cost factor while metal roofs are majorly used in industrial and commercial segments. Hence the fibre cement roofing market is poised for steady growth as it is closely linked to the booming rural economy.