Fast, profitable and high-quality technology for light non-load bearing partition wall panels.
India´s housing shortage is offering huge opportunities for pre-cast technology suppliers as the country sets to modernise its construction sector. The government has set ambitious targets of 50 million affordable new homes by 2020; however, it is struggling to keep up with the speed of its building work, thanks to lack of proper technology and appropriate construction methods. To be able to achieve the targets, the country needs technology as well as pre-cast building construction know-how. ´The market for precast technology is growing fast in India. Our technology is being noticed more and we have the advantage of being early to market to make most of the growth, India is growing to become one of the most significant markets for our technology. The acceptance of pre-cast housing is already there, and our customers are realising the benefits of our technology,´ says Chander Dutta, Managing Director, Elematic India. In the past few years, Elematic has put a significant effort in developing their capacity to serve the Indian precast customers. The company has established a sales and services unit in New Delhi as well as recently opened their own local manufacturing unit focusing on molds. Today the company can now offer whole precast production plants including well-priced, reliable batching and mixing plants.
Elematic, a leading manufacturer of precast concrete plants and production lines, has launched new technology level choices to their Acotec wall production lines. Acotec line is meant for manufacturing of light, non-load bearing, room-high precast partition wall panels. The new technology levels are called SEMI, PRO and EDGE, and they differ by the degree of automation and capacity as well as the required investment size. All the lines are quick and simple to install, run and maintain and require only very limited land area.
The new technology levels are launched in order to meet the varying customer needs. The SEMI line, with a production capacity of 80 sq m per hour, is the simplest of them all and is an excellent choice for anyone starting up in the business. It features a smart combined restacker handler and automation only for the key processes. The PRO line offers a higher capacity of 100 sq m per hour with automated functions for all main processes: sawing, trimming, stacking, restacking, cleaning & oiling, plate handling and pallet circulation. The fully-automatic Acotec EDGE offers a top-rate capacity of 120 sq m per hour and needs only two operators to run.
According to Dutta all the lines - Semi, Pro and Edge - feature new advanced production control system. Thanks to the system, a simple, modern user interface shows detailed data on every function in the whole process. Various reports on production rate, running hours and more are generated automatically. Modular structure of the lines and their integrated electricity with ETHERCAT bus system guarantee short installation and start up time of all lines, and the line can also be installed in existing production facilities. The production process is environmentally-friendly as it is silent and non-vibrating, and the raw material can be recycled so no waste is created. Low energy consumption of the line keeps the production costs on a low level as well.
For a semi automatic operation which is suitable for our country, minimum area to be constructed is 100,000 sq m. Normally, the working is about 10-12 hours in a day, according to Dutta.
BN Precast Group is one of the pioneers in the country using the Acotec technology in partition walls. For the production of the slabs, the company has chosen the original production technology from the Finnish pre-cast technology supplier Elematic and its Acotec line with a stationary extruder. ´For our customers, Acotec walls increase productivity massively, reduce costs and guarantee quality,´ says Nishant S Patel, Director, BN Precast. The company´s clients are also getting a great deal of benefits from faster installation speed as construction with Acotec walls can be up to six times faster than with brickwork and twice as fast as block work.
Speaking about the advantages of using Acotec Dutta avers, ´The Acotec wall panels are fast, easy and safe to install - building work proceeds up to six times faster when compared with traditional brickwork and even two times faster than block work. The panels have exact dimensions and completely even surface so no plastering is needed. In addition, their thin structure leaves more floor space for other purposes in a building. Despite the thinness, Acotec walls are strong and successfully used in seismic areas, too.
´The walls enable extremely fast installation of up to 40 sq ft per hour whereas traditional brickwork proceeds at a pace of 10 sq ft per hour before plastering is done. And we only need 5 workers to install these walls,´ according to Patel. He further adds, ´The fact that only small amount of production space, only about 900 sq m, and low manpower is needed to use the Acotec line, create further benefits to the developers. The line is simple to install, run and maintain too - and its energy consumption is very low, only 55 kWh per hour. ´For us, the advantages are also obvious: high quantum production, low maintenance and high degree of quality control due to automation.´
Acotec provides wide range of application for non-structural partition wall system in an environmentally friendly way, making it a truly a solution for the future. They suit for a wide variety of purposes such as bath rooms, kitchens and showers, thanks to the moisture resistance of the material. Acotec walls also offer excellent sound insulation, meaning that apartment buildings, schools and hotels benefit from these type of partition walls.
Speaking about the challenges Dutta had this to say. Very few player in prefab have structural design capabilities to support the requirements of clients, there are very few good examples to showcase. There is apprehension in adopting new technologies. There is a misconception that precast is confined to only low cost housing. Any building can be made using precast concrete technology. Our customers in India are making luxury houses, villas, super specialty hospitals, stadiums etc using this technology. Beautiful architectural finishes, results can be achieved by using coloured or graphic concrete and giving form liner finishes.
According to Dutta, despite there is no specific data available as per our estimation is in India there is currently at least 5 million sq ft under construction with precast concrete technology. Dutta sums up on a high note. He says, ´A lot of projects are in the pipeline and this number can easily go up 50-100 million sq ft in the next 4-5 years.´
Some of the latest precast projects
´In India we have produced more than 30,000 elements in the local units.´
- Chander Dutta, Managing Director, Elematic India
Elematic Oyj is the leading supplier of precast, prefab concrete technology worldwide. It has operations in over 100 countries. They are into supply of machinery, from supply of a single production line and to a complete precast plant. In a freewheeling with ICR, Chander Dutta, Managing Director, Elematic, sheds light on the technology and advantages. Excerpts from the interview...
Brief us about your company.
As a company, we are Finland-based and hold around 50-60 percent market share of precast business in the country. Worldwide we have 60 per cent market share in hollow core slab business and 40 per cent in plant and machinery. We provide machinery and technical solutions for making all types of precast elements required in any building construction. Climatic conditions in Finland are adverse. They have severe cold for about six months and in remaining period there is reasonable climate. Outside work can be carried out only during six months and remaining months are devoted for inside work. We started in the year 1950, when Finland was going through the same problems like that of ours. There was pressure of urbanisation that compelled the company to undertake technological developments. The government also supported the private players to develop the technology further. Even today 80-90 per cent of construction in Scandinavian countries is prefab.
In India we had few companies like Hindustan Prefab who have not been very successful in precast. What can be the reasons?
I am aware of the case of Hindustan Prefab. The technology was sourced from Russia. However Russia has failed mainly because they did not develop further with time, specifically the joints done in the precast, prefab jobs and the earth quake resistant designs. That may the reason for luke worm response to both these companies in popularising the concept of precast and prefab.
How are you able to provide better quality of constructions?
We have in house design team to support our manufacturing activity. Considering the bottlenecks faced by the clients, we have to guide them and suggest suitable product design. For the last five years we are promoting this technology and while doing so we realised that we must have a design team to support our initiative. For the success of prefab major requirement is planning, planning and only planning. Planning is extremely important part of prefab.
Can you give us more details on concrete being used?
We use M35 or M40 for walls, M 50 slabs. Concrete mix design is specialised job. The mix should perform well. No hair line cracks or micro cracks are acceptable. It has to be cured properly. In a factory environment, a workman produces one elements 10 times in a day. Because of repetition, he does a perfect job. Precast buildings have less maintenance; and life cycle cost is low; structures are more durable and more sustainable.
What is your take on the general perception that precast structures are monotonous?
To me whole of Mumbai looks like high rise slums. Many of the buildings there face a problem of poor quality of plaster. Buildings are very fancy from outside but inside, the scene is very bad. The buildings made with precast elements can be made earth quake resistant and yet more beautiful. One can use precast facade or coloured concrete. We must understand that because of repetition of elements, the cost in precast buildings comes down. In precast buildings you can have a balance of beauty and quality.
Name some of your projects under construction
BG Shirke is constructing a 14-storyed building for 20,000 homes in Delhi. With Amrapali group we are constructing 30-storyed building, and we are also working with Jindal University at Sonepat to construct a hostel for 200 students.