Lafarges Concrete Master enables customers to order RMC in small quantities.

Lafarges Concrete Master enables customers to order RMC in small quantities.

While the ready- mix market is growing steadily in India, it is plagued by several challenges that are slowing down the growth of this sector. Innovative companies are studying the market closely to design products and services that iron out the wrinkles. It is this approach that has allowed Lafarge to develop concrete products that cater to typical and specific needs of the Indian market. Maruti Srivastava, VP Marketing and Jean Philippe Thierry, QC and Product Development Head, Lafarge India shares their views on the current market scenario and talks of what Lafarge has to offer. Excerpts from the interview.

How many plants does Lafarge have in India?
Lafarge is one of the largest suppliers of ready-mix concrete in India and has established its presence through both commercial concrete plants and dedicated project plants. Lafarge ready-mix covers a wide geographic portfolio with over 66 plants spread across 40 cities in India.

What is the range of products you offer, including value added / green products?
Lafarge is committed to delivering unique products and solutions for building better cities in India.

Our innovations help create products and solutions which promote sustainable construction and help meet the needs of the local market, from high value-added products to affordable housing solutions.

In India, Lafarge Readymix concrete offers the following value added products:

Mega high strength concrete: As cities grow the need for vertical constructions has increased. Lafarge in India is supporting leading builders by supplying Mega« high strength concrete which is M90 plus grade of concrete. The Mega« high strength concrete allows builders to make taller structures while using scarce land resources more effectively. The total material cost is also reduced as use of other materials like steel is reduced. Most importantly, as the wall and column width reduces, the consumer gets the advantage of a higher carpet area. Other products under mega series include: Mega lightweight concrete, Mega« PP fiber concrete and Mega« steel fiber concrete.

AgiliaTM is self-consolidating concrete which helps in faster concrete placement with minimal cost. Highly fluid, this concrete flows and spreads effortlessly. Due to its fluidity, it eliminates the tedious chore of vibration thereby improving worksite quality and on-site conditions, including worksite noise levels which is a source of irritation both for workers and for nearby residents. Agilia provides excellent consistency and aesthetic qualities as per the architect´s need and has a wide application range like retaining walls, foundation raft, sheer walls, beams, slabs, and water tanks

ArteviaTM by Lafarge is a collection of decorative concretes for indoor and outdoor usage that combines freedom of design with low maintenance and durability. The stunningly beautiful design material keeps all the advantages of concrete, it is hard wearing and long lasting and available in an array of amazing colours, patterns and textures.

HyrdromediaTM: With the need for effective water management growing, especially in a congested city like Mumbai, Lafarge provides HyrdromediaTM, a pervious concrete which offers high permeability and drainage capacity by absorbing rain water and facilitates natural run-off into the ground. It therefore reduces the risk of flooding. It minimises the urban impact on the natural water cycle, allowing for the natural replenishment of water tables in urban environments that up till now have typically been covered with impervious asphalt or concrete surfaces. .Typically containing 20-35 per cent void space, it allows water to pass directly through it at a permeability of 150 - 1000 L/min/m´.

Lafarge is committed to reduce its production costs and reduce its environmental footprint. Hydromedia is a green solution and aids effective water management in urban areas. Lafarge also produces blended cement which is preferred for many construction applications and the use of cementitious products as an alternative to clinker ensure that less CO2 is emitted in the cement production process and hence a green solution. Lafarge uses maximum fly ash within the stipulated BIS limit. This reduces the use of clinker and contributes to waste management by utilising fly ash, which otherwise would be a waste product. This approach significantly reduces the carbon footprint per bag of cement.

Where is the current demand for RMC coming from?
Recent Crisil research reports the overall ready-mix penetration in India is around 9 per cent, which is low. However it is projected to be 14 per cent by 2017-18. In India, the demand is highest from the housing segment, followed by industrial and infrastructure segments.

Why do you think the demand for RMC in India is not as high as it is in developed countries?
A major part of India still comprises smaller towns where the majority of individual home builders prefer using conventional methods of construction. Overall in India, site mix is still perceived to be a cost- effective material as opposed to ready- mix concrete, though that is not the case anymore.

What are the problems due to unstructured supply of aggregates?
The aggregates market remains fragmented with many independent operators and local producers; environment and mining bans in certain states also impact the quantity and quality of aggregates. Consistent source for quality aggregates has therefore become a real task. Lafarge India has two aggregates mines/ crushers, one each at Badlapur in Maharasthra and Kotputli in Rajasthan. Lafarge offers a wide range of aggregates including manufactured sand, a key ingredient in construction; however, it is difficult to procure because of the ban on river sand in many states in India. Lafarge manufactured aggregates ensures availability, consistency of quality and transparency.

What are the challenges in transporting RMC?
Transportation plays a major role in ready-mix concrete. With increasing population in urban areas, high traffic problems are frequent. Some cities have a æno entry´ policy during peak/working hours. Some customers demand small quantities which is not feasible to transport. Lastly, in metro cities, transporting ready- mix concrete through transit mixers in congested neighbourhoods is a major challenge.

It is therefore imperative for companies like Lafarge to support the metamorphosis of the cities and bring innovative solutions to address local issues. Lafarge India recently launched Concrete Master, a unique offering which enables customers to order RMC in small quantities and allows up to four hours of workability before the initial setting. This simplifies the entire construction process in congested neighbourhoods by offering an efficient onsite delivery of ready- to- use concrete and mortar in 30 kgs bags. This benefits contractors working in congested areas where RMC transit mixers cannot reach, and allows construction with quality products of Lafarge for the benefit of the end user.

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