‘Steel construction in Residential sector to grow significantly’

Span Aircraft Hangar

Indian Commerce & Industries Co. Pvt. Ltd (ICICo) is the flagship company of the Beehive Kowtha Group. The Group has grown into one of the largest steel construction & project engineering companies in South India. It is one of the major engineering contractors specializing in steel buildings, technological structures, tankages, process equipment, towers, piping and steel castings.

C Ravindran, Director – ICICo told Projectvendor that the full potential of PEBs would be realized and achieved within the next five years.

C Ravindran

C Ravindran

Excerpts from the interview:

PEBs have multiple advantages vis-à-vis traditional construction technologies – but it has still not reached its true market potential in India. Comment.

The reasons for the rather slow growth in PEBs realizing their market potential are:

a) The concept of PEBs was introduced in India about 10 years back. The architects and designers who had standardized their processes based on conventional structures, require a period of time for changing over to the practices required by PEB.

b) There are certain concessions in terms of taxes and duties for conventional structures (site fabricated structures do not attract excise duty).

c) PEB manufacturers are generally not open to fabrication out of free-issue steel. Many clients still feel that there can be significant reduction in the total cost if they procure and supply steel as free-issue to the fabricator.

d) For industries like automobile plants where roof suspended loads are the norm, conventional structures provide flexibility and are more cost effective.

Going forward, how do you anticipate PEB usage increasing nationwide?

The penetration of awareness of benefits from PEBs, has been gaining momentum and the rate of increase in penetration is considerable during the past two years. Hence, we feel that full potential of PEBs would be realized and achieved within the next five years.

With new construction technologies such as PEB, pre-fabrication emerging – do you think demand for traditional brick & mortar type constructions will fall?

This is a natural process and is bound to happen. However, for relatively smaller projects and specific applications, the conventional construction techniques are likely to continue to be adopted.

Steel is 66% recyclable, offering environmental & financial benefits in addition to being strong and durable. Yet, residential sector continues to witness lower PEB demand vis-à-vis manufacturing and industrial segments?

In the Residential sector, a major factor causing resistance to steel construction is the problems associated with effective blending of walls, floors, joineries, etc. with the main skeleton. Technologies and processes addressing this problem have already emerged. We expect steel construction in Residential sector to grow significantly within the next few years.

Pre-engineered steel buildings are quicker to build and almost 45-50% cheaper than conventional buildings. Therefore, would you consider PEB as the ideal solution for low-cost housing on a large scale?

We are not quite sure about the extent of difference in cost projected above. Subject to the point mentioned under the earlier paragraph, PEBs could be preferred solutions.

What are the different applications for clear-span buildings and multi-span buildings in the Indian PEB market? Tell us about the various advantages and disadvantages of both these types of pre-engineered buildings?

Constructions like aircraft hangars, production systems with flexible layouts, auditoria, etc. require clear span buildings. In these cases generally PEBs may not be less expensive than conventional structures for clear spans in excess of 50M. However, this also depends on the type of loading and location.

What is the future business strategy of ICICo? Going forward does ICICo intend to enter any new product segments or increase focus existing business?

We have firm plans to achieve volume growth, diversify into allied steel construction fields and also enlarge our geography of operations.

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