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Feature | September 2014

The Structural Engineer

Efforts are needed to be taken to create more awareness on the use of prefab structures and advanced roofing in various construction projects.  

Technological improvement over the years has contributed immensely to the enhancement of quality of life through various new products and services. One such revolution was the pre-engineered buildings (PEBs). On one hand, where almost 70 per cent of all commercial buildings in the United States is pre-engineered, on the other hand, PEBs is the latest trend in India. The concept of PEBs was first introduced in India in late 1990s and significantly it has emerged as a best solution especially in industrial and commercial construction. In fact, in the coming years, the demand for PEBs is expected to grow at around 10 per cent to 15 per cent per year, according to a report.

 

According to Frost & Sullivan´s report, structural steel buildings market in India was around 8-9 mt in 2013-14, of which around 9.5-10 percent accounted for the PEB market in India.

 

The Indian PEB market is experiencing robust growth fuelled by infrastructure development and the increasing popularity of PEB systems in the industrial sector. Sectors such as automotive, power, logistics, pharmaceutical, FMCG, and capital goods provide huge growth opportunity for PEB in India.

 

Market scenario
 PEBs are revolutionising the construction industry today. Generally, steel structures and specifically PEBs market have, on the domestic front, surpassed the GDP from both the Indian steel industry and the Indian construction sector. Over the next 2-3 years, the industry is optimistic about a 15-20 per cent annual growth, resulting in doubling of the market over five years.

 

Says Priyanka Gupta, Executive Director, MPIL Steel Structures, a firm specialising in heavy and light steel structure projects, said, ´PEBs are the natural choice for nations entering the phase of extreme development. India is following the trajectory of growth that countries in the West experienced a decade ago.´

 

She further added that the PEB market in India is at its nascent stage. However, their company is augmenting their capacity by another 50,000 mt to take their total capacity to 100,000 mt.

 

According to Gautam Suri, Founder Director & CTO, Interarch Building Products, a manufacturer of pre-engineered and metal building products, said, ´Overall, the economic and construction slowdown has a lot of effect on all the products, since they are linked towards new construction.´ However he added that the market is huge for PEB industry in coming years.

 

Manish Garg, President Steel Building Solutions, Everest Industries, a building solutions provider, said, ´PEB systems have gained major impetus in the Indian construction market. However, currently, there are disinvestments taking place in the PEB segment due to the slowdown in the market.´

 

Demand and opportunities
 India and China are expected to record the fastest growth in demand for PEBs due to the growing population and urbanisation on one hand, and improved standard of living on the other. There is also rising demand for housing, warehouses, railway stations, factory buildings, airport terminals, hangars, inland container depots, logistics parks, special economic zones, export processing zones, etc. Therefore, the demand for PEBs in India is expected to witness a much better growth in coming years.

 

PEB is adopted quickly by the industries because construction of PEB is rather easier which takes lesser time and is roughly 20-30 per cent cheaper than any other conventional method of construction.

 

The SME sector will continue to be the growth driver for the PEB industry, where other larger projects are either stalled or not approved.

 

With the huge investment and capacity addition into the new power plants and transmission towers, structural steel remains the default material within this segment. Also, structural steel is selectively used in construction of high-rise buildings with approximately 3-4 projects using steel/composite structures coming up annually in India, mainly in the metropolitan cities.

 

Impact of steel prices
 Steel is one of the popularly used raw materials to come up with innovative PEB structures. According to the World Steel Association (WSA), the local steel demand in India would increase by 5.9 per cent and 7 per cent in 2013 and 2014 respectively. This year, the steel prices are not likely to improve much due to surging imports, a report by Citi Research said. With the surge in imports into India, Indian producers have been pricing steel in line at a discount to import parity price.

 

Going forward, steel prices in India can rise about 3 per cent, wherein the demand is also projected to rise to 200 mt by 2015. The steel production capacity in India is expected to touch 275 mt by 2020.

 

Challenges
 Today, in India, people are still not aware of this industry and still go for RCC and conventional steel building solutions. Ensuring workmanship during erection of a PEB system is another major challenge in the Indian PEB industry. Most of the players blamed rising steel prices as a major challenge for the entire PEB industry.
 Garg of Everest Industries said, ´Depending on the market demand, there is an availability of over capacity. So there is a push on the prices wherein everybody wants to keep their plant busy. There is a bit of pressure on the margin, because big projects have dried up because of slowdown. Even there are not much of infrastructure projects, so the competition has intensified wherein everybody wants to be busy. This has created a lot of pressure on the margin of PEB players.´

 

Other key challenges include increasing cost and shortage of skilled manpower, presence of alternative building structure (both steel and concrete) and fluctuating raw material (steel) prices which account for 55 to 60 percent of the overall cost, will certainly affect the price trend and impact the profit margin of the supplier in the long run as competition intensifies.

 

The design has to be done as per the Indian regional codes. If a PEB is built, then the load calculations has to be as per the latest IS 875 and the designs need to be as per IS800. To make the structure more economical and competitive, most of the PEB vendors select the codes as per their requirement.

 

Conclusion
 PEBs have a lot of advantages and some challenges that are being confronted successfully. The overall per capita consumption of structural steel, PEBs and roofing in India over the next 10 years has a potential to look even more attractive.

 

Leading Players

 
     
  • Kirby Building Solutions
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  • Interarch Buildings
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  • Tata Bluescope
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  • Jindal Buildsys
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  • Lloyd Insulations
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  • Zamil Steel Buildings
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  • Tiger Steel
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  • Everest Industries
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  • MPIL Steel Structures
 

Challenges (right near the challenges section)

 
     
  • Technical capability of architects/structural
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  • Consultants to design steel buildings
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  • Availability of requisite sections
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  • Cost effectiveness
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  • Lack of skilled labour force for installation and maintenance
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  • Presence of unorganised players offering products at low prices
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  • Huge transportation costs
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  • Indian codes still need to be developed
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  • Lack of awareness
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  • Low product quality
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  • Lack of safety awareness
 

Advantages Of Using PEBs

 
     
  • Increased speed of construction, quicker return on investment
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  • Ensured quality of material, design and construction
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  • Unlimited architectural possibilities
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  • Enhanced durability and seismic reliability
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  • Easy construction, maintenance and refurbishing
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  • Increased life cycle performance and cost competitiveness
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  • Environment-friendly structures
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  • Better value for money
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  • Cleaner and unencumbered sites
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  • Sustainability in construction through reuse of most materials
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  • Suitability for hilly regions and other geographically difficult areas
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  • Hassle Free
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  • Optimised design of steel reducing weight
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  • Energy efficient roof and wall system using insulations
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  • Easy integration of all construction materials
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  • The building can be dismantled and relocated easily
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  • Faster delivery and erection, saving around 30-40 per cent of project time
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  • Column-free large spans, up to 90 m
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  • Lighter weight; savings in foundation cost of 10-20 percent
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  • Insulated from sound and heat, as per the requirement
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  • Better rainwater harvesting through gutters and down-take arrangements

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