The last two decades have seen remarkable development in various parts of the world. Perhaps more mega projects have been announced, as well as completed in this time than in any other time in the history of mankind. The construction boom that is being witnessed in some of the key global geographical regions, is showing no signs of slow down any time soon. One of the trends that has been witnessed during this time is that all this construction has been taking place, at a time when there is a lot of emphasis on sustainability. There is tremendous strain on resources, as well as crunch in manpower in several countries. Facilitating all the construction, while at the same time letting project developers adhere to sustainable building strategies is the advent of construction chemicals in general and concrete admixtures in particular. After all concrete admixtures constitute approximately over 40% of the total construction chemicals that is being sold in the country.
The growth of the concrete admixtures market segment does not come as a surprise, for it only mirrors the trend that was earlier witnessed in the developed countries. An estimated 85% of concrete that is used globally these days is estimated to contain some form of admixtures nowadays. The Indian market for admixtures has been picking up steam gradually over the years. One of the contributory factors has been of course the increased thrust on sustainability. The increased market penetration of ready mixed concrete (RMC) is another reason. Plus of course, the boom in construction, whether it is infrastructure projects or large-scale commercial, industrial and residential projects have been contributory factors. The buoyant sentiments with a stable government in place are expected to give further push to construction activities in the country and this augurs well for the concrete admixture manufacturers. Also heartening is the fact that the market that has been tapped is just the tip of the iceberg. There is huge untapped potential that awaits suppliers.
Throwing light on the huge market potential that admixtures have in India,
“The admixture market is getting more competitive by the day.
Especially polycarboxylic etherbased admixtures have replaced
naphthalene and melamine based super plasticizer by 90%. The
projects are demanding for their super plasticizer needs only poly
carboxy ether admixture because of the scarcity of natural sand and crushed/manufactured sand have higher amount of 150 micron passing particles”
Mr. Mayank Raval, Director, Asian Laboratories, one of the top companies in fray said,” The production in India as of 2018 is approximately 502 million ton per year. As such construction chemicals, especially the figure for super plasticizer has rose to around `1000 cr. per annum. Quality products are expected to be in great demand in near future, such as those with multiple applications like water reducing with early strength, super plasticizer with shrinkage reducing properties etc.”
Real estate boom
The real estate scene in the country is expected to shift to the next gear, given the positive signals emanating from the market. Demand is expected to pick up in the near future. One of the consequences of space becoming a precious commodity in urban areas is the rise in high rise construction. Now, vertical construction comes with its own demand on the kind of concrete that is used. Concrete needs to be pumped to great heights without its quality being affected and this is one area where construction chemicals, especially concrete admixtures come into play. Similarly, the spurt in precast and prestressed concrete, given the infrastructure development projects, has meant that there have been steady demand drivers for concrete admixtures. The precast growth story for example, in the recent past, has been driving forward the growth of the superplasticizers market in various parts of the country.
Emphasis on sustainability
Sustainability is surely the buzzword in the construction industry these days. Almost every stakeholder in the industry is getting more aware about the need to adhere to sustainable building strategies. An increasingly discerning customer, along with a highly competitive business environment is also contributing to this phenomenon. Contractors for example, are now under increasing pressure from clients, with respect to adhering to budgets, time limits, and also strict quality standards. This is where construction chemicals are playing a key role. Whether it is ensuring that there is faster curing or usage of less water, increasing the strength of the concrete, etc., there is increasing dependency on the usage of concrete admixtures.
Another relatively recent phenomenon that has been responsible for driving forward the growth of the construction chemicals industry in general has been the coming together of all leading manufacturers under a single umbrella, i.e., Construction Chemicals Manufacturers’ Association (CCMA). The formation of the body has come as a shot in the arm for the construction chemicals industry. It is perhaps one of the most unique industry associations given the fact that different manufacturers, who are competing with each other in the market, have come together for the betterment of the industry. The association has been conducting seminars, workshops and conferences in various parts of the country regularly to raise awareness about the proper usage of construction chemicals, something that has given a fillip to the industry.
The good news for the concrete admixtures manufacturers is the fact that a stable government is once again in place in the country and this augurs well for the construction industry. Things are expected to pick up on the infrastructure projects front very soon. This promises a period of consistent demand. The buoyancy is expected to translate into valuable business for the manufacturers. A highly evolving contractor is another good news for the manufacturer. The contractor of today is more aware and in a highly competitive business environment dependent on concrete admixtures and other construction chemicals to adhere to increasingly stringent quality standards.
One doesn’t need to a top management consultant to understand that the Indian admixtures market is getting more and more competitive by the day. This competition has also brought in increased focus on R&D, product innovations, and application training, all of which are helping the market evolve in the right direction.
Speaking about the competitive nature of the market, Mr. Mayank Raval, Director, Asian Laboratories, said,” The admixture market is getting more competitive by the day. Especially polycarboxylic ether-based admixtures have replaced naphthalene and melamine based super plasticizer by 90%. The projects are demanding for their super plasticizer needs only poly carboxy ether admixture because of the scarcity of natural sand and crushed/manufactured sand have higher amount of 150 micron passing particles.”
Adding further he said: “Our R&D has developed following types of high-performance super plasticizers. These include, (a) CEMWET SP-3000 PCE-3 (modified) for manufactured sand which reduces stickiness in concrete containing high fines, (b) CEMWET SP-3000 PCE-4: The product is developed for precast and steam cured concrete. The functional chain of PC molecule accelerates the hydration and suitable for winter concreting and for early strength gain concrete and (c) CEMWET SP-3000 PCE -5: This Plasticizer has a unique chain of hypophonic groups which helps in reducing shrinkage in self-compacting concrete and for producing high grade of concrete during summer.”
Some of the other top companies that are in fray in the admixtures market segment include names such as BASF, SIKA, CICO, Perma Constructions, Cleanflow, etc., to mention only some.
Getting the mix right
There is no doubting the huge market potential of concrete admixtures in India. However, as mentioned before there are some tough challenges that need to be surmounted by the construction chemicals industry. The lack of adequate codes and standardization needs to be addressed. Similarly, there is also a need for providing a strong thrust to further incorporate modules on construction chemicals as part of the engineering curriculum. Similarly, there is also a need to look into making available the key raw materials that go into making concrete admixtures to the manufacturers.
The lack of adequate number of trained applicators is another issue that needs to be addressed in order for the market to grow. Manufacturers are taking steps these days to address this problem by organizing special training programs and workshops from time to time. The reason why this problem exists is because of the fact that a large part of the industry is still unorganized. However, there are signals emanating that things would change for the better in the near future. With competition increasing, and the customers becoming more discerning, there is a strong emphasis on quality these days. The awareness levels about the proper usage of concrete admixtures is on the rise. As mentioned earlier industry bodies such as CCMA have already set the ball rolling in this direction. All the key ingredients that are needed for the right mix for the growth momentum of the concrete admixtures market segment are in place for a phase of sustained growth.