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Steel Structures

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D.Raju,
Managing Director,
Kirby Building Systems & Structures India Pvt Ltd.

Indian construction industry which consists of infrastructure, housing and real estate, and industrial segments has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade and half and accounts for more than 9 per cent of India’s GDP. Quality of construction has also improved significantly over the last decade due to increase in exposure to the global construction technologies & best practices. The project duration has become shorter & there is a special focus on safety standards. There is a shift from in-situ construction to factory–controlled pre-engineered high-quality construction. This has also changed the requirement of engineering, material & skills required for the construction industry. Kirby India recognized this trend early & introduced the concept of Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings (PEB) / Steel Structures. In PEB, customer requirements are custom-engineered & high-quality material is delivered to site in ready to erect condition where semi-skilled people assemble these components using cranes for faster construction.               

PEB concept gained impetus in the Indian markets in the early 2000 and the usage of steel and especially PEB has been growing very rapidly in the Indian construction industry. In the year 2000, when Kirby started its operations in India, PEB concept was not well known in the country. This concept also gained acceptance because of its promotion by Kirby on large scale basis & also due to opening up of the economy and a number of multinationals setting up their facilities giving preference to metal buildings over conventional methods. Changes in Government regulations, industry friendly policies and promotion of India as preferred FDI destination also resulted in heavy FDI inflows thereby giving a further boost to the PEB technology or Steel Structures.        

Over the last two decades, many players have entered the PEB market. With more players in the scene, we will have more PEB buildings around, thereby increasing the visibility and demand for these buildings in the market. In current scenario, anyone planning to put up a factory or a warehouse immediately thinks of a PEB with the industry yet to achieve its true potential. Kirby is specialized in completing many large and complex projects across diverse applications such as Factories, Warehouses, Offices, Supermarkets, Shopping Malls, High Rise Buildings – Commercial & Residential, Shipyards, Metro Stations, Aircraft Hangars, Sports Stadiums, Showrooms, Workshops, Auditorium, Power Plants, Steel Plants, Heavy Industrial Structures, etc. spread over different industries.         

Steel forms a major component of any PEB and is the only key raw material for any type of steel building. Steel is definitely going to see an increase in the acceptability as one of the key building material apart from the existing other building materials as steel has got many distinct properties and has an edge when compared to other building materials. Also, with increasing urbanization and rapid increase in construction activity across the country, there is enough space for steel to create its own identity as the most important building material and co-exist and work towards developing sustainable construction either in the form of individual form or in composite form.               

Steel is versatile in nature, tensile, highly durable, recyclable, scrap value and can withstand external pressures such as earthquakes when used in the form of a building. It has a high strength to weight ratio which means it has high strength per unit mass. So no matter how large the overall structure is, the steel sections are stronger than other building materials and has a good load carrying capacity. Steel can be easily fabricated as it is flexible and can be molded into any shape without changing its properties and also converted into sheets or other products as per the design. Steel sections can be produced off-site at shop floors and then assembled onsite using nut & bolt connections. This saves time and increases the efficiency of the overall construction process resulting in faster project completion.            

The perception about PEB being costlier is only a notion as the industry has grown by leaps & bounds during the last two decades. This growth is in itself shows that these structures are not very expensive but slightly costlier than concrete structures and in some cases where the area is very high, PEBs are found to be less expensive than RCC buildings. Also with companies looking for faster project completion which in turn will give faster returns on their investments, PEB is the one stop solution to fulfil their requirements. All these buildings are unique in nature with different steel sections and customized as per the requirement of the customer.    

India is world’s fastest growing economy and its rapidly growing younger population is driving the domestic consumption story leading to evolve ways of sustainable growth including construction. PEB is one of the choices when it comes to sustainable and eco-friendly construction. These building are also referred to as one type of green buildings which has caught the attention of many builders, developers, etc. across India and is making inroads across all types of construction. Kirby India is in the forefront of this innovation and is leading the revolution of green construction in the country through its PEB technology thereby contributing to the green building movement as steel is a green material. Steel is the material used for any Pre-Fabricated construction and is more than 70% recyclable. These buildings are cost effective, energy efficient and provide better quality environment as they are cooler in hot conditions due to the favorable roofing material, suitable insulation and natural ventilation. The use of skylights and solar panels mounted on rooftops of industrial buildings also meet daylight and captive power requirements which reduces the dependence on power supply from other sources and at the same time reduce emissions and gain carbon credits under clean development mechanism. Effective usage of insulation material, louvers and other materials also help in temperature control and rain water harvesting. This will lead to a viable construction methodology as it has all the green benefits, dry construction, saving of natural resources, etc. thereby using environmental friendly materials.              

The industry is advancing from simple structures such as Warehouses, Low Rise Buildings, etc. to highly complex Industrial Buildings and Power Plants, Steel Plants, Ports, Oil & Gas Utilities and so on to High Rise Structures which require very specialized skill sets for design, detailing, fabrication and installation. With adequate attention from the government, this industry can dramatically reduce construction time for industrial and infrastructure sectors. It’s not surprising then that Indian industrial construction is eminently poised for a big PEB wave given India’s renewed focus on infrastructure and the new industrial thrust. Central government’s Make in India campaign and development of infrastructure and industry related projects will further give a boost to the economic growth as this was one of the major hurdle in delay of implementation of many projects. These reforms and many other such initiatives in coming future as promised by the government is expected to make the Indian construction and infrastructure segments much more stronger and increase its percentage share in the overall GDP contribution thereby giving a positive growth momentum to the PEB industry over the next decade or so.         

Like many other precision industries in India, PEB industry is also facing many challenges such as price volatility of raw material mainly steel, availability of skilled manpower, etc. One of the main challenges faced by the PEB industry in India include acceptance among the Indian corporates which is still moderate when compared to developed economies. But in the last decade there has been increased acceptance of PEB due to rapidly expanding industrialization in the country. The changing market environment has led to an increase in shift towards more advanced technologies with one of them being PEB due to increasing demand from customers for faster project completion which in turn will give faster returns on their investments.    

The industry has ventured into unknown territories which were never thought of thereby creating newer application areas for these type of structures which are highly customized and unique in nature. Kirby is leading the path through its new and innovative designs, systems & processes and construction techniques
thereby making the industry well equipped to overcome all the limitations capable to handle any complex project across different industry segments. Kirby with its rich experience and continuous learning at each and every stage of executing more than 22,000 diverse buildings for different industry segments across India over the last two decades has enabled to evolve with new type of construction methodologies thereby completing the building in much faster and safer way and meeting the customer project timelines.           

Post implementation of GST and granting of infrastructure status to the logistics segment by the Indian Government, India has witnessed rapid growth in the warehousing segment with e-commerce industry being one of the key growth drivers supported by government’s initiative of creating world class infrastructure by setting up warehouses & cold chains across India for storage of food grains, vegetables, household consumption products, other goods, etc. and also encouraging corporates to develop logistics parks. India’s fast changing demographics consisting of rising middle class, younger population, increasing disposable incomes and various other factors are leading to increase in domestic consumption accompanied by change in habits. This has led to rise of e-commerce industry thereby leading to growth of warehousing for storage of all types of goods which is very near to the customers and can easily meet their requirements.

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