BIG INTERVIEW

IT’S TIME TO STEER CHANGES

YATINDER-SURI

Q. How do you evaluate the current scenario of stainless steel industry in our country?
A.The demand share for stainless steel rests at approximately 4 per cent of the total steel demand in India. If accelerated substitution strategy continues to replace carbon steel, a surge for the same is definitely expected. Our current over-capacity in long as well as flat products are likely to get used up in the next five years. The future for stainless steel is bright, as the material is quickly gaining popularity in terms of preference over the last few decades. This is on account of properties like corrosion resistance, aesthetics, and health as well as safety aspects for humans and low life cycle cost.

For Outokumpu, the outlook is brighter. With its ever widening product portfolio, we keep offering new innovative products and applications to provide competitive advantages to the customer. We take pride in being the leader in innovations and feel happy to see the competition emulate us in India. The Indian economy is not so robust at the moment, but, there are strong positive indications, thanks to the infrastructure and power projects that are being taken up. However, despite the weak economic scenario, we are looking at incremental growth in 2015. This will be achieved due to our efforts to eliminate corrosion in industrial applications with improved materials. It is an ongoing activity since our inception in India in 2006. From a slow start initially, we now have steady, successful milestone achievements.

Q. What is your mantra to maintain profitability even in a tight situation?
A.Depending on the operational environment, there are over 400 grades of stainless steel which can be used for a diverse range of applications. In India, the dominant demand comes from utensils and kitchenware application segment, which is as high as 65 per cent. This is the low end application being catered to by over three dozen induction melting route manufacturing units as well as four integrated manufacturing plants. Outokumpu does not focus on these low end and low priced segments.

The industrial and infrastructure applications constitute 35 per cent of the overall demand (around 700,000 tons per annum). Since the range of production capability of domestic integrated plants is rather limited at this point of time, imports are vital to meet demands for high end advanced materials for accelerated infrastructural growth. Outokumpu’s presence in India is primarily relevant for high end grades and higher dimensions which are not manufactured in India. Being the oldest and largest stainless steel player in the world, we have positioned ourselves as an organisation with an intent on educating the domestic end users on new grades and applications.

Q. What are the major challenges faced by a stainless steel producer in today’s scenario?
A.There is over-capacity in the domestic sector in the low end and vanilla grades of stainless steel. Since stainless steel is the fastest growing metal in consumption (about 10 per cent annual growth in India), it is hoped that the over-capacity will get filled up in the next four years. The tendency to drop prices to chase a demand that is much smaller than the supply hurts producers in the long run.

The current increase in import duty and rupee devaluation impact is definitely beneficial to domestic players providing them with an opportunity to improve their domestic selling prices and also a greater opportunity in export markets. The domestic players surely need to follow a responsible pricing strategy to improve their bottom lines.

Q. What suggestions in the current policies would you like to bring to the table? Why?
A.Since Indian producers can only cater to the low end applications, the government should not increase the import tariffs which makes the special grades imports very expensive for investments in the critical areas of infrastructure. Our 7000 km coastline makes corrosion a serious issue, so it should be mandatory that all steel related infrastructures being built on coastline must use stainless steel. Almost 4 per cent of our GDP is lost to corrosion, and being a cash-starved nation, we do not have the luxury of allowing infrastructure to corrode and replace or frequent repairs.

In order to make the domestic steel industry grow profitably, stainless steel should be taken away from all FTAs with the developed world. Import of substandard, second choice or materials non-conforming to International standards should be banned. Domestic mills should also not be allowed to sell such defective and non-standard materials in the domestic markets or export them. The import duty structure should not be beyond 10 per cent peak rate of duty, as decided in the WTO Hong Kong agreement and the rate should not be inverted. Raw materials must be at 2.5 per cent, semis at 5 per cent and CR at 7.5 per cent. Inverted rate of duty will only end up killing the downstream industries first and then the steel producers.

There is a glaring lack of R&D capability in the domestic stainless industry. Government should encourage co-operation between the major global players and local mills to upgrade domestic capabilities in the long run. Lastly, India should not seek imports as per BIS standards. Instead, we must follow international standards to ensure that product availability and investments are not hampered.

Q. Even today there are a few clients who opt to import some specific steel sections from abroad. When and how will we be able to witness these import percentages decreasing?
A. The ideal way to reduce and ultimately curb these import percentages would be to encourage co-operation in R&D. The government must also play its part in this regard by encouraging localisation of advanced products through partnerships or collaboration.

Q How does stainless steel provide design flexibility to structural designers?
A Looking at the rapidly changing realm of design and innovation, there has definitely been a shift in options from concrete to other form, and stainless steel is one preferred choice amongst structural designers. All high rise buildings and construction in cities currently utilise carbon steel structural elements. No matter what you do in terms of coating or painting, carbon steel will corrode after a certain period of time. Stainless steel is a cheaper alternative as structural element or as reinforcing element in concrete structures. However, several hurdles arise because building codes do not exist for stainless steel usage, but, we can follow international codes and standards. The new urban cities and rural townships will have to opt for stainless steel to have a long maintenance-free life and lowest life cycle cost. We cannot afford to spend money on maintenance frequently which also leads to inconvenience to the citizens due to disruption during repairs.

Q. How equipped is Outokumpu to cater to the growing demands of infrastructure?
A. India has extremely ambitious growth plans ahead. The long Indian coastline is a highly corrosive environment, and we are committed to make India corrosion-free. Duplex stainless steel is the answer and there are plenty of global success stories where duplex structural elements and reinforcing bars have been used to achieve more than 100 years of maintenance-free life.

Duplex storage tanks have also been made to store oils and corrosive chemicals in tank farms at sea ports. Stainless steel is preferred for desalination of sea water into drinking water, and also for drinking water storage and distribution for humans in safe and hygienic manner. Railway coaches, metro coaches, wagons will become maintenance-free and lighter to save on haulage energy as well as wear-and-tear costs. Railway bridges along coastlines will also become maintenance-free with the use of Duplex stainless steel. As the nation upgrades to Euro VI in auto exhaust emissions, there will be a need for micro alloyed heat resisting grades of stainless steel from Outokumpu.

The per capita use of stainless steel in India is less than 2 kg as opposed to that of 10 kg in China. The “Make In India” campaign will improve our manufacturing base and the need for stainless steel for industrial equipment will increase. Hopefully, in the next decade we can aim to achieve per capita mark of 5 kg.

The Outokumpu vision is to create a world that lasts forever; and we are pursuing this vision aggressively in India as well. With the largest R&D set up, a wide range of high performance grades makes us a standout amongst the competition to cater to all process and environment conditions. Our willingness to share our 100 years of experience with end users is yet another impactful differentiator in the competitive arena.

Q. What new areas of construction would you target to explore in the future?
A. Our outlook for the construction world is extremely positive. We want Outokumpu to be differentiated and known among customers in three ways. First, we are the leading stainless steel company when it comes to sustainability. Second, we take pride in being the best experts to advise our customers on advanced materials; and thirdly, we are the most customer-friendly and customer centric company in the market. These three points are crucial for any new idea to build into a form of a structure – be it a foundation of the structure, bridge, monument etc.

The developed world is exceptionally in sync with the use of materials that have a minimum life cycle of at least 1000 years. As the face of a global brand in India, we would like to bring the same perspective for all the new constructions. We have two prestigious projects coming up – Statue of Unity in Gujarat and also Statue of Shivaji in Mumbai. It is important that such tall statues of great leaders should be able to withstand the vagaries of the environment and should stand tall for 1000 years. It is the responsibility of designers and engineers to design such structures for a longer period, so that the future generations are able to relate to the history and culture of the country. Nowadays worldwide, the monuments, iconic structures are being built for a very long life, from a minimum of 300 to a maximum of 1000 years.

Duplex Stainless Steel Rebars (200 tons) used for the foundation of Swaminarayan Temple in Eastern India is a progressive attitude and definitely needs replication in other parts in India as well. The spiritual Guru wanted the temple to have a life of over 1000 years as a source of inspiration for future generations. The Chedi Temple in Thailand, rail and road bridges in Australia, USA, Spain, Sweden and Hong Kong are other shining examples of sustainable building structures. The Chrysler Building in the US was built in 1930 and still looks new and fresh. The infrastructure development government body in Western India have specified duplex stainless rebars up to the splash zone for the new upcoming road over bridge project. This is a good start which needs continuous push, and that’s how we would like to witness this progressive revolution in the construction world.

Alakesh Roy

Alakesh-Roy

Q          Since taking over the baton of Zamil India, how has been your journey so far?
A          For me the journey has been truly fantastic. Although Zamil has been one of the top brands around the world, but, now we are considered to be amongst the top players in India as well, and that is a major achievement. We are in the process of enhancing the brand reach – from 13 cities we plan to expand to 24 cities across India – and this will give Zamil a far greater reach than before, which in itself is a big boost. As per the current trend, with the business sentiments going up, the inquiry generation is also on the upswing. We are quoting for around 5 lac tonnes and hope that with the quote conversion, even if we go by the integral factor of 2 percentage point rise, we will be sufficient to meet our budget.

Q What is your corporate vision for Zamil three years down the line?
A As a corporate vision, we already have our three-year plan in place and we need to grow almost five-times in this field. This five-fold growth will obviously not come from PEB alone, so we are augmenting our business. We are conducting a lot of pass-through transactions wherein if someone has a requirement, for example, a building with a glass cladding, they need not source the material involved from separate sources. We are also venturing into turnkey solutions as well. We plan to begin modestly for now, and if in the future, the payment settlement is good and the fund-flow is even, then we will venture into bigger projects.

We have already undertaken a study for the sandwich panel, though am not sure whether we will be actually investing in a facility. However, we are ready to buy out a facility in the long run, around 2016-2017; and that should be augmenting our business portfolio. We have already entered into the green buildings and the cold storage segments. As of the vision, we have decided to brand all of our products under Zamil, including the buyers and those sent to the market. So, the customer sees Zamil as the face of the whole building.

Q What are the certifications that you have acquired in recent times? What do these certifications, eventually, mean for a buyer?
A Recently, we have got ISO 14001 and ISO 18001 certifications. Basically, we have the total EMS plus Quality Certification in our portfolio. So, we have ISO 9001, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certification. None of the other steel fabrication units bear this level of certification. The certifications are, in essentiality, nothing but compliance to certain systems and procedures. In the coming days, more and more green norms will be implemented as legislation, so these certifications reiterate that we are not polluting the environment and are also taking care of the health and safety of our employees.

Q With the new government promising a lot, what are your expectations from them? Where do they need to pay heed to on an immediate basis?
A Firstly, the consumption needs to increase. The government is of the opinion that growth can happen only if the consumption goes up, otherwise the sentiments are so low that even if I have money, I will not spend it, I’ll postpone my purchasing. If you look at most of the services, for example, the manufacturing sector was not growing, as a result of which the ‘Make in India’ concept has been initiated. Consequently, business will be added in terms of newer areas rather than the automotive sector, but, different sectors will be opening up, and newer sectors such as food and beverages will have a 20 per cent year-on-year input. The Safaai Abhiyaan, despite the politics and controversy surrounding, did not bring about a change overnight. Instead, through this movement, the government was successful in driving home the point that waste cannot be injudiciously dumped as one pleases. In fact, as a result of this, state governments too are actively looking at waste management and exploring options to gainfully use of the waste in the form of fuel, energy, fertilizer, etc.

The first such project in India, came to us – the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL). Such is the impact of a simple thought that can propel an entire chain of business. There will also be other segments that are likely to open up on account of the way the business will be conducted, retail will move on to become e-tail, but, the latter will always require a warehouse. With the new online shopping concepts that are now emerging, the ordering and delivering process is now compacted to as little as three hours.

Instead of the current infrastructure, there will be a need to install warehouses that are both, small and big, at certain intervals throughout a particular area. The warehousing segment, therefore, will become a lucrative area where Indian entrepreneurs will actually be investing a lot of space and money in. With the imminent arrival of GST, the tax structure is bound to change and a lot of new facilities will emerge in most parts of Central India, which was perennially underdeveloped. Overall, it seems that the growth will happen on a pan-India basis unlike before.

Q Zamil recently has set a benchmark in investing in different industries, attempting different projects. Which are the other untapped sectors that you wish to explore into?
A We have already broken the 50-metre height barrier and untapped segments in steel per se do not really exist. The challenge is not in fabrication or the design, but, in erection. At Zamil, we are trying to build a capability where we can erect structures with the proper erection methodology. If you consider on-site work from the aspect of safety, equipment availability, to trained manpower, there will always exist a learning curve, and the faster you overcome it, execute and deliver, it will be the key to being successful. In India, typically, a 10-storey building with 30-metre height will take three years to complete, but now the same timeline has to be shortened to about 10 months for execution. For a 30-storey building with 100-metre height, the time required for completion is almost 9 years, which is extremely unviable. The need of the hour, therefore, is to find ways and means to quicken the entire process.

Q How much emphasis do you lay on human resource? What initiatives are being taken up at Zamil India to retain the talent?
A As the leaders of the industry, I believe it is the right time to groom and bring in new people from outside the industry. If you look at our recruitment plan, we have stopped recruiting from other PEB industries or other fabrication industries. We are recruiting people from sectors that are not directly related to our kind of business, so that we can bring in a better talent pool in the industry. Our main aim is to keep the existing workforce happy and also try and induct new people in the system who are fresh from colleges, straight out of IIMs or engineering colleges and then groom them accordingly. With this, there will be new ideas that will come in the industry, which is the need of the hour. New ideas bring with it a new perspective that are a departure from normal thinking. It creates a platform for debate and ideation which will ultimately be beneficial to all.

Q Do you think there are some areas where we have a shortage of skillset as far as fabrication is concerned?
A These kind of problems are localized and area specific. The kind of skilled manpower required for a plant, especially in a place like Pune might be an issue. In Pune, primarily, people prefer the automobile sector which is a much lighter job. However, business is business and you will have to venture out, explore new avenues, tie-up with ITIs to get fresh manpower. We are sub-contracting our activities in a big way so that the customer does not suffer due to something we don’t have. In terms of skilled manpower from the point of view of workmen class, there is bound to be a shortage unless we train people for the skills we desire and this needs to be done at the village and block level. In a situation like this, the government needs to take the necessary steps and the Maharashtra Government is well on its way in this area. It is important to note that it is essential to train people from within the area, bring in locals, failing to do which will lead to the onrush of migratory labor which poses a bigger challenge in the long run.

Q According to you, what factors contribute to the growth of the fabrication industry?
A Once the government starts spending more money on the infrastructure, growth across all spheres is bound to happen. The concept of smart cities or new cities is an important step in this regard which will contribute to the overall growth of all industries. It is just a concept today, but, probably in 10 years’ time, the fruits of these efforts will be visible.

Q               What message would you like to give to the younger lot of engineers and designers who look upon some of the renowned names in the industry as their role models?
A               To them, I have only one thing to say: in the coming days, all the degrees and lessons learnt will not hold good for the next 40 years. You will have to make yourself relevant with the current trend at any given point of time. And this process of upgrading yourself has to happen continuously, where you adapt and reinvent yourself according to the situation.

Gearing Up for Era of Automation

A leading Project Management Consultancy, whose focus is creating maximum value for its clients by realizing the issues at hand with the key stakeholders and agencies. Formulating comprehensive plans and addressing the challenges in an efficient and impactful manner.

To speak about the beauty of steel with references to some of their projects and how technology will revolutionize the way forward we have with us Dinesh Dubey, Director of Operations, Turner Project Management India

READ ON TO KNOW MORE…

What has been the role of steel in changing the construction dynamics? How?
Steel has been a phenomenal breakthrough in the history of construction practices. Owing to numerous unparalleled benefits that it can offer, steel has been the ideal choice for contractors, engineers, and architects alike. The concept of tall buildings would not have existed without the attributes that steel can endow to any structure such as durability while being lightweight.

Being lightweight steel can be easily and quickly transported and lifted, thereby saving significant cost on fuel. Steel is also the most eco-friendly and economically viable option among all the other metals besides being easy to install and assemble. I believe that currently, it would not be an overstatement to stay that steel is perhaps the backbone of the construction industry.

Having been involved with ‘Statue of Unity-the Pride of the Nation’. How was your experience working on the project?
The Statue of Unity has today become an epitome of masterclass design, precision engineering, and exemplary project management. The tallest statue in the world has achieved the status of a global icon because of the sheer scale, magnitude and accuracy required on the mammoth project. As project managers, we at Turner not only needed to be at the top of our game (efficiency), but also had to micromanage several aspects of the construction process. The margin for error on a first-of-its-kind project was negligible, and our estimations had to be on point throughout the different phases of construction.

In terms of material, in addition to cement concrete, structural steel and bronze cladding had a major role is the edifice of the gigantic structure. On the technical front, our expert team ensured accuracy in our estimation of machines, cranes and resources required to complete the tasks within the projected timelines. The work was effectively mechanized to reduce confusion, human errors, and glitches on site.

Creating synergies among the various agencies was imperative for the actualization of the project plans, and to achieve that we had to conduct frequent meeting with the various teams to define specific roles, allocate tasks and avoid any kind of conflicts and mix-ups. Other factors such as weather conditions, laborers’ psychological apprehension in working at such a height, coordination between agencies, etc. had to be effectively and duly addressed to complete the project within the stipulated timelines.

This landmark project tested our capabilities and merit at several levels. Thanks to our proficient team and their commitment to the project, we succeeded in all aspects of the project management, and today the glory and magnificence of the Statue of Unity is there for everyone to see and admire.

Having worked on projects both in India and overseas, what is your take on the future of Indian Construction Industry?
The Construction industry and its practices across the globe vary due to several factors. While there are certain challenges in the construction industry now, the remedial actions/policies by the government coupled with India’s demographic advantage still makes the country a great investment prospect.

The high percentage of working youth population in urban India with increasing purchasing power of individuals allude to a great promise for the growth of the real estate sector in times to come. With the frequent influx of novel technologies, the industry, in India and overseas, is undergoing a brisk technology transition. However, when put on a global map, India is yet to explore the extent of technology. While innovative technologies are widely being used in the global markets for design, engineering, construction, the Indian industry has only gradually started comprehending the value of these technique and tools.

In all, India is on a growth trajectory and its urbanization drive along with the smart city mission have paved way for rapid development in areas of construction of airports, highways, roads, smart cities and tourism projects. For instance, the proposed development of the Jewar Airport and the Navi Mumbai International Airport will not only be a massive construction assignment, but it will also boost the demand for real estate developments in the adjoining and/or connecting areas.

What is your take on steel v/s RCC?
Both Steel and RCC (Reinforced Cement Concrete) are commonly used construction materials and have their specific advantages and disadvantages from construction and maintenance perspective. While RCC is composed of materials that are cheaply and readily available, it is weak in tensile strength. It is easily moldable and has high compressive strength, but it may develop creep under constant load.

On the other hand, when compared with RCC, steel is lighter, has better tensile strength, and can be easily fabricated, assembled and replaced. Additionally, the ductile ability of steel ensures there is prior indication of failure through deflection. The downside of using a steel structure is that it requires skilled labor for the construction and the initial cost may be higher. In all, the advantages that a steel structure brings to any construction far outweighs the benefits of RCC. From a safety and sustainability point of view, the steel structure will always be the preferred choice.

How is technology changing the construction industry and the way we execute Buildings?
According to me, in the near term the construction industry will be dominated by Industry 4.0 – an era of automation. Digital technologies and modern methods of operations have disrupted all industry sectors, and construction is no exception. Transformation of processes, methods and tools will indeed play a pivotal role as the construction industry advances towards modernization, pro-activeness, enhanced efficacy and less wastage.

For example, ‘Building Information and Modelling’, is a multi-dimensional (3-D++) model process that helps plan, design, construct and manage projects more efficiently. Every minute detail of the project can be modelled in BIM to create visuals that give prospective clients a complete understanding of how the project will look before implementing it on ground. Likewise, technology integration in cost management for any construction project can help the project owners view live linked quantity count, reduce turnaround time for design analysis, evaluate models for constructability, prompt evaluation of design differences, calculate multiple component budgets and pay application verifications.

Besides, the integration of AI and wearable technology in construction processes will go a long way in improving safety at the site, reducing injuries to the staff and workers, improving operational efficiencies and enhancing quality of life for construction workers. Advanced Internet of Things and Augmented-Reality technologies are enabling the construction professionals to digitally access the information about the surroundings and equipment of the site in an interactive way, thereby facilitation remote monitoring, operations and controllability.

Which are the grey areas that need to be addressed by the industry to advocate structural steel construction in our country?
There are a few challenges that the steel industry is facing in the existing times. Inadequate logistical planning and inventory management have posed huge constraints in the adoption of steel in construction.

The industry needs to improve on the on the skills as well as the infrastructure required to manage the Just in Time inventory. Besides, the limited vendor base of suppliers and contractors in the current scenario needs to be expanded to capitalize on the huge opportunity we have for India’s growth in steel consumption. The global consumption of steel is 224kg per capita out of which China alone consumes 590 kg per capita, while the consumption in India is less than one-sixth of China at 71 Kg per capita.

In my view, there have been several developments in the recent past that will significantly boost the adoption of structural steel construction in India.

The government’s Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) along with the development of industrial corridors will drive the growth of steel consumption in the construction and real estate space.

The government has also revised various duties and set minimum import prices, providing a level playing field for Indian steel enterprises against China’s massive export capacity in the steel sector. The Coronavirus pandemic may prompt us to build internal capacities in the country while addressing issues pertaining to transport logistics.

Steel is regarded as a “green” material for its recyclability. Increased focus on safety and sustainability is an imperative if we must foster widespread adoption of structural steel in the country.

What outstanding newness does Turner plan in the next 5 years?
As a leading project management enterprise, Turner has always been ahead of the curve in terms building capabilities, developing advanced pool of talent, and adoption of novel tools and technologies. Innovation has helped us deliver value to our clients and partners. At the turn of the 20th century, we pioneered the use of steel-reinforced concrete for general building to deliver safer, stronger, and more efficient buildings to clients. Today, innovation channels the ingenuity of our people and partners to advance breakthroughs that deliver new value to our clients.

In the next 5 years as well, we shall continue to be proactive in finding solutions for our clients that best achieve their goals while remaining true to our founding values of Integrity, Commitment & Teamwork. Recognizing that sustainable best practices have changed and will continue to evolve, Turner will lead by example and serve as an ambassador for environmental, social and economic sustainability. We will utilize our technical expertise to create a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for our people, clients and the environment.

What message would you like to give our readers?
Industry stakeholders have acknowledged the value that modern methods of construction can bring, and this has significantly accelerated their acceptance. One size will never fit all, and hence, it is important that along with the availability of technological tools and infrastructure, there are specialists who can estimate the value and viability of technology integration.

All the readers who hail from the construction industry would also recognize that the success of any project depends significantly on how well the project is planned and executed along with coordination, communication, and interaction among various stakeholders.

Project Management specialists can offer myriad ways to build resilience and to improve the efficiency of Project’s planning, decision-making, communication and delivery procedures. A competent PMC can bring in best resources, systems and processes and add tremendous value to the Project.

Turner’s role as a leading Project Management consultancy is to comprehend the issues at hand, liaise with the key stakeholders and agencies to formulate comprehensive plans, and address the challenges in an efficient and impactful manner. The persistent focus is on creating maximum value for the clients in complete awareness of the situation and shortcomings.

SUSTAINABLE OFFICE COMPLEX
STEEL DAY 2020
SSMB AWARDS 2020

SEND YOUR STRUCTURAL STEEL PROJECTS

Facebook