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Growth of Indian Pre-Engineered Buildings

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Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings (PEB) concept, well established in North America and European countries, is gaining popularity in India also, making in-roads in commercial, industrial as well as residential segment across rural and urban areas. It is 30 to 40% faster than masonry construction, provides good insulation effect and is suitable for construction in remote and hilly areas. D Raju, MD Kirby Building Systems India & Southeast Asia, explains the PEB solutions available and its advantages in addressing India’s huge infrastructural requirements.

Looking at India’s resurgent construction market what is the scope of growth of PEB construction in India?

The usage of steel and especially PEB is 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. In the past decade, the industry has grown rapidly at an average of 15-20% per annum. Though the industry growth has been subdued in the recent times due to the current economic slowdown, we expect a positive growth momentum in PEB market in near future given the improving investor sentiment and reforms announced by the Government. Also, Indian Govt. has planned ~$ 1 trillion worth of investments in infrastructure segments like power, roads etc. in its 12th five year plan (2012-2017). The PEB market is generally associated with investments and growth in the industrial and commercial sectors, but Kirby has ventured into new application areas like power plant structures, bridge girders, metro stations, shipyard structures etc.

What are some of the major advantages in comparison to conventional construction?

PEB design is based on the synergy existing between various elements and every element is assumed to brace the other element thereby providing the overall stiffness. In a conventional system, separate members are provided for this purpose. Thus, PEB uses tapered building sections, cold formed sections and high strength sheeting to optimize the steel consumption with a nut and bolt configuration yielding overall weight, cost and time savings compared to conventional buildings. Also, as the entire PEB system components are getting fabricated in factory controlled conditions, it is possible to deliver quality tested materials on time in erectable sequence to project location without requiring any site welding compared to conventional construction. Superior fabrication quality and ease in site handling with lesser wastage are other major advantages over conventional construction.

Pre-engineered buildings can be adapted to suit a wide variety of structural applications like manufacturing plants, warehouses, workshops, hangers, showrooms, exhibition centres, schools and railway stations. Today’s pre-engineered steel buildings don’t need to modify clients’ needs, but need to meet or exceed them. One of our popular products is KSS-600 (Kirby Standing Seam Panel) roofing system which has double lock standing seam ends and is 100% leak proof thereby providing excellent protection in all weather conditions. Also, Kirby is the first PEB manufacturer in India to achieve FM Global approval for its KSS-600 roofing system.

Why is PEB construction still limited in its application in the residential sector?

Residential segment is a totally different market. Here the customers are individuals whose requirements vary significantly from that of a business or an enterprise. In a B2B model, the major considerations are timely supply, quality and price. All these aspects are very much valid for a B2C model as well but aesthetics (architectural appeal) and customization play a major role. In the developed markets, PEB is already being used for low rise structures (G+5) such as offices, hospitals, retail malls, housing and resorts whereas in India, PEB is yet to venture in these areas. I am confident that the PEB industry would meet the required levels of aesthetics and customization in the near future. For instance, over the past five years, Kirby India has made technical improvements in product cost, construction time and aesthetic efficiency. The company has incorporated curved roof panels, wall claddings, flashings, aluco-bond panels or other such features to improve the aesthetics of the building. These improvements allow much more pleasing aesthetics to be added to pre-engineered steel buildings.

What is the major challenge in the construction of PEB systems?

Ensuring workmanship during erection of a PEB system is a major challenge. Typically, we engage builders to undertake the erection work. Erection capabilities of these builders govern the success of a project. Timely supply of PEB materials has been our strength. But when builders’ fail to erect in time or complete in all respects with desired finishing, the customer is let down. To counter these problems, Kirby has a strong execution team and a network of over 100 certified builders. We have developed a mechanism to certify builders based on their capabilities and capacities. This has helped us ensure quality workmanship throughout the course of the project.

What are the energy efficiency measures being incorporated in PEB buildings?

The use of skylights and solar panels on rooftops will meet daylight and captive power requirements and at the same time reduce emissions and gain carbon credits under clean development mechanism. Effective usage of insulation material, louvers and other materials are also becoming part of green PEB buildings. All the materials used are recyclable and environment friendly. The company has been designing buildings as per national and international standards like AISC, AISI, MBMA and BIS using its proprietary software and standard packages like AutoCAD, STAADPro and ProSteel for designing and detailing of PEB structures. This helps in efficient customization as per customer requirements saving on raw material and natural resources.

Some of the latest projects by Kirby India?

Kirby has partnered with most of the leading corporates and industries in setting up their facilities – Nokia, Skoda, Tata, Reliance, UNICEF, Swaraj Mazda, BMW, Renault-Nissan, Suzlon Group, Birla Tyres, Apollo Tyres, MRF Tyres, Bridgestone, Pipavav Shipyard, Jindal Group and JSW-Toshiba. Some of the recent projects being executed by Kirby are for companies like Alstom, Danieli, BASF and JSW Steel. Today, at 200,000MT capacity per annum and more than 18m sqm of pre-engineered buildings in India, the company has the ability to handle any size of project. Some examples include the Renault-Nissan car project at Chennai which is the world’s single largest PEB involving over 20,000MT of steel and spread over an area of 300,000sqm, the largest ship building facility at Pipavav in Gujarat for M/s. Pipavav Shipyard Ltd., Steel Bridge Girder for Commonwealth Games 2010 at New Delhi awarded by Gammon India and Power Plant Structure (TG Building) for Madhucon Projects for the 300MW thermal power plant near Nellore.

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