Globally, the growth in the construction market is playing a significant role in the rising demand for plumbing products. Nitin Kulkarni, President, Finolex Industries Ltd, India’s largest rigid PVC pipes and fittings manufacturer in conversation with Buildotech speaks about the concerns and potential of the Indian plumbing sector.
The current scenario and latest developments in Indian plumbing industry
In India, there is a tussle for water between the rapidly growing urban centre and cities requiring water for drinking and sanitation etc. and agriculture and industry on the other end. Unfortunately, a large portion of available water is wasted in India due to lack of proper plumbing infrastructure. Thus, plumbing constitutes an important part of the city planning.
For past few years, the plumbing industry in India has been growing at a double digit figure. Simultaneously, with more complex buildings getting designed and constructed, the need of trained plumbers is also increasing. Not surprisingly, with, the real estate sector facing huge shortage of skilled workers, the importance of imparting training to plumbing professionals has gained significance. Many design colleges now have added plumbing as an elective course.
The technological development in plumbing and water supply products
Infrastructure development, urbanization and subsequent development of residential and industrial construction are facilitating the growth of the pipe industry in India. Plastic pipes such as PVC and CPVC are popular due to their quality, durability and ability to carry water without any leakage. Selfit pipes have 50% saving in installation time, as compared with plain ended pipes and loose couplers. Number of joints is reduced by 50% resulting in substantial saving in labour costs. In the Ringfit pipes, even in extreme temperature variations, the rubber ring absorbs the linear expansion and contraction leaving the seal intact. Deflection of pipes due to various reasons like shifting of soil, land contour can be easily accommodated up to 2 degree per joint. Additionally, there is no need for solvent cement in Ringfit pipes.
Challenges facing the plumbing sector
The Indian PVC pipes market is around 18 lakh MTs p.a, of which around 10 lakh MTs consist of organized players and the remaining is covered by unorganized players. One of the biggest challenges with unorganized players is the price war. They sell low quality products at cheaper rates. For companies like us offering high quality products, it becomes difficult to meet low price points. For instance, the product like PVC pipes which is made out of PVC resin – a derivative of the oil chain – is subject to price fluctuations. Many short term players tend to play with quality in times of high raw material prices.
Initiatives to promote skill development among plumbers and technicians
Lack of skilled labour is an issue that is becoming a rising concern in the construction and manufacturing industry. The absence of proper training programmes has kept many plumbers from progressing in their field and the lack of a defined career path has thwarted their aspirations. Finolex has partnered with Kushal (a partnership project between Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), Pune Metro and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)) to improve the skills of the building services workforce by imparting training in the area of plumbing. This training programme will help these plumbers to learn technical skills faster which in turn help them gain personal growth and higher income.