Pre-fabs to build houses faster, greener

Brickless technology will meet the need for housing in half the time compared with conventional methods. Feroz Khan, Director, Fabtech Sterling Building Technologies



Pre-fabricated concrete products can be a solution to the soaring construction costs and delays in construction of property, says Mr Feroz Khan, Director, Fabtech Sterling Building Technologies. Mr Khan, shares the advantages of pre-fabiracated and pre-engineered technology over conventional building systems. Excerpts:

Is there any statistics on pre-fabricated and pre-engineered concrete industry growth in India?

Pre-fabricated and pre-engineered concrete industry is growing by 30 per cent year-on-year. With the economic re-strengthening, we expect rise in current trends. The reason behind our expectation is also linked to the impetus provided by the government with tax exemption for concrete products pre-fabricated on site. Brickless technology will fulfil the nation's need for housing in half the time in comparison to conventional construction in future.

In what ways are your products suitable for Indian conditions? What are the inputs that go into making your products?

Our most premium offerings are under the umbrella of FABFORMS, a range of building systems. This replaces all kinds of traditional forms such as wood , steel and aluminium and is manufactured from specially designed plastic spacers made from 100 per cent recycled plastic and composite cement boards, thereby making it a green product.

Fabtech Plaswall and Plasmolite are offerings with unique form for external construction and are making a headway in West Asia and Africa. Plaswall, with panel thickness of 4 inches provides more carpet space compared with conventional seven to nine inch wall.

It can be constructed at the company's manufacturing facilities or at the site of construction. Plasmolite, on the other hand, is a product for high-rise buildings.

It is lighter and has special properties such as low thermal conductivity and high fire resistance.

What advantages do they have over the traditional system of using bricks?

Fabtech's technology has tangible benefits. Plaswall, for instance, is adaptable to all climatic conditions and even extreme conditions like earthquakes and cyclones. Design flexibility allows any configuration as per client's requirements - arches, curved walls and so on. It can be very well integrated with conventional columns and beams. It saves energy equally up to 40 per cent both while heating and cooling.

On the cost side, it reduces construction time by a third and enables you to save dramatically on the material cost. Also, since the site completion takes less time, developers are able to get return on investment much earlier, thus saving on interest.

The products do not also require huge skilled labour which is a big issue in India today.

Currently which segment sees the most demand?

Residential seems an exciting segment for us at the moment; however industrial segment is growing as well. We are in discussions to build power plant projects in Orissa and Wardha.

Prefab products have been the subject of quality concerns? What is your defence?

We use James Hardie boards known for their better quality. James Hardie is the first and largest manufacturer of fiber cement boards. Our technology is well-proven for quality with various fire, acoustics and thermal certifications. The product is not prone to termite, seepage and leakage when compared to conventional technology. It is because of the quality of board.

Which other countries use this technology?

Globally, this technology has been in use for eleven years and has spread from the Philippines to Australia, Qatar, Oman and India. In India, operations have started a year ago and we are already working with the best names such as Tata, Celon, Ajanta, Atra and so on.

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