Fasteners: The Bond is Getting Stronger
Rising construction activities and consumers' changing mindset is fuelling the growth of this industry, discovers MGS Architecture.
Going by definition, a fastener is a hardware device that mechanically joins or affixes two or more objects together. However, as much as it's needless to say that fasteners are integral to construction, it's equally surprising that they are looked upon as 'just another necessity'. It has been observed, that more often than not, project developers, in their eternal quest to save costs, opt for low-priced imported fasteners. Costs are surely saved, but a low-standard fastener can adversely impact the overall life of a structure thereby leaving the client in a spot of bother, and, damaging the developer's reputation.
Well, fasteners comprise a negligible part of the overall project costs, and likewise it's prudent for developers to choose quality over price. Meanwhile, at times applicators and consultants go by the claims of manufacturers rather than carefully checking the certificates and standardizations. Industry experts, however, are now witnessing a change in this mindset. According to Mr. Nipun Jain, Business Development Manager, LPS-EJOT, "From a traditional perspective, the Fastening Industry has been a price sensitive one, and selection of a spurious and low quality fastener gives a negative impact on the overall longevity of the structure. However, market trends are changing very fast and the industry is increasingly focused on quality solutions and after sales service."
He continues, "For instance, our JV with EJOT group is the first Indo German JV in the organized sector. The new company will be a complete solution provider in the segment. So, customers will be able to derive dual benefits, both from a leading technology standpoint to an effective efficient timely delivery and after sales and support mechanism, thereby enhancing the experience. This, we believe, will set a new benchmark in the industry in times to come. The industry will have an internationally renowned player who has leading case testimonials across the globe."
Agrees Mr. R. K. Luther, Managing Director, Atul Fasteners, "Fasteners is traditional and price sensitive industry. When a customer goes to a dealer, the first thing he asks is "what's the price?" without bothering about the quality of product. When an industrialist is putting up a project, costing him huge amounts, he does not mind paying small amount extra for installing approved grade fasteners. To overcome this mindset of end user, we ask them a simple question "How long do you anticipate the life of your building for this project?" Depending on his response, we offer him low-priced fasteners or qualitative fasteners. Well better quality fasteners are only around 25% highly priced than their cheaper substitutes, and ensure project integrity."
Meanwhile, Mr. Shailendra Goswami, Chairman & Managing Director, Pushkaraj Engineering Enterprises Pvt Ltd, opines, "Yes, it is a fact that spurious / low quality products enter the market from the backdoor. It definitely affects quality and reliability of the end products. However, with more exposure to international market through the Internet, International exhibitions and Chamber of Commerce in various cities, OE customers have become more quality conscious and look for long life. This change in mindset is clearly visible across all sectors of Indian Industry. The contracts drafted nowadays have clauses which ask for financial securities in the form of bank gurantees for performance, and therefore, there is no room for shortcuts or spurious fasteners. The penalties are so stiff that due care is taken for quality of the products."
Technological advancements in manufacturing have undoubtedly come as a boon. Affirms Mr. Vishal Mahajan, Director- R.K. Steel Industries, "Nowadays there are high tech machines that have changed the method of production, and every single unit produced is similar in quality. Well, the defect or error is absolutely zero. Using high quality fasteners is now a trend since customers are aware that low quality just saves a few rupees but harms the structure in the end."
Standardization is CriticalWell, one of the major developments that have taken place in the Indian Fastener Industry is the arrival of foreign players who have brought with themselves international technology, quality, and standards. This has left the end-users in a dilemma as they are unable to decide whether they should go for high-priced international brands or local & low-cost imported substitues, which lack standardization. According to experts. Mr. Luther informs, " The Indian standard Institute till date has not developed any standards for self-drilling screws which are extensively uses in the steel buildings. All these are imported from different countries with different markings. We have only followed Australian standards AS 3566 Class 3 and Class 4 which give 20- 30 years of rust free life and last more than the sheeting used in a project. That is appreciated by our major customers like Kirby, Pennnar, Everest, Cold Steel Corporation, Phoenix, and Zamil to name a few."
Taking a different view, Mr. Goswami says, "It is very difficult to ask for standardization of products such as fasteners, as they would vary for different applications and requirements depending on the mechanical and chemical properties. The manufacturers will have to cope with these variations and keep up with the technological developments taking place across the world."
Whereas there are others who appear unflustered by these so called challenges. Says Mr. Jain, "There was a definite need for an able technology partner in the Construction Fastener segment. To meet this situation, our joint venture with EJOT (LPS EJOT Fastening Systems Pvt Ltd) will provide the right direction and impetus for a solution oriented approach to products and services in the Indian market. We are a research & technology based company whose sole motive is to provide quality and performance to all our customers. We will provide a superior experience to our existing and potential customers in India and neighboring countries, not only by way of high end products but also by way of solutions that have been tested and approved globally by the most demanding applications. LPS and EJOT bring more than 50 years of product innovation, management and marketing experience in the fastening segment and we are confident of providing optimal value to our customers."
And EJOT is living up to its reputation by extending a bouquet of offerings. "We have got a fastener for every application which makes us a complete solutions provider rather than a shopkeeper. EJOT brings its 50 year experience to India which has translated into qualitative offerings in a holistic 360 degrees manner. It's a perfect blend of unparalleled innovative solutions at competitive prices. We cater to Industrial Lightweight buildings, ETICS -(External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems- Special Anchors for Insulation), Solar Fasteners (specialized solar application for PEB and flat roofs), IFF - Industrial Windows and Façade, Rear Ventilated Façade (Anchors for fixing substructures and façade facia) and solutions for Flat Roofing."
Informing about the technical attributes of Atul Fasteners' products range, Mr. Luther states, "We have the registered Climashield 'CS' brand for self- drilling screws. This confirms to Australian AS3566 Class 3 and Class 4 standards which give 20-30 years rust free life. These are mainly used in Pre-engineered Buildings for various applications."
And talking of R.K. Steel Industries, Mr. Mahanjan says, "Our products range includes sheet metal and wood screw m.s, stainless steel sheet metal & wood screw, hinges, heavy duty telescopic, carriage bolts, gypsum, and chip board. Iron screws & sheet metal are 101 rust proof and guarantee dual Coro heating, while HF-2 formula for black, brown screws, Ss wood screw & sheet metal. Use of widest range of grades of stainless steel screw tagged as 301,304 cu, 204 cu."
It's an ascertained fact that in these times of high-consumer awareness and competition, companies, be it any industry, need to establish the last mile connect with the end-users. So much so that at times poor after-sales support translates into zero repeat orders. What's the Fastener Industry's take on this?
Informs Mr. Jain, "Well, being a market leader EJOT believes in complete on the site service rather than after sales support. Yes, we have offices across the country and our representatives ensure round the clock connectivity, but our notable endeavour is to service the client so holistically right at the very outset that the need for any post-sales-support is nullified."
Mr. Luther, on the other hand, asserts, "We have a team of around 10 trained sales engineers, who regularly visit the sites where our Self-drilling Screws are being used. They ensure proper installation and also provide on the job training to unskilled labour employed by a site contractor."
And according to Mr. Mahajan, this is the era of consumer satisfaction and keeping this in mind, we provide various benefits to our clients such as, 100% money back guarantee, 101 months replacements of iron production, test reports for 100% satisfaction, and 24x7 customer support."
Growth All AroundAccording to experts, it's rather tough to estimate the exact size of the Fastener market, however, one logical explanation is that the growth of this industry is directly related to the growth of the Construction Sector. "The growth in Construction is taking place at a healthy clip of 25% per-annum," according to Mr. Jain.
He continues, "India will become the world's third largest construction market by 2025, adding 11.5 million homes a year to become a $1 trillion a year market, finds a new study by Global construction perspectives and Oxford Economics. PwC forecasts real estate construction segment to grow at 13.6% CAGR, In the last decade, "the country has witnessed a tremendous housing boom and over the span of five years, from 2012 to 2016, the Real Estate sector is expected to account for 43% of the construction spend in India. This segment is forecast to achieve a CAGR of 13.6% during this period. The report estimates that the market for Real Estate construction segment in India is likely to aggregate to approximately US$ 380 billion over the five year period, 2012 to 2016."
He adds, "According to Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) India's construction industry market size is worth about Rs.2,48,000 crores. With such significant developments in the industry, players who can provide global technologies and local service are players that will be poised for growth. It is therefore fair to infer that the Indian Fastening industry has a robust future in the next 5 - 6 years horizon. Indian Fastening industry has an 'inclusive' future as the real estate sector has been transforming gradually and perceptions for the industry and the sector have been changing all this while. Further, government policies have also been instrumental in providing support to the need for infrastructure development in order to ensure a better standard of living for its citizens. Market indicators also foresee increased demand from tier I and tier II cities as well."
Agrees Mr. Luther, "Major infra projects of Power Houses, Railway, Metros, and Public Utilities, require a lot of various types of fasteners. The present government is now planning to fast track all major infra projects, so I see a good future for the Indian Fastening Industry."
Meanwhile, Mr. Goswami cites a different analytical view, "Considering the Rupee devaluation, imports shall get reduced day-by-day. Hence, there would be more growth for indigenous fasteners manufacturing industry for infrastructural development. Secondly, we can concentrate on exports since we can use the parity advantage to be competitive. The government is planning large investments in infrastructure, roads, bridges, flyovers, ports, and airports. This will certainly give a boost to demand for fastners. The challenges is to meet this demand at a competitive price and good quality products."
Clearly, sustained growth is on the cards for the Fasteners Industry. While there are some challenges in the form prevalence of spurious substitutes and lack of standardizations, it's the zeal to move ahead despite all odds that will stand the manufacturers in good stead.