uPVC doors & windows in Indian construction market – a report

Magic of Fenestration!

Magic of Fenestration!

With benefits aplenty, uPVC Doors & Windows are finding more takers in the country, reports S. D. Khan.


Perhaps the noblest aspect of prosperity is that perceptions change fast and before we realize, luxuries often become necessities. So, if you're one of those who continue to perceive windows and doors as ‘mere openings' in a dwelling, you're surely lagging behind your progressive counterparts who have discovered a new life by thinking the opposite and spending extra bucks on ‘good' fenestration! And believe it or not, it's worth every penny spent!

Shani Corporation
Before we move ahead, let's recapitulate the parameters of an ideal 21st Century home improvement takeaway. First and foremost, it should be monetarily justified, or in other words, the initial high costs-as these products are usually expensive – should translate into sustained Return on Investment (RoI) in the long run. Secondly, the product has to be a token of sustainability in the sense that it should have been designed for today while bearing in mind the needs of tomorrow. Ergonomically, it must elevate the quality of your life, and also add to the welfare of the environment through green attributes.

Well, discerning consumers have now started demanding more from doors and windows. To get into the skin of things, MGS Architecture conducted a survey in the mid and high income groups across 8 major cities of the country. And as expected, the majority of respondents concurred that while selecting doors and windows they consider various criteria such as ergonomics, eco-friendliness, quality, and zero-maintenance. In fact, some even claimed that they are keen on cutting down electricity bills in the long-run and perceive windows as the ideal mediums to attain the same.

Thanks to prosperity, the fenestration products available in the market today are embodiments of all the aforementioned credentials, an ideal example of which is the uPVC Doors and Windows. These offerings are energy-efficient, fire, wind, and moisture resistant, aesthetic, long lasting, thermally and acoustically insulated, and can be customized according to individual requirements.

Sundip Kumar
Vindicating the fact, Mr. Sundip Kumar, Managing Director of Delhi-based Shani Corporation Limited (SCL), says, "Our uPVC windows and doors profile comes with eco-friendly stabilizers. These windows do not rot, rust or corrode, and since they don't absorb moisture, they won't warp, twist or split. Moreover, the uPVC doors and windows have excellent weather resistance and comply with the relevant BS Standards. Apart from being sound insulated, the windows are built with tough steel core and bring security to your home."

Notably, SCL offers a vast range of uPVC fenestration products such as Track Sliding Doors & Windows, Casement Windows, and Turning Doors. "We market our products under the brand names of CORA ECOLINE – Value for Money, CORA MAX – Max Advantage and CORA PRIME – Luxury at its Best," he informs.

EN Craft Sliding Window

Robert Höllrigl



According to Mr. Robert Höllrigl, President, Research, Development & Design, EN CRAFT, "India has over 7500 km coastline, thus to withstand the harsh and corrosive climate, uPVC frames in conjunction with stainless steel hardware are the only suitable, long-term framing options. EN CRAFT offers precision engineered uPVC door and window systems that come with a lifetime of style, strength and security in a range of customized contemporary designs. Our profiles are designed to match Indian tropical conditions and are extruded and tested, conforming to the most stringent benchmark."


Manmohan Singh


Mr. Manmohan Singh, Marketing Manager - NCL Wintech, agrees, "The overall acceptability of uPVC doors and windows is increasing day-by-day, as people have started realizing the benefits." NCL Group (India), a market leader in building materials, in association with ADO Group (Turkey) offers WINTECH uPVC window and door solutions. These profiles are specifically designed for Indian climatic conditions. Mr. Singh adds, "Apart from the increasing concerns for quality, people are also gauging other aspects such as wind-load calculations, and standardization. These are very positive signs for the growth of this market. And NCL Wintech, by the virtue of being a complete solutions provider, has benefited a lot by these developments."

Fitting the Bill

What makes a modern day consumer different from his predecessors is the fact that he likes to set his own trends. His tastes, preferences, and requirements govern his buying decisions. And if the products are not readily available, he doesn't mind getting them tailormade. With the advent of uPVC technology, doors and windows can easily be customized according to individual requirements, and manufacturers are capitalizing on this USP.

Mario Schmidt
Mr. Mario Schmidt, Managing Director, Lingel Windows & Doors Technologies, avers, "Our strength is to work out individual and unique solutions together with our customers. Each window in each project has to be discussed individually to find out the best option for each particular place." Notably, Germany-based Lingel is a specialist in uPVC door and window solutions and its broad range of offerings is in-sync with the Indian requirements.

On being asked about the importance of standardization, Mr. Schmidt says, "There are no standard sizes anywhere in the world. Even in Europe each window is fabricated unique. Further it protects our industry, that craftsmanship and project management are still key factors for successful business. If it would turn into standardization, only few extreme large players will be left out at the end of the day."

Differs Mr. Singh, "Talking of standardization, we are trying to convince the large scale builders and developers to go for standardization. Suppose a developer is constructing 1000 apartments, then the doors and windows should be of standard sizes for all. We also strongly advocate the minimization of wastage which in-turn helps in standardization. The major benefit of this practice is that maintenance becomes easy."

NCL WINTECH

Meanwhile, there are others who take a neutral stand. Mr. Höllrigl, is of the opinion that,"uPVC does not rely on standard sizes. The material using conventional machinery is perfectly capable of catering to any frame size without cost implications and any loss of production efficiencies. Therefore, the benefits of frame size standardization are marginal unless someone manufactures stock sizes. The lack of Industry Standards in India is a concern for the whole industry and its clients and we are working closely with the UWDMA to ensure that certain standards are established and introduced quickly. At EN CRAFT, we apply the highest European standards and can only ask all end users to ensure that the product they receive meets these stringent standards."

Talking of customization, he says, "This fact has been recognized, and one of our company's strengths is to provide customized solutions through its vertical integrated systems business covering design expertise, in-house tool making and advanced manufacturing facilities." Emphasizing upon the need of quality workmanship, he avers, "uPVC windows and doors require familiarization and training. Successfully installing uPVC frames even into irregular openings is a matter of training and following established practices. EN CRAFT is willing to train and to subsequently certify its installers to demonstrate their knowledge and adherence to installation standards and installation code of practices."

Lingel

But all said and done, the Indian buyers' propensity to bargain cannot be overlooked. Although clients have developed a strong inclination towards quality, they are still price sensitive. Since uPVC products fall in the premium bracket, how are manufacturers synergising the cost-quality proposition- as price plays a big role when it comes to sales volume-?

Lingel Window
Mr. Singh states, "What makes India a unique market is that people want quality but are reluctant to spend that extra penny! How we are tilting this situation in our favour is that instead of importing from our manufacturing unit in Turkey, we have set up an indigenous manufacturing unit in Hyderabad. As a result, we have been able to develop India-specific uPVC window and door solutions. Our philosophy is to provide the optimum products for India which are a blend of quality and competitive pricing."

Meanwhile, Mr. Höllrigl observes that uPVC windows are made for a life span in excess of 50 years without requiring significant maintenance or repair work (NOTE: 50 years life span is also depends on reinforcement, gasket, hardware and glass specification in use!). So we can assume that a single 49 square feet quality fenestration item retailing at a price of Rs. 80,000 would only cost Rs. 1,600 per year."

Agrees Mr. Schmidt, "We have to do our homework in keeping the running cost as low as possible, and we have to educate our customers about the real advantages buying a branded product. Key factors at our business are installation and service. Both have to work hand in hand to give the best product and service to our costumer. Being a certified company under ISO 9001 2008, we are focusing towards customer satisfaction. Further, all installations are done by Lingel's employed technicians only."

Long-term Growth

Lingel Window and Door Technology
Well, according to a recent report by the global real estate consultancy Cushman & Wakefield, the total new housing demand in India will be nearly 12 million units in the next five years (2013-17). And out of the total demand in top eight cities, the joint share of Middle Income Group (MIG) and Higher Income Group (HIG) categories will be 2.5 million units. Although the past two to three quarters have witnessed a slowdown of sorts in the Real Estate Sector, what's encouraging is the positive approach that manufacturers are adopting.

Brushing aside the apprehensions, Mr. Singh avers, "There's a slowdown in the real estate sector, but it's majorly confined to the large scale builders and developers. In fact, whether there's a slowdown or not, people will still build houses across the country because that's a basic need. Instead of being bogged down by the slowdown, we are now directing our focus to tier-II and tier-III cities in states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and others."

Lingel, on the other hand, is also unfazed by the lull. "We are trying to extend our business into new areas and increasing our existing sales team," informs Mr. Schmidt. SCL too is eying new territories. "We are exploring semi urban and rural areas. Also our focus is on retail market only as there is no slowdown," asserts Mr. Kumar.

Needless to say, the future holds bright for the Fenestration Industry, and opportunities are up for the grabs for uPVC door and window makers!
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