Indian Fenestration Industry

Better aesthetics, safety, sound and thermal insulation, energy efficiency, and low maintenance are features that are driving acceptance of new age materials in the construction of doors and windows in modern buildings, finds Swati Sanyal Tarafdar.

The Indian fenestration industry is slowly coming of age, along with a changing, more experimental generation of end-users who are looking for revolutionary, non-traditional materials, new colours and designs, and energy-efficient elements in their homes and offices. For them, doors and windows should enhance the aesthetics of their buildings while letting in light and air, and keeping out unwanted sounds.

Timber or the traditional wood is rapidly getting replaced by engineered products and thermoplastics such as PVC resin, while uPVC is taking off fast in the Indian market. Realizing that these materials could help reduce air conditioning costs by 30%, architects and interior designers are recommending these materials, which is leading to a slow but perceptible market expansion.

Panchal Hardik

Panchal Hardik, CEO, Hardy Smith Designs (P) Limited, opines that the current generation of consumers is more open to accepting newer products like wood polymer composites (WPC) and uPVC, and he is certain that these will become more popular in the near future. "Ready to fix products will see rise in demand. Now even a layman understands the products, their properties, and advantages. The life cycle expectation of a product is also being reduced to an extent, and this is giving a boost to new products. Everyone seeks ready to fix products, without carpentry at their homes, and new products offer this advantage."

Nitin Vaze

Nitin Vaze, CEO, Sleek Boards (India), observes, "Manufacturing of doors and door sets hitherto was a legacy of units that had forest licenses, saw mills with seasoning chambers, and a host of wood processing equipment. The primitive way to provide timber in flush doors has been a great drain on the scarce forest and plantation resources for such an insignificant utility. However, the protection due to non-grant or restricted grant of new licenses has made the industry flourish as almost no new entrant could penetrate the closely held door industry. However, with the advent of engineered products, the furniture industry has now entered the door industry, which will eventually change the face of the fenestration market."

HR Shukla

"The PVC window market is growing in selected premium high-end realty areas and in the southern region mainly, where innovative developments in fenestrations are needed to combat the tropical, dusty climate," says H.R. Shukla, MD, Accura Polytech Pvt Ltd. In his view, with the entry of multinational companies in the Indian fenestration market, there will be manifold growth of the uPVC window production, but its potential share in the total fenestration market will remain limited. The economical uPVC foam profile windows will see increasing acceptance in rural markets and in the affordable housing sector.

Amir Hashmi

Amir Hashmi, National Manager - Marketing & Sales, Profine India, recalls that though the Indian fenestration industry witnessed a rapid growth in the 1990s, it was the boom in the real estate sector in the mid 20s that resulted in a huge demand for windows and doors. "Now, we are witnessing a steady growth in the fenestration industry which has become more organized, and manufacturers have brought in quality products with their latest technology, new materials and customized solutions. Seeing the potential in India's fast growing building construction industry, international brands are setting-up permanent offices and production facilities in India rather than importing the product. The customer has many options now so it has become very essential for manufacturers to focus on quality along with efficient sales service in order to remain competitive."

Market projection

Turnkey Furniture Project
Turnkey Furniture Project @ Ahmedabad, Photo: Hardy Fenestration
Over the past two years, the changing political motivation to boost manufacturing in India, and the coming into prominence of the concept of smartness in cities at various levels have pushed open the bars for the construction industry as well. The Indian doors and windows market is expected to grow at a faster rate with the government's 'housing for all by 2022' initiative and smart cities development. Looking at the upcoming opportunities, manufacturers of doors and windows are focusing on new technologies and innovations to become smarter in their offerings and sales.

Says Hashmi, "Huge investments in infrastructure gives boost to employment generation, which in turn improves standard of living. The country's GDP is expected to rise to 12.1% in 2020 from 7.0 percent in 2011. This environment makes India a perfect destination for investment in industries associated with infrastructure. A shift from traditional windows to uPVC and aluminium windows is already evident. All these factors not only sustain the current fenestration market but it will continue to rise in the coming future."

Sleekboard Door Concept
Photo: Sleek Board
According to Nitin Vaze, growth will come rapidly with the door profile changing from a construction material to a piece of furniture. Availability of engineered materials will enable manufacture 100% engineered doors and doorsets. Indians are learning to say 'no' to timber in-filled doors, thereby saving the plantations for better use. They also want better quality doors that provide privacy as well as insulation against external noise. Hardy Smith has added WPC-based solid frames and sections to its doors, which are one of the most innovative products. "This is a perfect replacement for natural wood, and it has better properties and looks similar to that of wood," says Panchal Hardik.

uPVC or wood?

Increasing construction of new housing and renovation/rebuilding activities is seeing lucrative growth of uPVC doors and windows, which according to an industry report is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7 percent during 2015-2020. The no-maintenance, corrosion-free uPVC windows are popular for their thermal, water and wind-resistance, besides being termite-free, sound insulated, dust-proof, durable, and energy-efficient. The profiles can be fully recycled and reused. "Engineered wood will continue to dominate, as it is still the cheapest and most versatile product for the doors and windows industry," comments Nitin Vaze.

Hashmi, however, is of the view that wood is still a winner as it has always been a preferred material, and is easily available, thanks to a huge manufacturing network. But in the last decade or so, alternative materials like uPVC and aluminium have captured market share due to their many advantages over wood. "We all know that windows and doors made of wood are not considered eco-friendly, as trees have to be cut-down for making them. They also require periodic polishing and painting, and good maintenance as they tend to rot, warp or crack, and they are also not good for thermal insulation," he says.

"Aluminum consumes lots of energy during production, and the windows also require periodic maintenance as they begin to fade under continual exposure to UV rays. uPVC contains titanium dioxide that protects windows from fading when exposed to UV rays, so they do not require re-coating. Cleaning is easy as well. The extrusion process of uPVC window and door profiles is relatively energy-efficient as compared to other materials." He adds that for several years now, all KÖMMERLING window and door profiles have been solely produced with calcium-zinc instead of lead. Calcium-zinc is a new type of stabiliser that makes uPVC profiles even more resistant to the most aggressive weather conditions.

AccucelDoors Windows

Innovation and technological upgradation

Profine India Doors Windows
Photo: Profine India

The expanding fenestration market is further driving manufacturers to innovate with materials and technological upgradations. Profine India recently introduced the Orta Plus Series under its Sliding Door Systems, and also a new Fix and Slide System that comes with an in-built fly mesh. Specifically developed for large residential projects, the Fix and Slide System features a unique multi chambered profile design, and is stronger and more energy-efficient. It reduces fabrication and installation time, and also provides option for an in-built fly screen track.

Says Hashmi, "Profine is characterized by quality thinking, innovative strength, efficient processes, and responsibilities. With our new generation of window and door systems, we have set new standards in international markets to meet people's need for brightly lit residential and work spaces. We create the conditions for modern, energy-efficient architecture. We provide optimized sound insulation for quiet and stress-free living spaces and a healthy indoor atmosphere using forward-looking ventilation solutions."

"The expertise, creativity, and innovative strength of Koemmerling brand and the company's ongoing research in window technology areas has enabled us to bring forth new materials, intelligent chamber systems, and computer-optimized designs. We minimize use of materials while maximizing benefits," he avers.

The latest upgradation from Accura Polytech Pvt. Ltd. are louvered windows. Shukla informs that the WPC foam profiles with economical aspects are getting faster acceptance in rural sectors compared to soft wood, steel and precast concrete window frames. The company manufactures Accucel uPVC solid foam profiles with integral skin using Italian technology at its factory in Sanand district of Ahmedabad. Products include open-able double rebate window frame with provisions for window shutter, security grill, and mosquito shutters, 2 and 3 track sliding windows, sliding/folding windows, pivoted windows, louvered open and close window shutters and ventilators in finishes of wood, veneer, and PU-coated designs. It has introduced an in-built decorative architrave design to facilitate elegant and economical solutions for masonry joints.

At Sleek Boards, Vaze informs that doors and door sets with 100% sustainable engineered materials carrying PEFC certification, are stronger yet lighter, impact-resistant, have fire repellant properties, cut down noise, and their low formaldehyde emission enhances indoor air quality.

Electric Soindle Drive Skylight
Photo Courtesy: Geze India

Hardy Smith specializes in solid frames and sections based on wood polymer composites (WPC), which are one of the most innovative and fresh products in the genre, and claims their products have become a success within 5 years of introduction in the Indian market, so much so that they are getting inquiries from abroad too. WPC is used to make boards, solid door frames, solid doors, flush doors, and outdoor decking. PVC and PE/PP-based WPC is being manufactured in India using agriculture and wood waste such as saw mill dust, rice husk and some bagasse dust. Experiments are on with respect to its formulation and surface decoration techniques There is no wastage during production, and no trees are cut, plus it can be reused.

Industry prospects

Opinions are divided on the current market status and future growth prospects of the fenestration industry. While some believe that the government should motivate the industry players, others like Hardik think that new policies such as the FDI are quite encouraging. "To globalize our industries and manufacturing, we must welcome international products and trends. For this, we have to allow foreign players to do business here with their best-in-class products and give them a platform to showcase their expertise. If they will invest foreign money in our country, we should not fear that they will not take all the earnings back, rather, they will manage their outsourcing channels locally. This will drive our local manufacturing skills, create healthy competition, and encourage brand outsourcing and joint ventures. These are opportunities that we should grasp as the time is right."

uPVC Windows
He adds, "We are more technology driven now. We are looking for higher levels of comfort by using 'smarter' products. We want designer stuff that works faster, is lighter and performs more efficiently and precisely. This mind-set is the most important factor today for the industry to accept global products and manufacturing expertise. There is rapid infrastructure development across India with commercial buildings and residences coming up in all the regions. This will increase demand for fenestration, so the prospects for the industry are indeed very positive."

At Accura Polytechnic, Shukla strongly believes that the government should promote the energy saving uPVC windows (whose market share comprises 8-9 percent of the total doors and windows market) by exempting them from excise and VAT/GST.

Hashmi sharing his views, says, "India is one of the fastest growing economies, and the country is seeing development both in residential and commercial segments. Only 33% of our population lives in cities and the percentage is expected to rise to 40% by 2031. As job opportunities increase, migration from tier 2 and 3 cities and even rural regions will rise. The service industry is sustaining a strong growth in employment from local and multinational corporations, with consequent need for better housing, high quality retail, and new class A and B office space. There is a lot of scope for redevelopment too. In historical downtowns, the urban quality of even the most prime real estate locations is low by Western standards. Mumbai is the most evident case where slums survive next to posh locations in the city, and even in prime locations, life-long fixed rents are holding landlords from redeveloping decaying properties."

The potential in the fenestration industry is drawing global players to enter the market by way of import or local extrusion. This has made the manufacturing companies more competitive, with customers enjoying the resultant benefits. Manufacturers opine that the government's initiatives in developing smart cities and favourable and protective policies to promote and nurture the industry are imperative at this stage when the industry is poised for growth.