Harish Gupta: How has the ACP business grown in the last 25 years in India?
Nitin Jain: The business was primarily import oriented initially as most companies started as traders or agents for companies abroad. Viva Composite Panels was also a trading company, started by my father 18 years ago. Today, there are over 40 companies in India producing ACP and aluminium sheet products. The market has grown to nearly 3500 to 4000 crore in annual sales and is growing 7 - 8% per year, which includes construction projects and retail products.
HG: What are the new products emerging in the market?
NJ: Aluminium panels with nano coating are the upcoming products. These allow easy cleaning due to the water repellent properties of the coating. They also require a lesser cleaning cycle, which saves maintenance costs. Then there are panels with anti-bacterial coating, which are being largely used in hospitals.
HG: These anti-bacterial coated panels could also make their way into the office segment as there is more focus on hygiene in the interior spaces. Even solid aluminium sheets are new to the Indian market.
NJ: Yes, solid aluminium sheets are a growing market. They are available as 2, 3 and 4mm solid sheets and are considered the best material for a fire-rated façade. What’s more, these aluminium sheets have 100% scrap value at the end of life. Since any type of finish, texture or color can be made on solid aluminium, it is the ideal material for façades which are in the A1 category of fire rating - the highest for a 100% fire-proof facade.
A cheaper version of solid sheet is the corrugated core aluminium panel which uses a corrugated aluminium sheet core between two skins of aluminium. It is half the weight of FR Class A2 Panel is therefore also cost-effective. But since there is a bonding glue used to laminate the core, it falls in the A2 fire category.
HG: But there are other fire rated products like B class and A2 class FR ACP which use an aluminium hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide mineral core. They are cheaper than the solid aluminium. B class uses 70% mineral core and A2 uses 90% mineral core and more cost effective as compared to solid aluminium sheet.
NJ: Yes, the FR ACP is cheaper than solid sheet, and nearly the same as the corrugated core aluminium panel. A 100% aluminium panel will always have better scrap value as it is 100% recyclable without wastage and can be reused for an infinite number of times. Mineral core Class B is 7.5 kg/sqm, Class A2 is 8 kg/sqm, while corrugated core is 4kg/sqm and becomes lightweight as well as reduces the structural grid weight/sqm. This is the reason why a lot of corporates and construction projects are now using corrugated core aluminium sheet panels.
Another product which is making its way into the façade industry is aluminium with honeycomb core in higher thickness of 12mm and 25mm. It is primarily used for interior ceiling applications and has a fire rating of A2. There are many other variants of this type for external façades also.
HG: There is lack of awareness in the market about fire rated aluminium panel products as even now the consumption of fire rated products is only 15 to 17% compared to the non-fire rated products.
NJ: Most people do not yet know about the different categories in fire rated products like B1, B2 class, A2 and A1 class. And that is the reason people tend to choose B1 class as it is the cheapest among fire rated, but A1 and A2 give better protection. This fact needs to be realized by the façade professionals as well as the consumers. Lack of strict regulations has also kept the consumption of fire rated aluminium composites low.
HG: Europe, UAE and a few other countries have regulations in place to use only fire rated aluminium composite panels; India is still to implement this strictly.
NJ: Gradual awareness is coming and developers like Capital Land in Hyderabad and DLF in Delhi are now changing the cladding of their older buildings to fire rated aluminium cladding.
FR Class A2+ or ACCP is a next gen cladding product which is lightweight and is 100% recyclable, making it well accepted by the facade fraternity
HG: What are the challenges being faced by the façade industry especially when metal prices are highly volatile?
NJ: Clients need to put metal benchmark rates and conversion ratio for supply or contracting in their contracts when placing orders. Benchmarking 60 to 70% of major materials can help procurement teams/suppliers and contractors to safely sign the contracts and work without fear.
HG: What are companies doing to capture more market share?
NJ: Companies now have gone into providing value-added services like offering solutions with parametric façade design, which is a new façade design solution. These designs are made on the sheets and the contractor can easily fabricate the 3D modules on predesigned sheets and fix them to the façade grid. Companies are also offering diverse products for facades like stone finish, corten steel, copper, stainless steel, etc.
Facade Consultant Ar. Harish Gupta specializes in Façade Audit and Value Engineering. He can be reached at
In addition, many companies are moving towards backward integration as this business is expected to grow considering the 500 new airports announced by the central government. In fact, every company is striving to develop more varieties of products in India so that they can be offered at a less cost than the imports and reach construction sites at half the transit time.