Looking for new horizons
The Indian directors of VME were involved in the construction of bridges in southern India using pre-stressed precast elements when they became interested in extending the precast technology into buildings and industrial structures. “Usage of total precast in buildings is new to India and there is a huge opportunity because of the lack of skilled manpower, considering the volume,” opens Manickam Kannan, Director of VME Precast Pvt. Ltd. In 2008, the company turned to Elematic to buy the machinery needed to start production of hollow-core slabs, columns and beams at its factory near the city of Chennai. Phase 1 production of this Skeleton System will hit full swing in January 2010. Elematic also has a second contract with VME that includes a total solution for wall panel production using a circulating line with revolving table molds (an ELSA line). Implementation of Phase 2 is expected in first week of March 2010. VME is looking to sell precast solutions and components to construction companies. To do this, they are initially planning to handle the total concept: from design, manufacture and installation of precast components. “We chose Elematic because they are a total solution provider for precast systems and they have a good world wide network. They have rich experience by providing precast solutions to various countries in different weather conditions like extreme hot, cold, rain prone and seismic conditions,” says Kannan. He adds that he appreciated that Elematic was an active partner from the beginning. “Right from the layout, they were involved. As a result, the plant is well-designed and we have no issues.”
India is a volume business
From Kannan’s perspective, the precast building business in India is based on high volume. “We are looking to double our capacity at the existing set-up and then move to other plants. There is no point in bringing business to India unless you are prepared for significant scale-up. By the second year, we should be thinking of starting another plant,” notes Kannan. In the future, VME can double the capacity of the Chennai factory by adding more casting beds and more table moulds.
Precast is a growing market
“Precast in India is increasing in a big way, especially in the infrastructure Industry,” explains Chander Dutta, Elematic’s representative in India. “Today, many of our tunnels, fly over’s, bridges, and construction of metro rail are done with precast applications.” The reason for precast is speed of construction. Most of the construction in infrastructure projects is in city centers, “so time and speed of construction can be maintained only by bringing precast into construction,” comments Dutta. In building construction, precast is picking up in recent years, as India has witnessed a lot of slum rehabilitation and construction of houses for the economically weaker section. “Precast is also picking up for the same reason of speed and time, as in other building projects,” says Dutta. In India, the low income group and middle income group are under-served, so the need in these segments is substantial. “This can be seen by multi-fold increase in queries from construction houses for Elematic Products,” he says. Dutta notes that the process of changing from the developed conventional method will “take some time, as people have a finite mind set. But with the younger generation coming into the workforce, this attitude is changing for the better.” ___________________________________________________________ Summary of Skeleton System Elematic's Phase 1 delivering of its ‘Skeleton System' to VME consists of machinery that enables the production of hollow-core slabs, columns and beams. It consists of the following equipment:
- Concrete transport system with a shuttle
- Skeleton Casting machine Extruder to make hollow-core slab
- Multifunctional saw to cut the hollow-core slabs
- BedMaster to cleanand oil the casting beds and pull the wires
- Casting beds
- Lifting equipment to handle the hollow-core slabs.