Ready Mix Concrete - The New Alternative
In an interview with Civil Engineering and Construction Review, S.V. Patil, RMC & Key Accounts Head, UltraTech Cement Limited shares the numerous advantages of using Ready Mix Concrete in our construction processes, which has made it as the most popular option in India at the moment.
Civil Engineering and Construction Review: Ready Mix Concrete is becoming quite popular in India and is being used in various civil constructions. How has been the journey of UltraTech Ready Mix Concrete in this process?In an interview with Civil Engineering and Construction Review, S.V. Patil, RMC & Key Accounts Head, UltraTech Cement Limited shares the numerous advantages of using Ready Mix Concrete in our construction processes, which has made it as the most popular option in India at the moment.
S.V. Patil: UltraTech Concrete has not only taken a leadership role in the country right from the beginning in terms of providing high quality products and services, but also has led the concrete industry in benchmarking the industry practices to the world class practices. We have ensured that state-of-the-art production plants and the quality systems have been adopted so that the growing pace of construction technology is complemented with highest quality concrete varieties. UltraTech Concrete has developed an army of skilled concrete technologists throughout the country in order to cater to concrete mix customisation required by high rise buildings, highways, metros and industrial projects. This has led to rise of speciality concrete products catering to a range of applications like repairs, rehabilitation, decorative, waterproofing, and flooring and like. We have also been actively imparting the knowledge of cement and concrete related best practices through workshops and mobile labs. Our product development and knowledge communications are supported by our accredited research centre at Taloja in Maharashtra. UltraTech Concrete is currently the market leader serving the industry from 106 plants with its presence in 35 cities.
CE&CR: What are the advantages and limitations of using Ready Mix Concrete?
S.V. Patil: Ready Mix Concrete uses modern technology in contrast to the traditional mixing of concrete at site. The users of RMC may choose to purchase concrete from reliable and certified RMC producers in order to ensure predictable quality of concrete and durable construction. Use of mechanisation in transportation (transit mixers) and placement (concrete pumps) of concrete ensures that the casting of foundations and slabs is finished in much lesser time leading to timely completion of projects. Early completion of buildings leads to major commercial gains not only in terms of reduction in construction costs, but also rentals and timely space utilisation.
UltraTech Concrete procurement and quality control teams routinely exercise their expertise by mapping best and competitive material sources in the area and leverage information technology to deliver superior quality of concrete performance at reasonably optimised costs. One of the limitations RMC as a technology poses is its inability to deliver smaller quantities for ancillary applications because typically the concrete is delivered using transit mixers of about 6 cubic metres capacity. Such limitations are overcome by use of branded RMC products like UltraTech ZIP or equivalent.
CE&CR: Is it difficult to manufacture various types of concrete for such large variety of project site requirements? How is UltraTech Concrete equipped for the task?
S.V. Patil: Our concrete technologists and application specialists keenly study the project specification and behavioural requirements for specific work being taken up. By blending the knowledge of high-performance concrete design and needs of the application, the team recommends the customers the selection of product mixes. Design and delivery of high-performance concrete suiting to a large variety of concrete applications requires handling of specialised materials, accuracy of batching, adequate research, accredited testing and well-developed quality management systems. UltraTech RMC is famed for its range of application-based specialty concrete products like Décor, iFloors, Freeflow, Thermocon, Litecon and Aquaseal etc.
CE&CR: What is your message to those aspiring to build fast? Is Ready Mix Concrete an economical alternative? What are the factors, which must be considered to calculate the economic advantages of RMC?
S.V. Patil: Ready Mix Concrete enables of fast, good quality and reliable construction. Wastages and pilferages at sites are eliminated. Time taken in finishing the day’s concreting is reduced by 40 to 70 per cent. Labour is reduced at site. Ready Mix Concrete creates an ecosystem for site handling to become more convenient, eco-friendly and efficient. The cost comparisons lead to skewed results when material cost of site concrete is directly compared with delivered price of RMC. However, after incorporating the economies achieved from material, labour and time savings as well as reduction in failures and corrective actions, it is easy to conclude that RMC provides an economically viable alternative to all construction requirements. Apart from the short-term economics, buildings and infrastructure costs are substantially reduced when a superior and durable RMC is used to reduce overall lifecycle cost of construction. It should also be appreciated that production of concrete needs to be done in reliable and sustainable manner. This can be done when production facilities are equipped with certified environment, health and safety related controls. Use of concrete from unorganised plants without QCI or BIS certification may appear cheaper but will be detrimental to the construction industry.
CE&CR: How can RMC help the construction industry in ensuring sustainable development? How is UltraTech Concrete involved in promoting Green technologies and products?
S.V. Patil: Ready Mix Concrete incorporates beneficiation of industrial by-products like flyash and slag for use in concrete for higher durability, achieving significant reduction in cement consumption. RMC is also instrumental in reducing the depletion of river sand and other precious natural resources. By purchasing concrete instead of sand and aggregates directly, sites can be kept relatively pollution-free. Products like structural lightweight concrete and fire safe concrete available through RMC help the buildings reduce the energy costs and well as fire resistance of the buildings.
CE&CR: What potential do you see in usage of precast technology in various sectors of construction in future? How is Ready Mix Concrete aligned to the needs of the housing sector in upcoming decades?
S.V. Patil: Housing sector requires a substantially large number of dwellings to be constructed within a short span of more than a decade. Such a requirement mandates the construction cycle to be reduced drastically. Many precast related technologies are now available for this to be effectively executed. Use of preformed aluminium formwork, flowable concrete, early strength concrete, heat curing etc. can be combined judiciously to ensure fast track construction. UltraTech Concrete has been able to demonstrate in live projects the efficacy of such systems by usage of indigenously designed RMD technology and boxed precast methodology.
CE&CR: What are the highest strengths of concrete being used? What are the benefits of increase in the production and usage of high strength concrete?
S.V. Patil: Up to M95 grade concrete has been commercially supplied for high rise buildings. Higher grades of concrete have also been tested in laboratory scale. We are working with some renowned RCC designers to demonstrate to the industry the cost-effectiveness and technical superiority of moving towards higher strength concrete in construction. High strength concrete allows the designers to conceive slender columns and increase sellable area. Such high strength concrete, when designed properly leads to better durability and other mechanical properties.
CE&CR: What are the challenges faced by the Ready Mix Concrete industry that require support from the government and various authorities?
S.V. Patil: Very often highly stringent pollution norms are insisted upon RMC plants by certain municipal authorities, in many cases more than construction sites itself. However, it needs to be considered that use of RMC reduces traffic congestion and dust pollution created within randomly within many urban locations due to random plying of construction materials across the city. As a result, it would be beneficial for the city environment to provide SOPs and easier permissions to environmentally certified RMC plants within planned zones of the city. The users of Ready Mix Concrete should also insist on using concrete from environmentally conscious, QCI certified plants with superior quality management systems. Such steps would strengthen the organised sector within the RMC industry in serving the construction scenario in achieving the overall growth objectives of the country. Standardisation bodies and the government institutions are increasingly mandating the use of concrete from only certified plants and companies. We strongly support this move for the overall development of safe and sustainable construction.
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