Emerging trends in technology and innovations are driving PEB systems.

The construction industry has witnessed a growth trajectory quite comparable to the development of the overall economic infrastructure of the country. A pre-engineered building (PEB) is a technological innovation that moves conventional construction industry to the next level. Though prefabricated structures have already made waves in the developed world, the technology is still at a nascent stage in India. PEB technology originated in the United States in 1960s. Although PEB systems are extensively used in worldwide, and it is relatively a new concept in India. These concepts were introduced to Indian markets lately in the late 1990’s by Middle Eastern vendors.

The market potential of PEB’s is 1.2 million tons per annum. The current pre-engineered steel building manufacturing capacity is 0.35 million tons per annum. The industry is growing annually at the compounded rate of 35 per cent. India has the second fastest growing economy in the world, and a lot of it is attributed to its construction industry which figures just next to agriculture in its economic contribution to the nation.

PEBs have hit the construction market in a major way owing to the many benefits they possess. In India, the concept has been gaining momentum and the scope of growth is guaranteed looking at India’s huge infrastructural requirements. As urban areas invariably face space constraints, the prefab technology could certainly be a boon. The airport and the metro projects are some major examples of PEB applications, says Ashok R Kulkarni, Managing Director, Nikitha Build-Tech Pvt Ltd.

Benefits abound
PEB is the most preferred solution in warehousing as it is customised building solutions as per applications with erection of building within stipulated time. PEB steel structure is faster, having better quality and economical being factory fabricated since each part is engineered and designed before being released for construction at factory, says N. Rajguru, Director, ACME HOLDING.

Pre-engineered warehouses can be built with great speed and precision. PEB provides maximum space utilisation with safety standards. Moreover, PEB is highly resistant to climatic conditions and clear span systems with tapered columns and rafters give optimum clear span capabilities, with the advent of sustainable construction, the technology came into limelight in the warehousing segment and Kirby Building Systems and Structures India Pvt Ltd (Kirby India) is the torch bearer for introducing this technology in India.

Viable construction solution
Kirby’s warehouses buildings are customised to meet the unique demands of the customers. Today, Kirby has become synonymous with PEB warehouse buildings in the Indian market mainly because of its unmatched speed of construction, quicker delivery, highest quality and commitment, excellent customer service, low maintenance, large clear span of up to 100 meters, earthquake resistant, world class safety practices, and green construction.

The success of PEB in warehousing was because of usage of standard heavy sections having more weight in structural steel buildings thereby making them more expensive. This has enabled PEB technology to become one of the preferred modes of construction for warehouses being setting up across India. This erstwhile concept in India has now become a widely accepted solution with proven benefits for construction in the Indian environment. “With eco-friendly construction fast catching up the growth curve in the Indian market, PEB is the most viable construction solution as it is a green product with very little impact on the environment. PEB is also perfect fit for developing warehousing sites because of the recyclable nature of steel used in the buildings,” informs spokesperson from Kirby Building Systems and Structures India Pvt Ltd.

Quick turnaround, cost-effective
PEBs permit end user to optimise column free space to suit racking arrangements, internal logistical requirements, extra storage and stacking than the conventional concepts such as concrete and site fabricated structural steel, according to Arun Jain, Managing Director, Premier Group.

In today’s complex and fast paced industrialisation warehouses must increasingly address specific requirements for its customers such as offering bare storage, storage with crane facilities, food storage, storage with multi-level stacking and open storage. PEB has quick turnaround time, cost effectiveness and right technology to deliver the complex requirements.

PEB offers large, clean floor area free of columns or obstructions, it finds favour with organisation who have very dynamic plans related to products and process handled by them over a period. In warehouses, the pre-engineered building allows for quick construction, low maintenance, ease of expansion, recyclable and eco-friendly construction.

Latest offerings in PEB are factory buildings, warehouses, shopping malls, commercial building, multi-storey steel buildings, heavy structure plant building, marriage halls, sports complex, mini auditoriums, showrooms, animal sheds, poultry farms etc.

Design of PEBs is efficient due to its integral framing system and use of international design codes such as AISC, AISI, MBMA and AWS all over the world and these codes are updated from time-to-time. Computer programs are available for the design of PEBs. Design, estimation, detailing, drawings etc., are generated within no time using these latest softwares. Structural members used are tapered built up sections with respect to its actual shear force and bending moment and are 10 to 20 per cent lighter than conventional buildings. Since the structural weight is low, lightweight foundation with simple design is enough.

PEB buildings offers good resistance against seismic actions since it is made of lightweight flexible members. An impressive architectural option gives better aesthetical looks to buildings. It is easy to expand the PEB building because of its simple connection design.

Maximum efficiency can be achieved since all the components are designed specially to act together as a system and are factory fabricated under strict supervision. PEB system offers significant cost and performance advantage over conventional methods, adds Rajguru.

Eco-friendly construction
Temperature-controlled warehousing and cold chains which can maintain various temperature levels at the same time for different variety of products. “Eco-friendly construction is now becoming the widely asked for norms while designing warehousing for any sector, says Arun Jain, Managing Director, Premier Group.

Energy efficient roof and wall systems buildings that can be supplied with polyurethane insulated panels or fibreglass blanket insulation to achieve required values and architectural versatility PEB buildings can be supplied with various types of fascia’s, canopies, and curved eaves and designed to receive pre-cast concrete wall panels, curtain walls, block walls and other wall systems.

Warehouses are used for storing different types of goods, materials, food and vegetables, etc. for various requirements as they are used by manufacturers, e-commerce players, logistics companies, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, government bodies, retailers, distributors, etc. “The warehouse buildings act as distribution centres, fulfilment centres, permanent storage centres, raw material storage, finished goods storage, etc. The trends in technology along with innovations are further giving impetus to the PEB technology in the warehousing segment,” says Kirby’s spokesperson.

Apart from industrial or warehouse sector PEB is also becoming popular in residential sector mostly in multi-storied apartments, multi-storied commercial buildings and educational institutions. There are also various options in PEB structure which includes ‘Light Guage Steel structure’ which is very well adoptable for fast constructions especially for individual housed with 2-3 storey, bungalows, villas and farmhouses with the construction of dry wall system. “PEB has been contributing a lot for construction of airports in the country, and currently we foresee a huge potential in expansion of airports across the country,” says Kulkarni.

Major challenges
Some of the challenges are separate industry recognition by government, fluctuating steel prices, non-availability of skilled manpower, standard design codes, industry practices and policies and procedures, etc. “The industry is overcoming these by continuous knowledge sharing across seminars, conference, industry forums, colleges, education curriculum, etc. to the target audience thereby increasing the popularity and advantages of steel construction across all the industry verticals. Thus, a huge opportunity awaits this industry and this growth story is poised to continue in coming years,” says Spokesperson from Kirby Building Systems.

Lack of skilled manpower
PEB industry has grown leaps and bounds over the last two decades but it is yet to achieve its true potential which is still far but completely achievable as the industry consisting of top 4-6 organised players is maturing to take it to the next level of growth trajectory. There are some challenges which are hindering the growth of the industry up to certain extent, but it has overcome many hurdles over these years and the challenges are similar in nature for PEB warehousing.

Fluctuating steel prices
PEB industry has been growing roughly around 20 per cent YOY and thus we can see influx of very small unorganised players who are executing project without much due diligence in place thus confusing the customer with the pricing offered by more established players who offer a very stringent international technology in terms of drawing and erection at a marginal higher price ticket. “Regular fluctuation in steel price is a quiet a detrimental for PEB industry as whole as 75 per cent of cost in a PEB structure is steel. This also affects the price trend and impacted the overall profit margin of PEB players. Higher initial investment over traditional construction materials always has a judgemental effect on potential customers, says Jain.

The PEB structure is factory fabricated so any fluctuation in anchor bolt foundation layout can mesh-up the PEB erection work, says Rajguru.

In India, the concept has been gaining momentum and the scope of growth is guaranteed looking at India’s huge infrastructural requirements.
Ashok R Kulkarni, Managing Director, Nikitha Build-Tech Pvt Ltd

Pre-engineered building system offers significant cost and performance advantage over conventional methods.
N. Rajguru, Director, ACME HOLDING

Eco-friendly construction is now becoming the widely-asked-for norms while designing warehousing for any sector.
Arun Jain, Managing Director, Premier Group

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