Fly-ash bricks improve market presence in Goa

With the government trying to encourage the use of environmental friendly building material, fly ash brick manufacturers are eyeing a better presence in the construction industry. Started in 2007, C’cure building solutions, based in Margao is among the pioneer units in the state to bring in the concept of fly ash bricks.

“The concept of fly ash bricks was totally new in state when we started off. But since the Goan market is open to new products we are seeing encouraging response from individual constructions s as well as developers,” says Sandip S Mohite, General Manager, C’cure Building Solutions.

Fly-ash bricks use ash generated by power plants. In Goa, the handful of manufacturers use fly-ash produced b/ the sponge iron units. According to the law sponge iron manufacturers have to mandatorily install fly ash bricks facility or use it to produce ready mix concrete to dispose off their solid waste and avoid air and water pollution.

C’cure Building Solutions manufactures bricks from crushed slag, fly ash and cement (for binding.) “Earlier we would use stone dust. But due to shortage of availability of sand the price of stone dust shot up. We had to switch to crushed slag to compensate for the shortage of stone dust,” says Mohite.

The unit has a manufacturing capacity of around 25,000 bricks per day and employs around 60 employees. “We provide the technical and marketing support for the bricks,” informs Mohite. He adds that, the state has about five manufacturers of fly-ash bricks. “The concept of using these eco-friendly bricks for construction was first adopted in the western countries. In India the usage is for about 21 years,” he says. Explaining the process of collecting the fly ash, he adds, “Pneumatic systems are used to gather the ash in silos by using a conveyer belt. The fly-ash is later cured by using steam or water curing process”.

The company took around nine months to set up its plant facility. For the initial few months manufacturing was using the water curing process as getting the permissions for the boilers and other machinery used in steam curing proved to be a time consuming process. The water curing takes around 15-21 days for the bricks to get ready which delays the production.

However, currently the manufacturing is through steam curing process, which despite the higher expenditure is faster. “With steam curing bricks are rolled out in a mere span of 10 hours and the quality remains intact due to nullifying factor of water absorption. We had to invest in boilers approved by Indian Boiler Regulations and hire technical boiler operators all of which comes with a heavy price tag,” reveals Mohite.

C’cure’s clientele includes government developers such as Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDQ, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDQ, PWD and Goa Shipyard. Other clients are realty developers like Nanu Real Estate, Prime Builders, Kamat Real Estate, Prudential Developers, Kurtarkar Real Estate and Gera. The company sells around 60 lakh bricks on an average in a year.

Commenting on the quality check on the bricks that is the USP of the brand, Mohite says “We send our bricks to Goa College of Engineering (GEC) labs for third party quality check every three months. Apart from that daily checks are carried out at the unit where in each trolley of the manufactured bricks undergoes a durability test and the ones that are of poor quality are discarded at this stage.”

The pricing of the fly ash bricks though are more or less similar to the clay bricks. “Clay bricks are not easily available in Goa they are sourced from Karnataka, so the cost involved in transportation is huge. However the processing cost for the fly ash bricks is also high and that balances out both the pricing,” says Mohite.

He continues, “About 15 years back fly-ash was provided free of cost by local sponge iron units. But now it comes with a price. Also the stone dust was earlier available for just INR 50 for a truck load. With the potential of stone dust now discovered we have to pay a hefty price for it.”

Profitability for fly ash bricks depends on volumes. The company takes minimum order of a truck load to make up for the transportation and processing cost. “Demand by the clients for fly ash bricks is nothing less than a truck load, so we are in profit,” explains Mohite.

C’cure Building Solutions is a partnership firm owned by Ma-yank Gupta and Nikhil Goyal. The company also manufactures paving blocks, light weight blocks and other precast concrete products.

It is expected that clay bricks will be banned in future due to its detrimental effect on the environment. Clay is extracted mainly from the river banks, thus make the area prone to soil erosion. Fly ash bricks are leveraged as a substitute to clay bricks due to round the year availability and better durability.

Source: The Navhind Times

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