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Our Silicone Technologies are Helping Shape the Indian Skyline
WFM: Tell us about your company, its products, and your business in India?
Jean-Paul Hautekeer (JPH) : Dow Corning is a speciality chemical company, now a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, formed specifically to explore the potential of silicones, and their applications in various industries. We have more than 70 years of experience in the industry.
Silicone is actually made from sand, which is transformed into poly crystal and silicon polymers, thereafter it is used in making different products. In the construction Industry, silicon is mainly used due to its durability and flexibility. Building components like glass on the facade are fixed using silicones due to these characters. Silicon will not deteriorate when exposed to sunshine, water, and any type of weather – hot or cold.
Increasing urbanisation and rising need for energyefficient buildings (especially high-rises) are leading to growth in demand for silicone based materials. Applications containing silicones not only outperform and outlast organic weatherproofing materials, but they also enable innovative applications that would otherwise be impossible.
WFM: Could you please talk about the present Indian market for construction as well as for your own products?
Dharmesh Shah (DS) : The Indian construction market today is becoming significantly more conscious of the need for energy efficiency and sustainability among other things, which form the basis for the green building market. Given the general movement towards sustainability, energy and water conservation, durability, etc., this is going to take on a significantly larger role in the future. Another trend we are seeing is the expansion of design thought, combining function and aesthetics. Both of these trends require construction strategies and materials that will help architects and builders to fulfil these demands. Buildings of the future will need to be designed and constructed in such a way that they can combine aesthetics and sustainable thinking.
Additionally, developments such as migration and urbanization are creating a market for new and innovative building materials, standards and services that enable compliance as well as value for money.
Dow Corning’s global solutions expertise and our deep knowledge of the India construction market enables us to work with builders, architects, designers, and almost every stakeholder in the Indian construction industry value chain. Our technologies are helping shape the Indian skyline.
WFM: What is the role of silicones in energy conservation?
JPH: Whether the building facade is made of glass or aluminium, silicone is used for connecting the different elements in a durable, at the same time, in a very flexible way. We supply the product which links these materials with each other. With enabling technologies, we could make this bonding very strong.
Energy conservation is very crucial. Even if one buys the best glass for the facade and the insulation for wall, if the bonding is not good between the materials, there will be water infiltration, which will ruin the investment. Silicon is used in a very small amount to bond different materials. But the impact of silicon is extremely important. Because, for many decades, it would act as a barrier for water and air, which would prevent energy and monetary loss.
WFM: What kind technology have you introduced in sealants?
JPH: In India, a lot of single layer of glass is being used, though we keep hearing about the benefits of double glass for facades. We have come up with technologies which are being used in double glass.
We provide new product along with technology to those who manufacture double glass. The noble gas Argon is being used in the gap between the layers of glass and hence it needs to be sealed tightly.
Double glass technology is beneficial to prevent excessive heating from the sun, allowing controlled daylighting. There are special coatings given to glass based on the angle of sunlight on a building and intensity of the sun at the location. Hence the glass coatings are selected based on the orientation of the building and the angle of incidence of sunlight on the building. The coating also prevents penetration of moisture. This technology has many acoustical benefits as well.
WFM: Please give details of few of newly launched products?
DS: At Dow Corning, our commitment is to our customers. Our aim is to provide our customers with the latest silicone innovations and to enable him to choose from a wide range of options, depending on what his needs are – be it sustainability, durability or value for money. We at Dow Corning are committed to helping our Indian customers succeed and grow in this very competitive and demanding market.
Our expanded range of materials includes highperformance silicone adhesives and sealants for building façades, silicone-based water repellent coatings and additives to help improve the sustainability of building materials.
In addition, we have also introduced Transparent Structural Silicone Adhesive or TSSA for fixedpoint exterior glass façades. This innovative, high strength, structural adhesive provides a nextgeneration bonding option for crystal clear, point fixed external glass façades, helps maximize thermal performance, and allows designers to avoid unsightly drilling when joining glass pieces. We are also promoting our PanelFix System that enables high-performance invisible panel bonding for ventilated Rainscreen façades. This is highly durable, safe and easy to use, and gives designers the advantage of design freedom. Our newly-introduced 121 Structural Glazing Sealant is also one of our latest innovations – this is a fast-curing sealant for use in structural and weather-sealing applications. It can be used on-site or in-shop, and helps simplify façade installation and reduces repair time as well.
WFM: What about your facilities? Tell us about your investment plans for the near future?
DS: In addition to bringing the latest silicone innovations to the Indian industry, we have also developed India-specific initiatives for the construction industry. Our Application evelopment and Technical Center provide a platform that enables our technical experts to collaborate with our Indian customers on product customization, to ensure that our materials meet their needs for durability, sustainability and efficiency. Our experts also provide the technical knowhow and services to ensure that the materials are used as per standards and requirement.
A key India initiative is the Centre for Construction Expertise. This is a Dow Corning-sponsored educational program, offering informative, skillbuilding workshops designed to improve the knowledge, skills and effectiveness of tradespeople, students and construction professionals alike. We believe that extending knowledge and providing technical training is the best way to enhance the construction industry.
We have also started an initiative called the Sahayog Building Solutions Centre, which is a customer experience centre, showcasing the range of Dow Corning’s high-performance silicone materials in India. Via Sahayog, our Indian customers can access the right products and expertise, depending on their needs. It also provides a platform for product demonstrations, guidance in product selection and application support, and collaboration with customers. We have two Sahayog centers – one in Delhi, and the other in Mumbai.
In addition, we have implemented some of our global initiatives in India – the Project Management System that helps enhance the safety, quality and success of structural silicone glazing projects; and our global knowledge transfer and certification program, Quality Bond™, that offers training, inspections and quality management systems. Both of these initiatives are helping implement standards in the industry, and are instilling confidence in the power of our materials.
We are committed to helping grow and shape the Indian construction industry by way of our latest technologies and materials, as well as our initiatives that will help enhance the knowledge and expertise within the industry.
WFM: How do you find Business in India compared to other developing countries like China?
DS: India and China are both key growth areas for any multinational corporation, and Dow Corning is no different. Companies need to succeed in both countries, though the means of ensuring success may vary, given that the differences in market size and trends, as well as the different opportunities and challenges present in both these key markets.
WFM: What is the impact of GST on this sector?
DS: Given that GST has been very recently introduced, I would say that it is way too early to definitively assess the impact on the industry. GST will certainly have a deep impact on the Indian economy, the construction industry included, but we should appreciate that the favourable effects of this new taxation regime will become clear only after a few months, or even a couple of years.
WFM: Tell us about Dow Corning’s future growth plans for India?
JPH: I have travelled to India a few times and every time, I see a lot of change in the building sector. If you look at the facade market in India, the difference is very prominent. Our products are mostly being used in building facades. Hence there is a lot of scope in this market and there is a lot of scope for growth.
In India, most of the facade components are being manufactured by local fabricators and they are of very high quality which is extremely good. Two or three years ago, these products were not fabricated in India, but mostly imported from China or other parts of the world. Certainly there is a change and I am witnessing this.
The manufacturing elements in this segment are now progressing in India and they focus on quality of their products. This is a very positive change and it is going to continue in future too.
Another change which I have observed is, increased use of high performing glass in facades for fenestrations. Earlier, the glass used for building facades was much smaller in proportions. People have realized the advantage of using glass in buildings now.
WFM: What kind of projects uses your products more – Commercial or residential?
JPH: Demand for our products are more for commercial & institutional projects. In other types of projects, there is comparatively less awareness on the importance of application of sealants for doors and windows. In order to create more awareness on sustainability and the need to use apt products for energy conservation in buildings, we initiated programmes like SAHAYOG Building Solution Centre.
Now, the window and door market, which is in the initial stages, would benefit from silicone technology. Hence we are focusing on this market, which is a bit fragmented and less developed in India. People need to know much more on the materials to use to make the walls completely sealed, especially the connection between windows and the wall. We are educating the market through our centres, reaching the professionals working on this particular segment. At SAHAYOG, people can come and learn about various products, experience it by seeing how these products work.
WFM: What kind of on-site support do you provide?
JPH: We check for quality in the factory of our customers, as I explained earlier, and we help them on-site too. On-site, we offer what is called ‘deglazing’. While the work is on facades, our technical engineers will visit the site and witness the work of the fabricator/ consultant. We do conduct various tests to check the application of silicone, and provide ‘Dow Corning Warranty’ then.
One of the emerging market in India is HPL Panel bonding as a refurbishment technique. We advise not to use screws, instead the HPL panel can be bonded with silicon. We help to do proper installation and ensure quality in the installation process and in the maintenance of quality logbook.
WFM: What is your advice to the architects/ fabricators and other professionals in the construction sector?
JPH: Architects should insist on quality and specifications. Quality certification systems are incentives for fabricators. Such certifications should be widely accepted. This will transform the quality of work done by the fabricators bringing in more quality installations. Consultants and architects play a big role in specifying the quality.
WFM: Where do you see Dow Corning’s role in the industry by the year 2025?
DS: Given that Dow Corning’s silicone materials have been playing a key role in the global building and construction industry for over five decades now, we see ourselves continuing to play a key role in the industry in the decades to come – participating as well as enabling the shaping of the industry together with architects, the designers, the engineers, the fabricators – pretty much every stakeholder in the value chain.
Our commitment to the Indian customer will continue – we will continue to provide industry-leading expertise and the best of material solutions, ensuring the best performance, safety and durability of building projects.
In short, we will continue to grow with this industry, and will grow the business from strength to strength. We have always been seen as innovators and collaborators to the market, and now that Dow Corning Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, we will be able to achieve greater customer intimacy – we now have the opportunity for newer product offerings, increased geographic reach and expanded R&D power to bring innovations to customers faster.