A journey through the Fenestration Industry [Mar 2012]

In this exclusive column Satish Kumar, Director at Elumatec India will share interactive articles about windows, doors and facade manufacturing industries regularlySince the early 90s the Indian market has seen a number of changes, due to the boom in the software industry, globalisation, and entry of foreign players in various segments. The fenestration industry too has gone through a metamorphosis in the last two decades which I would like to take you through in the coming issues. To begin with, a brief history of fenestration in India will enable you to understand how this change happened.
During the late 80s and early 90s a need for new type of window systems was felt. During those days the leader in architectural aluminium was Indian Aluminium Company or INDAL as it was known. Architects or builders knew only INDAL. JINDAL Aluminium its biggest competitor was fast catching up. To counter Jindal and other small extrusion companies INDAL went on a global search for the right partner to launch a completely new range of aluminium windows in India. DOMAL happened in the early 90s and slowly spread across India through authorised fabricators during this decade. A new definition was coined – SYSTEM = Profiles + Accessories + Machines + Technology. Some thought it was too premature, while some thought it was a hard sell by the west on the unsuspecting Indians! A real life anecdote would elucidate the point – at an exhibition in Mumbai, a guy asked me what is DOMAL? Is it Do number ka Mall (Black money)? Well, different strokes for different folks! They say, first you are ignored, then they put down, then they fight you and then you win. Unfortunately in India, after the fight, you are copied! Well, that’s another story; I will save it for later. Meanwhile AluK – another Italian aluminium system company entered the Indian market.
During the late 90s UPVC started making its presence felt. ELGI launched its UPVC window system with its own machines and fabricators. All of a sudden there was something new. UPVC stands for Unplasticised Poly Vinyl Chloride. Veka – A German multinational set up office in Mumbai. Kommerling got a fabricator in Delhi. Aluminium guys were unaffected as this was the time of huge commercial buildings which needed curtain walls, structural glazing and facades. During the start of this century Fenesta took the lead, set up an extrusion plant as well window manufacturing units in 4 major cities and aggressively advocated UPVC windows. Other UPVC profile companies, REHAU, Aluplast, Kommerling started looking at India seriously. Today there are more than 150 UPVC window producers in India.
The last decade also saw another wave of changes in the aluminium window market. European system companies like Reynaers, Schueco and SAPA entered the Indian market. I am told many more are planning to come. It will also be important to mention, that international majors who entered the market during this period starting with Permasteelisa – world’s largest aluminium fabricator till recent in the early 90s, joined hands with ECIE in Bangalore, Thermosash from New Zealand partnered with Alkarma in Delhi. The modernisation of the airports in India brought in global players to Indian shores – Yuanda (the current largest aluminium fabricator), joined hands with Alupro to do the Delhi International airport. Mero from Singapore did the Hyderabad airport and part of the Delhi airport. Alabbar from Dubai is doing couple of projects in Mumbai. Other giants from Middle-East and Far East are keenly eying the Indian market.
Do we need them? Or, are we happy with our existing systems and Jugaads? Do we need foreign knowledge and technology?  We will debate these and many more such issues in the forthcoming issues. Till then, keep smiling and do let your queries keep coming in.
(The views expressed by the author in this column are his personal. For more information contact s.kumar@elumatecindia.com)

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