Tell us about Aluplast and your business in India
Aluplast is a family owned business and the brand is already in the market for more than 30 years. We are global players with sales offices and plants all over the world. Aluplast manufactures highly innovative uPVC doors and window systems, which are well-known and adopted worldwide. Aluplast started their business in India in 2008 and now is a well-integrated business. I am a plastic engineer with a background on glass. That has given us some advantage.
Aluplast was established in India when the business activity in the sector was all time low. How did you survive against the odds and now established as one of the most successful players in the field?
Though we started as a small business in India, we created our own niche through our quality products and service. The market will get segmented on the basis of the products sold – basically on the quality and cost of the products. Aluplast provides top-notch products and services since we stick to our quality. ‘Always being the best in quality’ is our vision and it is very clear. Keeping this vision in mind, we work on the excellence of our products, our servicing, and support. We cannot have ‘cheap and best’. That is a wrong thinking.
Please tell us about your position in the Indian market
We are doing good business and our products are perceived as one of the best in quality. Our customers are those who are looking for superior products. Our sales volume is not so high. But those which sell largest in volume may not be best in quality. Volume or quantity is not
our target right now.
India is a tough market, and it is very cost sensitive. Many companies try to encash on that. We are not having that option. But our products are quality material and hence the price is not always the factor.
What is your company offering to the current market trends?
Aluplast India is bringing technology ahead. Our company is quite well known as innovators. About 5 to 6 new systems are introduced by us every year in the market. For example now we are slowly moving towards steel free profiles. In Europe, the U.S. and some other markets it is a real success. Moreover, we have trained people, experts, who have the required experience.
What are the latest products that have been introduced in the market?
We have recently introduced a highly energy efficient window system without steel reinforcements and extra-slim profile appearance from outside for delicate facade designs.
Energeto® 5000 View is a new, innovative fenestration product for inward openable windows. With a U-value of the frame of only 1.0 W/m²K together with a triple glazing unit a U-value of the window of only 0.80 W/ m²K can be achieved. With Energeto® 5000 View the window sash is completely concealed behind the frame overlap, creating an attractive design solution that meets the current trend towards clearly-structured and delicate facade designs.
Its outstanding sound insulation and various decor options available for the interior as well as its elegant outward appearance, thanks to aluskin® aluminium shells, make it Aluplast’s most sought after innovation ever.
We have many patents with us. In India, we are trying to introduce tall windows and bigger windows instead of the small pigeon holes you see around. We are getting quite strong on the quality and
How do you project the features of inward openable windows?
We go for house to house regular campaigns. We approach architects and demonstrate our products. We have displays our products which should attract house owners and architects. In time to come we will have more and more display centres.
Please tell us more about your products?
aluplast uPVC window and door systems are one of the most technologically advanced and durable window systems available in India, offering functional efficiency for many years. All products are Made-in-Germany and developed specifically for the Indian climate to avoid discolorations of the profiles (U.S. test certificate). Our merchandise is 100% free of lead and other harmful chemicals (German test certificates).
Owing to unique technologies such as our coextruded gaskets, aluplast uPVC window systems
offer perfect insulation from heat, noise and pollution, all while conserving natural resources and lowering energy costs.
Our window systems come with a 10 year guarantee and internationally highly-regarded European test certificates confirming all quality parameters mentioned above.
Please tell us about the range of customers you have
We are niche. So our target is not the mass. We have higher and upper middle class as customers. We do not target middle class customers.
What are the plans for this year?
At the moment we are trying to push the German concept because we are still living with the legacy of the British ruling in India and we still have outward openable windows. To convert our customers’ taste to inward openable windows, sliding windows, lift and slide, tilt and slide, tilt and turn windows etc. is not an easy task. Windows, as fully engineered systems, which need a lot of expertise.
Please tell us about your plans to set up production units
We are setting up a state-of- the-art plant near Baroda. This plant will not only cater to the Indian market but to the whole of Asia. We are not targeting India as the only market with this. This would be the first aluplast plant in Asia. At the moment we are getting all our supplies from Germany.
When are you planning to start production at the new plant?
We should start operating the plant by end of this year (2015). For this plant, we have bought the land and are building it on our own. This is a longer commitment to the Indian market with full support to the ‘Make in India’ campaign. Believing in India, we are looking at the advantage of catering to our neighbouring countries too to get some foreign exchange. Whatever advantage we get from this plant would be passed on to our customers in India.
Project at Janakpuri, New Delhi
The large windows connecting indoors to outside world
You said that you are not looking at the mass market. How do you project your products?
There are two ways to reach the market. One is from bottom to top and the second is from top to bottom. Lot of people made mistakes when they said that they could cater for one millions of people. Ours is not a household product. It is a very technical product. We need to progress and our approach for the same is top to bottom in the pyramid. We don’t have any intention to reach the bottom, but stop at upper middle class.
What are the advantages of your products compared to those available in the local market?
Windows are products which need to showcase performance. One needs to feel the performance of the window by experiencing spaces. A window has to keep the interior atmosphere livable, keeping away dust, heat and noise outside . Our windows are very high performing windows.
There are very few other global companies who manufacture and offer a similar type of products. If they are offering the same quality product, it cannot be cheaper. We are committed to maintaining the quality of our products.
Please tell us about some of your important projects and on the latest trends
We are doing a number of high-end residential projects but are not into commercial designs yet. We are into high-end designer houses like those in Vasant Vihaar and other flourishing areas in , New Delhi.
Windows are not artistic products. Design-wise windows have many limitations and at times it gets quite technical. There are architects who want special types of windows in their high-end projects like complicated arch windows or Georgian windows and large-size sliding systems, and we do cater for them.
The latest trend is concealed window systems where you do not see any hardware. We offer various colour options too. But we rely on performance along with aesthetics.
What is the importance of proper installation of windows to make them more efficient?
Installation is one component, but not ‘the’ component, for efficient performance of windows. If your total window system is not efficient, the installation can contribute little to the performance or towards energy efficiency.
Now there are LEED rating and GRIHA rating for buildings. How are your products helping to achieve these criteria for green building ratings?
Ratings such as GRIHA/ LEED are not giving much importance to windows. Initially they were not even recognizing windows; they were just mentioning ‘glass’. What is in a frame? It is just 1 percent of the total building cost. They do not understand the importance of window systems. They talk about a 5 watt LED bulb for energy conservation; but that is very less considering the possible losses due to air conditioning, which may be a result of improper insulation of windows. Windows are most commonly neglected. People do not understand how much energy is lost due to improper windows and lack of knowledge or skill for installing windows properly.
For best air quality, what kind of window system would you recommend?
Windows have to be water and airtight and should insulate the inside from the weather outside. Many companies are selling window systems without gaskets. So how can they guarantee water tightness? One needs to provide the whole system which should be superior in quality; does not matter whether it is aluminium or uPVC. If the gasket is not supplied with the window, the customer may buy it or may not buy. Hence the system which is not complete can never ensure performance. aluplast sells complete systems.
Many architects are not ready to use uPVC windows. Why?
India is slow in adopting any new system. In India, everyone has their own ideas. May be those who bought uPVC profiles from China or local markets at cheaper rates were disappointed seeing their performance, developed an aversion to uPVC systems and are now advising against their use. In India, always the fast selling are cheaper products. In Europe they go for quality. In India, the share of uPVC windows sold is just 10 per cent of the total window sales. In Europe, 60 per cent of windows used are uPVC.
Vasant Vihar, New Delhi
Villa at Chandigarh – another view
In coastal areas, people still go for wooden windows. Why aren’t they trying uPVC?
It is just a perception. Many assume that coastal areas may not require as much air conditioning as other areas of India. But also in the coastal areas of India air conditioners run 24 X7, all 365 days. In Delhi and other northern cities, air conditioners run continuously for only 4 months during summers but during winters and autumn it is not required. When uPVC windows work very well in Delhi, why wouldn’t they work well in coastal cities? Air conditioning is the reason for 50 percent of your energy bills. But if you are saving 30 per cent energy out of it by using better window systems this will definitely lead to a huge net savings. Aluminium profile makers are spreading wrong notions regarding uPVC profiles. No one will buy aluminium for energy efficiency. We have to educate people properly.
How do you project your products as best for acoustics?
We sell windows by explaining its 5 principles – Safety, Security, Solar, Sound and Sustainability. Acoustics is an important part when you are designing a window. Earlier all the credits were given to glass used for better acoustics. No one thought of the role played by the frames. But if you see, even if the glass is very thin, the frame helps to keep it in place. If the glass is well framed it can give better performance. Sometime clients give more weightage to glass and consider the frame has no role to play. But it is not so. We educate them.
Tell us about the refusal to use glass in residential projects due to security aspects
In aluplast we are talking about the whole window system. We guide our fabricators to use glass and steel in proper thickness, and best quality hardware along with it. Sometime hardware is just installed on PVC. If your PVC is too week, it will not hold the hardware. That is what is creating problems most of the time. If you hammer a screw, it will not have
the proper strength to hold the material, even if the screw is of best quality. Material and the design of the profile help better performance.
Groove systems are usually used for holding the system so that it doesn’t move. Proper technical knowledge on how to fix the system is very important. We are not allowed to sell any unapproved system. That is how our profiles are better than others’. All hardware is designed accordingly.
We have the best technology and knowledge on the systems. 80 percent of the profiles sold in India are not equivalent to or satisfy the stringent norms of European systems.
How do you ensure the thickness of the glass in your systems? What kind of glazing suggestions do you give regarding the selection of glass in window systems?
Our systems are customized for our customers. We do not advise to go for any glass which could break and harm the inhabitants. The customer has to define his priority, whether it is safety, security, acoustics, or other things. Accordingly we give advice on the systems. Every product is customized based on the needs and priorities. The glass for a west facing house would be different from that for a north facing one. There is a variety of products available in the market starting from reflective glass to coated glass. We give options and the clients can choose. We some times give a choice of blinds too.
What are the challenges you face in the industry?
It is a growing market and the knowledge available about the systems is too less. Sales men come with minimum knowledge. They are just asked to sell, but the majority of them do not know or have information on their own products. We need to educate customers and users. Architects too are not updated on the latest available systems or the advantages of using such systems. Architects should learn and understand and keep themselves updated on what is the best available in the market.
We hear that majority of European brands entering India treat their system to match the local Indian standards. Is it so?
Yes. Many downgrade their quality to match the Indian needs and cost. But when they go to China or Middle East they keep their standards high. Our brand would never do this. This is the major difference between our products and those from other European brands.
Where do you see your business in another five years?
I would say our speed of progress is seen as double. We are moving with ace speed and other brands are helping us to gain momentum due to wider gap in quality of products between ours and theirs. Our speed would double up due to failure of our competitors.
Considering the window industry in India, where do you see the business in the country in the next 10 years?
In India, we can predict the growth as 5 to 7 percent in the next 10 years for the window industry and uPVC industry. Now our share in the market is very low. But in the next 10 years our share will be much more in the pie.
In India, the window sector is 100 percent unorganized. But I would not say it should become more organized, but should become systematic. If fabricators become too much organized, the cost will go up.
Are you planning to supply for mass scale projects too?
Upvc Doors India is basically meant for mass scale project. The problem in India is that the developers are hyping the demand supply shortage. Appreciation is very high. We supply for projects like Ajnara and many other builders. Convincing builders to use quality products like ours is tough. But the builders’ mind set might change over the time. Window costs are about 2 per cent of the value of the house. Still they are not ready to purchase quality products. The outlook has to change.
We are going to the quality conscious builders and they are fairly open. We cannot reduce the cost of our products. We cannot negotiate, but can assure on quality. A lot of people approach us because of their bad experiences from the past, using low quality products. Speaking about choice and variety, we will come up with more and more projects, like now we are getting much bigger windows unlike earlier.