Feb 1 2017 | Q&A

Ben James, CEO, GRT

Ben James, CEO, GRT shares his view with Sandeep Sharma about his organisation, core competencies, need, importance and application of dust control technology, project management in large capital projects, verticals and geographies targeted, key performance indicators (KPIs), demand/supply scenario, major clientele worldwide and growth prospects in India.

Tell us about your organization, mission, and core competencies?
Global Road Technology (GRT) is an international company that provides revolutionary solutions to create better and safer roads for people, industries and communities. The company has been working in communities across the world to deliver its innovative technology, including undertaking a number of projects in Australia, Asia, the Middle East and set up a major hub in Pune, India.

GRT India is providing several technologies not before seen in India. This includes:
a) Cold-In-Place-Recycling – this is a method of recycling in-situ material with road crust to create stronger roads – without the use of borrow material;
b) Concrete Treated Base – we use cement dust and homogenous it with in-situ materials to create a stronger road base;
c) Polymer Reinforcement – uses our proprietary technology of polymer blends for the strengthening of base and binding materials, while also water proofing;
d) Dust Suppression – uses a blend of our polymers for erosion control and dust suppression for all side Blatter and medium strips for road developments;

e) Hot-In-Place-Recycling – we plan to launch new technology in HIPR next year that incorporates state-of-the-art thermal bonding for potholes and patching works.

Could you provide valuable insight about the need and effectiveness of your Dust Control Technology?
Dust pollution is the main air contaminant and environmental hazard, having extensive health, safety and environmental consequences, and is posing significant risks to everyone and everything. Airborne dust particles can pass through the nasal passage and travel to the deepest regions of the lungs. When anyone breathe in this dust over a prolonged period of time, it can cause a number of respiratory conditions, including breathing difficulties, respiratory pain, diminished lung function and even cancer. However, because these conditions often take several years to develop, both employers and regulators don’t take them as seriously as workplace injuries, until now.
GRT’s environmentally and safety friendly products result in excellent dust prevention and higher quality, more durable roads. Compared to conventional processes, GRT’s dust suppression solutions offer a set of distinct advantages and lucrative benefits, including easy application and long life protection across extreme climatic conditions. Our products also offer the toughness and flexibility to be applied across a diverse spectrum of industries, improving safety and eliminating dust complaints from staff and surrounding landholders.

In what kind of projects or environment Dust Control Technology can be applied? What can be the impact of implementing this technology on the overall project cost?
GRT’s technology solves a range of dust control problems on all types of roads, from major highways and freeways to haulage, industrial and rural roads, tarmacs, hardstand areas and water repellent pavements. It can be easily applied to clay, silt, sand and gravel materials, immediately creating safer, more sustainable and cost-effective infrastructure.
GRT’s technology eliminates dust immediately, saving client’s significant money from their construction and maintenance budgets. Customer feedback and independent scientific analysis found that GRT’s dust suppression products suppress greater than 95% of dust particles and delivered significant cost savings compared to conventional water-only options

Have you done any study on how infrastructure projects are managed in India? Could you share with us actionable insights that can prompt companies in India to explore your products and solution?
The next 4 years is going to boom for the infrastructure sector, especially the road sector and GRT is well placed to take advantage of this.

The stabilization of soil/aggregate is being used worldwide towards optimal usage of scarce resources. Though soil stabilization exists in Indian codes for several decades, in reality the concept is yet to be utilized on the ground significantly. Recycling technology prevails in many of the western economies. The concept of “Cold In Place Recycling (“CIPR)” has recently been incorporated in IRC-37(2012), the CIPR and Cement treated base (“CTB”) has been approved by NHAI in a few projects such as NH-2 by contractor GRT, and is only just starting to be applied as general practice.

These two concepts i.e. Soil/ Aggregate stabilization and CIPR provides a comprehensive solution for rehabilitation of existing road network and green field road construction. The incorporation of proper stabilisation techniques will ensure more durable, longer lasting roads.

The road stabilization process can be divided in three major components:
1.  Design Process and codes: Stabilization and CIPR requirements in Indian design codes have been adopted from AUSTROADS (Australia) and needs further updating with respect to gradation requirements of materials to be stabilized. The material requirements and envelope shall include larger size particles and shall be flexible as soon as strength requirements are met. The use of CTB and CIPR provides far greater strengths than conventional methods. This particular modification will allow engineers to utilize existing materials to a large extent up-to GSB layers. This will also allow usage of locally available marginal materials.
Specialized laboratory equipment are also required to be developed in India, currently these lab equipment are being imported at high cost;
Many firms seeing the incredible speed of construction when CIPT technology is used are now opting for “re-designs” of their pavements and requesting the same be approved for incorporation by the NHAI.
2. Stabilization Agents (Materials): The stabilization process can use a wide range of stabilization agents i.e. soil-aggregate mix, Lime, Cement, Fly ash, foundry sand, Slag, Foamed bitumen, Emulsion, Polymers and other proprietary chemical stabilizers;
These materials are readily available in India and there is a shift to ensure further incorporation of these materials in road construction.
3. Stabilization Equipment: Specialized heavy road recyclers capable of cutting existing soil/aggregate/Asphalt, mixing in place, adding water and other stabilization agents as per requirement, speed independent stabilization agent spreader (cement, lime, polymer etc.), heavy Padfoot rollers (20t static and 40t dynamic capacity) and Pneumatic Tyre Rollers are essential components of  stabilisation process in general. 
Currently there is only a select few with these types of machineries and capabilities in India. There is also only handful of specialized manufactures of these specialized equipment’s such as; Wirtgen from Germany, whom have taken the initiative to set up in India. However there is no current production of like machines in India.
These sectors; both CIPR & equipment manufacture is seen as a massive growth sector, especially once CIPR becomes mainstream.
The company has developed over 25,000 sq ft of factory space and Yards in Pune, East of Mumbai, with an additional 9,000 sq m of office space including a state-of-the-art laboratory. GRT has forecast more than $USD300 million in projects over the next three years, delivering its patented liquid polymer stabilizing agents and Cold in Place Recycling technology to create “instant roads” across India.

Considering our technology, it allows us to construct a kilometre of expressway within 24 hours, cutting 75 per cent off standard construction time and significant savings in costs. We have the current resources in place to deliver over 200klms of road a year in India and we are scaling up those capabilities to triple output over the next 3 years.

Which verticals and geographies would you be catering to in India and Why?
Global Road Technology without any fixation would like to cater to PAN India. We have on-going projects in Madhya Pradesh, UP, Bihar, Maharashtra and many more.
GRT has worked with clients from a variety of industries including mining, renewable energy, commercial, farming, industrial, military, government and more. During this time we have developed strong working relationships with both industry and community, demonstrated by our continued growth and accumulating repeat customer base.
India was an obvious choice for us. India has one of the largest road networks in the world and its road rehabilitation program (our focus) is on a grand scale. Further the Modi government under Minister Gadkari (MORTH) has made road development a key area of development for the country and we are seeing the appropriate resources applied, to substantiate their (the governments) promises. Also the Ministry has become far more proactive in relation to introducing new technologies, especially tech that improves quality and speed of construction. This was the clenching aspect of our decision to start up in India.

What are the challenges and opportunities before the project proponents in India? What level of value addition and customization can be brought to the project by your participation?
India has an existing road network of over 4,689,842 kilometres the second largest road network in the world. Most of these roads are in poor condition and need rehabilitation and constant maintenance. The road sector in India is in desperate need of new technologies, to improve speed and quality, introduce more environmentally friendly construction techniques and to cut down on quarrying, transportation of materials and use of water & fuel. Global Road Technology will bring quality transport infrastructure to Indian roads starting from in-situ stabilization, dust and erosion control, and mine management technologies in this sector. We have advance technologies like Cold-In-Place-Recycling, Dust Suppression and Hot-In-Place-Recycling that leads to fast completion of work.

How far the key performance indicators (KPIs) are likely to change for Soma Enterprises once GRT technology is implemented for NH-2 project comprising six laning of Varanasi-Aurangabad section in the state of Uttar Pradesh?
GRT’s technology will allow delivering cost-effective and safer roads more quickly, compared with conventional building methods. The use of CTB and CIPR provides far greater strength than conventional methods. This modification will allow engineers to utilise existing materials up-to GSB layer (Granular base layer). This will surely benefit Soma Enterprises for the NH-2 project and help with speed of completion.

After witnessing the incredible speed of construction when CIPR technology is used, many firms are now opting for ‘redesign’ of their pavements and requesting the same be approved for incorporation by the NHAI.

Could you share with us your project portfolio in the road segment?
GRT completed a project in Mumbai for MSRDC and recently completed a project for the Kumbh Mela in Ujjain to control the dust plumes kicked up by high traffic. We were able to cut dust so that pilgrims could enjoy the Mela without the dust problems, for the first time in the festivals history – which was well received by government, media and especially the visitors.

Global Road Technology (GRT) has started its first National Highway project in India with lead Contractor Soma Enterprises Ltd under their concessionaire subsidiary; Soma-Isolux Varanasi-Aurangabad Tollway Pvt. Ltd. The project comprises construction of 6 lane highway of Varanasi-Aurangabad section - NH-2 in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

Soma has also awarded 2 more projects to GRT based on the success of its first work. These projects will be in CIPR in the State of Bihar.

GRT will be taking up further NHAI works in MP and UP in coming months - also a pilot project is slated for March in Mumbai using GRT’s new HIPR technology.

What kind of future do you see for GRT in India?
Indian road infrastructure is undergoing phenomenal growth for the past 15 years and will continue to grow at higher rates in coming years under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Global Road Technology allow us to construct a kilometre of expressway within 24 hours, cutting 75 per cent off standard construction time and resulting in significant savings in costs. We have the resources in place to deliver over 200 km of road a year in India and are scaling up those capabilities to triple output over the next 3 years.
We plan to have a minimum of 6 full sets of Cold-In-Place road trains in the field, deployed across various National Highways. We plan to take up direct State Government work for road rehabilitation to a minimum of Rs 100 Cr. Further we plan to launch our new technology in Hot-In-Place Recycling for Potholes & Patchwork for Municipalities starting in Mumbai early in the new calendar year.

In Kacha Roads we plan to commence our first major polymer reinforcement project for Coal India and continue to spread our technology throughout the sector taking up work for industry leaders.

We have launched our new line of Dust control products and we have secured a number of micro stabilisation projects for the new year - we will look to expand our reach and implement our products across government work, industry including; power plants, cement plants, sugar mills, festivals etc.

Overall we will surpass Rs 350 Cr in revenue for FY17 and continue to build on our platform as a leader in the introduction of new road based technologies.