PLUMBING TO NEW DEPTHS

Hiranand A Savlani, Chief Financial Officer, Astral Poly Technik Ltd talks to Urban Vaastu on what makes his products rank among the top. Established in 1999, Astral has been making CPVC pipes, that are thermoplastic more flexible and able to withstand higher temperatures than standard PVC pipes. Meant for both residential and industrial applications, Astral products are much sought after for their durability and quality

What are new trends in plumbing and drainage systems when the talk is about smart cities?
In last 10 to15 years the concept of plumbing changed thanks to awareness among different stakeholders. It is now solely about the quality and durability. For instance, once water tanks were on roof tops to ensure adequate water flow into the buildings, and especially tall buildings. Today it is the hydraulic system an alternative to roof tanks which uses pressurised systems, where a number of booster pumps provide the necessary pressure. For pressurised systems good quality pipes are needed. If quality is suspect leak begins. Architects and builders are now giving training to plumbers that can help create smart cities in future.
At Astral we understand the concept of modern drainage system as we understand plumbing as both depend on good quality pipes.

We have given training to plumbers and educated them. Since 1998 we have been educating plumbers and we are the first company in the country to do so. With awareness and industrial training, the trend is changing.
What according to you adds to the durability of your products?
Durability depends on the quality. For good quality, you need to use right raw material and produce as per high quality standards. We have ISI standard and we believe in quality control. Our company which adopts the NSF/ANSI 61 (of the US) in the manufacturing of pipes brings to our customers assurance of quality and durability.
How affordable are your products for the common man?
Post GST the difference between the organised and unorganised manufacturer has reduced sharply. Earlier due to tax evasion the unorganised player sold at cheaper rates leading to a gap of 15% in labour cost.

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Now post GST, gap has dropped to 6-7%. From the affordability angle our products are not too costly for the common man.

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Open defecation is hygiene problem mostly for rural women whose safety is always ignored and compromised. The problem festers because the male members have ignored it for too long. This has resulted in women being teased and even raped while going out to relieve themselves.

Challenges you face with architects, dealers, and customers?
Architect, dealer, or customer are all stakeholders, therefore for each, the challenge differs. Architects are knowledgeable given their background and technical knowledge. However, they need to understand issues such as technical parameters of a product, suitability and its application. This type of technical knowledge must be passed on to the architects who being qualified will understand it and do a better job. A dealer is more interested about profit margins and that is how he sells products. Branding plays important role as the customers demand branded products to ensure quality. And a customer certainly wants quality though at a lesser price. He needs value for money. Our company’s philosophy has been to keep margins at reasonable level to balance interests of all stakeholders.
From where did you get the idea of women’s safety campaign
Open defecation is hygiene problem mostly for rural women whose safety is always ignored and compromised. The problem festers because the male members have ignored it for too long. This has resulted in women being teased and even raped while going out to relieve themselves. To highlight their plight, Astral Pipes launched an Ad film with an idea: “time for women to take revenge at the casual attitude shown by the male members” despite Government of India funding construction of toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission. The campaign is about evils of open defecation which mostly affect women.
Your latest campaign is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious toilet construction programme
Yes. Swachh Bharat is one of the best campaign launched.

But our country lacks basic education and it takes lot of time for the populace to learn and react on the importance of it.
Being a public limited company, our responsibility was even more and therefore we made this social film for the Swachh Bharat campaign which was not only liked by the public but government organisations as well. Now the government allows 2% of the profit for CSR and that helps the corporates to plan something good for the society.
Are there other government initiatives your company plans to promote?
Nothing right now. But we are keeping our eyes open and we may be drawn into it again for the betterment of the society.

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