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Why modular construction is the perfect fit for every want and need

Why modular construction is the perfect fit for every want and need

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Modular construction has been growing in popularity among investors and governments in recent years. The reason? Because without it, the ability to create the housing and other buildings that are required, will be greatly diminished and delayed. This week we discuss just why prefabricated building methods can help countries deliver on their construction development needs.

Why modular construction is the answer to many construction-related requirements

Modular construction is an industry that, up until recently, had been gaining support, interest and investment, relatively slowly. Now, however, the outlook for prefabricated, off-site building construction is booming, from every angle that could be considered.

Of course, we’ve discussed previously that while much modernisation and technical development has greatly altered prefabricated construction techniques, the broader idea of modular construction, isn’t a particularly new one. That begs the question, just why has it become so popular?

An additional, perhaps even more pertinent question that many potential investors into the industry might ask, is why is it the right option for India’s specific needs?

The popularisation of modular construction

As the global population climbs, a lack of investment in the construction sector; both from a technical and modernisation perspective and simple delivery basis, mean that right now, in a number of countries, there is a huge shortage of residential housing.

Even in countries and regions where home building has a rich heritage, its proving impossible to construct the amount of homes that are required for the number of residents who need them. Indeed, while existing populations are struggling to find suitable accommodation, current rates of building are set to create a more pronounced future shortage, too.

That’s not to say that traditional home building techniques aren’t fit for purpose. Far from it! New techniques, eco-friendly developments and making the most of a location are all elements of typical, on-site building techniques that are worth the wait.

However, there are also a growing number of situations where inhabitants can’t wait much longer for a suitable home to live in. It’s here where modular, off-site construction has a lot to offer.

Prefabricated construction methods can provide:

  • Cost-effective building.
  • More timely construction timetables, including fewer weather-dependent delays.
  • Better adherence to quality control measures.
  • Delivery of large developments quickly.
  • Easier modification of elements of homes to satisfy specific and changing, local requirements.

The level of skilled construction labour required to construct a modular home, from start to finish, is lower than that of a typical, on-site build. In addition, any delays related to the materials being used for the home, would typically be discovered early on in the process, allowing time for an alternative to be sourced, without bringing the project to a grinding halt.

All of these details, plus many more, work to ensure modular construction is an investment worth making, as returns can only benefit from more timely delivery of the finished product, along with the lower costs associated with the required labour.

India and modular construction

When it comes to modular construction and India’s specific needs, there are additional reasons, to those listed above, that make it a perfect fit. Among them are that it will help drive up construction standards more quickly and in a way that can be easily understood, measured and confirmed.

Given the huge number of homes and other buildings that are required to support, not only the fast-growing urbanisation of the city regions, but also the need for an improved standard of living in rural areas, a construction system that can build trust that building standards are in place and being adhered to, will always be welcome. That’s true, not only for those who will live and work in the properties, but also for:

  • The Government.
  • Modular construction firms.
  • Investors.
  • Construction professionals, of all levels.

Prefabricated construction methods can also make it easier to alter a design and make it more suitable for the very different areas across India. Where small, quick to build homes are required, once a design is created it can be manipulated, as required, reliably and easily.

For those larger homes or buildings, the same is also true. The initial design can be changed as required, with all safety details in place, in accordance to the available land plot and other relevant details.

In addition, let’s not forget the sheer amount of homes and buildings still required across India. No one method is equipped to provide that in a timely manner. Only by utilising all methods, including the modern, modular construction process that’s now available in India and much of the world, can countries hope to home their mainly growing populations.

 

Suchit Punnose, CEO of Red Ribbon said:

Modular construction is an industry that expected to grow by some 75% to around $181 billion by 2026, from its 2018 valuation. To achieve that rate of expansion, it’s clear there’s a real appetite for the industry, on a countrywide Government level and on a business and investment one, too.

The need for housing and commercial buildings that will be safe to use and also suitable for each specific requirement is something that can only be achieved with a combination of modular and traditional construction.

At Red Ribbon we’re proud to support the development of the modular construction sector across India. We know with absolute certainty that our investment in this area will reap benefits for shareholders, India’s Government and population, alike, today and in the years to come.

Modular Construction

Saving Time, Money and the Environment through Modular Construction

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Saving Time, Money and the Environment through Modular Construction

Modular construction methods are often hailed as a more cost-effective option, but that’s far from the only benefit pre-fabricated buildings can have. We take you through how modular construction firms can save on time, the environment and money, while also delivering a return on investment many would be happy to receive.

It’s no secret that global real-estate related costs are rising. The value of property is broadly on the up. Meanwhile, the cost of materials is also climbing, while skilled construction professionals are becoming more scarce, pushing their value up, too. But there is a solution to this problem: modular construction.

Just like many other countries, across India, many people still have a dream of owning their own home. However, with more people moving into urban areas of the country from the rural regions, that’s not always an easy achievement, even for those with stable, well-paid jobs. Indeed, research suggests some 110 million additional housing units will be required by 2022. That’s a tall order and once that is simply unachievable through traditional construction methods alone.

However, major advances in modular construction techniques mean homes can be built quickly, in an environmentally friendly way, while also proving a more cost-effective option.

Saving you time and money

Much scepticism remains over how reliable and practical modular construction techniques are. Although, there are signs the opinion of the sector is improving as more businesses opt for it over traditional building methods.

One major factor that’s encouraging more businesses and home-buyers to choose a modular property is time. Once you gain permission, finalise plans and pay deposits, the fabrication of a modular building is much quicker than one constructed on site, in a more traditional manner.

That’s because templates and machinery in an established and regulated factory can create the specified shell of your building quickly and to approved safety standards.

Once those elements of the building, be it a home, a commercial office or even a hotel, are created, it’s then checked and verified through a reliable, tech-based system. This ensures all the required parts are there, of the right size and structure and are ready to be transported to the previously prepared building site.

This is where the costs savings come into play. Where a traditionally built property can require up to hundreds of on-site construction professionals to build up walls, ensure measurements are perfect and all the materials are as they should be, a pre-fabricated construction team is typically much smaller. That smaller team will also need much less time on site to construct the unit and ensure its safely in situ as planned, ready for the next step.

Again, with so much of the required works already done, the modular building requires only a little additional work on site, before the owner can get to work on the inside and make it habitable.

This means that while the cost of the materials used to construct a modular building aren’t particularly cheaper than for any other property, costs are saved through the shorter period of time skilled construction professionals are required on site. Meanwhile, the requirement of fewer construction professionals is also a financial benefit.

Environmental benefits

We then move onto the environmental benefits of the modular construction sector. First of all, the question of sustainability is one the massive global construction sector is increasingly being asked to answer:

  • Are the chosen materials sustainable, eco-friendly and long-lasting?
  • Can the pre-fab factories use sustainable energy sources?
  • Are the pre-fab factories sustainable and energy efficient?
  • Can they construct increasingly eco-friendly modular homes off-site?    

These are just a few details that require a positive answer from those modular construction companies who are beginning to gain support, momentum and business across India.

Modulex Modular Buildings PLC is one modular construction firm that can answer in the affirmative to the above questions and many more. It’s the world’s largest and India’s first, steel modular building factory.

Like all Red Ribbon investment projects, Modulex was created with three essential pillars of sustainability in mind:  Planet, People and Profit.

At a time when we need to find more economical ways of providing everything the huge population of India needs, in a way that protects their environment, while also delivering on profit to the investors who support those businesses, Modulex delivers on all three and is well-placed to do so for many years to come.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

India’s Modular Construction market is expected to be worth close to $130 billion by 2023 and at Red Ribbon we think its imperative that as much of the growing industry as possible, is created with sustainability in mind, from the outset.

Providing the answers to India’s housing and construction needs is one thing, but doing it in a way that future generations can benefit from it on multiple levels, is something every investor in the industry should aspire to. That’s why we support Modulex and strive to ensure its green credentials can match its productivity and investor returns.

India Economic Evolution - Republic Day - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

India’s economic fortunes in the 70 years since gaining independence

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India’s economic fortunes in the 70 years since gaining independence

This year’s Republic Day in India marks the 70th anniversary since it truly became an independent country, with its first elected President after the withdrawal of British rule in 1947. Since then, every year on January 26th, the nation celebrates its hard-won achievement.

India’s first elected President was Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who took his oath at the Durbar Hall in Government House. Since that time, India has proudly voted for its own President during elections and celebrates that independence with joy and jubilation.

Of course, the year is now 2019 and many things have changed since 1950. Ram Nath Kovind is the country’s 14th President, with Narendra Modi serving as Prime Minister. The economic landscape is very different from 70 years ago and it continues to transform further as a combination of financial, digital and ecological developments demand.

Economic output

It’s never easy to gain a true comparison of economic performance between years gone by and any given year in today’s era. However, the available data does give an idea of the make up of economic growth and also the rate at which a country expands – or contracts.

Given India’s size, population, agricultural performance and the more recent growth of eCommerce and finance, you likely won’t be surprised to find that the current pace of GDP growth is superior compared to the rates of growth achieved in 1950.

Data from India’s Central Statistics Office shows that GDP growth in the 1951-52 financial year was 2.3%, with the main contributor to that growth, being the agricultural sector.

Until recently, academics have placed India’s average rate of GDP growth at somewhere between the 3.5% to 4.5% level. But that average is well below the 7.5% rate of GDP growth anticipated for 2018 and also that masks many peaks and changes in the country’s fortunes and chosen paths.

The official data show that after some notable peaks and troughs, GDP has been broadly positive and even prosperous since the 1980s. India’s economic landscape, however, has shown a consistent picture of agriculture losing its place as the major part of the economy, being replaced by the services sector.

Where agriculture made up over half of activity and profits in the 1950s, it now accounts for around 18% of GDP growth, despite employing close to 50% of its population. The services sector, meanwhile, has doubled from a proportion of around 30% of GDP in the 1950’s to the 60% mark, today.

This switch between the dominance of two key industries across India highlights the way technology and digitisation have evolved and been embraced across the country and indeed, the world. While some pain has been felt along the way during that transformation, it also shows that even though it is a huge country with an impressive population, it is able to recognise when change is required and crucially, to implement that change.

Modern economic drivers

Republic Day is a wonderful to day to remember that after 20 years of struggling to gain independence, it was finally achieved. It is also a day to reflect on how, as an independent country, India has chosen to adapt to and even welcome wide-reaching changes, today.

Technology and digitization is something that has affected every industry and by embracing that, the future for India’s economy has become brighter.

Manufacturing has changed thanks to the way technology has enhanced its capabilities and made it a safer environment for its workers. Meanwhile, tourism and eco-hospitality are also examples of where the abilities of technology, combined with the wants of a modern society, can be incorporated to produce something that not only services the needs of consumers, but also the needs of the environment in the name of sustainability.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Republic Day is a special day, not only because of the celebrations that mark its passing, but also because it underscores that as a country, India is always moving forward, developing and achieving thanks to its own population and ability to embrace change.

Red Ribbon embodies that sentiment and our investment in industries such as modular construction, through Modulex and the eco-hospitality sector, with Eco-Hotels, show that we’re always looking towards supporting a prosperous future for India’s economy and vast population.

We look forward to continuing to play our part in India’s future, participating to the utmost in the opportunities the subcontinent’s explosive growth has to offer and at the same time providing above market rate returns from our investors in what I am convinced will continue to be one of the world’s most exciting markets for many years to come.

Modular Construction Housing Needs - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

Modular Construction: The Answer to Housing Needs

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Modular construction is the answer to housing needs

Modular construction is an option for building homes that’s been available for over a century. Its popularity has ebbed and flowed with various significant events and global developments. However, one thing that remains clear about the system of preparing a property in a factory and then constructing that same building on site, in a matter of a few days or even just hours, is that it’s one that builders and policy makers return to whenever a new crisis or real need for homes arises.

Modular homes quickly gained in popularity in the US when they were developed and then sold by Sears at the end of the 19th century. That was fuelled by increasing wealth and an abundance of land to live and build on. The Great depression which began in 1929 soon put paid to the growth of buy and build your own home. And by 1932, Sears’ modular construction home sales were down by 40%. That was enough for them to put an end to that particular part of the business.

World War II ends

However, it wasn’t so very long from then, until the end of World War II in 1945 when soldiers and Governments could fully take in the sheer size of decimation across the UK and Europe, following years of fighting, destruction and bombing.
Add to that the returning soldiers needing homes to live in with their families and it was clear new homes needed to be built. Quickly. Pre-fabrication proved popular once again, with several areas in the UK benefitting from this fast and economical construction method.
However, once things began to settle, the workforce was back in balance and skilled builders were willing and able to work and modular construction, fell out of favour once more.

Confluence of developments

Fast forward to 2019 and there are a broad array of developments that have combined to once again push modular construction to the forefront of residential home building, but this time on a global scale:

  • The UK’s housing crisis where a lack of building during the credit crisis means there aren’t enough homes for the still growing population – the Government is supporting modular construction options to quickly build suitable housing for Britons across the country.
  • Geo-political unrest and refugees moving from place-to-place with nowhere to live – the RICS recently awarded a young home designer its top prize for his low-cost bamboo home that takes just 4 hours to build, to help with the slum crisis in the Philippines.
  • Economic prosperity and demand for homes and commercial properties in rural and city regions – India’s economy is among the fastest growing in the world and the changing needs of the country for less rural workers, to more city-based jobs, means more urban homes are required, quickly.
  • More and more people have developed an eco-conscience, either through their own nature or the growing number of ecological changes and concerns the global population is faced with – home-buyers and developers around the word are actively seeking green homes that are built with sustainable materials and are also powered that way, too.

Together, these separate crises and changes have led to greater demand for modular homes from a wide variety of consumers and policy makers. Meanwhile, that demand combined with a larger business desire to consider sustainability and green options, has encouraged further investment in the sector, too.

Modulex Construction is the World’s largest and India’s first Steel Modular Building Company, setting out to meet the challenges posed by India’s urban housing shortages in a practical and dynamic manner. The company is at the heart of a project established by Red Ribbon to harness the potential of India’s markets and delivering opportunities for investors. Because, when it comes to investing on the subcontinent, nobody knows India and its markets better than Red Ribbon.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

When we think about how modular construction has time and time again proved the right answer to a crisis, problem or change, it becomes a much simpler decision as to whether or not it’s the right investment choice. Add to that the fast-growing knowledge about the importance of eco options and sustainability and modular construction becomes an even more compelling proposition.

Modular construction is already part of India – and the world’s – property development needs. And that’s something that is only going to increase as it becomes a major element of the construction landscape. Not only due to its speed of delivering the finished, habitable product, but also its cost-effectiveness, green credentials and sustainable factors it brings.  That’s why Red Ribbon was committed to Modulex Construction from the very beginning of the project and we remain committed to it today. I’m convinced it is not only a vital element in meeting market challenges but will also deliver on the unprecedented opportunities currently presented by the subcontinent’s burgeoning economy.

Modulex is the answer to many of India’s immediate needs and beyond. By creating sustainable, cost-effective homes and buildings across the country, Modulex is part of a growing industry that will remain relevant and profitable for many, years to come.

Key Benefits Modular Construction - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

Key Benefits of Modular Construction

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Right now, the demand and requirement for residential and commercial property across India remains elevated. And, true to form, the relevant industries are supporting that need in the best way they can – constructing buildings. However, having relied upon mainly traditional methods for so long, that’s the go to option in many cases.

Enter modern, modular construction.

Modular construction techniques have come a long way since the first attempts in the 1800s. Indeed, they’ve even evolved and improved vastly in the past 10 years. That’s part of what makes it a big part of the answer to India’s requirement for homes and business premises. Add to that the easier property construction regulation under forward thinking Prime Minister Modi’s RERA act and modular construction is most definitely an option drawing increased interest. Not only across India, but globally, too.

There are many reasons why that should be the case and is now becoming so.

Why modular construction is an essential part of the solution to India’s housing needs

Because modular construction is an excellent way to create housing and commercial properties of all shapes and sizes, quickly and relatively affordably. This has helped encourage thought and investment into the industry, with extremely positive results.

That’s not to say it should completely take over traditional property construction methods. There’s absolutely room for all kinds of skills and ways of building. However, modular construction is no longer a final thought or last option. It’s right up front with all the other property construction methods, which is exactly where it should be.

Its cost-effective

When it comes to building property, its not something that could ever realistically be described as ‘cheap’. One thing that makes modular construction a more cost-effective building option is the use of set, factory-based methods.

This is particularly relevant for apartment blocks, or developments where properties will feature the same internal layout. Having a set pattern for the off-site, factory construction, means fewer plans, designs and templates are required. This also helps support a more efficient work-rate. In addition, among the various ‘major costs’ of on-site construction, is the wages of builders, supervisors and other professionals, who need to be there. With modular construction, many of the builders only need to be on the actual building site for between a quarter and half of the time they would on traditional build.

Eco-credentials

Building property will always have pros and cons. Among the cons is the amount of waste and also the often-difficult task of ensuring all required energy efficiencies are made-to-measure and in place from the beginning. Utilising a purpose-built modular factory dramatically improves waste control. That’s borne of working to specific measurements in an environment that makes it easy to order only exactly what you need.

That’s not to say that traditional building methods aren’t precise and materials ordered accordingly. But, without such controlled conditions, over-ordering and materials waste is notably higher. But that’s not the only green credential modular construction techniques lay claim to.

By constructing all the internal wall panels and other elements of a modular building in a factory, it’s much simpler to ensure all the required energy efficiencies are fully installed, at source in the right way. This makes any eco-friendly options easier to safely install in the factory. Solar panels, water saving features and suitable heat conservation, or air circulation requirements can be handled in a controlled, measurable way, using the right materials and methods.

Modulex Construction is the World’s largest and India’s first Steel Modular Building Company, setting out to meet the challenges posed by India’s urban housing shortages in a practical and dynamic manner. The company is at the heart of a project established by Red Ribbon to harness the potential of India’s markets and delivering opportunities for investors. Because, when it comes to investing on the subcontinent, nobody knows India and its markets better than Red Ribbon.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

India’s housing needs are no secret. But nor are the advances in techniques to help support faster and more cost-effective construction options. Add to that a supportive Government regulatory environment it begins to make sense that all types of reliable and suitable methods are put to good use. We, along with an increasing number of professionals, investors and industry specialists, know that modular construction is a major part of the answer to India’s housing needs.

Modular construction is already part of India – and the world’s – property development needs. And that’s something that is only going to increase as it becomes a major element of the construction landscape. Not only due to its speed of delivering the finished, habitable product, but also its cost-effectiveness, green credentials and sustainable factors it brings.  That’s why Red Ribbon was committed to Modulex Construction from the very beginning of the project and we remain committed to it today. I’m convinced it is not only a vital element in meeting market challenges but will also deliver on the unprecedented opportunities currently presented by the subcontinent’s burgeoning economy.

India Real Estate - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

Time matters with India’s Real Estate revitalisation

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KPMG reported last month that Indian Real Estate Sector has now entered a “revitalisation mode”, with aggregate growth projected to reach $ 650 Billion by 2025 and topping $850 Billion by 2028: the average yearly contribution of real estate to the Indian economy will more than double from its current 7% by 2025. And CBRE India are equally optimistic: in their own quarterly report, snappily titled “India Real Estate: Variance in Construction Costs”, they forecast 17 Million new jobs will be added to the sector and an additional 8.2 Billion square feet of space released by 2025.  It all resonates well with the ambitions objectives of Prime Minister Modi’s Affordable Housing Programme, with Real Estate now set firmly in growth mode, and growing stronger every year. But there’s a dark shadow in the garden…

Each of these influential reports has highlighted a potential issue relating to construction costs on the subcontinent, capable of acting as a brake on growth and with no less than six major conurbations (Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi) causing particular concern. Perhaps predictably, Mumbai tops the list of areas where unit construction costs have spiralled over recent years and show little sign of slowing down despite the broadly stabilizing effect of GST legislation introduced by the Modi Administration which helped smooth out some of the worst supply and pricing differentials across the country.

The average cost of construction for a residential apartment in Mumbai is now Rs 3,125 per square foot, compared to the Rs 2,375 per square foot the same apartment will cost in Hyderabad. At one (macro) level the reason for all this is obvious: an increasingly urbanised population pushing up demand for units in the largest conurbations as part of a gradual drift away from the land, but the disparity in relative costs between conurbations is still striking. Inter market differentials of this kind are likely to be caused primarily to an uneven distribution of construction skills, with highly skilled workers drawn to areas of greater demand so increasing the unit cost of labour in specific areas of the subcontinent. Certainly we might expect other variables such as recent sharp rises in the wholesale price of steel to be more uniformly spread across the country.

In short, construction is becoming progressively more expensive in the very areas where more housing and commercial units are likely to be needed most…and that’s a real dilemma.

One answer is to make greater use of just in time delivery systems which are capable of dramatically reducing overall construction schedules: simple maths tells us that if an expensive worker is on site for a quarter of the normal building phase, costs will come down no matter how prohibitive the daily rate. And of course we have now grown used to the significance of just in time methodologies because of the prominence the issue has assumed as part of the current Brexit debate. Just as any significant inhibition on frictionless trade has potential to throw the UK economy into chaos after Brexit, so too the same frictionless technologies can help address systemic cost differentials across the Indian construction sector as well.

Modular Construction prefabricates all of the essential components of the building off site, everything from exterior walls, ventilation systems and internal wiring networks with the parts then arriving on location only when they’re needed: meaning field workers aren’t left waiting around (expensively) for the next phase of the project to get underway. Research has shown that through a combination of just in time delivery techniques and modular technology, otherwise complex units such as student accommodation blocks or hospitals can be erected on site in days rather than the months and sometimes years of conventional technologies. And an added advantage is that Modular Technology also reduces the potential for human error and snagging in the final building which can also be a major but hidden expense on any project.

Modulex Construction is the World’s largest and India’s first Steel Modular Building Company, setting out to meet the challenges posed by India’s urban housing shortages in a practical and dynamic manner. The company is at the heart of a project established by Red Ribbon to harness the potential of India’s markets and delivering opportunities for investors. Because, when it comes to investing on the subcontinent, nobody knows India and its markets better than Red Ribbon.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Prime Minister Modi has successfully appealed to the youthful and increasingly urbanised population that is currently driving India’s economic growth, not least through his Government’s re-energised Affordable Housing Programme the scale and scope of which has at times been breathtaking. So it should come as no surprise to learn that such an increasingly mobile population is also creating real estate hot spots (and cost differentials) through being attracted to a number of specific locations: by definition, a mobile population is difficult to keep still.

So as it seems to me the resulting cost differentials in construction across the subcontinent are likely to be a fact of life for some years to come yet. But that’s certainly not to diminish the problem, and cost disparities are a problem in India’s most expensive real estate markets, Mumbai in particular. They have real potential to distort the market.

In delivering a workable solution to that challenge most expert commentators now agree that Modular Construction is simply inescapable. No other technology offers the pace and scale of delivery needed to meet India’s housing needs and, as the article points out, it is the perfect corollary for just in time delivery systems. That’s why Red Ribbon was committed to Modulex Construction from the very beginning of the project and we remain committed to it today. I’m convinced it is not only a vital element in meeting market challenges but will also deliver on the unprecedented opportunities currently presented by the subcontinent’s burgeoning economy.

Modular Construction India - Red Ribbon Asset Management Plc

Modular Construction: the answer to the shortage of skills in India

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Most Indians work in agriculture but next comes construction, and according to the latest Economic Survey the subcontinent’s real estate and construction sector is likely to create more than 15 Million jobs over the next five years, that’s three million every year. To put that in perspective less than 3 Million people are currently employed in the entire UK construction industry. And of the 52 Million building workers employed by Indian companies, 90% are involved in on-site construction with the other 10% busily painting, plumbing and wiring the finished product. It’s fair to say all these painters, plumbers and electricians are skilled workers…but not so the other 90%.

Because the vast majority of India’s construction workers are either minimally skilled or have no skills at all: an astonishing 97% of them aged between 15 and 65 will receive no formal training of any kind before starting work on site and, plumbers and painters aside, most of the skilled workers won’t be getting any cement dust on their boots because they’re probably office based clerks, technicians and engineers. And that’s a real problem…

It’s a problem, because coming the other way down India’s infrastructure and logistics superhighway is an unprecedented surge in demand for urban housing, fuelled by an increasingly urbanised population projected to become the biggest on the planet by 2022. India’s National Skill Development Council predicts that by then the real estate and construction sector will require a workforce of more than 66 Million, so without any obvious core of skilled workers currently able to sustain anything like growth it’s no wonder the sector is starting to show signs of stress.

Of course all this was supposed to be addressed by 2016’s Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act which was intended to act as a platform for local, State driven planning capable of creating an appropriate environment for improved training and regulatory structures, but so far six States out of 29 have failed to produce any plans at all under the legislation which means finding workers with the right skills in the right place will continue to be a source of real concern.

Billionaire developer Niranjan Hiranandani, head of Hiranandani Construction, has a simple enough solution: just pay unskilled workers less and reap the savings while you can. But that’s not a particularly attractive solution for anyone buying one of his apartments 76 floors up in the Mumbai skyline where quality assurance is far from being a dispensable extra. The behemoth that is Hindustan Construction Company perhaps takes a slightly more realistic approach, going on record last week to say that skills shortages have become a huge problem for the sector: 50% of its workforce needs advanced training just to use the complex machinery now prevalent on most modern building sites. With a heavy tone of understatement a spokesman for the company announced grandly that given these skilled workers are not available, “the only option is to train them”.

Well, it’s not quite the only option…

With no actual shortage of workers seeking employment in India’s urban conurbations, particularly in the light of a seemingly inexorable drift of former agricultural workers from country to town, what if the physical construction process itself could be de-skilled? Why not make a virtue of necessity and draw on this pool of former agricultural labourers to release the margins of between 20% to 70% that Deloitte India predict would follow from a wholesale deskilling initiative? These savings would go straight to the bottom line without endangering the quality and safety of the finished building. Skilled construction workers earn Rs 1,000 a day as opposed to their unskilled counterparts who earn an average of Rs 200.

And there is just such a business model on the market right now, a model with the potential to uncouple construction projects from a seemingly insoluble skills conundrum: it’s called Modular Construction.

Modern Modular technologies allow all of the building’s key components to be put together off site by specialist workers and then assembled locally at the same time as the site works are completed, not only reducing overall completion schedules by as much as 50% but also significantly reducing the need for skilled workers in the construction phase. All of the design and engineering disciplines are instead concentrated at the offsite manufacturing facility leading to labour, financing and supervision costs. Which will all be music to Mr Hiranandani’s ears…

Modulex Construction is the World’s largest and India’s first Steel Modular Construction Company, meeting the challenges of the subcontinent’s current urban housing shortages in a practical and focused manner. The company was founded by Red Ribbon as part of an innovative project to harness the potential of India’s dynamic and evolving real estate markets whilst at the same time delivering opportunities for investors through Red Ribbon platform. Because, when it comes to investing on the subcontinent, nobody knows India’s markets better than Red Ribbon.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Delivering on India’s stringent housing targets over the next five years presents an enormous challenge for the subcontinent, and that challenge is likely to get more testing still given the underlying demographics of a rapidly increasing and ever more urbanised population. Existing skills shortages within the construction sector have the potential to be a crucial block to meeting these targets, especially given the scale and scope of the training programmes necessary to release a further 3 Million workers into the sector every year for the next five years: never mind the attendant costs which are likely to be eye watering on any basis.

That’s why to my mind the answer has to be Modular Construction. No conventional technologies can beat it for sheer pace of delivery and, with a centralising of skilled labour in the offsite manufacturing facility, it will beat conventional construction methods hands down on overall profitability too.

An Ambition for Growth - India Economic Miracle - Red Ribbon Asset Management

An Ambition for Growth: The Roots of India’s Economic Miracle

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Currently locked in a peculiar species of death roll with her backbenchers, Theresa May still (to her credit) seems intent on securing an orderly exit from the EU by 2020, but most economic commentators are forecasting a long term decline in UK GDP however “soft” the exit terms might be. Price Waterhouse for one are predicting that within a decade of exit, by 2030 the United Kingdom will have fallen to tenth place in Global GDP, behind Mexico and Indonesia and a whisker ahead of Turkey and France (which has a certain irony in the circumstances). And the same survey predicts that by 2030 India will have risen to third place in the global league, treading hard on the heels of China and the United States in first and second place respectively. But unlike the former mother country there is no suggestion that the subcontinent’s remorseless ambition for growth will lose any of its momentum over the course of the next half century.

China had better watch out…

The subcontinent’s economic ambition has been powered by a combination of progressive (some might say revolutionary) economic policies on the part of Prime Minister Modi’s Government (think demonetisation), coupled with a burgeoning and increasingly middle class population fuelling an unprecedented surge in consumer demand. But in a subtle and complex take on that dynamic, McKinsey this month published a fascinating report concluding that India’s explosive growth has just as much to do with interlocking trends in agriculture, urbanisation and mobility.

Take the first element in that triumvirate: agriculture. For decades now (at least the last thirty years), India has pursued an aggressive policy of agricultural self-sufficiency which has not only made the farming lobby one of the most powerful political forces in the country but has also delivered growth rates in the sector that are the envy of most of its near neighbours (indeed, the envy of most farmers anywhere in the world). But despite this, as McKinsey also point out, Indian agriculture still faces a spectrum of uniquely local challenges: severe water shortages alternating with devastating monsoons, combined with often antiquated supply structures and what McKinsey quaintly call a “limited exposure to high productivity practices”: in other words, a lack of investment in the latest farming technology.

That’s where the subtlety comes in…The Indian Government has re-calibrated its agricultural policy to shift the emphasis away from output targets, replacing them with a system of local subsidies designed to buttress farmers’ income (a policy that roused the never less than exuberant President Trump to bring proceedings against India again before the WTO). It was a smart shift in direction too because the new policy will almost certainly double agricultural wage rates by 2022 and, in a characteristically Keynesian frame of mind, the Modi Government are betting that with more money in their pockets India’s farmers will now start investing more in new technology. It can’t do much to stop monsoons but it can, as McKinsey would no doubt put it, “increase exposure to high productivity practices”.

That same factor feeds into the second limb of McKinsey’s triumvirate: urbanisation. More than 200 Million of India’s rural population are expected to move into its urban conurbations over the next 15 years and for those with the instinct to move rather than invest locally, improved agricultural subsidies are giving them a store of money to do it with. And, the Modi Administration is playing to its strengths on this too with a new Smart Cities Mission designed to meet the additional, affordable housing required to cope with resulting surges in demand, reducing urban pollution levels and increasing resource productivity and economic development through enhanced infrastructure programmes. You don’t need to look any further to find the real roots of India’s economic miracle.

And what about mobility: the third element of the McKinsey triumvirate? Well, that’s coming along nicely too with India now expected to become the world’s third largest passenger vehicle market by 2021. It’s not just that the subcontinent offers the same, parallel opportunities and challenges as other western and developing markets, it is offering them with a turbo charger attached. Many of those 200 Million people who are moving from village to town over the next 15 years will want (and get) a car, paying for it with the increased wages earned from working on all those new infrastructure projects; and their family and friends who stayed in the country and invested in new agricultural technology will probably want (and get) a new car too. You need to keep up with your cousins in town!

That, in essence, is what we mean by an interlocking economic structure, and it’s here that we can find the real roots of India’s explosive growth. Just wait to see what happens next…

Nobody understands that potential for growth better than Red Ribbon Asset Management, which has placed India at the very heart of its investment strategies since the company was founded more than a decade ago. With an unrivalled knowledge of market conditions on the subcontinent, Red Ribbon offers a unique opportunity to share in that vast potential.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

At Red Ribbon we are very proud to have been playing our own part in India’s economic resurgence over the last decade, investing in just the kind of projects that are at the heart of the interlocking triangle of growth mentioned in the article: everything from the modular construction technologies now being developed by Modulex so as to deliver affordable housing at the pace demanded by the subcontinent’s urban expansion, through to innovative sustainable energy infrastructure investment. And to see India now firmly established at its place on the economic top table, uniquely well placed to move further forward still is, of course, a particular source of pride for us.

We look forward to continuing to play our part in India’s future, participating to the utmost in the opportunities the subcontinent’s explosive growth has to offer and at the same time providing above market rate returns from our investors in what I am convinced will continue to be one of the world’s most exciting markets for many years to come.

Modular Construction Solution - Modulex - Red Ribbon Asset Management

Modular Construction: A Global Construction Solution

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Lets get straight to the point: the UK construction industry has a problem, three problems to be precise. First, an aging demographic (mostly with their own homes) combined with a impoverished younger population (mostly without); secondly, a lack of new companies entering the sector (think Carillion) and, third, a marked decline in skilled labour that isn’t likely to improve anytime soon with Brexit on the horizon. All of which makes the UK Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes every year until 2020 look distinctly shaky if only because, according to Arcadis Target, this would require 400,000 new skilled workers to be added every year from 2017(one every 77 seconds). Not particularly likely given lack of skilled workers is a core component of the problem.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In 2017 the Government fell 80,000 short of its target (nearly 30% short), which is why Modular Construction has now leapt up the list of UK Policy priorities: if you can’t change the system, change the method and no existing building technology is better equipped to deliver quality housing at pace than Modular Construction. In fact, off site prefabrication delivers units at three times the rate of conventional technologies so its just what the Government needs to meet its target…

Except no matter how hard Government seems to try, modular construction in the United Kingdom is still at cottage industry levels, largely because of the first of those three factors we just mentioned: an aging demographic and an impoverished younger population acting together effectively to staunch demand for innovation.

How different then things are on the subcontinent.

Rather than an aging demographic, India has an increasingly youthful population, increasingly urbanised and increasingly wealthy as well as being drawn inexorably to live and work in the subcontinent’s major conurbations (Mumbai and Bangaluru in particular). And it is this demographic trend that is creating a surge in demand for affordable urban housing added to which, unlike the UK, India has no shortage of new construction entrants or skilled labour.

Again, the proof of the pudding is in the eating… Knight Frank’s latest India Real Estate Report found a surge in the number of new project launches for the first half of this year, up by 46% and with a marked increase in affordable housing starts too (making up 51% of supply). Most Indian Cities are also showing exceptionally strong rental growth, with Bengaluru in the lead at 17% year on year. All in all it’s a very different picture from the UK but what the two countries do have in common is housing targets: specifically those established in India by the Affordable Housing Programme which are if anything tougher than those confronting the UK Government.

That’s where Modular Construction comes in, because in contrast to the position in the former mother country, off site prefabrication on the subcontinent is very far from being a cottage industry. Favourable economic conditions and underlying demographic trends have instead made it an essential component of India’s drive to meet its public housing targets by 2022. The sheer pace and quality of delivery offered by modular technologies (not only for homes but hospitals, schools and office buildings too) simply can’t be matched by conventional building techniques: something the UK Government seems to be waking up to, if perhaps a little too late.

Red Ribbon set up Modulex Modular Buildings with the intention of building on these demographic and economic trends, recognising the outstanding capacity of Modulex to deliver above market rate returns for investors by tapping into high demand levels in India’s real estate markets. Modulex provides an exciting opportunity for investors to participate in this key sector of the fastest growing large economy in the world.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

I found it interesting to compare the current strengths and weaknesses of the Indian and UK construction sectors where the same three factors for change seem to be working in wholly opposite directions (to India’s advantage). But more than that, I was also struck that both sectors have now come to the conclusion that view modular construction has to be a key component in delivering the significant number of new units required in each country. I know, for example, that the House of Lords Technology Committee has recently started an investigation into the advantages off site prefabrication offer in helping meet policy targets which seem at the moment to be running away from the Government. Perhaps though, as the article points out, that may all be too little too late.

For our part, and with Red Ribbon’s roots set deep in the Indian markets for over a decade now, it is a trend we have obviously been following with great interest for some years. That’s why we decided to take a pivotal role in establishing Modulex Modular Construction on the subcontinent and its why we remain excited at its prospects of delivering above market rates for our investors in such a resurgent real estate market. We firmly believe Modular Construction will play an essential part in India’s future.

India Infrastructure Partnership - Red Ribbon Asset Management

India’s Infrastructure Partnership: “A Huge Footprint all over Society”

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Roger Bootle brilliantly described him (or her) as homo economicus: “a bloodless utility maximising machine, trying to increase pleasure and reduce pain in its own selfish interest…a being that has never set foot on the earth but has left a huge footprint all over society.” But in truth, market economics are not as atomistic as this in practice: major public infrastructure projects, in particular, would never be started let alone completed if commissioning decisions were left solely to the iron instincts of our heavy footed homo economicus. And that’s why a group of economists and market leaders gathered in Mumbai last week to discuss the practicalities of infrastructure planning in India.

Infrastructure is now the engine room of India’s burgeoning economy: enormous projects taking place across the length and breadth of the country that are creating unprecedented levels of wealth and employment whilst at the same time delivering key facilities to facilitate further growth in the future. The Indian Government is now a world leader in both seeing and exploiting this vast potential. Over the last five years it has embarked on a public infrastructure programme on a breathtaking scale: including the biggest highway project in the subcontinent’s history with 83,677 kilometers of new road slated to be built over the next five years (compare that with the United Kingdom’s total motorway network of a little over 3,000 kilometers) added to which there are new port facilities, new airports, new aeroplanes for a newly nationalized airline and even futuristic high speed monorail networks in Delhi and Mumbai.

Our eminent gathering in Mumbai wasn’t slow to see all that potential. They rightly concluded that proper evaluation of the monetary value of public projects of this kind is not simply a matter of short or even medium term cash flow. The projects have an inherent potential to create substantial value through increased connectivity between financiers, communities and the various stakeholders involved in the enterprise and designing systems that are capable of optimising this upside connectivity is of critical importance to effective financing of infrastructure assets.

Governmental agencies, for example, have to work closely in conjunction with Export Credit Agencies, which play such a significant role in easing capital provision by lowering the cost of long-dated debt and responding to funding deficits. Neither party can do both on their own. It is a true partnership of interests and India is providing perfect examples of just how well the process can work in practice.

Take the National Highways Authority and its Toll-Operated Transfer Model, which was run in conjunction with private sector interests and significantly increased the ability to fund new Highway Projects.  Given it has always proved tough to attract long-dated capital such as pension funds and insurance companies, direct government participation in the construction phase has become increasingly important: acting as a honey pot for capital pooling and monetisation and this in turn providing the government with flexible funding sources for new infrastructure investment. Covered Bonds are an important part of that process, just as they have been in Western European and North American economies for the last fifty years and the pooled character of the bonds again provides a perfect example of just how effective collaborative funding can be in the infrastructure sector.

The striking success of this symbiotic and essentially Government driven process is attracting foreign investment as well. ABB India announced this month that it is increasing its railway infrastructure programme as well as stepping up participation in renewable energy. The company already spends up to $100 Million annually on the subcontinent. ABB’s Sanjeev Sharma was in no doubt about the significance of infrastructure projects to future growth: “India has become a global feeder factory.”

India is leaving a Huge Footprint on the Global Economic stage.

Red Ribbon Asset Management has been specialising in India’s Markets since the company was founded more than a decade ago, bringing an unparalleled expertise to its investment policies on the subcontinent with specialist sectoral advisers working from it’s Head Office in London in conjunction with more than a hundred local experts on the ground in the subcontinent itself. And by drawing on that body of expertise Red Ribbon’s Private Equity Fund now offers an opportunity to secure above market rate returns in this, the fastest growing large economy in the World.

Red Ribbon CEO, Suchit Punnose said:

Infrastructure matters greatly to any modern economy and, as the article points out, the huge sums currently being invested into projects on the subcontinent are now playing in key role in the explosive growth of India’s economy. But it is fair to ask how a billion dollar project can sensibly be funded if returns in the short term are necessarily limited: investing in a rail network might after all leave capital costs to be recovered over a decade or more.

The answer lies in a new form of partnership between government agencies and the private sector, a subtle model for long and short term pooled resourcing that India is indeed proving to be a world leader in deploying. That can only be good for the long-term health of the economy.

It is, indeed, a huge footprint on the global economic stage and one that we would do well to pay attention to.

Red Ribbon

At Red Ribbon we understand that the transition towards a resilient global economy will be led by well-governed businesses in mainstream markets, striving to reduce the environmental impact of their production processes on society at large and on the environment as well.

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