The company has been in business since 2007 but new products it launched recently are expectsed to take it to new levels of acceptance in local and overseas markets
Two new expanded polystyrene (EPS) products launched by Saudi firm Plastbau Arabia have good export potential with one already shipped abroad, the company says.
A maker of insulated concrete formwork/ shuttering systems from EPS, Plastbau Arabia has been producing expanded polystyrene building systems since 2007 and has developed its pre-engineered, pre-manufactured and trademarked eDeck and eWall systems for the construction industry.
It recently launched its new products – EPS white and EPS silver – for making sheets, inserts, hourdi blocks and pallets, among other applications.
Plastbau will start commercial production later this year of EPS-white pallets and plans to make 1.5 million of those annually in the initial phase, taking the figure to 5 million in four years, said general manager Mohammed M Mezrawi.
“We’ve seen interest from abroad. We’ll create awareness through the next Big 5 exhibition in Dubai,” said Mezrawi. “We’re the only ones in the Middle East producing EPS pallets (white).”
The company proposes to make standard pallets of 1.14 m by 1.14 m at 4.5 kg with capability to bear a load of 1.5 tonnes. “Pallets of this kind are mainly used in polymer plants because of the weight they can bear and because of their anti-bacterial property,” said Mezrawi.
‘We’re currently targeting mostly Saudi Arabia because demand there is 18 million per year and most parties in the kingdom use the wooden variety, which has its downside. Our pallets are environmentally friendly, helping save trees. It has also been determined that a wooden pallet of the same standard size as ours will weigh 24 kg while ours weighs a mere 4.5 kg.”
The company began producing EPS- silver late last year. “It’s new generation material imported from Europe and we took up the challenge to produce it. It’s not toxic and gives you 30 per cent more insulation value than the white one.
“Expanded polystyrene-silver provides more continuous heat resistance – up to 50 years compared with extruded polystyrene which will last a mere seven years before heat resistance begins to reduce, as per studies and tests done by the US government,” Mezrawi explained.
“This is a sheet that can be ideally used as insulation in buildings and is available in various levels of thickness and density.
“We have received purchase orders in Saudi Arabia where it has been used in Aramco construction projects and in villas and buildings put up in other projects. The product needs special plastering for application, which is not expensive.”
The plant making the product has capacity of 8,000 tonnes annually, which will rise to 20,000 tonnes by 2017, the official said. The export market is clearly in the company’s sights.
“Qatar has shown interest through real estate development companies. They came to know of the product through one of our machinery suppliers, who happens to be based in Qatar,” said Mezrawi.
“The product is already in use in Bahrain and within the next two months, we expect to start exporting to Qatar soon.”
The Bahrain project using expanded polystyrene-silver and the Qatar projects which will be the first to use them in the country are both private schemes, but Mezrawi is confident the product will attract business orders from government authorities as well.
Mezrawi said EPS-silver is 20 per cent more expensive than the white version.
The company has been producing expanded polystyrene building systems for the past eight years and plant capacity for the general version is 4,000 tonnes annually. Last year 10 per cent of its volume was shipped abroad and the main export markets were Bahrain and Iran. “We’re expecting production to rise and are in talks with government and private sector officials,” said Mezrawi.
“People appreciate the value. The material is used as filler in building construction and is popular because it reduces load and usage of concrete, contributing to cost savings. It’s particularly used in roof construction where it reduces the concrete content by 50 per cent, and is also applied in decorative parts of building walls.”
Plastbau also manufactures its eDeck and eWall products as pre-engineered elements for insulated cast in-situ concrete floor and structural wall applications.
It describes them as “innovative building systems, each embodying the modularity of pre-cast system with the structural integrity of cast in-situ construction.”
A typical eWall panel module is 120 cm wide, provides for concrete pour of up to 35 cm thick, and permits practically height of any storey in single shot. The PlastbaueWall system is manufactured and pre-reinforced with electro-welded vertical steel ladders. The ladders are held between two EPS panels using self-threading screw caps fitted to steel cross ties spaced at 20 cm on centres.
The cavity formed between the panels allows casting of various thickness of reinforced concrete to be formed. The reinforced concrete core provides all the structural capacity of the Plastbau eWall.
“EPS panels possess anti-explosion features, helping absorb the impact,” Merzawi said. Plastbau has supplied material to build 28 guard rooms in Iraq; and for oil companies, he added.
The e-Deck system consists of a core of EPS through which pairs of z-metal strips are embedded to confer self-supporting ability when the eDeck is finally laid in place for concreting. The EPS core is moulded according to Plastbau ICF engineering technology.
Mezrawi said one or both systems were used in 154 buildings so far, Saudi Arabia accounting for 60 per cent of that. Bahrain accounts for 25 buildings, while other places installing them have been Jordan, Iraq and the UAE.
Overseas projects that have used Plastbau insulation products include Italian projects ca’ Foscari University, Venice; a court house in Naples and some luxurious villas in the country, a Unicef school in Kosovo, a 160-room hotel in Malaysia, an apartment in Moscow, Russia, and Al Nakheel Beach in the UAE.
In Saudi Arabia, the company’s products have been used extensively including in King Fahad Medical City, Buildex projects, Rezayat Building, MMG Compound, Red Sea Mall, Hyundai showroom and several villas across the kingdom.