Changing home facade with new age tiles & ceramics

Changing home facade with new age tiles & ceramics

6:33 AM, 26th October 2016
Abdallah Massaad, Chief Executive Officer of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Ceramics.
Abdallah Massaad, chief executive officer of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Ceramics.

In an interview Abdallah Massaad, Chief Executive Officer of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Ceramics with Chemical Today magazine talks at length about the ways in which fashion conscious global consumers are forcing the ceramics industry to think out of the box. From emulating nature on the walls to glowing tiles on the floor, home decor is completely a new ball game with the new range of tiles and ceramics available today.

By Shivani Mody

Tell us about the journey of RAK ceramics.

RAK Ceramics was established in 1989 by H H Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and UAE’s Supreme Council Member. Now under the vision and leadership of Sheikh Khalid Bin Saud Al Qasimi, Chairman of RAK Ceramics, the company has enjoyed rapid growth becoming an industry leader in just 20 years.

One of the largest ceramics’ manufacturers in the world, RAK Ceramics specialises in high-quality ceramic and gres-porcelain wall and floor tiles, sanitary ware, tableware and faucets. From a single factory in Ras Al Khaimah, the company has grown to become a global player and has 16 plants including 10 tiles, two sanitary ware and one tableware plants in the UAE and one plant each in India, Bangladesh and Iran. The company has a global annual production capacity of 110 million square metres of tiles, 5 million pieces of sanitary ware, 24 million pieces of tableware and 600,000 pieces of faucets.

What is the future growth and strategy plans of RAK Ceramics?

RAK Ceramics’ vision is to be the leading ceramics lifestyle solutions provider in the world and in 2014 a ‘Value Creation Plan’ was implemented to support this vision. The value creation plan is aimed at streamlining the business by investing in core businesses and exiting from non-core businesses.

Continued implementation of the value creation plan is the immediate focus for 2016, with a strong emphasis on revenue growth,

capacity expansions and ongoing acquisitions in core businesses. In 2015 the company acquired 100 percent of its subsidiaries in the UK, Germany, Iran and India. These acquisitions will strengthen the RAK Ceramics brand and give the company greater control over its global operations.

What are the recent trends in the ceramics market?

Textures that emulate natural materials are very popular such as our collections that resemble natural stone, marble or wood.

We are also seeing increased demand for extra-large slabs, which make spaces appear bigger and brighter. RAK Ceramics was the first manufacturer in the GCC to introduce Maximus Mega Slab. This giant sized 135x305 cm slab can be used on walls, floors and facades or to create kitchen or bathroom surfaces. The large size of Maximus reduces the need for grout lines giving a seamless look to spaces. Maximus Mega Slab is RAK Ceramics’ most versatile product yet and is opening up new markets for us, replacing traditional granite and stone.

Brief us about the key market drivers for the ceramics industry

The building industry and in particular, new project development is one of the key drivers for growth in the sector. But we are also seeing an increase in refurbishments. Ceramics is now a design-orientated, fashion-led product, with trends changing constantly and fashion conscious customers no longer want to wait 5-10 years to replace their tiles or sanitary ware, but change them more regularly to keep their interiors and exteriors looking fresh and modern.

It is important for ceramics’ manufacturers to follow closely what is in fashion, which styles are on trend and ensure we meet market demands. Ceramics are now used creatively both indoors and outdoors in many different ways, not just on walls or floors. People are using ceramics outdoors to create facades, for cladding, and decoration and indoors to replace counter tops such as kitchen and bathroom surfaces. It is a very exciting time for the industry.

Shed some light on the various sectors, which are seeing growth for ceramics?

The ceramics industry is showing healthy growth across segments, thanks to increased efficiency in the manufacturing process and renewable energy efficiency. Forecasts from WinterGreen Research indicate that ceramics markets valued at $296.2 billion in 2014 will reach $502.8 billion by 2020. As a multinational manufacturer with distributors across the globe, RAK Ceramics is encouraged by these forecasts particularly in our high-value markets of the Gulf region, Europe and Asia. One of the fastest growing segments in the industry is tiles. This is especially true in the Gulf region, where the UAE and Saudi Arabia are its largest markets globally.

The Gulf market will continue to be a high-growth market for RAK Ceramics for the foreseeable future. According to market analysts Frost & Sullivan, the tiles market in the GCC is predicted to grow at a robust 12 percent year-on-year from 2013 to 2018.

The tiling segment is also performing well around the world, and is expected to reach a value of $125.32 billion by 2020 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5 percent, according to Frost & Sullivan. In emerging markets such as India and Bangladesh, demand for tiles is growing due to government-led spending on infrastructure improvements and RAK Ceramics is well positioned to benefit from this expected growth.

RAK Porcelain is also performing very strongly and the tableware industry is seeing steady growth particularly in Asia-Pacific, where Global Industry Analysts Inc saw a CAGR of 5.4 percent between 2007 and 2013.

What is RAK’s focus on innovation in ceramics products?

Technology and innovation are at the heart of RAK Ceramics’ philosophy and the company has continuously led the way in terms of product innovation. Its manufacturing plants are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and it is this continued investment into the latest technologies which ensures the company remains at the cutting edge of ceramics’ production globally.

RAK Ceramics is the first manufacturer in the GCC to introduce Continua+ technology enabling it to manufacture large format porcelain surfaces such as Maximus Mega Slab. Other innovations include Luminous, a range of tiles that glow in the dark – a technology which unlocks the potential for a wide range of applications; and Antimicrobial, a hygienic

easy to clean tile especially suited for use in schools, healthcare facilities or the hospitality industry.

What is the current advancement in Nanocomposite materials for ceramics?

The development of nanocomposite material is very exciting for the ceramics business, because it allows manufacturers to bring products to scale.

There are many advantages to nanocomposite organic and inorganic materials including improved mechanical properties, such as strength, modulus and dimensional stability. It is also less permeable to gases, water and hydrocarbons. It is stable under high heat, and heat-distorting temperatures, is more flame retardant, has higher chemical resistance and it has higher electrical conductivity.

Ceramic nanocomposite material is a fast-growing area of research and is currently undergoing trials. We hope that in the near future, nanocomposite materials will be able to reduce the wear and tear of our kilns and with the ability to withstand high temperatures and pressure, they will offer customers improved lifespan for their ceramics.

With the growing importance of 3D printing technology, how is RAK incorporating this technology in ceramics business?

RAK Ceramics prints 3D designs onto the surface of our tiles. Our manufacturing plants are equipped with the latest state-of-the-art HDD (High Definition Digital) and DDD (Digital Define Definition) printers which enable us to print highly intricate and detailed 3D designs directly onto flat, curved or textured surfaces, some great examples of this include collections such as our Wood Art or Stone Art where the technology can be used to produce tiles which look and feel like real wood or stone.

What are the recent trends in the ceramic raw materials?

RAK Ceramics mostly uses traditional materials such as kaolin clay, quartz and feldspar and our business was built on the limestone, clay and sand of Ras Al Khaimah. For our manufacturing processes, 80 percent of raw materials are now imported from around the world from countries including: Italy, Spain, Germany, Thailand, Malaysia, China and India.

Our suppliers in the Gulf region, Europe, and Asia often maintain their own mines and processing plants or manufacturing materials, which allows us to source raw materials, while taking into account product quality, pricing and timely delivery. Our research and development team is always looking at new ways to improve our products, including the use of new raw materials or technology in our manufacturing processes.

What are the challenges faced in the ceramics market pertaining to chemical raw material supply?

The balance of trade deficit drives freight prices higher, which increases the price of raw materials and at RAK Ceramics we work hard to stay abreast of every change, from regulations to exchange rates.

Additionally, as sophisticated printing techniques become more common place and the demand for more intricate tile designs grows, we are required to source specialist printer inks from Europe in order to meet this demand. The shelf life of these inks and pigments can be short, causing us to lose 30 percent during the 40 days of transit from Europe to the UAE.

What are your expectations from chemical manufacturers supplying products for the ceramics industry?

As a business that sources raw materials from all over the world, in practical terms, developing chemicals with a longer shelf life and ensuring that all products are shipped with the required documentation would make every shipment more economical. This will in turn contribute to the continued development of the ceramics industry.

© Chemical Today Magazine



See the Interview Coverage in Chemical Today magazine (Pg 18)

https://www.worldofchemicals.com/digitalissue/chemicaltoday/chemical-today-may/6

View the interview on Mobile, download the Chemical Today magazine app

http://bit.ly/21W5H0z 

http://apple.co/1ZwID77

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