Panels go green

RMD’s marble-finish bathroom walls.

RMD Board, a division of JRD International, has witnessed a steep rise in sales this year compared to last year and has now commissioned an additional line to meet anticipated demand.

The company’s best-selling products for the construction and interior decoration industries are its wall panels, wall coverings and shuttering panels, while other products it offers include false ceilings, flooring material and site fencing.

“We have been working very hard in sensitising the UAE market to our eco-friendly products,” says Anupam Lunavat, managing director of JRD International, a Dubai-based diversified conglomerate.

“The UAE is one of the top 10 countries in global rankings for ‘green’ building spaces; we have been ranked ninth. This is only going to improve as Dubai’s construction sector goes full throttle in anticipation of the Expo 2020.

“Based on a recent US Green Building Council report, the UAE’s real estate industry has a much higher number of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed)-certified and registered projects than three other countries that ranked higher than the UAE – South Korea (fourth), Taiwan (fifth) and Germany (sixth) – put together. We also have nearly 10 times the number of Leed-registered projects than Singapore, which ranked eighth.”

“All this means that we have an expanding market, not only in the UAE, but in other parts of the world. Our team is working very hard to raise market awareness in Europe, Asia and the Gulf region,” he says.

As a next-generation material engineered for interior decoration, RMD wall panels are an easy substitute of wood, MDF (medium-density fibreboard), plywood, paint, wall paper, granite and marble. Commenting on the company’s products, he says: “The beauty of our RMD Board is that it has a number of downstream applications. Our main focus till now has been our wall panels, wall coverings, floorings and ceilings.”

Other applications for its products include site fencing panels, portable buildings, furniture and door panels, packaging, advertising boards, automobiles, caravans and marine applications.

“Due to this reason, the projects that we are involved in are wide ranging, starting from wall coverings being used in five-star hotels to portable buildings. Our site fencing panels are used at a number of construction sites,” comments Lunavat.

The company recently worked with Décor Point, an interior decoration firm in Dubai, on a project in Garhoud where it supplied its RMD wall panels. According to Lunavat, Décor Point used its products for the first time.

“Piero Amarante, managing partner, Décor Point, had visited our Jebel Ali facility and was impressed with our product and used it as he felt that it was a new, feature-rich product,” he says.

Expressing his satisfaction with the products, Amarante says: “I am very happy with the end product. RMD products have a lot of potential and I would love to use them in our future projects. In fact, I have requested the company to send me a catalogue so that our clients can look at the variety of products that RMD Board manufactures and use them for their projects.”

Some of the other projects RMD Board has supplied are:

• Hilton Hotel Abu Dhabi, which used its wooden design wall panels and anti-skid flooring;

• Le Meridien Hotel Dubai, which used marble design wall coverings for its ballroom;

• Ramada Hotel, where its wall panels have been installed in all the bathrooms;

• A mall at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), where Khansaheb Civil Engineering has installed its wall panels;

• A bathroom at a villa in Jumeirah for the chairman of International Printing Press;

• The reception area of an office in Dubai Sports City, for which Interior Design Firm, an interior decoration firm, used RMD wall panels. According to a spokesperson for the firm, RMD wall panels were the client’s first choice because of their exquisite designs and their ease maintenance;

• The interior of an office building in Business Bay, where the company’s wall panels were used by Décor for Me Interiors, another Dubai-based interior decorating firm. Aesthetics and the fact that these panels are termite-proof, waterproof, sound acoustics, fire-proof and stain-free were key factors in their selection;

RMD boards ... used for the walls in an office reception area.

RMD boards ... used for the walls in an office reception area.

• A project on Dubai-Al Ain Road carried out by Australian Automatic Doors for which RMD ceilings were selected. “The entire installation process took place within a week, in keeping with RMD Board’s commitment to quick turnaround times. While RMD Board’s portion of the work is complete, the project is still in the construction stage,” says Lunavat.

Among ongoing projects, Howard Johnson Hotels will be renovating its rooms using RMD Board’s wall panels.

The company counts Al Rostamani among its most loyal customers, which has used RMD wall panels for its portable buildings at its site offices. Another favourite is a globally known five-star hotel chain, which has used RMD wall panels for the renovation of its resort on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, says Lunavat.

“We have been talking to a lot of companies and some of the companies that are considering our products include Emaar Properties, Damac Properties, Alec, Coral Hotels, Al Salam Hotels, Khatib & Alami, Al Moosa Contracting and ETA Ascon,” he says, adding that the Chiraag Group is conducting trials for its shuttering boards as is the L&T group in India.

“The main attraction for both these companies is the fact that our shuttering boards can be reused more than 100 times,” he comments.

Also in India, the Lodha Group is considering using its wall panels and wall coverings in its residential apartments and is presently conducting trials.

Commenting on the market, he says: “With Dubai having secured the Expo 2020 and Qatar having won the Fifa 2022 bid, business in the construction sector in the region is going to escalate dramatically. A UAE-made product like ours will help in savings in terms of customs duties and shipping. So, I would say that the market looks very bright for us not only in our home market, but all over the world.

Lunavat points out that RMD boards result from years of research. “We did a thorough study of the needs of the construction and interior design industry, which is why our product has hit the nail on the head in terms of its green aspect. We also wanted something that is a substitute for natural resources such as granite, marble and wood, while at the same time something that would not create a major carbon footprint. We have succeeded in our goal and yes, the market is ready for it and is taking off very well and much beyond our expectations,” he says.

On future plans, he says: “We are now opening up markets in Australia, Kuwait and Ghana. A number of big projects have already started in these countries and we are ready to meet the increased demand.

“In our quest to meeting the increased demand, we have commissioned an additional line here at our plant in Jebel Ali and this will be ready in five to six months. With this extension, RMD Board will be producing 30,000 to 40,000 linear m of decorative panels every day. This will bridge the demand-supply gap and address logistics problems of storing and warehousing.”

In addition, by next year the plant will have the capacity to produce 110,000 tonnes of polypropylene per annum, which is expected to make it the world’s largest single-site plant manufacturing rigid extrusion of polypropylene.

The company is also planning a Dh1.5-billion ($400 million) investment in seven additional manufacturing units in seven countries in the near future – the first of which is expected to be commissioned in India. “This will mean 85 production lines manufacturing polypropylene boards. All of these together will help RMD Board achieve its plan to reach global production of half a million tonnes per annum by 2016,” Lunavat says.