Technological advancement in the construction industry is on the rise as efforts to produce environmentally friendly and cost effective products being the bottom line.
The innovations comes at a time when entrepreneurs are facing high production costs which they in turn replicate to their prospective consumers.
Jumbo Chem Kenya limited, the premier manufacturer of Polyethylene Foam in Kenya, recently unveiled recyclable polyethylene foam product (Jumbolene) that can be applied in the construction, industrial packaging, thermal insulation and sundry fields at affordable costs and have the ability to check over environmental pollution. This is set to be a revolution in the construction and horticultural industries.
Jumbo chem is a joint venture of 25th investment company from Korea, the latter has been engaged in the manufacture of green products for the last five years.
This innovation is the second technology to be borrowed from a foreign country after the The National Housing Corporation (NHC) embarked on the use of expanded polystyrene panels(EPS) from Italy which has the ability to reduce the time taken to put up housing by up to 50 percent and reduce construction costs by 20 percent.
According to the company’s Managing director, Michael Bodo, the move to produce the foam products was due to two forces, find a niche in the industry and the need for recyclable materials. These he said will increase price competitiveness in the market and curb environmental degradation.
“we are looking for CFC free products that are friendly to our environment, due to their recyclability, durability and easy handling, the products are set to compete effectively with one already in the market,” said Bodo.
According to Charles Obwanda, the chief Housing officer at the ministry, the launch of Jumbolene polyethylene products will greatly contribute to the growth of national economy while ensuring citizens stay in adequate, affordable housing.
“Construction industry is a key pillar in economic growth as it enhances capital formation and employment. The sector has grown at rates above the average growth of our national economy,” said Obwanda on behalf of the minister for housing, during the launch.
He added the products will save the country’s foreign exchange as products will be manufactured locally.
Reiterating the sentiments, the company’s MD added that through local manufacturing, entrepreneurs will be able to save on transport costs and other logistics immediately the machines arrive in Kenya.
“Once the machines are assembled from Korea, we will be able to manufacture the products locally. This will save the transportation costs as the products are 80 percent air leading to high transport costs,” said Bodo.
Due to its excellent thermal insulation with ability to maintain a range of -40 to 80 degrees of temperature, Jumbolene is efficient in air conditioning and refrigeration. This makes it also suitable for piping systems, duct and cold room insulation. The ability to maintain temperature also make it suitable for the horticultural industries as it helps in maintenance of temperatures required during transportation of products like fruits and flowers which are susceptible to high temperatures.
“The insulation coupled with high shock absorption properties creates a cushioning effect this makes packaging of horticultural produce like fruits and flowers easy as it reduces bruising of packed products,” added Bodo.
The materials are also resistant to moisture and impervious to bacteria and mold, reducing damage to packed produce, and adds to its resistance to chemicals reducing corrosion in metals.
Compared to other conventional roofing materials, jumbolene proves superior as the polyethylene foam is water proof,condensation free, has sound proof and good thermal insulation. It has the ability to divert up to 90 percent of heat from the sun. the property makes it useful in wall insulation.
As an alternative packaging product to paper and polythene they can be used for transportation of fragile goods and delicate electronic equipment, this is due to its multiple impact protection that is facilitated by its closed cell structure that makes it virtually impermeable and resistant to water.
They are also resilient, with quick recovery once they are put under compression and impacts making them reusable time and again.
The company started operating last year and as true to challenges facing upcoming companies, Jumbo chem was no exception. It was forced to delay its manufacturing process due to the global inflationary rates on commodities like oil and energy which affected the financing of the project.
“Energy costs that continue skyrocketing even today contributed much to delays in commencement of the project,” he said.
The company’s CEO is however optimistic of the firms growth, immediately it will receive the license for operations. He at the same time lauded the government for making the investment climate in the country conducive by reducing the number of licenses required to operate a business. The company established in Nairobi, is eying on expanding its wings across the country.
“We are waiting for the final license to kick start the manufacturing process, we are aiming to reach the whole country in the near future and the east African region to take the advantage of the free trade movement,” said Bodo.
Even in the midst of the economic recession, where the country is experiencing escalation in the exchange rates that has resulted to weakening of Kenyan shilling against foreign currencies, the company heads say the production will be able to stand the effects as they are capable of reducing construction expenses to up to 80 percent.
The ministry of Housing is calling on the company to put up a demonstration unit at Mavoko at the National Appropriate building Technology Center, this the chief housing officer in the ministry of housing said is in efforts to intensify the emphasis on use of appropriate building materials and technology to ensure affordable construction.
“The demonstration units will stress on the importance of using appropriate building materials that are cost effective, speeds up construction and improve aesthetics,” said Obwanda.
The ministry has so far established 62 Appropriate Building Materials and Technology Centers countrywide.