It sure has a social stigma attached to it, but this seemingly unattractive business is vastly unexplored
In August 2008, Sintex Industries joined hands with the British firm Poly John International, to produce 3000 portable toilets for the Beijing Olympics event.This set a milestone—Indian-made portable toilets were being used outside India for the first time.
So why is it that we do not hear of this business as an industry with huge potential? There are several reasons. The stigma attached with this unglamorous segment is one of the obvious ones. Then there are policies, lack of public awareness, and so on. However, there is a demand for portable toilets all throughout the year at various sites and occasions.
What is a portable toilet?
A portable toilet is a self-contained outhouse unit that is easy to maintain and is mainly used for occasions and site-based requirements such as weddings, events, and festivals etc. The build and weight is such that it does not take more than two persons to transport and fix it. Portable toilets can withstand harsh climatic conditions and are usually made out of high density polyethylene, fiber reinforced plastic and steel.
These units are typically free-standing structures, and their stability is augmented by the weight of the waste tank. This waste tank contains an empty liquid disinfectant, dispenser and deodorizer. Usually, these units are made for singular function: either with a toilet seat or with a urinal. But some manufacturers combine toilet and urinals based on requirement of their clients. At least 100 people can use it at a stretch before the tank needs to be vacuumed.
The scope of business
Portable toilets provide a very good solution for sanitation problems, especially for the construction and infrastructure industry. In these industries, labor health regulations and adhering to environmental norms are of major concern. Some sites of construction where portable toilets can be useful are general construction, highway construction, housing, pipelines and excavation sites. Also, given the fact that India is engaged in large number of projects, a good amount of demand in other areas such as mining, remodeling, military, energy projects, dams, and such.
The scope for portable toilets spreads into several other areas as well. Take massive festivals like Ganesh Utsav and Durga Puja for instance. The portable units can be put to good use in the vicinity of the pandals for the thousands of devotees. Other events such as weddings, receptions, fairs, sports events, etc could also be target areas for installation of these units. The other sectors in which there lies a huge potential for this business are tourism and events.
Existing business models
While talking to manufacturers and dealers of portable toilets in Delhi, Gurgaon and Pune, there is a common observation that we made. Portable toilets as a business is not something that is looked up on as a glamorous industry. Because of the nature of work and the social stigma attached to it, not many get attracted to this line of business.
|Types of Portable Toilets|
|Mobile vans with multiple units of toilets/urinals|
Ashok Bhutani of Bhutani International mentioned that since there is a very low percentage of Indian population who has heard of the concept of portable toilets, not many get interested in manufacturing these units. Also, the finished product price of a single unit falls in the expensive range of Rs 50,000 to Rs 150,000. While there are some manufacturers of portable toilets in India, there are many who simply prefer importing the units from abroad.
The most accepted business model that has emerged from this stagnated condition is a ‘for-hire’ or ‘on-rent’ model. Some manufacturers and most of the dealers provide renting services of portable toilets. While renting these portable toilets, they invariably have to provide installation, cleaning and maintenance services. Customers do not like to rent these units and handle them on their own.
|Potential Installation Sites|
|Construction sites||Festivals and fairs|
|Weddings||Crowded market places|
|Event industry||Sports events|
|Tourism industry||Urban slums|
|Camping and retreats||Natural disaster struck areas|
A single unit of portable toilets is rented for Rs 3000-4000 per day. There are extra charges for services provided for cleaning and maintenance, which could be around Rs 3000 per clean-up. As per one manufacturer of these units, the investment money put into the manufacturing of these units can be earned back in one season—a season like festival and the wedding season. Usually, Indian-made portable toilets can be used for six to ten years at a stretch, while imported units work only for four to five years, which means that apart from labor and maintenance costs, there is scope for pure profit in renting the portable toilets.
|In the next 10 years, there will be significant growth in the demand of portable toilets for sale (as compared to the current demand in for-rent model).
- Ashok Bhutani Bhutani International
Some of the players have adopted the franchising model, which can be an area to explore for other players. However, as quoted by Bhutani, “As the awareness spreads, the sale of these units should see a jump in the next ten years.”
The major challenge is educating people about benefits and usage of portable toilets. Spreading awareness about sanitation linked with health benefits would result in improved demand of portable toilets. There is a potentially huge market out there, but it looks like it will take some more time for someone to actually create it. The other challenge that people in this line of business face is that of bringing down cost price on both business models—sale and rental.
|Evolution of the Portable Toilets|
|Historically speaking, the portable toilet industry began in the 1940s in the ship building yards of the USA. The construction industry was the first one to exploit the benefits of this new unit that could be transported at various sites.|
|In the early 1970s, fiberglass was introduced as a material for portable toilets, but then in mid-1970s polyethylene was introduced and is still used for manufacturing.|
|High density polyethylene (HDPE) is the most popular material for portable toilets today. During the late 1990s, this concept was introduced in India by Shramik Sanitation System.|
Other than this, there are miscellaneous issues that one has to deal with. Some players, who did not want to get quoted, informed us of one such issue, “While transporting these units to clients, traffic rules pose an unsolvable problem. The height and space taken by multiple units while transporting is beyond what is allowed on Indian roads and therefore many dealers end up paying fines for breaking traffic rules.” Though the toilet industry has to follow the waste management guidelines of the government, this is one problem that many of the dealers are finding hard to solve.
written by Vic Chan, November 17, 2010
written by Portable Toilets, November 12, 2010
written by dish rack, October 27, 2010
written by nfl football jerseys, October 08, 2010
written by jimkottar, October 06, 2010
written by Inder Singh, August 20, 2010
written by animal rubber bands, July 02, 2010
written by kumar Abhishek, April 12, 2010
written by chris almond, January 05, 2010
|< Prev||Next >|