Innovations in building construction and management boost safety and are imperative to increase efficiencies, better automation, curb costs and minimise construction timelines, writes Nikhil Jain, Chief Executive Officer, Ramprastha Promoters and Developers Pvt. Ltd, a leading real estate and infrastructure development company based in Gurgaon, Haryana.
During the past decade, the construction industry has adopted various innovative tools to curb costs, reduce timelines and improve safety standards during project development.
As one prepares a piece on innovations in the Indian construction industry, an NDTV ticker update catches the eye: 5-storey building collapses in Mumbai, more than 25 feared trapped, the headline screams. The latest tragedy emphasises the need for innovations to overhaul construction practices and safety norms, besides regulatory authorities implementing and enforcing stringent standards.
Innovations in building construction and management boost safety and are imperative to increase efficiencies, better automation, curb costs and minimise construction timelines. This will improve margins for developers and ensure lower prices for customers as well provide increasingly safer homes, which is our paramount priority.
Innovations come in various hues to improve the products and practices of the construction industry. For instance, a Greek building chemicals company has developed waterproof roof products that protect buildings from all deteriorating elements, thereby extending their shelf life. Or consider the solar power based pumps that provide 40 per cent more energy than conventional pumps. And not being dependent upon traditional source of power, these pumps could be used in remote locations too, thus truly reducing project development costs in hinterland regions.
Moreover, innovations can be useful to implement green building norms, which are increasingly important to reduce the carbon footprints of various structures during construction itself. This is achieved by using energy-efficient technologies, alternative building materials and innovative construction techniques. Since such smart buildings entail lower energy and maintenance costs, within a few years the savings recoup the initial investments.
New product innovations like UPVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride) doors and windows, due to excellent insulation, reduce external noise and prevent seepage of water even during heavy rains. Superior insulation makes indoor air-conditioning more effective, ensuring lower energy bills. Some of the other latest technologies include automated batching plants, cellular blocks/fly-ash bricks, water recycling via sewage treatment plants as well as rainwater harvesting, solar panels for water heating, PPR pipes etc.
A technique that made global waves is precast technology. In this technique, numerous modules of a structure are built in off-site units, then taken to the site and assembled. The technology delivers high efficiency and almost zero wastage because dozens of labourers or skilled resources are not required to erect the structure. The technique is more cost effective for large projects, since higher volumes enhance margins.
Given the tremendous drop in time and cost overruns, traditionally the bane of India’s construction industry, more developers will adopt precast technology in future. Since manufacturers specialising in this technology are presently few, some developers have established their own precast factories.
As precast technology gains traction amongst builders and becomes popular with customers, more manufacturers may enter the business once demand soars. Through precast technology, roof slabs, columns, beams, wall panels etc. can all be customised as per requirement. Thereafter, they are taken to the construction site and put in place with tower cranes.
Considering the immense shortfall of residential units and with affordable housing being one of India’s national policy goals, precast technology would be best suited to meet these requirements cost effectively and speedily. Industry analysts believe precast technology could curb 20 per cent of construction costs and save around 40 per cent time, while promoting better quality and robust structures compared to conventional construction techniques.
Safer and sustainable
Additionally, precast units almost eliminate the chances of pilferage, which is prevalent in traditional construction. This technology is also more sustainable and environment friendly because most waste is recycled, rather than being dumped near sites as is generally the norm. What’s more, precast structures are safer to construct and limit the chances of mishaps during construction. Significantly, precast structures are considered more resilient against earthquakes. With the National Capital Region and much of North India falling within the seismic zone, this is a significant advantage.
The consolidated gains of precast technology could result in projects being completed within three years, compared to four or more years through traditional techniques. These costs and time benefits could allow flats to be priced at reasonable rates, making a project more viable for developers and affordable for end-users.
While precast technology is employed in constructing multi-storeyed buildings and independent houses, high rises are constructed by using jump-form technology. In the latter, hydraulic-based systems are used to erect the structure floor by floor.
Against the plethora of advantages, precast technology possesses one major drawback – alterations and modifications of units are virtually ruled out once constructed. But that is a small price to pay for homes that are safer and more affordable.
With such widespread benefits, technological developments should be promoted by all developers. Those who begrudge the initial investments should remember that thereafter the one-time spend allows them a cost-competitive advantage over their peers. There can be no greater motivation than this for developers to adopt such technologies and innovations.