Does the industry realise the critical need of innovation? And what are the measures companies are adopting to set themselves apart? CW offers some insightful answers and interesting perspectives.
´Innovision´ any innovative technology, process, strategy, policy, that transforms the manner in which one perceives a concept or idea - enhances value immeasurably. ´It is the ability to envision, innovate and execute,´ stated Falguni Padode, Group Managing Editor, ASAPP Media Information Group, at a captivating CW Round Table held on June 27, 2014, at Hotel InterContinental in Mumbai. This set the mood for a brainstorming session among stalwarts from the construction and architecture fraternity in the presence of Pratap Vijay Padode, Editor-in-Chief and Manging Director, ASAPP Media Information Group. The discussion showcased diverse innovative perspectives, experiences and ideas shared by experts from across the country. Excerpts´
Shyam Motwani, Executive Vice President & Business Head, Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems ´All of us are in leadership positions and can get our teams to view innovation as doing things differently - questioning the status quo and trying to figure out what will create value. For example, a lock is supposed to provide a barrier, delay the break-in of an intruder or alert the neighbours; it is the security platform we use. We have created a visual colour-coded mechanism within the lock that indicates green when locked and red when unlocked. The colour is visible from a distance and, through this, one can determine if the main door is locked or not. This has led to many senior citizens, women and children feeling safe.´
Antony Parokaran, CEO, Schindler India
´We came to India about 16 years ago and changed the rules of the game by introducing machine room-less technology. Typically, an elevator has a machine room where it is housed and it has a separate kind of a construction above the elevator shaft. However, we put the machine inside the shaft itself. This improves the aesthetics of the building, and saves time and money. Today, it is the main type of elevator sold in the country. To me, this is innovation - it saves time, is more efficient and productive, and helps the customer. We also introduced a product called ´destination control´ for lifts. With this, one has to press the button in a keyboard when outside the lobby and, depending on the floor one has to go to, the system allocates the elevator. The technology also manages people ensuring that those who want to go to the same floor go together. This helps save energy and speeds up travel time.´
Sanjay Puri, Principal Architect, Sanjay Puri Architects
Speaking of innovations, some of our ideas have vastly improved the perception of spaces while simultaneously creating cost effective solutions. In Jaipur, we had a small site on an arterial road and the building envelope was restricted. We had an area of only 3,000 sq ft available on each floor. In Rajasthan, every single new commercial building constructed in the past 10 years was built with wraparound glass. These glass buildings should not have been created here, since the average temperatures are in excess of 40oc through eight months of the year. Hence, we started looking at traditional architecture. We adopted the jaali screen and created a modern version where the entire screen is folded in angular planes and wraps the whole building at a distance of 3 ft from the building. While giving the building a contextual look, it reduced heat gain by 30 per cent and noise pollution from the road outside by 40 per cent. Also, in Montenegro,where we are designing a few projects, we have proposed a 100-acre development that is car-free. Every building is created in local stone on the existing slopes of the hill. People arriving there first reach an external car park where they leave their cars and change to small solar cars that lie under a solar charging roof and then go ahead. The entire 100 acre development is thus sustainable.´
Sushil Luniya, President, HSIL
´We are focused on water conservation. About 80 per cent of the water we consume every day is used in the bathroom. From 12 litre flushing technology a few years ago, we are now down to about 4-5 litre and one of our latest products based on nanotechnology flushes only with 1.5 litre. This is a significant reduction in water use. Innovation has also been carried out in the manufacturing process of ceramics. It is made of a plaster of Paris mould, which is a diminishing raw material in terms of availability. Every mould has a life of about 90 pieces and we have now cracked the technology to re-use the plaster of Paris to create a mould. From the design perspective also, we have been innovative by introducing a washbasin with no wastewater hole. There is a long slit, as part of the design, from which the wastewater goes as a cascade and is then processed inside.´
Rajeev Antony, Managing Director, Schueco India Solar & Windows ´In India, we needed an innovative idea to market our product. Hence, we launched Schueco TropTec systems.
These are designed specifically for Indian conditions and are non-insulated systems - certified and tested. We also introduced other innovations like the Schueco parametric facade wherein each facade can be cut into five different dimensions and the company provides the engineering and design. We already have the first installations of the parametric facades. Another innovation is 2o housing;
if implemented across industries, it will hold back global warming by two degrees. The company has a technology wherein it works together with the architect and project management consultant to ensure that the passive house complies with two-degree norms. One more innovation is creating energy through facades; the company has been among the first to introduce building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) panels on facades.´
Mala Singh, Founder Chairman & MD, PEC Solutions Green Design & Member Executive Committee (IGBC) ´In Gujarat, it was decided to form a green building committee within the state government portal. Under this, we decided all projects should follow green norms from the planning stage itself. The idea was to do it first and then inspire others. Hence, we made, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, a new building in Gujarat, as per the norms from the planning stage itself. This LEED-certified building features traditional architecture like courtyard; it has a good wall-window ratio and an optimised building envelope to save energy to attain maximum daylight and ensure good ventilation. We have also installed a 80-kw solar energy system on the roof. As per the policy in Gujarat, one has to get into a PPP agreement between the technology supplier, owner and grid supply. Every day the solar power generated is used for the building and the surplus goes to the grid. Every month, we get Rs 9 per unit from Torrent Energy itself. Sometimes, sustainability gives you a payback from the first day itself.´
Ravi Sarangan, Director, Edifice Consultants
´Innovation is thinking out-of-the-box with the help of common sense and arriving at a solution that is a game-changer of sorts, trendy yet timeless with an impact on generations to come. We recently completed a large campus for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in Hyderabad. It is located next to a DLF developer space where TCS had leased space and the campus came up. The energy consumed by TCS at DLF was close to 1 tonne that cooled about 200 sq ft of space; 1 tonne of air-conditioning cools about 500 sq ft of space in a hot and dry environment. We managed to offer a solution to the campus that probably sets a record of the lowest consumption of power. We created a large water body where the consumed water is collected and treated. Also, a lake has been formed close to about 12 acre. This helped reduce the vicinity´s temperature. Hence, a lot of common sense, technology and interventions at no extra cost have been employed for this project. We are also doing the master plan for the new central business district in Mumbai. After BKC, Wadala has been identified and we are creating a smart, net-zero city. It will be close to 300 acre and is the first smart city coming up in western India.´
Dr HM Raje, Director, Raje Structural Consultants
´As shortage of sand is a reality, coarse and fine aggregates from demolished buildings should be reused rather than being disposed. Second, in high-rise structures, where large spans and floating column systems are involved, it is difficult for a structural engineer when the audits of the structure or some restorations or repairs are carried out to understand what exactly has happened to the structure.
One upcoming hotel in Powai, Mumbai, is standing on four columns with a large beam span of 50 m and the entire building is being floated. However, for one to know how it will behave through its lifespan, we have embedded strain gauges with a simple formula of engineering mechanics, the bending shear. Through this, we are trying to observe the deflections, bending and shear after every two storeys.
This is one innovative technology that could be adopted. Also, in projects in aggressive atmospheres, we use a corrosion inhibitor and cathodic protection technology that helps de-accelerate corrosion. These are simple innovations carried out by engineering mechanics. Another structure is the Surat International Exhibition Centre with a 90-m span on black cotton soil. It was a difficult task as the piles were not going inside and the project had to be completed in nine months. With the help of geotechnical investigations, we used the geo-textiles technique and the 90-m span without a column and about 132,000 sq ft of column-free area was created.´
Rajat Malhotra, COO-West Asia, Integrated Facilities Management, Jones Lang LaSalle Property Consultants (India)
´We have a platform called the Continuous Improvement Working Groups (CIWG), which was started in India in 2008 and has now spread globally for its best practices. Through this, we encourage our facility engineers to present innovative ideas they might have implemented on a quarterly basis. Then we have a global portal where anybody can feed in a good idea; we have examples taken from India and implemented abroad. On a grassroot level, our engineers come up with interesting innovations. In Hyderabad, we had a large campus with a cafeteria and gym with about 10 cycles. The engineers used the exercise cycles to generate electricity and light up the cafeteria as well as the gym. On a larger scale, we operate an IntelliCommand centre based out of India where we manage the real-estate portfolios of our global customers. We have linked all these buildings and remotely manage energy in them. Hence, we are able to save energy in operations by 20-25 per cent.´
Shampa Dhali, Director, Global Sales, Mumbai, Marriott Hotels India
´A year ago at the Copenhagen Marriott, we had a contest where one had to ride a bicycle for an hour and win a meal. We collaborated with TCS and there was a chip attached to the cycle through which it generated power for the hotel. We also launched the Meeting Services App (Red Coat Direct) to connect the guest with the hotel staff without leaving the room. Another innovation is the ´Meetings Imagined´ portal. Here, we have put up an inspirational gallery. The idea is that when destination meetings take place, there is always an objective. The gallery offers best practices to customers worldwide.´
Alakesh Roy, Managing Director, Zamil Steel Buildings India
´We are developing a paint system that will offer single-coat paint by providing both the primer and finished coat together. This reduces wastage and handling of materials. We are also moving towards paint technologies that are VOC-free and have been working with architects on a concept unheard of in the steel construction industry. We have crossed the 50-m barrier as the height for steel structures and are aiming for a 100-m-high structure with steel and not concrete. This is the innovation we are trying to embody as an organisation and in the market.´
Umesh Rao, CEO, Vector Projects (I)
´We have put in a lot of processes in our company, brought in innovative products and trained our people in a way that they are able to offer a fit-out space in the least amount of time. Hence, earlier for doing about 2 lakh sq ft to 3 lakh sq ft where it took about six to nine months, we are now able to achieve it in 100 days. We achieved this as we planned to set up factories for most of our works and reduce work on site. For a bank that used to open two-three branches in a year, we have set up 120 branches in two years. Our rollout time is good because of our process, speed and product standardisation.´
Chetan R Raikar, Chairman & Managing Director, Structwel
´In our organisation, we incentivise innovation by ensuring one innovation in every major project. Besides, we have a robust R&D lab recognised by the Central Government. We have done the architectural and structural design of Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. In this project, we have completed a 99-ft-tall, 10-storey minarah in load bearing and it is constructed only in marble. No reinforcement, concrete or bricks have been used. At the policy level, innovation is a prerequisite for every project.´
Vikas Gupta, Director, Omkar Realtors & Developers
´We introduced the concept of a clubhouse that offers every facility at one´s doorstep. When people enter their house, they should be able to access everything inside the complex. Apart from this, we are also using VRV technology for cooling systems where sewerage water can be recycled and preserved. We are educating residents about these through seminars. Apart from this, innovation is required at the policy level the Government needs to plan infrastructure.´
Kamal Singh, Director-Power Electronics, Danfoss Power Electronics Division, Danfoss Industries
´We started an India R&D centre about three-four years ago with the intent to mainly cater to Indian requirements first and then global requirements. The ´India for India´ concept started about three years ago and based on the customers´ pain points, small or medium, modifications in products have been carried out. Also, we are in the compressors business and various speed drives. With the help of the pain points, we introduced remote diagnostics for drives installed in various hotels and buildings. The remote diagnostics flashes into the mobile device and, through this, it helps the hotel engineer understand what is happening in the chiller or HVACs.´
MK Sunil, Country Manager, AEC-India and SAARC, Autodesk India ´One of our recent innovations is ´point cloud data´. It is a laser machine that one can place in a room; it will scan the area and offer point cloud data in 3D that has millions of small points with x-y-z coordinates. We brought that into our software where we created ´ReCap´. With this, one can use point cloud data and take photographs - it virtually creates a 3D model. We have signed an MoU with Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. They have six buildings with about 100,000 artefacts but, at any given time, they are able to display only 4,000 owing to lack of space. We will scan each of these artefacts so they can be viewed online. We also recreated the Bamiyan Buddha, which was destroyed in Afghanistan, by sourcing pictures from Google; soon, we will be able to build it back.´
Manish Garg, President & CEO, Steel Building Business, Everest Industries
´We developed an ERP system, which ensures that what is required at the site first is manufactured, dispatched and reaches the site in totality. We collaborated with the world´s best ERP technologies. SAP is the software owner and we call the system ´Speed´. This system divides the building into various blocks such as block 1, block 2, block 3, etc, and each block is released in terms of the bill of quantity to be manufactured as one block. The block is rectifiable and the manufacturing for block 2 cannot be done before block 1 is completed there are checks and balances. This has been a game-changer for us and a disruptive innovation!´
As a concept, innovation is vital and the round table threw up many interesting aspects such as future vision, DC rules in the country, and innovative ideas for the Government. Emphasising that innovation determines where a company is heading to in the future, Pratap Padode said, ´Nobody can ever know at what speed innovation can transform an organisation.´
For his part, Puri stated, ´The DC rules in Mumbai are among the worst in the country. These have taken a step backwards; one is not allowed open spaces anymore, not even to create terraces. We do not have rules to use spaces innovatively. It is allowed in cities like Delhi, Noida and Ahmedabad, but not in Mumbai. This needs to change.´ To this, Malhotra added, ´When was the last time we witnessed something innovative from the Government? One should not only look at bringing out a new set of rules but bring in innovative rules that encourage and offer the flexibility to construct.´ Continuing this point, Pratap Padode stated, ´With the new Government being formed, all of us are hoping for better governance.´
On a concluding note, the view was expressed that innovative ideas and concepts should be encouraged in every organisation as they play a vital role in improving the company´s fortunes and prove beneficial for employees and end-consumers. In the long run, clearly, innovation will provide the most sustainable roadmap.