JAIRAM PANCH dilates on the efficiencies that have been introduced to the Indian construction industry through technological innovation.
The construction industry in India has come a long way over the last 15 years in terms of size and the sophistication of building projects and with it arises the need for more advanced techniques, procedures, systems, materials and equipment to serve this aspect of the changing market. Moreover clients in India are becoming much more demanding in terms of quality, speed of construction, and commitment to safe worksites and fair treatment of labour, which, in turn, drive change (innovation) in the industry in India. The construction market has started embracing innovations in construction technology, question conventional approach and focus on improving the delivery methods. Industry has started to accept and promote many innovative methods, practices, systems, processes, materials, equipment, and training methodologies, but there still exist many more opportunities. Every innovation is subject to acceptance or rejection review, a cost-benefit analysis and is measured against tangible benefit to the stakeholders. Some of these innovations listed below have provided a positive, measurable outcome, that are accepted for replication within the industry.
The outcome of some of these has contributed to the following:
Some of these innovations that have been implemented and widely accepted by mature construction markets are listed below. But the adoption levels in India are low to medium. With challenging times for the Indian construction industry in 2013-14, I would like to give an overview of the same and urge the respective stakeholders to investigate how these can be implemented on a larger scale to enable India to sustain the economic slowdown and transform into a mature construction market.
High capacity Equipment: Demand for high capacity equipment from sectors like road, ports, airports, high-rise buildings has led to the entry of many equipment manufacturers with advanced machines to meet the demands of the sector. Some of the examples are tower cranes, luffing cranes, mobile cranes, men and material hoists, road layers and excavators. International companies have also set-up factories in India for production and export.
Methods and Practices: While there are a lot of opportunities available, the progress in implementing innovative methods and practices in public as well as private sectors needs a big push. Most of the multinational construction companies and some of the top Indian companies are bringing in international quality and safety standards by implementing already proven methods. These efforts will slowly bring in the much required improvement to these two key areas of execution. Some innovations that have impacted the Indian market are listed below:
Systems and Processes: The Indian construction industry needs to embrace the concept of project management and construction management systems from the initial stages of the project. In order to achieve this, clients must employ the services of experienced international project management consultants (PMCs) from day one to achieve this.
PMCs have been successful in implementing effective systems, tools, processes and controls for managing the projects. Various checks and balances are imposed at regular intervals. An external agency performing this function contributes to out-of-the box thinking, which the in-house team of clients may not necessarily possess. Thinking ahead, resolving potential coordination conflicts, scheduling and cost control are the key benefits of employing the right PMCs on projects.While innovations in materials, equipment, systems and processes can bring positive changes on one hand, it is also necessary to bring changes to contract systems by moving away from the conventional
item-rate, re-measurable type of contract to more mature forms such as lumpsum, cost-plus, guaranteed maximum price type. This will eliminate the need of an army of estimators from the client and contractor teams painfully re-measuring the executed works on site for payment certification. This process not only delays the payment but also the project substantially. It´s about time that India changes this in 2013-14. Turner´s commitment to innovation: Turner holds innovation as the key to future construction practices and has a strong commitment from senior management. Special emphasis has been laid on imparting lean, BIM, formwork and alternative material practices. Turner has executed projects utilising these concepts successfully in international markets and is committed to implementing these innovations in India. Having identified ´Innovation´ as the key differentiator and to encourage innovation and ideas, the company has established an ´Innovation Award´ for its employees. Every year, Turner rewards its employees with prize money for the best contribution, based on certain parameters.
The Indian construction market is poised for a major leap with complex buildings such as high-rise towers, large span structures and monumental landmarks in the pipeline. Innovations such as BIM, Lean, improvements in the disciplined application of safety and quality procedures, and the use of project management systems will transform the industry and bring in the much-needed change. Out-of-the-box thinking is the need of the hour and embracing innovation in an incremental manner will rapidly improve the Indian construction market and deliver good quality and safe buildings with ever-lasting impact for future generations.
About the author: Jairam Panch, Managing Director, Turner Project Management India, has an overall work experience of 23 years in both domestic and international markets. He has worked on challenging project segments including the Burj Dubai development. In India, he is currently managing projects of construction volume worth approximately Rs 4,500 crore.