Building Smart

According to McKinsey, construction holds the dubious honour of having the lowest productivity gains of any industry. The reasons attributed to this include continued use of labour instead of technology; lack of consolidation; and the fact that builders are still averse to using technology even though architects increasingly espouse it.
Technology is becoming key: The MoRTH is trying to escalate the pace of execution from 25 km to 40 km per day; the Prime Minister’s PRAGATI project, where he reviews projects worth Rs 9 trillion, is regularly laying stress upon speed of execution of metro projects, power plants; and there is a race for implementing affordable housing projects in line with the PMAY, for which incentives are being provided to developers and buyers.

In fact, L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji and NCC have qualified for a number of such projects and these are being executed using technologies like MIVAN. Design and engineering, too, are gaining importance as cities are considering master planning, which will bring tools of urban planning into play. Pre-engineered buildings, prefab and shuttering systems are being deployed like never before. Road building companies are completing projects to earn bonuses by advancing completion deadlines. What’s more, the smart cities mission has advocated the use of technology in planning, administering and maintaining assets for cities. This has encouraged the use of IoT devices, GPS systems, RFID, digital systems, advanced CCTV, Wi-Fi, waste-to-energy management, tracking devices, data management, e-governance and so on.

With the advent of technology comes the need for capacity building, where procurement, engineering, architecture and design departments need to upgrade themselves. Inability to upgrade these skills will lead to flaws in bidding documents, specifications, withdrawal of tenders and failures in generating interest in tenders. This, in turn, would lead to delays in project execution. (Delays in projects cost our nation over Rs 500 billion per annum.)

Clearly, the world is changing and India is transforming. Globally, 3D printing is being used to build flats. Modular buildings, like the one built by a Chinese company that built 57 stories in 19 days, are setting new benchmarks. Just as smart phones are being sold all over India even though so many parts of the country do not have access to electricity, we will have to pursue the dialogue to convert India into a smart nation even though gaps exist in basic delivery of services.

Do visit SM@RT URBANATION on March 22-23, 2018 at HICC, Hyderabad and experience, observe and connect with the smart solutions that are changing our lives – and our nation.

2018: A Watershed Year?

‘Disruption’ was an oft-used word in 2017. Sometimes it was used when describing a phenomenon that turned an existing business model on its head, as Uber and Airbnb did. But more often than not, it was used when wishful thinking was allowed over logic, or when no clear solution was visible.

In essence, disruption represents a desire to change the status quo. Jio has challenged the status quo, but then it has deep pockets. Meanwhile, HAM tried to be a game-changer but did not get the desired results. The smart cities mission took on urban rejuvenation through inspiration – but it has achieved limited success.

That said, land pooling by Andhra Pradesh proved to be an intelligent solution. And, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has been a game-changer. It is addressing the need to revive assets that have potential for productivity but need some respite. Assets changing hands will ensure that they do not lie idle and rot. Putting them to use enhances the GDP.

In the construction sector, too, consolidation is the name of the game. Stressed owners are selling prime assets and seeking a new lease of life. New buyers are seeking revenue earning assets at good value. This allows a more liquid market in trading revenue-yielding assets such that the investor has an exit route and can free up capital in engaging with new opportunities.

Our cover story sets the tone for the year 2018 as Union Minister Nitin Gadkari spells out his plans for Bharatmala and Sagarmala with timelines and investments. Gadkari’s commitment to work and penchant for numbers and details are legendary. After meeting our editorial team at 7 am, he continued the discussion through his personal grooming process and then set out for the airport! He has a challenge ahead of him as he revs up to accelerate the road construction per day rate.

Indeed, the year ahead is likely to be a watershed one for the construction industry. Here’s why:

  • The GST effect has stabilised and demand is limping back.
  • The demonetisation wounds have healed.
  • Ease of doing business has helped ease regulatory hurdles.
  • The Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code has helped revived several projects.
  • Credit disbursement has picked up and private-sector investment is likely to revive.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat are likely to expedite their projects.
  • There will be ample provision for big-ticket infrastructure projects as next year’s Budget is likely to be completely populist.
  • Maximum contracts will be awarded in FY2018-19 so that they are secured before the election code kicks in by the time of the next Budget.
  • In other news, SM@RT URBANATION opens on March 22-23, 2018, in Hyderabad. Over 25 city officials will descend to seek knowledge on the latest technological smart solutions for cities at the two-day summit and expo, including an evening of awards.

To know more, check out www.SmartUrbanation.com.
And don’t forget to keep your eyes on CONSTRUCTION WORLD on the web and print – we’ll keep you up-to-date on every opportunity so you can stay ahead!