"A Guide to Proper Recycling Practices"

Photo courtesy: Autodesk, India & SAARC The Indian construction market is set to grow from $500 billion to $1 trillion in the next five years. By then, it will be the third largest cons...

Photo courtesy: Autodesk, India & SAARC The Indian construction market is set to grow from $500 billion to $1 trillion in the next five years. By then, it will be the third largest construction market in the world. However, the industry is plagued by project delays and cost overruns – typically, because of chaotic execution, a lack of coordination between different stakeholders and low accountability across the value chain, explains Sashi Kiran, Founding Partner and Director, FalconBrick Technologies. A key reason for this sorry state is old ways of working, mainly the lack of technology enablement on construction sites, he continues. Amid such a situation, the pandemic struck, making it necessary for the industry to find new ways to innovate and collaborate. Again, technology was the answer, but exactly what sort? Desirable ERP features For a tech solution to be quickly adopted by the industry, it should be easy to use, customisable and flexible enough to accommodate the complexities of different types of projects and stakeholders, says Kiran. For instance, FalconBrick’s solution can be implemented at all stages of the project lifecycle, from excavation and civil work to finishing and handover to end-customers and post-possession and facilities management, he explains. “Engineers and even contractors can use this solution to track project progress at a macro (company) level as well as at a detailed (flat-wise/activity-wise) level. Over 40 million sq ft across 10 cities is being constructed digitally with FalconBrick’s solution by more than 75 leading developers, including Prestige Group, Embassy Group, K Raheja Corp, DLF, L&T Realty, Marathon Group, Panchshil Realty, Goel Ganga Developments, TVS Group, Brigade Group, Nagarjuna Constructions, M3M and Aparna Constructions.” A construction ERP requires a lot of handholding before going live, for which the client needs strong local support teams, something In4Suite, a premier product, is well known for in the industry, opines Rahul Chawla, Managing Director, Global Velocity Ventures (In4Velocity). In those initial stages, firms absorb the processes built into the product, a critical factor for successful implementation. In4Suite is being used by small and mid-sized to extremely large developers and infrastructure players such as Marathon Group, Puri Constructions, ESR Group, Ascendas, Raunak, Tata Realty, Sunteck, etc. Product completeness, capturing all the key processes, is very critical, he adds. “Our ERP embeds even the smallest processes so the entire organisation transforms digitally. No part of the process stays paper, email or telephone-based. Most ERP solutions aren’t end-to-end solutions.” “When a solution is genuinely well designed to be end to end, it can eliminate the need for other allied software,” explains Dr Arun Kumar Gupta, CEO, ACG Infotech (ACGIL). For instance, Mx-ERP is largely a hardcore engineering solution with a work breakdown structure (WBS) based on the critical path method (CPM) for timebound project monitoring. In contrast, other ERPs are more focused on the manual setting of activity dates. Real-estate builder-centric ERPs are based on money supply versus project progress whereas the CPM-based Mx-ERP offers the auto updating of milestone dates and obviates the need for Microsoft Project and Primavera. Mx-ERP manages bids, men, material, finance and equipment as a one-stop solution. Easily accessible support is critical. “Our product has a built-in chat/video conferencing tool that doesn’t require any external software and works just like Zoom, MS Teams or similar products, something unique to the industry,” shares Chawla. An option should exist for the solution to be Cloud-hosted, like Mx-ERP offers, adds Dr Gupta. Mx-ERP is being used by BFEW, Inshat-Al-Awtan General Contracting Co., SBP Group, BCL Industries, Lightkrafts and UK Interia, to name a few. App rules With more people working remotely (from home), more customers are also adopting solutions that work on handhelds, explains MK Sunil, Head of Architecture, Engineering and Construction, Autodesk, India & SAARC. Revit models can be accessed with Autodesk BIM 360 using any handheld device and marked up and commented on, for easy communication and collaboration. Coming to the use of handhelds for ERP solutions, “mobile apps are enablers on top of the core ERP,” explains Chawla. He recommends the In4Velocity approach: to cover the ‘buy side’, the ‘sell side’ and the ‘inside’ of a real-estate or construction company by putting the key field processes on the mobile. For example, “onsite updates, bill approvals, sales bookings, updates for apartment buyers to see progress and make payments, lead and prospect logging by agents/brokers, quotation and tender uploading by vendors, and trouble ticket posting for property managers, etc.” FalconBrick’s construction management mobile app delivers project information in real time to every stakeholder, thus helping to accelerate projects by 30 per cent, and saving project costs and reducing rework by 50-80 per cent, estimates Kiran. Every provider has its own objectives for handhelds. Mx-ERP from ACGIL uses an online connecting tool on handhelds to interface clients with the back-office team. Data from Bexel Manager, an IFC-certified solution developed on OpenBim standards, can be exchanged with other solutions supporting Bim Collab formats for handhelds such as Trimble Connect, etc. Collaboration solutions A solution that supports effective collaboration (such as Trimble’s) will be built to connect each step, role and stakeholder group from concept and design to schedule and project management—“by connecting and integrating workflows and data, information flows seamlessly from one system to the next, ensuring faster completion of projects with least human errors,” explains Paul Wallett, Regional Director, Middle East and India, Trimble Solutions. Connected construction enables firms to take advantage of new methodologies such as prefabrication that require an advanced level of communication and collaboration in the process of construction, he observes. In the context of collaboration, Ajith Kumar Vadakkoot, CEO, Bexel India and Bexel Gulf, points out that using solutions based on open standards helps data-sharing. Bexel Manager supports 3D models developed in other BIM authoring tools supporting OpenBim formats such as AutoDesk Revit, Tekla, Civil 3D, ArchiCad, etc. Bexel Manager’s Open APIs allow easy linkages with any ERP system such as SAP. Analytics and reports generated by Bexel Manager are easily exported in easily readable formats. Its inbuilt intelligent scheduling engine can quickly create project schedules linked to the 3D model, as well as export/import Oracle Primavera, MS Project and even MS Excel schedules. In recent times, Sunil says, “more customers have been adopting our Cloud platform for collaboration.” As a hybrid working culture emerges among AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) customers, he believes the Cloud will see exponential growth in the next two to three years. In keeping with these trends, Autodesk has added multiple modules for design collaboration and construction including Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro, Autodesk Docs and Autodesk Build, which includes cost and asset management modules. Autodesk Docs facilitates a common data environment for the AEC industry. It acts as a central storage and offers features like version control, red lining, transmittal, drawing compare, etc, to ensure every project player sees one single source of truth. 2D to 3D/4D/5D/6D While the Indian construction industry has traditionally been slow to adopt digital tools, many industry leaders like L&T, Eversendai Construction and Inventaa Industries have shifted from 2D to constructible [3D] building information models (BIMs), observes Wallett. What exactly is a constructible 3D BIM? A 3D BIM is constructible if it is equipped with enough detail, data or information that can be applied during actual construction, he explains. “‘Constructible’ defines the ease and efficiency with which structures can actually be constructed from a mere 3D BIM. Only when a BIM model is truly constructible does it unlock the true value of BIM in making construction teams more productive and the process more efficient throughout the project lifecycle. ‘Design BIM models’ and ‘constructible BIM models’ differ on the level of accuracy, development and richness of detail.” Trimble Tekla’s 2021 structural BIM software solutions help make sustainable construction possible, especially when compared to traditional construction software/tools, allowing the real-time assessment of construction projects. The 3D model or the digital twin of the actual facility eliminates the cumbersome process of reading and understanding 2D drawings, facilitates visualisations, simulations and clash analysis between disciplines, and ultimately results in effective project management, explains Vadakkoot. “Bexel Manager is an integrated, intelligent 3D/4D/5D and 6D integrated solution. It aims at effectively plugging the gaps in construction processes, vital in the light of the mega projects being executed. Rustomjee is an early Bexel Manager customer in India.” While even “changemaker Minister Nitin Gadkari is actively promoting 5D-integrated BIM construction management to reduce project delays and overruns and improve efficiency”, to quote Vadakkoot, some entry barriers aren’t permitting the widespread adoption of full BIM from 3D to 6D in construction projects. He attributes this to a lack of awareness, misconceptions that BIM is only for engineering, the lack of a user-friendly integrated tool that doesn’t require work to be split over several software solutions and then unified, and the lack of indigenous standards and trained manpower. Dr Gupta believes a very large percentage of EPC or construction companies in India aren’t using BIM or similar technology to calculate quantities from 2D drawings, and very few construction companies perform quantity surveys through 3D modelling simply because its many intricacies and options make it hard. Better training might help spur adoption. “We are working with the Indian BIM Association and some premium institutions like the IITs to address these barriers,” says Vadakkoot. In Chawla’s view, everyone wants to move to 3D and 4D but the core infrastructure and investments in product platforms [to support this] are lacking in India. “The transition to 3D models (like moving from Autocad to Revit) will only happen once the industry stabilises and the flow of revenue is consistent. At this point, the industry is still in turmoil and for a large number of players, it is touch and go. We are still at least four to five years away from a full recovery from the pandemic, which would enable people to consider those efficiencies and investments.” To end on a positive note, Wallett sees tremendous scope for BIM to penetrate deeper among mid and small-sized firms in India. The pandemic boosts software uptake The unprecedented changes induced by COVID-19, such as social distancing and remote working, have made it all the more important for the construction industry to adopt digital transformation technology, opines Vadakkoot. “This line of thinking is gaining ground in the current scenario as well as in the medium to long term with industry leaders like SN Subrahmanyan, MD, L&T, strongly advocating it.” “Demand has certainly increased in the infra industry,” shares Dr Gupta. “People are asking about digital tools and their benefits, and developing strategies to implement BIM and Cloud into their organisation,” says Sunil. Not surprisingly, In4Velocity has seen an uptick in purchases when people went back to work around September. Companies that had struggled to remotely manage even their basic accounting and billing needs during the first lockdown came forward to invest in the solution. Unlike before the pandemic, however, most companies opted for the SaaS-hosted model of In4Suite® to avoid managing infrastructure like servers or hardware, according to Chawla. The upshot of preparation has been positive. “Companies were better prepared for the second lockdown,” he says. For those with concerns about the spread of the Coronavirus through face-to-face contact during installations, there is always a way out. “We have equipped our employees to work from home and have been remotely implementing the solution since the outbreak,” adds Dr Gupta. - CHARU BAHRI

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