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The road construction industry in India is undergoing a significant transformation driven by technological advancements and a growing emphasis on sustainability. Adoption of digital trends, building information modelling (BIM) and innovative construction practices promises to revolutionise project m...

The road construction industry in India is undergoing a significant transformation driven by technological advancements and a growing emphasis on sustainability. Adoption of digital trends, building information modelling (BIM) and innovative construction practices promises to revolutionise project management, offering increased efficiency and more realistic project planning. Creating a connected data environment in the Cloud and standardising workflows can harmonise road construction processes. The industry aims to enhance project outcomes by dedicating more time to planning and aligning with the latest design standards. In the second of a series of panel discussions on ‘Revolutionising Road Project Management through Technology’, held at the 9th India Construction Festival (ICF) and hosted by the FIRST Construction Council in partnership with CW, industry stalwarts discussed a range of topics, including how technology can assist in lowering the carbon footprint. Adoption of BIM models Speaking about how technology has been reshaping the construction industry, particularly through the adoption of digital trends and BIM, Kasturi Srinivas, Industry Sales Director for Transportation, Bentley Systems, said, “Digital trends are expected to revolutionise project management, increasing the significance of 3-D BIM models. By harnessing BIM, project managers can gain a better understanding of construction processes and assess project realism. Further, the integration of mobile applications allows for onsite data collection, enabling task-oriented analysis and providing insights into the impact of progress delays.” He highlighted challenges faced by professionals when adopting new technologies in road construction management and said that overcoming these obstacles is crucial for growth and improved efficiency. Seamless management through PIM Manideep Saha, Consultant, Digital Transformation, Project Management, spoke about road project management, integration of project information management (PIM) and construction technology to usher in significant advancements. “Integration of processes is paramount and despite the technological advancements, many stakeholders still operate in isolation,” he said. “To address this, creating a connected data environment in the Cloud and integrating all stakeholders and documents is pivotal. Standardised workflows are essential to harmonise processes within organisations and with external stakeholders. Model coordination, class detection, scheduling and cost balance are vital components to consider from pre-planning to construction.” Calling for a structured approach to technology adoption, integrated processes and thorough planning to enhance road project management to make it more efficient and successful, he added, “Adherence to design standards like ISO and PIM standards is crucial. A PIM solution should begin with a BIM) plan, ensuring technology integration from the outset. A focus on planning can enhance project outcomes.” Revolutionising off-highway tyres Commenting on the vital role of tyres in the industry, PK Mathur, VP - Techno Marketing and OTR Product Development, BKT, said, “The tyre is the only connection between the road and the vehicle. Vehicles for road construction have to travel long distances, with high speeds and high loads, in rough conditions and varying climates. So, we have to design tyres in such a way that they perform well in such harsh terrain with proper safety and reliability. Unless we have a proper tyre for the proper application, the vehicle will not be able to support road construction.” BKT is a leading manufacturer of off-highway tyres and contributes significantly by providing a wide range of specialised tyres; its tyre selection ranges from 5 ft to 57” in diameter, catering to various off-highway applications such as mining (surface and underground) and road construction, among others. By creating tyres tailored to specific applications, the company ensures that construction equipment, including tippers, loaders, cranes, dozers and compactors, operate efficiently and effectively in demanding environments. The development of high-quality, application-specific tyres optimises productivity while minimising downtime. Data security and M policy For his part, Dr Smruti Ranjan Parida, DGM - System & IT Automation, Adani Road Transport, spoke of the pivotal role of data, project management practices and data security in the industry’s evolving landscape. Addressing terms like AI and Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT), the analysts emphasised upon the wealth of relevant data that exists within the construction industry and on how it should be harnessed effectively. He raised the question of whether project management practices genuinely serve their intended purpose and advocated aligning project management with the M policy – Manpower, Material, Machinery and Money, all essential elements for success in construction projects. Data security, particularly in the age of cloud computing, was also a focal point. He observed that no system can be entirely secure, stressing upon the adoption of evolving security practices. While discussions revolved around the significance of securing project-specific data beginning with the detailed project report (DPR), Parida highlighted the relevance of data collection practices such as heat mapping and traffic projections. The manufacturer’s perspective highlighted sustainability as a primary focus, considering the industry’s need to address carbon emissions while pursuing growth. The consensus was clear: A simplified approach, adherence to the M Policy and robust security measures are essential in the construction industry’s changing landscape. Combating carbon emissions In discussions of India’s position as the third-largest carbon-emitting nation after the US and China, Sunil Desai, Director, Dextra India, emphasised upon the need for sustainable practices. As the country aims to develop 80 km of roads per day, increased cement and steel production poses environmental challenges. In this scenario, India’s commitment to achieving zero emissions by 2070 as outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls for a paradigm shift. The analysts, while advocating for environmental product declaration (EPD) certification, a transparent ISO certification reporting a product’s environmental impact throughout its lifecycle, called upon government authorities such as the NHAI to insist on EPD certification for construction products. While on the topic of sustainability efforts through innovative products and technologies, giving an example of a cost-quality balance, they mentioned the introduction of mechanical couplers to join reinforcement bars to significantly reduce steel consumption and carbon emissions. By reducing traditional steel bar usage, lowering costs and transportation-related carbon emissions, glass fibre-reinforced bars (GFRB) provide a cost-effective and sustainable alternative. In India’s cost-driven construction market, where budget often takes precedence over quality, striking a balance is a challenge. Industry experts acknowledged the predominant focus on cost (L1 pricing) rather than quality in tenders. They underlined that cost-efficient, high-quality solutions are feasible as well as advantageous. Acknowledging the carbon footprint in transportation, they dwelt upon transportation of finished elements and contended that onsite manufacturing would result in less material wastage, thereby reducing the overall carbon footprint. To promote sustainable practices, they called for raising awareness to create a collective commitment toward reducing carbon emissions and embracing sustainability. Increasingly, India’s construction industry is gradually embracing sustainability thanks to awareness campaigns, governmental incentives and collaboration with esteemed institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). As awareness grows, more Indian manufacturers are entering the GFRB market, offering innovative products that reduce costs, improve quality and lower carbon footprints. Technologies for project management Speaking about integration of advanced technologies, Thumu Karthik, CEO, LivSYT, highlighted the importance of tailormade solutions and a focus on return on investment (RoI) when adopting technology. “Geographic information system (GIS) mapping plays a vital role, especially in project validation,” he said. “However, the adoption of technology should be guided by its adaptability, usability and the tangible benefits it can bring to a specific project.” While drones are considered valuable tools, their regular use can be costly so he proposed alternatives like side cameras and specialised apps to gather valuable data in a more cost-effective manner. Further, the discussion emphasised the need for technology, aligned with the organisation’s culture and the level of hands-on involvement. Efficient technology integration can significantly reduce net costs, streamline administration and enhance project management. Integration of location intelligence such as GIS mapping is crucial in infrastructure development as it not only aids construction, but also ensures maintenance and sustainability of assets, contributing to the long-term success of projects. “This focus on technology and innovation is expected to play a pivotal role in India’s ongoing infrastructure development efforts,” he added. In conclusion At the event, experts and policymakers shared insights, experiences and best practices by showcasing case studies and highlighting emerging technologies. Having underlined the problems, they also suggested solutions ranging from policy intervention to the role of technologies. What’s more, the panel discussion gave the audience an insight into the various facets of road infrastructure development and management and the need for consistent innovations in the sector.

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