Why Fabrication Yards Have All But Disappeared?
Steel

Why Fabrication Yards Have All But Disappeared?

Experts opine on what’s needed to boost the use of steel in construction. Over the last 40-50 years, we have become a concrete nation, observes Atul Bhobe, Managing Director, TPF Engineering. “Thirty to forty years ago, we used to have the entire fabrication yards in Kolkata and Bhilai; the...

Experts opine on what’s needed to boost the use of steel in construction. Over the last 40-50 years, we have become a concrete nation, observes Atul Bhobe, Managing Director, TPF Engineering. “Thirty to forty years ago, we used to have the entire fabrication yards in Kolkata and Bhilai; these have all disappeared. Riveting has gone out of style. We now make do with high strength friction grip bolts, which is a challenge because how many bolts can you use on a plate? Then you have to depend on welding, and welders are in short supply.” To give you a sense of how low our capacity is, they needed about 80,000 tonne of steel for the Mahatma Gandhi Setu in Patna, shares Bhobe. “The contractor had to employ 20 different fabricators nationwide to get 80,000 tonne of steel fabricated over four years.” Skilled fabricators and erectors are limited, agrees Abhijeet M Kulkarni, Country Director, Structures, Buro Happold. So, what is needed? We need to develop more steel fabrication facilities in the country besides create design hubs for steel-based construction, adds Dr Mukesh Kumar, Director, Steel Research & Technology Mission of India (SRTMI), under the aegis of the Ministry of Steel. We need a value chain all the way through, points out Bhobe. “It doesn’t stop at manufacturing. We need fabricators. We need people who can do detailing, people who can design, people who understand steel structures.” “We need to move from being a concrete-dominated nation to at least understanding what steel can do and how we can use steel better,” adds Bhobe. “Bridges aren’t part of the present curriculum. If you look at academics now, few students are taught how to design a bridge and how to design a long span, and even less is taught about steel. It has to start from the grassroots to then create an awareness among working professionals.

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