Ganapati M G writes about precast construction emerging as a solution for reliable and high quality construction of projects that needs to be completed quickly.
Precast concrete construction has been extensively used in infrastructure works from many years. It has helped to complete infrastructure works at faster rate than the earlier traditional construction methods. For eg. bridges are made using pre-stressed precast concrete girders and abutments, retaining walls are made with precast panels. In Metrolines, precast post tensioned box girders are used. Precast has enhanced the quality and speed of construction.
In case of buildings, structural steel has been in use in many countries which has helped to complete the project on time. Last 30 or 40 years concrete also has been tried to replace structural steel using precast technology. In simple terms, construction activity which was maximum site based is turning into factory based.
Precast concrete construction has boosted quality and speed of construction tremendously. In countries like Bahrain and Dubai (UAE), precast concrete construction has made major contribution to the development. Precast concrete construction has covered approximately 80 per cent of the buildings in Dubai, UAE, and Bahrain. Construction speed of the G+1 Villas of built-up area approximately 300 sq,mt each, had reached peak in 2001 /2002 which was one villa per day.
Precast concrete construction has contributed largely to development of the countries in Middle East with efficient resource planning and less pollution.
Today s problems in India’s construction industry:
Construction industry is one of the sectors which are also facing severe shortage of committed employees. This is due to rise of software industry, improvement in education level; communication level etc. In my opinion, younger generation is less interested with the construction industry, because they are interested in white colored jobs. Looking at other industries, we can definitely say that construction industry needs to become more organized. To attract more youths into this industry, it has to become modernized like automation in all the levels, predefined, timely activities etc.
As we all know, today no mason, carpenter or steel fitter wants to bring up his son as mason, carpenter or steel fitter. So in few years, construction industry will face more and more problems related to skilled workers. Effective utilization of manpower and materials is going to be an important and critical task in construction which is already happening.
Taxation on factory products and slow infrastructure development by the government also poses additional problems for construction industry.
Precast concrete construction at the moment looks to be the immediate solution which has proven success in West and East.
Application of Precast technology:
Precast concrete products are generally of following types
1. Infrastructure elements
Like Troughs, Trenches, Girders,Box Culverts, Retaining Walls etc
2. Structural building elements
Like Load/ Non-Load Bearing Wall Panels, Beams, Columns, Stair-flights, Slabs etc
3. Architectural elements
Like Cladding Panels – coloured / exposed / sandblasted
Like Monumental Structures
Precast concrete construction methodology depends on the market conditions and infrastructure of the country.
There are two types:
1. On site based PRECAST
This is done due to poor infrastructure availability and also to avoid additional cost of transportation and taxes. This is effective for mass housing projects. This is normally project specific. It is adopted normally in India at the moment.
2. Factory based PRECAST
This is adopted in Middle East and Western countries but also slowly coming up in India.
This methodology gives precast, a complete industrial approach. It needs Sales, Design, Production, Site, QA/QC,Safety, Maintenance departments etc. automation to the highest level can be achieved.
Automation in precast industry, gives rise to employment for many categories of engineering like mechanical, electrical, computer and civil. This makes building construction a factory based industry.
There is huge potential for housing requirement in India. Due to decline in availability of skilled labourers, civil engineers and poor, delayed construction – there is demand for reliable, quality, on-time construction. Precast concrete construction can alone answer these problems at the moment.
(The author is Vice President – Precast, at BCV Developers Pvt Ltd, a Joint Venture between Brigade Enterprises Ltd, Classic Group and Valmark Group.)