Daniel Brietbach writes about precast emerging as a necessity if contractors want to meet the required project time frame and fulfill customer expectations for faster construction without losing quality aspects.
The construction sector in India is growing steadily. Its contribution to the national GDP stands at about 11 per cent which is comparable to the Indian agricultural sector and experts still expect a further growing of the construction sector. Furthermore, it is one of the main source of employment for about 33 million people in India. With this large economic importance, construction industry sees a rapid development in its technology, which is also required in order to keep up its growth phase.
In this line, Indian construction industry now marches towards high rise constructions in housing and industrial buildings, underground tunneling, roads, etc. Especially for industrial and residential buildings Precast is increasingly seen as an economic and high quality option. The present economic growth demands faster construction without losing quality aspects and without project delay, project cost outfit involved in labor shortage or similar related construction uncertainties. This further justifies the use of precast technology.
In the recent past, apart from bridge decks, precast elements are used increasingly in non-structural parts such as road dividers, railway sleepers, etc. But, precast can also be used in all structural elements of a building such as beams, columns and slabs. This is made possible with the help of modern automatic/semi-automatic factory installed concrete handling & placing units, erection cranes of required capacity at site and with other similar machines.
In India, if you want to meet the required time frame and fulfill customer expectations precast is necessary.
The reasons for this are manifold: On the one hand, the lack of construction workers in many parts of India is a problem for the industry. Many construction workers are also working for three to four months a year in agriculture in their home regions, meaning that they are not available to construction activities during that time. But even with a sufficient number, which would easily amount to several thousand workers on a major project, there would still be the problem of logistics and of professional management of staff, not to mention the need to ensure a high quality of construction. Moreover, the number of workers can only reduce the construction time to a certain extent.
Reasons for using precast at a glance
There are many factors which drive the construction industry and hence the clients towards precast technology and some of those are listed below.
1. Speedy construction with reduced uncertainties in project completion time.
2. Factory made structural elements under automatic and continuous quality monitoring systems.
3. Fixed price due to factory made structural elements.
4. Less labour intensive and more of machine made products
5. With the help of concrete handling units, high grade concrete mix can be employed effectively with ease, which otherwise will be difficult in cast In- situ constructions.
6. Load bearing concrete walls as substitute to conventional structural frame system.
Apart from above mentioned merits, the main factors which pulling down its growth rate is scarcity of skilled manpower particularly in production & on site erection. In addition, the government tax on its finished products which tunes approximately to around 25 per cent of its cost. Hence, it will be a stimulus to this sector, if government can waive these taxes on seeing its advantages both technically and economically.
The future of precast construction in India: A forecast
The number of existing precast facilities in India which produce both floor and wall panels and also possess the requisite knowledge is clearly concentrated mainly around the major cities of the country.
But this will certainly change in the near future. In the coming years, especially in the middle and lower residential construction segments, there will continue to be a very strong demand. These demands, in conjunction with increasing customer requirements in the areas of quality and delivery time, can only be met with a successful introduction of new production methods such as precast technology.
(The author is Regional Director for Middle East & Asia – Weckenmann Anlagentechnik GmbH+Co.KG. The headquarters of Weckenmann Anlagentechnik GmbH & Co. KG is in Dormettingen, in south-west Germany. It was Founded in 1957 by Paul Weckenmann. They have recently tied up with BCC Infrastructures Pvt Ltd, Indraprastha Yojana, Ghaziabad for their project Bharat City.)