Kumar Bharat feels that though precast construction industry is still at its nascent stage in India, it’s rapidly coming to the forefront of the construction industry.
Real estate industry has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the country over the last few years. With demands for housing increasing in the same proportion as the rapid population growth, the sector is under high pressure to cater to this demand at affordable rates and lower turnaround time.
Indian construction industry now marches towards high rise constructions in housing and industrial buildings, underground tunnelling, 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 labour shortage or similar related construction uncertainties. This further justifies the use of precast technology.
In this scenario precast (prefabricated) construction technology is bringing encouraging results which are already seen in Europe and the Middle East. So far this technology has been used in constructing large projects like bridges, metro rail and commercial buildings. But its various benefits have prompted some major names in the real estate industry to embrace this technology in housing sector as well. It’s estimated that the industry will grow 10 times in next 5 years from the current level of around Rs. 2000 crore. Though precast construction industry is still at its nascent stage in India, it’s rapidly coming to the forefront of the construction industry. Precast components are fabricated or assembled offsite, transported to the project site, and installed on a prepared foundation.
This technology also addresses another key concern of the developers of finding skilled labourers as it cuts down on the need of large workforce. With a reduced no. of workforce the project is both easier to manage as well as the risk factors are also reduced in comparison. With the help of technology the construction process is much more organised and standardised and hence dimensions are more accurate that gives a much superior finishing. This technology is also environment friendly. It reduces wastages as well as construction done in controlled environment prevents pollution of outside environment.
Apart from the low cost and timely delivery, buildings constructed using this technology are more robust than traditional brick and mortar constructions. As the construction is done in a controlled factory environment the delays and issues caused by environmental factors like bad weather are also eliminated. When a house catches fire, collapsing roof often pulls the walls down into a building. To avoid this problem, continuous panels – unlike masonry or concrete block walls – are firmly anchored into the ground in precast. As a result, they will not break apart. On the safety front too these buildings are at much more advantageous position. The precast wall panels extend into a building’s footings, which helps these buildings cope with interior fire, water damage and accidental impact.
This technology is very similar to construction of a vehicle where parts of the vehicle are assembled to create the final product. In this technology majority of structural components of buildings (such as slabs, columns, beams, wall etc.) are standardized and produced in plants in a location away from the building site and then transported to the site for assembly. These components are manufactured by industrial methods based on mass production in order to build a large number of buildings in a short time at low cost.
Prefabricated walls are known to reduce construction time. In addition, thermal and acoustic insulation, as well as air-tightness, can be achieved using advanced materials such as sandwich-structured composites. This leads to savings in cooling and heating costs of about 25 per cent of the cost of the prefabricated wall per year. Prefabricated walls offer higher efficiency, less wastage, lower maintenance costs and, most importantly, lower air conditioning costs. They also eliminate the need for plastering, electrical wiring and plumbing as these are done at the casting site itself. In these buildings only the foundation and floor slabs are constructed in traditional way. The technology brings down construction time by around 64 per cent while the cost at a large scale project can come down to 10-15 per cent.
The main concern for the industry is transportation in a country as big and varied as India. But the rapid growth of road and transport infrastructure will soon address this concern. There has been lack of awareness and information in both developers and buyers that have made them hesitant in adopting this technology. But looking at the greater advantage of this technology over the traditional method of construction I am upbeat that both buyers and developers will be enthusiastic about using this technology.
This technology will not only take the real estate industry to a new growth path but also give a solution to major issues like green construction, affordable housing, timely delivery and safety of construction. Precast technology is sure the future of real estate in India.
(The author is Director – BCC Infrastructures Pvt. Ltd.)