Insufficient labour paving way for automation in construction industry
Dec 05, 2013
Source : The Times of India


Uttar Pradesh: The construction industry is labour intensive and therefore, dependent on manual workers from states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh etc. However, the industry is grappling with a shortage of these workers, mainly because of the Government providing cereals at low or no cost along with ample new job opportunities and improved conditions in their native and nearby states. This has resulted in a decrease in migrants to metro cities for livelihood and has already started affecting the construction industry.

Many construction projects in India are already delayed because of lengthy/multi-window processes of approvals. The shortage of labour leads to another 8-9 months of delay. According to The Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI), the industry is grappling with a 40 per cent labour shortage.

With housing demand expected to be three-fold by 2020, the problem will only exaggerate in the future. In this scenario, technology has grabbed the opportunity by making the delivery faster and cost-effective. The traditional ‘brick and mortar’ construction is giving way to new techniques through which a building which used to usually take three years to complete can now can be constructed and used in nearly 18 months. Though the cost of using these techniques will increase construction costs, but it promises high efficiency and less wastage.

In addition, the labour costs can be brought down, bringing down the overall cost for large buildings/projects. Also, an effective use of automation technique helps in reducing finance costs as products are then delivered on time.

Technology has now become an integral part of the industry. For instance, the industry has already started the use of cranes for weightlifting at construction sites. This has ensured that the work is completed on time despite a shortage of labours. Other new improved and innovative construction techniques like terrace blocks, wall panels, steel frames, plaster boards, prefabrication construction and dry wall technique are also being adopted in the construction industry with many other techniques still being on their way to our country.

While technology can help the realty sector cope with the shortage of labour, it cannot be blamed for enhancing unemployment. This is because, going forward, India will require trained and skilled labourers in huge numbers for using these automation techniques, implementing them and delivering quality. To ensure the production of these labourers, intervention from the Government sector to open up training centres and supplying skilled labourers to the realty sector would be required.

With growing needs and limited resources, the Indian realty sector will be seen welcoming new ways of construction in times to come. What we need to see is how well we adapt to the changes taking place.

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