Innovations, technological developments in construction
Jan 21, 2014
Source : The Times of India


MUMBAI: During the past decade, the construction industry has adopted various innovative tools to curb costs, reduce timelines and improve safety standards during project development.

As one prepares a piece on innovation in the Indian construction industry, a ticker update in a news channel catches the eye – 5-storey building collapses in Mumbai, more than 25 feared trapped. The tragedy emphasises the need for innovations to refurbish construction practices and safety norms, besides regulatory authorities implementing and enforcing inflexible standards.

Innovations in building construction and management boosts safety and are important to increase efficiencies, better automation, curb costs and minimise construction timelines. This will ensure lower prices for customers as well as provide increasingly safer homes, which is our priority.

Smart technologies

Innovations come in various shades to improve the products and practices of the construction industry. For instance, a Greek building chemicals company has developed waterproof roof products that protect buildings from all deteriorating elements, thereby extending their shelf life.

Moreover, innovations can be useful to implement green building norms, which are increasingly important to reduce the carbon footprints of various structures during construction itself. This is achieved by using energy-efficient technologies, alternative building materials and innovative construction techniques. Since, such smart buildings entail lower energy and maintenance costs, within a few years the savings recoup the initial investments.

New product innovations like UPVC (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) doors/window, due to excellent insulation reduce external noise and prevent seepage of water even during heavy rains. Superior insulation makes indoor air-conditioning more effective, ensuring lower energy bills. Some of the other latest technologies include automated batching plants, cellular blocks/fly-ash bricks, water recycling via sewage treatment plants as well as rainwater harvesting, solar panels for water heating, PPR pipes, etc.

Precast constructions

A technique that made global waves is precast technology. In this technique numerous modules of a structure are built in off-site units, then taken to the site and assembled. The technology delivers high efficiency and almost zero wastage because dozens of labourers or skilled resources are not required to erect the structure. The technique is more cost-effective for large projects, since higher volumes enhance margins.

Given the drop in time and cost overruns – traditionally the bane of India’s construction industry – more developers will adopt precast technology in future. As precast technology gains traction amongst builders and becomes popular with customers, more manufacturers may enter the business once demand soars. Through precast technology, roof slabs, columns, beams, wall panels, etc. can all be customised as per requirement. Thereafter, they are taken to the construction site and put in place with tower cranes.

Considering the shortfall of residential units and with affordable housing being one of India’s national policy goals, precast technology would be best suited to meet these requirements cost effectively and speedily. Industry analysts believe precast technology could curb 20 per cent of construction costs and save around 40 per cent time, while promoting better quality and robust structures compared to conventional construction techniques.

Safer and sustainable

This technology is also more sustainable and environment friendly because most waste is recycled, rather than being dumped near sites as is generally the norm. What’s more, precast structures are safer to construct and limit the chances of mishaps during construction. Significantly, precast structures are considered more resilient against earthquakes. With the National Capital Region and much of North India falling within the seismic zone, this is a significant advantage.

While the precast technology is employed in constructing multi-storey buildings and independent houses, high rises are constructed by using jump-form technology. In the latter, hydraulic-based systems are used to erect the structure floor by floor.

Against the number of advantages, precast technology possesses one major drawback – alterations and modifications of units are virtually ruled out once constructed. But that is a small price to pay for homes that are safer and more affordable.

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