A typical road project that consumed 36-42 months five years ago for concept to completion, now stares at just 18-24 months. In this scenario, SP Rajan, Head - Plant & Machinery (Roads, Runways & Elevated Corridors), L&T Construction, highlights the importance of embracing advanced equipment and technologies.
How do you look at the availability of advanced construction equipment in the current market scenario?
Today's construction environment revolves around adjectives like the largest, tallest, longest, the most complex and most importantly the fastest, thus throwing challenges to the engineers on daily basis. The only way forward is the use of advanced construction equipment technologies to meet these never-ending challenges. Worldwide, there is a constant search for innovative approaches towards automation. While there are many, one of them, the advanced guiding system in construction machines, proves to be shortening the time cycles and improving quality. Obviously, such technologies come at a cost and the Indian market, being highly price sensitive, takes time to adopt. The basic cost, import formalities, after-sales support, government regulations, lack of knowledge and lack of interest are a few deterrent factors preventing voluntary adoption of advanced equipment technologies.
What is the feasibility of using advanced equipment for faster execution of projects?
Megaprojects like greenfield airports, SEZs, and dedicated freight corridors consume huge quantities of construction materials like aggregate, cement, steel, bitumen etc. Advanced construction equipment capable of processing these raw materials faster with minimum wastages and better quality is a dream for every construction firm. Further, a typical road project that consumed 36-42 months five years ago for concept to completion, now stares at just 18-24 months. This apart, various socio-economic and political environment exclusive to the country also reduce the time effectively available for production. Such situation automatically leads to search for alternative solutions and better practices. Every engineering and construction (E&C) stakeholder, thus, is keen on building his execution capability.
Worldwide, digital technologies and advanced construction methods are creating a kind of industrial revolution in E&C industry and in India the contractors have just started to embrace the same. A digital collaboration in the form of BIM and telematics coupled with automation, drones, sensor-based monitoring, etc are there to grab and adopt, if one wants to stay in the business.
But, there are some hurdles in the form of Statutory Norms and Code provisions. A typical example can be a polygonal roller that can effectively compact up to one metre. The codes in India do not allow the layers beyond 300 mm. This high energy impact roller coupled with continuous impact response system can shrink the construction time hugely. But, the statutory hurdles are here to stay. Same is the case with the use of drones.
However, there are many guiding systems like auto grading, assisted excavation, 3D paving, 3D printing, integrated load management, remote sensing, advanced fault diagnostics and other guided systems that are not affected by statutory impact.
These are slowly finding place in E&C industry which otherwise has a high reliance on manual labour, mechanical technology and established operating and business models with stagnated productivity norms.
What are the key factors considered when you buy equipment?
Every customer today seeks at least the following attributes in an equipment to consider a good buy:
These are some of the very basic and important consideration one has to consider before buying any construction equipment.
What are the major changes you experience with respect to the features and technologies of construction equipment available in the market in the past two years?
Adoption of mechatronics, remote data sensing and analytics have thrown a lot of challenges. IOT is slowly taking centre-stage and is now being adopted and embedded in the operation and business model of an organisation. A few immediately available and easy-to-adopt systems for a typical construction company are:
What are the key factors in project tendering that promote the use of quality construction equipment?
Delivery in stringent timelines with shrinking margins and high quality by following international practices has become the new norm for all new infrastructure projects. E&C companies need to be innovative and agile to sustain in this highly competitive market. These, along with policies driving these projects, environmental norms and construction design and methodology are some of the key factors that promote the use of quality and advanced construction equipment.
Will faster project execution targets help in the use of advanced equipment to deliver the project on time?
It is a typical demand and supply situation for the industry. The demand for faster and better project execution targets is already generating a huge demand for advanced equipment.
Technological revolution takes place to support the ever-increasing demands of any industry. Now, it is time for construction industry. The benchmarks and standards are changing and the only way for the contractors to rise up to the occasion is to embrace the adoption of advanced equipment technologies. Yes, the advancement in equipment technologies will certainly improve the project execution targets.
What more needs to be done to promote the use of quality equipment in projects?
Advanced equipment and technology comes at a cost and its economic viability relies on conducive ecosystem. Relaxed import formalities, corrections and updates in the codes, upgrading the skills to create awareness and interest among users will reap the benefits from the technology.