Why It Is Time to Adopt New Construction Technology in India
At a construction technology conference, Prime minister Narendra Modi mentioned that the financial year 2020 is going to be about construction and technology. On those lines, the housing ministry identified Rajkot, Ranchi, Indore, Chennai, Agartala and Lucknow to serve as live laboratories. These labs will work to conceive, finance and test mobility solutions that align with the centre’s vision of a connected mobility future. Therefore, the vision to develop real estate with technology is a priority but is the sector doing all that it can to evolve from a traditional setup to a more nuanced, technology-led environment? Let’s find out.
Construction technology in India
India, at 7-8 per cent every year, is one of the fastest growing construction markets in the world. The segment is estimated to be the third largest in the world, with a size of $1 trillion by 2025. Following this, we asked developers on the future of technology within the construction sector. RG Anil, executive director, Concorde Group, says, “For starters, the usage of aluminum has proliferated by leaps and bounds. The Aluminum Form work system, for example, has a major impact on developers. Many of the early adopters of innovation are using the Precast method that increases the pace and brings in uniformity in construction. However, some of the more complex technologies such as the Tunnel form work, are yet to be used extensively,” Anil adds.
Rating the Indian construction technology as three on a scale of one to five, there is more that can be done, feels Anil. “Though we can afford the best technology available, it depends more on the project viability and the necessity. Also, some developers are inclined towards traditional construction practices and are yet to introduce the latest benchmarked technology practices that are being followed regularly by the organised players,” he explains. He further notes that while the Indian realty industry is not averse to adopting the latest construction technologies, where it differs probably vis-à-vis the developed markets is that many of these practices are indigenised and made more cost effective, for the unit construction cost to remain reasonably viable for homebuyers.
Homebuyers and technology
Are homebuyers quick to adapt to change? At the Housing.com and Track2Realty’s roundtable discussion, Anand Narayanan, COO, Puravankara Ltd said that homebuyers are still wary of unconventional materials, when in fact, this shift is the only way out if the Indian construction sector aims to become globally competitive.
Anil elaborates that consumer perception towards the realty industry has been improving at a fair pace. For over a decade, the demands of the homebuyer and the industry’s ability to match up to these demands has been encouraging. It is hardly a surprise then that there are numerous projects in the country, that are truly world-class. “The Bengaluru market is very open to experimentation in real estate as we see many developers exploring new technologies/designs, etc., to compete at the international level,” he points out. However, the key problem is timely delivery of projects, which the sector has to still address.
Offering another point of view, Arnab Ghosh, director, Synergy Property Development Services, states that relying on unconventional means is the root cause of the many problems in the segment. “There are no standards in the industry and there is a deficiency of project management expertise, which results in project delays and cost overruns. The software used are expensive and require advanced hardware. Unfortunately, despite the benefits of Building Information Modeling (BIM), some industry mavens are clinging to the old ways of working” he adds.
Ghosh also adds it’s time to resort to innovations such as the BIM which enables smarter and faster design process, intricate planning and visualisation, simulation and construction. This software helps teams to collaborate, innovate and connect with clients in more productive ways than ever before. As per a research report, the international BIM market — with the Asia-Pacific region showing the most growth — should hit $11.7 billion by 2022, growing to 21.6% between 2016 and 2022.
Sector’s role in adopting international best practices
Anil also points out that there are numerous best practices that the Indian realty industry can adopt, not only from the industry globally but also other sectors. For instance, top-notch uniform accounting standards, project management capabilities by the management, legal-policy-regulatory knowledge, customer care and redressal mechanisms and above all transparency and timely delivery. On the one hand, there are a host of big bang reforms by the government—the RERA Act and the GST, among the most notable ones. However, it is critical to understand that the government cannot be the sole driver and sustain the transformations in the sector; the industry too, needs to take a step forward to imbibe measures that provide a greater boost to the realty segment.
Here's a list of some existing construction technologies that are popular in India:
Prefabricated construction: Prefabrication refers to the process of assembling components of a building remotely before installing it at the site. It has completely changed the face of modern-day construction pattern by facilitating faster execution and on-time delivery of homes. Prefabrication involves effective cooperation from architects and developers to determine the exact size and structure of a building.
It is being seen as an alternative construction technique that reduces construction time, is cost-effective and produces less waste.
Green construction: The commercial real estate sector has already adopted green building concepts in leading metros; now, the residential sector, too, is keeping pace. The concept of green construction involves using construction material that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life cycle — right from construction to operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition.
It not only fulfils a developer's social responsibility obligation but is also cost-efficient and in high demand.
Micro apartments: The trend of living in tiny living spaces is not a new thing in developed urban cities. Exorbitant rents and single residents have made this trend flourish and encouraged developers to design micro-living spaces to cater to a large consumer base.
3D printing: It's new, jazzy and cost-effective. 3D printing is part of a wider technological concept known as 'building printing' that uses 3D printing to develop buildings. As construction is still a conservative process in India, this technology will take a while to take off. But its ability to construct buildings of any shape and size in remarkably less time makes it the future of the construction industry.
Building information modelling: Building information modelling has been in trend for several past years. It is an intelligent 3D-model-based process that gives insight to effectively execute a construction process. It brings together all the information about every component of a building, at one place. Through BIM, a building can be constructed digitally and everyone can understand the entire building through its digital model.