Tech can balance development & sustainability in construction space, say experts4 min read . Updated: 28 Aug 2020, 10:53 AM IST
The construction industry has been one of the slow adopters of digital transformation. But now it has become imperative more than ever to embrace technology. It can go a long way in improving quality, cutting costs, enhancing safety, reducing risks and boosting profits. Find out what the experts have to share.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an investment of ₹110 lakh crore in a National Pipeline Project in order to give a new direction to the overall infrastructure development of the country in his recent Independence Day speech. He also put forth that the govt. has identified around 7,000 projects in various sectors which will help strengthen the country's overall infrastructure.
The Union budget for fiscal ’21 focussed on enhancing spending on infrastructure to boost India’s economic growth. This spending is in line with the global shift towards infrastructure building. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the world will need to spend $57 trillion on infrastructure by 2030 to keep up with global GDP growth.
But, as we get set to building new airports and transportation hubs, smart buildings and city infrastructure, the construction industry is realising the need to ride the digital transformation wave and usher innovation to make processes more efficient and cost effective. The industry has been relatively slow to transform its infrastructure into a digitized one.
A webinar, ‘Changing the Construction Space with Digitalization’, organized by Livemint in association with Autodesk brought together a panel of experts from the construction tech space to look at how the industry can benefit from digital transformation.
“Everyone living in the country would have a better life with improved infrastructure. Our cities have been growing significantly and there is a need to grow infrastructure as well. That can either be done by getting in more people or better technologies," said Sunil MK, Head Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC), Autodesk.
Autodesk IDC’s latest report ‘Digital Transformation – The Future of Connected Construction in India’ reveals that 66 per cent of the companies in the infrastructure space are already looking at digital transformation as one of the pillars for change. Then, why is the switch taking so long? Experts feel that we need the right policies in place and a thrust towards adoption of smart technologies.
“Infrastructure industry is very fragmented and due to this technology has taken a backseat. Now I see a lot of positive developments but it needs to speed up. A lot of organisations have mandated digital tools for their projects but what we need is a country-level policy along with the PM’s announcement," Sunil said.
The benefits of technology are many – companies have reported about 80 per cent reduction in both time and manpower through smart working. “There is no duplication; we reduce the errors by 85-90 per cent by using the cloud system to the extreme limit. The work is going on even in current situation. In the 3D environment, everyone works on one design file at the same time. This allows a drastic reduction of manpower – our staff strength in the design team is 80 per cent lesser compared to other projects of this scale," said Ramyo Dey, GM, Planning and Design, Terminal 2 at Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL).
New technologies in this space are all set to revolutionize the construction business – Autodesk’s Building Information Model (BIM) 360 being a pertinent case in point. The tech provides a central location for construction professionals to manage project information from design to construction, all the way to owner handover.
“A lot of large projects are on BIM. It’s about creating a digital model of the real building or infrastructure. You can do value building and optimize the design before you build. It takes away one of the biggest challenges of the construction industry – you won’t be caught off-guard with a flaw when you start building. All the mistakes and issues are cut away in the concept stage," said Sunil.
But as we start to rebuild our city infrastructure using smart technologies, it is imperative to analyse the impact on the environment at large. “Infrastructure continues to be a propeller for economy but construction as a sector also contributes to 30 per cent of global waste. But it is important for us to look into what would be the consequences of this growth," said Priya Balijepalli, Sustainability Manager at Autodesk.
Widespread urbanization is wreaking havoc on the planet, the effects of which are being felt already. “We are currently living in a time, which is the best and worst. We have access to the best technologies, which were not there in the last 200 years. But we want things that are detrimental to the natural progression, which is impacting the environment. Infrastructure projects need to balance the two," said Dey.
Technology could hold the key to strike this balance. “We are a 7.6 billion population in the world today and will be 10 billion strong very soon. Hosting this population requires a whole lot of infrastructure that supports this existence like airports, mass transit, sewage systems, water systems, etc. Technology enables the designers to take a much more informed approach in terms of simulations and data insights with respect to the larger outcomes of sustainability," Balijepalli explained.