Interview with Faizal Kottikollon Founder & Chairman, KEF Holdings
- Brief about KEF entry in the infrastructure segment
KEF Holdings was launched with the aim to build a new era social enterprise dedicated to solving some of the developing world’s most fundamental problems in infrastructure, healthcare, education and agriculture.
Today, the world is evolving at a fast pace and economies worldwide are channeling their energies towards becoming future ready and Infrastructural development is at the heart of their growth strategy. We believe the infrastructure industry needs a change in approach – a newer way of doing things and technology is the catalyst that can make the change, as with every delayed project, the pace of development further slows down, and this can be detrimental to the growth of essential sectors that impacts society at large.
Through the infrastructure arm, KEF Infra, we have set out to bridge this gap in access to quality infrastructure by shaking up the way the world builds. KEF Infra offers design, engineering, manufacturing, assembly and project management solutions all under one roof, at its 42 acre industrial park dedicated to offsite manufacturing, KEF Infra One, in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu.
- The market scenario of offsite construction in UAE
The resilience of the UAE’s construction sector, amid the current global economic trends, is commendable. However, with Expo 2020 fast approaching, the requisite is a sustainable solution for infrastructure development. By making using of new technologies of automation and robotics, time and costs can be saved. In today’s digital world, this will empower us to propel forward and achieve better results.
- Some of the new technologies used for offsite construction (robotics, automation, BIM, modular systems etc.)
KEF Infra is the only company in India to use revolutionary BIM Level 6 technology. The process involves generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places, allowing stakeholders to effectively manage workflow and decision making. In addition to this, we also deploy robotic systems which are run by Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software – to eliminate wastage in the production line as well as reduce time and building costs. We are the only company to bring in the Double Wall technology to India; we also use Graphic Concrete, Modular MEP amongst other new age technologies.
- Elaborate on the process of assembly and project execution
KEF Infra’s strength lies in the fact that we are able to offer turnkey solutions to our clients when it comes to Infrastructure. We can deliver in terms of solutions that ranges from design to structural engineering, manufacturing, assembling to project management. We are bringing in the Industry 4.0 wave into India by investing in innovative technologies from around the world into our smart factories. By using automation and assembly line production, similar to say the automotive industry, we are able to minimize irregularities, improve the quality of the build, and deliver better cost and time ROI to our clients.
We have 5 distinct units – Precast, Prefabricated bathrooms, Modular Rooms and Modular MEP, Joinery, Glazing and Stone Processing at KEF Infra One Industrial Park at Krishnagiri, each with its own set of unique specialization. For example, say to deliver a hospital, every element of the hospital, from the structure and façade, to the rooms, bathrooms, furnishings, Modular MEP, fit outs, medical headboards to operating theatres, can be designed and 80% of the building can be manufactured offsite in our factories using offsite construction technology methods.
- Brief about the offsite manufacturing facility, KEF Infra One, in Krishnagiri
KEF Infra One, is the world’s largest integrated offsite manufacturing facility that manufactures hospitals, schools, hotels and homes. It is a one-of-its- kind facility in the world that is dedicated to offsite manufacturing.
We use a range of different technologies at the KEF Infra One Industrial Park. The park is the only integrated facility in the world which can design, engineer and manufacture every element of a building – from wall panels, hollow core slabs, Modular MEP to bathroom and facades to windows and doors – all at one single location, using advanced precast and offsite manufacturing technology.
The state-of-the-art facility, spread across 42 acres is designed as a fully integrated one-stop ‘offsite construction’ destination with five dedicated units – precast & concrete, prefabricated bathrooms & modular pods, joinery, aluminium glazing and stone processing. At this facility, we design, engineer, and manufacture each building unit in an organized factory environment post which these units are transported by road to the actual site, hoisted and assembled into position using conventional crane equipment or heavy machinery.
- The potential of offsite construction in Indian real-estate market
Though offsite construction is still at its budding stage in India, it’s rapidly coming to the forefront of the construction industry. The construction industry in India is taking quick strides in the field of high rise construction, in housing and industrial buildings, underground tunneling, roads, etc. Offsite construction and manufacturing is increasingly seen as an economic and high quality option. The present economic growth demands faster construction without compromising on quality and without delays, or similar related construction uncertainties. KEF Infra manufactures entire building components, such as columns, beams, hollow core slabs, wall panels, staircases, windows, doors, bathroom units and facades at their offsite construction unit, which helps cut the time taken to build by 50 % and costs by up to 30 %.
Despite being fairly new to India, the demand and appreciation for precast technology is rapidly gathering pace. The encouraging results, as seen in Europe and the Middle East will serve as a further boost for the adoption of offsite construction in India. Precast and offsite construction technologies are inherently appealing to clients since it delivers highly complex structures in half the time, with no compromise in quality and provide better ROI when compared to conventional construction.
Modular construction and building techniques, known as the ‘assemble rather than build’ solution, are an excellent solution to meet the needs of all types of industries to deliver state-of-the-art, cost effective services in a timely manner. This has brought about a paradigm shift in terms of infrastructure development, especially for units such as hospitals, hotels and homes. Modular MEP (Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing) effectively provides plug and play units for bathrooms, kitchens, hospital rooms, hotel rooms etc., and is emerging as a benchmark for quality construction. The use of this industrializes the entire construction process, dramatically cutting down inconsistencies and amount of materials used in the process. Glazing is another technique that ensures all products are crafted to perfection and undergone stringent quality tests. These include aluminum doors, windows, structural glazing, aluminum composite panels, SS cladding, architectural metal works and pre-engineered facades.
All this is proof that offsite construction will play a major role in the future of the real estate scenario in India.
- The challenges in adopting the offsite construction technology by developers
One of the main challenges that offsite construction faces is the lack of awareness of the available technology in the minds of the buyers and developers. Other challenges also include poor infrastructure and logistics facilities and lack of the required skill sets. However, these areas will surely improve with time as offsite construction increasingly gains acceptance in the industry.
- The company’s MoU with government to develop schools in Kerala
KEF Infra is committed to delivering top notch infrastructure for schools and hospitals in India. Looking at the successful Nadakkavu model piloted by the Faizal & Shabana Foundation, the Kerala Government has decided to replicate the same model across 1000 more government schools in Kerala by 2020. More than 250 schools have visited Nadakkavu and learned from it and of these at least 65 of them (as on March 2016) have taken up initiatives to replicate the model. Of which at least 6 of them are large projects. The fact that the present Government has announced the scale-up of the Nadakkavu Model to 1000 more Government Schools is testimony to its impact and success.
- Brief on the Faizal & Shabana Foundation pilot project of renovation of a 120-year old Government Girls’ High School in Kozhikode
GVHSS Nadakkavu School in Kozhikode was upgraded using KEF Infra’s offsite manufacturing technology, and is a pilot project under the Faizal & Shabana Foundation. With expertise in precast and prefabricated construction, we remodelled the entire school within 95 days (planning and execution). The school houses high-tech classrooms, science and computer labs, new toilets, an industrial sized kitchen and a dining room which can accommodate over 2,500 people at a time, staff room, gymnasium and an indoor stadium housing basketball and volleyball courts and three badminton courts, astro turf hockey and football ground. We were able to finish the project in time for students joining after the summer holidays.
It has been ranked among the top 3 government schools in India within 2 years of its refurbishment and is now seen as a model project for building schools across the nation.