New Construction Technologies
There is not much spending on research and development, resulting in very little innovation in construction technology. To reduce project delays and cost over runs, companies will have to adopt the latest in construction technology. Rajiv Nehru, Head of Training and Product Development, RICS gives an insight.
India is at least fifteen years behind developed markets in the use of construction technologies such as pre-cast concrete and monolithic concrete construction as there is always a price factor attached to adopting new technologies. For instance, Indian companies avoid using superior quality modular doors or windows in construction, only because they are expensive. It is time for disruption is the construction sector.
RCC v/s Mivan – Let us take the example of the slowest activity in the process of construction: the laying of Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC). RCC construction is the backbone and the basic structure of any building. It comprises 45% of the cost and consumes 50% of the time of a project. The entire construction activity of a building depends on RCC. If this process is slow, it can delay the construction cycle. Constructing RCC from slab to slab takes about 21 days to a month. But, technologies such as Mivan can reduce this cycle to ten days. It is an aluminum formwork system developed by a Malaysian company that allows walls and slabs to be cast simultaneously at the site. It requires less labor, is more durable and earthquake resistant. It gives a uniform quality of construction and takes less time to build. Mivan technology is suitable for constructing large housing projects at a fast pace and works well for projects that require uniform construction. In India, some companies especially in Mumbai have started using Mivan technology to reduce costs.
Traditional v/s Tunnel Formwork
The tunnel formwork technology is a steel fabricated form, which is used to cast walls and slabs of a building at the same time. The first tunnel formwork was designed and manufactured by a French company known as Outinord. This system was replicated in Turkey and there are now many companies in Turkey such as Neru and Mesa, which offer this technology. The slab cycle for laying a 500 square meter slab can be done in one day in tunnel formwork system which could take up to two to three days in a convention method. This technique helps in saving time and reducing cost because the steel formwork can be used about 1,000 times and the repetitive nature of buildings halves the number of people on a site. Tunnel formwork is a very fast, modular, safe and eco-friendly as it uses fly-ash and other waste materials such as GGBS (Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag). Walls and slabs do not need additional finishing such as plastering.
A building of the size of one lakh square feet can be constructed using Mivan or Tunnel formwork in four to six months compared to the 10-12 months cycle that it takes using conventional technology. While it is possible to build luxury homes using these technologies, the biggest limitation is that these technologies can be used only for buildings up to 40 floors.
Heavy investment is however required in machineries such as tower cranes, hydras, batching plants, mesh welding machines etc. but this investment can be recovered over the life cycle of a project. In the long term, it may even work out cheaper than conventional technology, especially if the apartments are of a similar size and shape. This technology also requires a skilled labor force. Training the labor force takes about a month or so. While it is possible to build luxury homes using these technologies, the biggest limitation is that these technologies can be used only for buildings up to 40 floors.
In conclusion, Mivan and tunnel form work systems can make affordable housing projects cheaper by reducing the project turnaround time. It is ideal for mass housing because it can help in building thinner walls, which means there is more space in homes. Both these technologies are also ideal for commercial buildings, which require a uniform design such as hospitals, schools, commercial buildings, IT parks etc. The technologies can speed up construction of large commercial buildings. We believe that India’s construction industry is at the cusp of a new era, with adoption of technology that is changing the way companies execute construction projects.