Feb 2020

How is technology influencing the construction?

By Ashish Puravankara, Managing Director, Puravankara Limited

1. What is the new age technology that Puravankara has been using in construction?

Starworth Infrastructure & Construction Ltd. (SICL), a 100% subsidy of Puravankara Limited was conceptualised as an internal engineering division of the Puravankara Group to extend its business model through backward integration in construction. 

India moved from conventional formwork systems to the engineered formwork systems almost 15 years ago. These engineered formwork systems are supplied by companies like Mivan, Doka etc. and were adopted to increase the quality and reduce the time taken to complete the core and shell (i.e. Building framework). With the advent of technology and demand for fast-paced quality construction, SICL adopted Precast technology, which addresses the issue of labour dependency and ensures quality construction in the stipulated time.  

Precast also addresses the major concerns of sustainability. It reduces the waste generated during construction and optimises the utilisation of water and other resources. As Precast focuses on the industrialised method of construction, it reduces labour and increases efficiency to meet the mass demand for affordable housing across India, thus ensuring high quality in construction. 

2. How does it help? 

The engineered formwork systems were adopted to increase the quality and reduce the time taken to complete the core and shell (i.e. Building framework). But today, as the issue with the engineered system is that all the construction activities are still to be done on-site, it makes it `labour dependent and even the quality of construction cannot be ensured. Due to all these variables, project timelines are difficult to achieve. 

Precast addresses all these issues, as in a Precast setup most of the construction activities are diverted to a controlled environment which helps in better quality and material management, fewer wastages, better monitoring and increased efficiency. The on-site activities are minimal, the number of labours required at the site is very less, and it enhances the cleanliness on site. Below is the quick comparison of Engineered Formwork system and Precast Construction.


 Engineered Formwork systems

 Precast construction

 Labour dependency

 All activities at site are labour intensive

 Most of the activities are off-site. Labour required at site is drastically reduced

 Quality of construction

 The completed building requires plastering and reworks

 No plaster and reworks required

 Project Duration

 Due to increased labour dependency, completing a project within the stipulated time is a challenge

 Assures the time duration due to industrialised construction.

 Health, safety and Environment (HSE)

 Like any other conventional method of construction

 HSE friendly.

Precast has proven efficient in reducing the stress of labour and on-site coordination and logistics. It uses less raw material harvested from the environment, and factory environments are healthier for the employees than the construction sites. The concrete is made from natural aggregates like gravel, sand, rock and water. It uses recycled water; factory environments generally reduce waste form bracing, construction debris that accumulates on site etc. 

Precast construction is independent of weather constraints, holidays, depletion of labour strength etc. at the site and 24x7 construction schedule can be achieved. The factories also cut down on hauling trips from lengthy distances. From an investment point of view, Precast cuts down on wastage of material, thereby adding to the greener form of construction. 

On average, if precast construction is designed, planned and executed properly, one can achieve 15-20% of savings as compared to a conventional system. This is over and above the saving on time as precast construction can complete a slab cycle time of 5-8 days comfortably.

3. What is the relevance of Precast in construction today?

Precast primarily bridges the gap between demand and supply in the affordable housing segment. Structures built by Precast do not need plastering, as the surface of Precast comes out smooth. It requires least amount of maintenance and above all, the structure is sturdy and durable. The computerised designs have superior outcome in terms of the shape and proportion of the structure. The precast panels can be assembled quickly on-site. The designers and the architects benefit from Precast as it offers an abundance of choice to create buildings unique in character and design of exceptional quality. 

4. How is precast sustainable? 

Sustainability is the prime focus for today’s building and construction realm. It is often spoken about in the lines of green living, energy efficiency and environment conservation. Developers can only achieve this when they have a long-term vision concerning economic, environmental and social responsibilities. 

Precast is the best of the sustainable option available today. We chose precast technology because it improves resource efficiency, reduces waste, reduces carbon emissions while they are manufactured, they come with a minimal maintenance cost, and they create a healthy indoor air quality. 

5. What are the steps that must be taken to set up a precast factory? 

The journey of successful precast setup in India would start from captive plants and then eventually move to commercial set up as the logistics play a vital role. As a thumb rule, one of the most important criteria to ascertain the health of the precast setup is to check the hook time of the crane. Also, considering the difficulty in transporting these heavy elements to a more considerable distance, the successful precast set up would be limited to captive usage, to begin with. In fact, this is how the precast industry has grown over the years in other parts of the world.

The most critical challenges in making a precast set up successful are as follows:

• Timely design of shop floor drawings

• Selection of right equipment, ensuring that the capital cost is optimum in line with the project cost.

• Thorough understanding of concrete as this plays the most crucial part in the entire Precast set up.

• Three ‘P’s i.e. planning, planning and planning - Precast require utmost planning at every stage of construction.

6. Can Precast be seen as the future of construction?  

As Precast is sustainable, efficient and resourceful, it certainly is the future of construction. As responsible builders, it is essential to equip technologies that keep our environment free from pollution for the generations to come. 

7. Do you have a special team/process to ensure quality construction?

Yes, we do have a dedicated team of engineers and quality controllers to ensure smooth functioning of the precast factory. All our staff is well trained before they get into actual operation and this training happens in an organised way. We have in-house experts who have worked on these technologies for years and have time and again, given their inputs for further improvisation.  

8. What inspired you to come up with this idea of Precast factory? 

Our vision is to provide quality lives to the home buyers. In this process, we have taken several initiatives to ensure that we are sustainable and deliver our best. Understanding the benefits of the precast factory, we moved forward as early adopters and created a smooth and efficient system of construction. Pre-cast has given us a further push to come up with quality standardised affordable homes in India. 

9. Is it being used only for affordable housing projects, or for others as well? 

For now, it is used in the affordable housing projects in Bangalore. We will be implementing the technology for most of our projects across the country, in future.

10. How do you plan to further expand this?

We have a plan to take it ahead and are in the process of considering various demographic situations before we move forward. We aim to incorporate Precast in most of our future projects across the country. It depends on the location, height and size of the project. The larger projects will, for sure, have precast technology implemented. 

About Author

Ashish Puravankara Managing Director, Puravankara Limited
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Updated: 14 Feb 2020
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