Text By:Kruti Choksi Kothari
With the evolution of human civilisation, newer inventions have changed the lifestyle and course of action. The world of architecture and construction has simultaneously evolved with the ever expanding knowledge of newer materials and technologies. The massive load-bearing stone construction gave way to brick and mortar which in turn was replaced by sleek frame structures of reinforced concrete and steel. In today's world, time and quality are of utmost importance. The quest of delivering high quality outcome within stipulated time is quenched by precast concrete construction.
In contrast to the in-situ concrete which is mixed, cast and cured on site, the precast concrete is a construction product which is produced by casting concrete in a reusable mold and cured in controlled environment at manufacturing units. The precast elements are then transported to the site and lifted into place.
This practice allows production of custom-designed precast concrete components like columns, solid slabs, hollow core slab, double T-slab, half slab, shell roofs, pre-stressed beams, retaining walls, wall panels, facades, staircases, window frames, etc. with variations in shape, size, surface finishes and colours. With the spectrum of creative possibilities in application and design along with dimensional accuracy, this technology provides abundance of choice for the architects and engineers to create unique and breakthrough buildings of exceptionally high quality. In addition, designers can easily plan future additions to buildings, because the precast concrete components can be rearranged.
There are multiple benefits of precast construction which are attracting architects as well as developers towards its increased usage. Owing to the fact that precast construction is less labour intensive and more dependent on machines, the construction turns out to be speedy with reduced uncertainties in project completion time. The use of such technology helps in saving approximately 60% of the construction time in comparison to conventional methods. For example, a traditional brick and mortar construction taking one year for completion can be reduced to approximately four months by opting precast concrete.
Moreover, this also ensures standard and maintains quality monitoring in fixed price with minimal fluctuations. The use of this technology can bring the construction cost down approximately 10-15% and hence it can be the answer to crisis faced by developing countries like India. In contrast to in-situ construction, with the help of concrete handling units, high grade concrete mix can be employed effectively with ease. In addition, the precast members have passed rigorous safety standard for seismic and structural testing as well as fire safety and are environmentally safe.
As precast concrete members are individually engineered products, they can be disassembled. Once removed, these members can be reused in other applications. Moreover, if required, precast concrete is also friendly to down-cycling in which the building components are broken down. It comes apart with a minimum amount of energy and retains its original qualities. The down cycling would be the use of crushed precast concrete as aggregate in new concrete or as base material for roads, sidewalks, and concrete slabs.