For a better India KEF Infra One Park starts production

    KEF Infra One Park
    In the KEF Infra One Park near Bangalore, most of the products required for the construction of residential and commercial buildings are being produced.

    Faizal E. Kottikollon and his wife, Shabana Faizal
    Faizal E. Kottikollon, Founder and President of KEF Holdings and his wife, Shabana Faizal
    KEF Holdings is pursuing a vision as ambitious as it is unique: state-of-the-art production methods are to lay the foundations for a better and more equitable India. High-tech in the terms of "Industry 4.0" is to be used for massive expansion of education, health, residential and commercial sectors. The company believes that this expansion can be possible only if the major part of the materials and installations are prefabricated centrally in specialised industrial parks. Such a park - the first-of-its-kind was formally opened in 2016 under the name of "KEF Infra One Park". It has five key manufacturing areas with one area dedicated to the precast concrete plant.

    "When giving back is at the centre of your actions, the possibilities for growth and improvement are endless." This statement sums up the basic principle of the founder of KEF Holdings, Faizal E. Kottikollon's commitment to India. With the company and the associated foundation, Kottikollon and his wife Shabana Faizal are pursuing an ambitious goal to use only the most modern, efficient, sustainable technologies to expand the Indian infrastructure substantially and thus improve the quality of life for the people. Their emphasis is particularly on education, health and accommodation.

    A success story: taking the vision back to India from the Emirates

    KEF Infra One Park
    KEF Infra manufactures various wall elements using the highly-automated carrousel system.
    Kottikollon's success story began in the mid-1990's. He had immigrated to the UAE, where, in 1997, he founded Emirates Techno Casting (ETC), a foundry for the manufacture of valves for the oil and gas industry. Thanks to an innovative production concept, the company flourished, and as the years went by, became one of the top 3 foundries in the world. In 2012, ETC was sold to Tyco International. There upon, Kottikollon and Shabana Faizal took the decision to invest the capital in Faizal & Shabana Foundation and in the setting up of a company in India. Since then the principle of giving back has been at the heart of all their activities.

    KEF Holdings was registered in Singapore in 2012 and today is active in infrastructure, health, agriculture, education, metal and investments. The company formed its own foundation in 2007. It is involved in numerous initiatives and programmes for the expansion, conversion or building of new schools and hospitals and in fund-raising campaigns for the under-privileged and victims of natural disasters. One of its aims is to create affordable, high-quality accommodation and to construct commercial parks.

    KEF industrial park; a unique concept

    KEF Infra One Park
    For the first time, double and sandwich walls are being produced in India. In double wall production, the turning equipment is used to place fully cured elements onto the freshly concreted second skin.
    The basic idea of making India a better country was the mainspring for the construction of KEF Infra One Park in Krishnagiri, not far from Bangalore. In this industrial park, everything required for the construction of dwellings, commercial buildings, hospitals and schools could be manufactured. The aim was to not only to reduce construction time itself, but also to reduce the time for fitting out buildings with bathrooms, kitchens and furnishings.

    KEF Infra One Park was officially opened on December 2016. There are 5 different production areas, where precast concrete elements, prefabricated bathrooms and modular building products are manufactured, plus furniture, aluminium fittings and windows. More than 1,000 people work in the 60,000 m2 site.

    Precast concrete elements

    Production of precast concrete elements is key to KEF Holding's construction plans. "Construction in precast concrete is highly attractive, since very complex structures can be built in half the time," states Kottikollon. Furthermore, according to him, production under controlled conditions maintains quality at a consistently high level, and the ROI is also higher than the traditional construction methods. However, the decisive factor for KEF Infra is time. "We are able to complete projects quickly and on schedule; this is a very important point especially for property developers," he says.

    Development of the concept together with Progress Group

    KEF Infra One Park
    The three systems installed for the manufacture of reinforcement (the picture shows the mesh welding plant) contribute to optimum production continuity.
    In 2014, KEF Infra began to hold discussions with a variety of suppliers of carrousel systems. The choice finally fell on the Progress Group, whose subsidiary companies, EBAWE Anlagentechnik, Progress Maschinen & Automation and Tecnocom were commissioned to devise the technical solutions. "The production plant is the result of close, successful collaboration," is the satisfied comment from Kottikollon. "We have succeeded in developing a plant concept tailored to the changing market needs." Since mid-2015, massive, double and sandwich walls, as well as structural precast concrete elements have been produced.

    New to India: double and sandwich walls, shuttering robots

    The highly automated carrousel system is a new phenomenon for India in two respects: not only are double and sandwich walls produced for the first time, but a fully automatic shuttering and deshuttering robot is also in use for the first time. "We have deliberately invested in high-tech and software solutions, because we are convinced that the construction industry needs new approaches and new pathways in the spirit of Industry 4.0," explains Kottikollon. "In this process, technology is the catalyst for the changes required."

    Fully automated shuttering and deshuttering

    KEF Infra One Park
    Automated shuttering and deshuttering not only improves the quality of the end products and the rate of production, but it also increases safety at work.
    Consequently, KEF Infra decided to completely automate individual operations, which are normally performed manually in India. For instance, the shuttering and deshuttering process has now been taken over by the Form Master shuttering and deshuttering robot. The process starts with a storage robot, which removes the shutter from storage and passes it to the shuttering robot. Guided by CAD specifications, this positions the shutter on the pallet and activates the magnets. At the end of the production process, the pallet is scanned, the shutter released, removed and delivered to the cleaning system. When the shutter has been returned to the store by the storage robot, the cycle is complete.

    In Kottikollon's opinion, the use of this automated solution has brought KEF Infra many advantages. "Thanks to the Form Master, we can not only produce faster, but also spare our employees from almost all physical stress." He also believes that right at the start of the production process, the shuttering robot lays the corner stone for high-quality precast concrete elements.

    Highly efficient integral manu-facture of made-to-measure mesh

    KEF Infra One Park
    An automatic concrete spreader places the fresh concrete precisely and at a steady rate on the pallet.
    The manufacture of all the made-to-measure mesh also contributes to excellent production continuity. Developed by Progress Maschinen & Automation, three different plants are used for the production of bespoke mesh, lattice girders, and stirrups.

    The M-System BlueMesh welding plant produces mesh from the coil and in accordance with individual specifications. Its outstanding features are its particularly high degree of efficiency and its low requirement in space and energy - features which integrate well into the corporate philosophy with its emphasis on sustainability. The lattice girders required for the production of double walls are produced by Type VGA lattice girder welding machine. For the manufacture of stirrups from the coil, together with the EBA S automatic stirrup bender, KEF Infra uses a compact, high-performance system, which cuts and bends the wire with high precision.

    Automated concrete spreader conserves resources and improves quality

    KEF Infra One Park
    The Meitra Hospital is the first health facility in India to have been completely constructed by the prefabricated construction method. The 205-bed project in Kozhikode (Kerala) was completed within 21 months.
    The use of an automatic concrete spreader, which distributes the concrete over the pallet with precision, further conserves resources. This avoids uneven spreading and also prevents too much concrete from being discharged. In KEF Infra's pallet circuit the concrete spreader has also been fitted with a second bucket for a second type of concrete or a second colour of concrete.

    Special formwork for structural precast concrete elements

    Additional special formwork has been installed by Tecnocom, another subsidiary company in the Progress Group. The 5m to 120m long system is capable of producing staircases, columns and pre-stressed girders.

    Software solutions facilitate "Industry 4.0"

    The erpbos® ERP system, developed by the Progress Group is used for controlling systems, and for monitoring and optimising all the business and production processes. This makes a substantial contribution to the optimum coordination of all processes, starting from sales, calculation, project management and installation planning right up to logistics, materials management, controlling and human resources. The system enables KEF Infra to implement the Industry 4.0 concept, the core elements of which are intelligent production, networking and transparency.

    The production processes are also controlled by the ebos® MES system. The software continuously accompanies all the phases in the production process, and by means of numerous tools facilitates the planning, controlling and monitoring of production. In addition, process sequences can be retrospectively played back in detail and investigated. In this way potential bottlenecks are detected and productivity increased.

    Direct BIM integration

    Since KEF Infra is the first company in India to use BIM level 6, the software has another advantage. BIM (Building Information Modelling) systems are directly integrated. This means that any production or supply deadlines, or project and material, costs can be directly linked with the building model. This is indispensable for a transparent overview. "All this allows us to plan, design, build and maintain the most diverse buildings extremely efficiently," says Faizal E. Kottikollon.

    First major project completed

    KEF Infra One Park
    In 2016, KEF Infra completed its first commercial construction - completely constructed in precast concrete. The first two floors of the 10-storey office building were completed in only two months.
    The first of several major projects for the construction of a hospital in Kozhikode in Kerala has been finalised. This is the first hospital in India to have been built entirely by prefabricated construction methods. The installation, known as Meitra, was constructed within 21 months. In terms of the average, the construction period was more than halved. The pilot project, which currently provides more than 205 beds, will be expanded to around 500 beds in the second phase of construction.

    A milestone was also achieved last year in Bangalore when KEF Infra completed a 10-storey office building. This project also used only precast concrete elements from their in-house production. Once again, the short construction period was impressive: the first two floors with a total area of almost 20,000 sq. m. were completed within two months only.

    According to KEF Holdings, this is just the beginning; they have plans for the construction of more industry parks. Top Indian politicians have also noticed the company's commitment. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has expressed that KEF has the potential to assist the Indian government in completing the pending projects in the residential and infrastructure sectors. By 2022, as part of the Housing for All programme, construction of 20 million dwellings at affordable prices is envisaged.

    NBM&CW June 2017

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