Building the Foundation for a Sustainable Future

Building the Foundation for a Sustainable Future

Anirudhan IV, Chairperson, DFI India
A 3-day international conference on Deep Foundation Technologies for Infrastructure Development is going to be held in September 2022 in Tirupati. It will address the key challenges in geotechnics engineering and deep foundation construction. Anirudhan IV, Chairperson, DFI India, shares the objectives of the event, the wide-ranging topics which will be presented by international and Indian experts, and the reasons why all professionals in the field of civil construction should attend it.

What are the objectives of DFII’s 11th annual conference Deep Foundation Technologies for Infrastructure Development in India 2022?
The annual conference will bring new technologies and best construction practices to the forefront, supported by case studies and experiences from different parts of the world, including work done by our professionals. We have seen that our young professionals in the construction industry are learning on ways to deal with challenges and imbibing the best construction practices from these conferences. We hope that once again the 11th annual conference will live up to its tagline: ‘Collaborate, Learn and Educate’.

Our effort through the august forum of DFI India is to introduce our specific problems related to construction quality controls, project overruns, and issues like project safety to the world professional community and generate interest among them to help the mega Indian infrastructure projects.

We have several international professionals helping in our projects, mainly through the initiatives of our foundation construction contractors. We must appreciate the efforts of specialist contractors like Larsen & Toubro, Keller Ground Engineering, ITD Cem, Afcons Infrastructure, and Tata Projects (to name a few) in inviting international specialists to assist them in their projects. DFII is trying to connect these players to benefit the projects. There are also several internationally reputed design teams contributing to India’s essential infrastructure projects.

What topics will be covered by the national and international experts during the conference?
We have seven keynote presentations by experts with experience in international and Indian projects. Presentations will be made by W. Morgan NeSmith PE, D.GE, Director of Engineering, Berkel & Company Contractors, Inc, who will discuss the State of Practice of CFA Piles: Installation Monitoring, Performance Testing, and Quality Control and Assurance.

The CFA Piles (Continuous Flight Auger Piles) technology is widely used worldwide, except in India. The technology can significantly enhance productivity and quality of deep foundation solutions in our infrastructure projects.

I am glad to share that thanks to the efforts of DFI India, the Bureau of Indian Standards has constituted a committee to develop a Standard for CFA Piles. Most of our foundation construction specialist companies have the technical know-how to use the technology.

Jonathan Daramalinggam, Engineering Director, Keller Asia Pacific, will address the critical issue of seismically safe foundation systems through a presentation ‘Practical Ground Improvement solutions in seismic areas: A specialist contractor’s perspective. Dr Sujatha Manoj, Technical Director, Mott MacDonald, Sydney, Australia, will talk about the role of large diameter piles and barrettes in ‘Sustainable Design and Value Engineering of Deep Foundations of supertall towers in weak carbonate rocks in Middle East Region.

Foundations for offshore structures need special attention because of adverse environmental conditions. Dr S. Nallayarasu, Professor & Head, Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT Madras, will address these issues through a presentation on ‘Foundations for Offshore and Coastal structures - Challenges and Technologies.

Dr Rajiv Ranjan, Additional Chief Engineer, NPCIL, Mumbai, has immense experience in using soil structure interaction analysis to address safety issues in the foundation of critical structures in nuclear power plants. His keynote presentation will help attendees acknowledge the importance of soil structure interaction in safe foundation designs.

Dr Florian Krenn, Managing Director, GEOCONSULT India, will make a presentation on Metro TBM Tunnelling, providing insight into the advantages and the applicability of shield machines in diverse ground conditions – especially soil – for safe tunnelling works.

Michel Moreira Morandini Fontes, Director and Master Engineer, Fonntes Geotechnica, Brazil, who has tremendous experience in the mining industry, will present ‘Use of Technology and Innovation applied to Mining Engineering, a Brazilian case study. The topic of this presentation is the dam decommissioning projects and downstream containment structures to contain waves of tailings and improve construction processes.

How is DFI promoting the event to attract more quality delegates and attendees from the engineering and construction fraternity?
DFII mostly depends on directly communicating with the professionals, academicians and students through the contact base developed during the last ten years. We concentrate on the Indian delegates since our goal is to educate our community on the developments and best practices. We have a good number of technical presentations from international professionals apart from presentations by our industry experts and academia.

The conference is being held at Hotel Fortune Select Grand Ridge, Tirupati, which is run by ITC. We are expecting 250 to 300 delegates. More than 80 delegates will come through sponsors and exhibitors. We have about 160 delegates registered so far, and we expect to see a surge in registrations when we are closer to the conference dates.

How is the civil construction industry progressing with respect to cutting-edge technologies, international quality standards, and R&D?
India has a large pool of human resources that can adopt new technologies without any hurdles. Currently, the latest technologies are being used by contractors who want to complete their projects safely and on time. They often face the challenge of balancing the project cost with their profit margins. We also see that some project owners are ready to use the new technologies and are budgeting their projects appropriately to use the cutting-edge technologies.

Today, the construction industry is progressing towards an environment of collaboration and mutually respectful team play, but we need to move faster. Events like DFII are promoting innovations, new methodologies, and the latest technologies, besides being a platform for networking, learning, and practicing the acquired knowledge. Unfortunately, many professionals are unable to attend these conferences because of their work schedules and day-to-day affairs in the worksites. A positive impact is possible when more and more people in the foundation construction industry update their skills and knowledge through such platforms. The geotechnical and deep foundation problems are complex, and constant updating on the developments can bring the necessary innovations, which come to light through networking and in-depth technical discussions.

How effective has been the outcome of the discussions on the industry’s issues during the past events, and in presenting them to the government’s policymakers and other industry leaders for consideration/implementation?
DFII has been providing ample opportunities to the project owners to voice their concerns, especially on the safety and project overrun issues, during our conferences. We have seen more participation from the end-users in these conferences, which means that they find this an excellent avenue to convey and address their concerns.

We have not made any worthwhile progress in holding discussions with the government’s policymakers, but the industry leaders are showing interest. We have positive responses from the leading industry circles for adapting the CFA pile technology. Another technology that would benefit the renewable energy sector is the helical screw piles, and DFII is working towards propagating this technology.

Since how long have you been associated with DFII and its programs/initiatives? Please share some insights for the benefit of the readers of this magazine.
I attended my first DFI conference in 1996 in Mumbai and later in 2010 in Hyderabad. I had the opportunity to work closely with the DFI to conduct the annual conference in 2011. The participation was possible with my close association with the Indian Geotechnical Society, for which I was the Chair during 2008-2011, and the geotechnical fraternity in the Chennai region. Dr K S Rama Krishna, an accomplished foundation engineer with Larsen & Toubro, was instrumental in opening the Indian Chapter of DFI. By the efforts of likely-minded professionals, we formally registered DFI of India in 2013, and I am happy that I am one of the founding directors.

I have been associated with DFI and DFI of India since 2011 and can proudly say that DFI has been enhancing the geotechnical and foundation industry’s performance. Continuous learning is the only possible way to embrace new technologies and apply them effectively in our profession. Attending the DFI India annual conference would greatly help the learning process. Despite our busy work schedule, we should find ways to grab such a rare opportunity for learning and for one’s professional growth.

Magazines like NBM&CW provide opportunities to understand what the infrastructure industry thinks and to know about the different services and products that the Indian market is offering the construction industry. Keeping abreast with new developments in equipment manufacturing and developing new construction materials are key to innovation and progress.
NBM&CW September 2022
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