K Srinivasa Reddy, Managing Director, Design Tree Service Consultants (DTSC)
K Srinivasa Reddy, Managing Director, Design Tree Service Consultants (DTSC) elaborates on how this integrated engineering company is handling a broad line of consultancy businesses from project conceptualizing and designing to implementation of all construction activities.

Please tell us about DTSC’s growth and the milestones the company has achieved since its inception.
Design Tree Service Consultants was established in Bangalore in March 2008 for providing consultancy services. Starting with a team of 40, the company began to undertake Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Public Health Engineering (SMEP) services.

Less than 14 years later, we now have a workforce of over 350, and are offering additional services like LEED Consultancy, REVIT Modelers, and Quality Management - the highest classification in the class. We have opened branches in Hyderabad, Chennai, and Kolkata, and are entering construction markets across India.

The coming years will herald a new era in the company’s successful foreign venture with its involvement is some mega projects in South Asia and in the Gulf countries, which are more focused on public works and infra development. In fact, currently, DTSC is the only South India-based consultant firm to venture into SMEP consultancy as a fully integrated solution provider, with collaborations for some major landmark projects across India.

We undertake designing, provide on-site solutions for complete SMEP services, supervise, and execute all activities related to construction - from a project’s conceptual stage to its handover to the client.

Which sectors is DTSC catering to?
In order to provide quality and cost-effective services to clients, there must be efficient systems in place; in fact, they must be a pre-requisite, and must also comply with industry standards. We are catering to clients from sectors like Civil & Structural Engineering, Public Health Engineering, Fire & Safety Systems, Electrical Engineering, HVAC & Mechanical Engineering, Green Building Solutions, and Quality Management Services (QMS).

Our core strength lies in delivering value additions to our customers. We have a well-trained and highly skilled team, which includes design engineers, project manager, CAD draftsmen, a quality control team, a quantity survey team, and business analysts who create customized solutions for every client.

We are on call round-the-clock to support clients for smoother, swifter and smarter workflows and help them meet their deadlines. We work on tight deadlines, turning around deliverables, such that our clients experience efficient business performance.

How is structural engineering consultancy impacting infrastructure design and construction?
Structural engineers are responsible for making sure that the structures we use in our daily lives, like bridges and tall buildings, are safe, stable, and will not collapse under applied loads. They apply their technical knowledge to specify different types of construction materials in various shapes and geometries in order to design structures that can withstand gravity loads and stresses, storms (wind load), and earthquakes.

We work closely with clients to understand the utility and function of their project so that we can provide safe, constructible, and economical solutions, which include timely implementation and completion.

Generally, the structural design process of a building can be divided into three stages: load calculation, structural analysis, and design. Depending on the function of the building, standards and building codes are used to estimate the weight of the building, and the expected snow, wind and earthquake loads on the structure. Once the loads acting on the structure are known, the structure is analyzed to determine the effect of all these loads on the individual elements of the structure.

The safety of the public is our top priority as the consequences of a collapsed structure can be catastrophic. This is why structural engineers, in their design, also take into account any uncertainties in load assumptions and unexpected deficiencies in construction material or errors in workmanship.

Design Tree Service Consultants (DTSC)

DTSC has undergone many transitions from designing on paper to using software, from using clay bricks to concrete blocks, and from in situ construction to offsite construction like PEBs and Precast. How do you see the Construction Industry of India evolving to modern methods and construction technologies?
The construction industry is leveraging technology to make construction management and site operations more efficient and sustainable. The major construction industry trends include building information modeling (BIM), construction robotics, and use of advanced building materials.

The pandemic has raised the need for newer ways of construction with stronger focus on worker safety and regulations. Hence, start-ups and scale-ups are increasingly innovating around prefabrication, worker safety, and construction robotics. 3D printing and green building solutions significantly reduce the negative impacts of construction on the environment.

Construction Industry trends indicate improved efficiencies, worker safety, construction speed, and sustainable practices. Use of robotics, autonomous equipment, drone-based inspection, and laser-based terrain mapping reduce labor requirement and costs, and increase accuracies by reducing human interventions and errors.

Further, companies use advanced materials such as self-healing concrete, engineered wood, and nano materials in modular construction and 3D printing. These materials ensure lower construction time and higher adherence to budgets. In addition, IoT-based solutions such as wearables, smart helmets, and vests enable remote monitoring of workers and their safety and protection.

However, very often, technology is not seen as a solution to problems, but more of a burden in some cases. This is often due to a lack of understanding and adoption of technology, which limits its usage. It is crucial to understand the benefits before implementing digital construction methods and acquiring technologies that address specific problems identified at project sites, else investing in digital tools to facilitate the business of construction would be pointless.

Professionals in the construction industry are most likely to be open to how data is improving efficiency and productivity, and how it transforms companies and the industry. However, many also feel that their businesses require a much more improved and effective way of using data; or fail to see how data affects their business; or feel a limitation in adopting digital tools due to lack of requisite skills.

Design Tree Service Consultants (DTSC)

With the tremendous increase in cost of floor space in urban areas, design of structural elements has changed a lot, for example, the thickness of walls, columns, and slabs has reduced. How do you see designing changing due to space and cost constraints?
We are now on the cusp of a new era of connected design, manufacturing, construction, and building operation, driven by digitization of information and connectivity between people, places, and things – the Internet of Things. The following trends will surely impact how structures are designed and built over the next decade:
  • New structural materials and systems will emerge that are smart, connected, adaptive, and sustainable. Examples are self-healing concrete, 3D printed nano structures, structural systems that dynamically adapt to changes in their environment.
  • Computational methods using machine-learning will automate simple engineering tasks while assisting engineers to perform more complex engineering tasks. This will empower engineers to offer more high-value services.
  • High Strength Concrete ranging from M80 are more commonly used in market are much helpful in achieving optimized wall & column sizes, also high strength steel, Post tensioning system, Various formwork system are the key factors for space savings in urban designs.
  • Manufacturing processes will be hyper-connected with the buildings that enclose them to minimize energy consumption and their carbon footprint.
  • Manufacturing-driven innovations like machine learning, lean manufacturing, and modular construction will transform the construction site in response to the growing shortage of skilled domestic labor.
  • The common theme that will emerge is a hyper-connectedness between people and things that will allow the production of ideas and building products in a much more effective and sustainable way.
The British Government gives an excellent view of the road ahead: Beginning 2016, all government projects are to use BIM. This mandate is a part of Britain’s ‘Construction 2025’ joint strategy which sets out how industry and government will work together to put Britain at the forefront of global construction over the coming years. Britain believes that using digital design with smart construction methods will give them a competitive advantage over other world economies. In other words, if they can reduce costs to build and operate their infrastructure, they will be more competitive than other economies that do not. Their success will put pressure on other economies to follow suit with digitally connected infrastructure to compete in a global economy.

Design Tree Service Consultants (DTSC)

Do you think Green Buildings will be the future, despite the cost implications?
Buildings of the future should be designed with features that meet the anticipated challenges of technological, environmental, and societal progress. When increasingly sophisticated communications and control systems are integrated into a building’s design, the door is opened to endless innovations.

When incorporated into construction procedures, energy consumption is contained, and the environment is better protected. Through smart construction, a more comfortable built environment can be created while simultaneously reducing a site’s carbon footprint.

A Green building melds technology and living practices. The use of eco-friendly materials and innovative procedures will result in optimized energy performance, extra commissioning measurements and verification, and continual carbon dioxide monitoring. This is essential as LEED schemes are expected to become future requirements of any construction project, large or small.

Self-sustaining buildings will be the best solution for meeting the ever-growing technological demand on energy, as well as many countries’ stated goals of independence from carbon-based energy sources. Smart construction involves health monitoring of the building throughout the lifespan of the building by inserting sensors.

What are the challenges in constructing tall buildings?
Fast urbanization in cities is leading to a huge demand for high-rise structures for commercial and residential purposes. The problem of less space and shortening distances, results in urban agglomerations on small surfaces of land. So, the future is that of very high, slender buildings, with unusual, bold shapes. These structures incorporate new and more efficient materials, high-speed lifts, more complex designs, and specialized execution technologies.

Globally, there is a competition amongst developed economies for obtaining the record of building the tallest building on earth. Because columns are an essential component of these high-rise structures, the subject is of global interest. The design of a 40-50 storey office or residential building is regularly being proposed in a growing number of cities. These call for high strength and high-performance concrete, steel, and other building materials.

Quality control and construction technology used to execute such tall structures is extremely difficult to manage and control. Let’s imagine the following scenario: what happens if 28 days after column concrete casting, one of the columns from the 2nd floor does not correspond to the resistance class designed for it, and the execution of the structure has already reached the 6th floor. What can be done in this case? There are several possible solutions, but whatever solution is chosen, it will entail an extra cost.

To avoid such a situation, we suggest inserting sensors to monitor the strength of concrete at every stage (till 28 days). A graph showing the placing of concrete to its final setting will clearly indicate concrete’s behavior so that on the third day itself decisions can be taken to avoid abortive works. Similarly, for every stage of development, there are technologies that are bridging the technical gaps in the construction industry.

Every building has its uniqueness and problems too; and their solutions could lead to a new and better way of construction.
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