Louis Berger: Taking a Collaborative Approach.

Kshitish Nadgauda
Kshitish V Nadgauda, Senior VP & MD (Asia), Louis Berger, shares information on the company’s capabilities in executing complex projects, with Maria R.

At the outset, please accept our heartiest congratulations on being awarded the project management contract of the Versova-Bandra Sea Link project (an extension of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link). Please provide some details on the uniqueness of this project and your responsibilities?

Thank you very much! We are indeed grateful to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the trust and confidence placed in our capabilities, and are honored to be playing such an important role on this critical, prestigious and challenging project. The Versova-Bandra Sea Link (VBSL) project involves the extension of the existing Bandra-Worli Sea Link for another 10 kilometers in the sea towards Versova, as an eight-lane viaduct, parallel to and about a kilometer off the western shore of Mumbai. The project will also include a cable-stayed bridge and balanced cantilever sections for navigational purposes, and the construction in the sea of three-four and six-lane connectors from the main VBSL to the mainland at Otters Club in Bandra, Juhu-Koliwada, and Versova. Grade separated interchanges providing free-flow turning movements in all directions will also be provided, where each connector intersects the main sea link.

The VBSL project will provide a high-speed expressway-standard facility as a strong alternative to the existing Western expressway that is experiencing severe traffic congestion during the extended peak hours of travel. Louis Berger is the project and construction management consultant for the tender period, the five-year construction period and the subsequent Defects Liability Period. Our responsibilities include peer review of the previously-conducted design; compilation of tender documentation for the EPC construction; providing assistance to the MSRDC during the tender period; evaluation of tenders received and recommendation for award; providing assistance to the MSRDC for the award of contract to the recommended contractor; and overseeing the subsequent Defects Liability Period.

Please describe some of the project management strategies for this mammoth project.

This landmark project will serve the heart of Mumbai. Louis Berger will employ state-of-the-art project management tools and techniques to ensure that the project is completed on schedule and within the budgeted cost. Towards this end, it is important for the “One Team” approach to be followed throughout with the client, the EPC contractor, Louis Berger as the project and construction management consultant, and all other stakeholders acting in unison at all times in the best interest of the project. Our staff will work in a preemptive and proactive manner, foreseeing and clearing potential hurdles well in advance, providing the necessary support and assistance to the contractor to meet or better contractual targets and milestones.

What advanced mechanization and technologies will you recommend for such a challenging site to help complete the project safely and efficiently?

The five-year construction duration for the complex project requires execution on an aggressive fast-track schedule, using effective and advanced techniques for the construction of the bridge foundations in the sea, segmental bridge superstructure construction, the balanced cantilever spans and the cable-stayed bridge. The key to the schedule would be the use of barges for the effective transport of precast concrete sections from precast areas on the mainland to the erection site at the sea. Louis Berger will work closely with the EPC contractor to optimize construction methods and techniques to achieve the highest possible efficiency.

Safety is the number one priority at Louis Berger. The safety of our employees is important to us, and we have established a culture of safety by continuously promoting safety messages and training throughout our company. As the VBSL project work will be predominantly conducted in the sea, there will be an added emphasis on safety at all times. We will ensure that, in addition, to our own robust safety program, the contractor also has and utilizes an effective safety program, complete with senior safety management and daily training briefs.

Louis Berger VBSL

The other focus of our company is to discharge all the project activities with the highest integrity; we cannot overemphasize the importance of strong professional ethics. Our staff will need to work proactively to ensure that the project is meticulously planned and executed, preemptively foreseeing any potential problems to enable early solutions. However, this emphasis on agility and innovation will occur hand-in-hand with our focus on integrity and conscientiousness.

What are Louis Berger’s initiatives to optimize time and quality for its clients?

The VBSL project is a critical part of the city’s infrastructure and will undoubtedly be a visible landmark. Louis Berger has a robust quality assurance/quality control program that we will strictly adhere to as we execute our role and responsibilities on the project. We will bring in quality assurance/quality control experts and personnel with in-depth knowledge of construction materials, procedures and techniques. The EPC contractor will also be required to have expert personnel on their team to ensure that they meet the quality standards from the very beginning of the project.

In line with the “One Team” approach, Louis Berger will hold daily working meetings with the EPC contractor to ensure that any potential issues are identified early on and addressed, so as not to unduly delay the project. Any decisions required from the client and other stakeholders will be followed up in a timely manner.

It is important for companies to implement effective project management techniques to guide clients towards the smooth and timely delivery of projects.

Louis Berger working with the EPC contractor will ensure that a robust web-based Project Management and Information System (PMIS) is set up for the project. Amongst other benefits, the PMIS would generate in real-time an executive dashboard that would provide a useful snapshot of the project, summarize progress to date, along with key issues and action items.

We will ensure that the EPC contractor develops a detailed baseline schedule that will be monitored on a daily basis for adherence to contractual timelines for achieving milestones.

Louis Berger was associated with the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel to prepare a feasibility study, a detailed project report (DPR) and engineering designs. Please share your experience of working on this strategically important project?

Our experience of working on the Chenani- Nashri Tunnel project as the National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI) DPR consultant was extremely fulfilling, in addition to being a powerful learning experience for all. In the initial stages, we worked closely with the NHAI to identify and evaluate multiple options for the project that would serve the connectivity, capacity, environmental and safety objectives of the proposed upgraded roadway facility. Safeguarding the environment was a major priority; the project road passes through an ecologically and environmentally sensitive area, including the hilly terrain with the Chinar tree forest. The tunnel was not only the best engineering solution from an access, mobility and safety standpoint, but it also protected the Chinar tree nature reserve. We are proud and honored to have played a key role in this prestigious project.

As a reputed consultant, you have executed a number of projects in the country. What is your assessment of the reasons behind the bottlenecks in some projects? What changes do you look forward to for creating a more enabling business environment in the country?

The development and execution of infrastructure projects not just in India but across the world requires addressing and resolving a multitude of issues well in advance to ensure that minimal hurdles are encountered during the course of construction. Inadequate right-of-way and the resultant land acquisition requirements have the potential to disrupt the progress of projects. Clients in India have a proactive approach in this regard, emphasizing to consultants the importance of assessing all the land acquisition requirements at an early stage.

In the early stages of the design phase, it is vital for the consultants to ensure that all the required data is comprehensive and meaningful. This data includes obtaining satellite maps and aerial photos, detailed topographical surveying, a collection of land and revenue maps, utility information and geotechnical investigations for the design of the roadways and structures. During the design stage, the consultant must ensure that the project and the client objectives are met in an optimal manner to avoid late changes to the configuration of the project.

The execution of projects, whether in the design or construction stages, should be guided by a meticulously developed execution plan and schedule, identifying key milestones and the critical path, and with resource requirement calculations to ensure that the project is indeed executed in accordance with the plan.

Louis Berger

At Louis Berger, we strive to ensure that our internal processes, as described above, are strengthened to guarantee the smooth and timely delivery of the projects. The digital platform for project tendering as well as the proactive and close interaction between the client and the consultants provides a healthy and productive business environment. However, opportunities for further improvement do exist. It is, however, important for companies to implement effective project management techniques to guide clients towards the smooth and timely delivery of projects.

What is your view of Louis Berger’s India operations and its performance over the last two years, and how do you plan to seize the emerging opportunities in the upcoming infrastructure construction sector?

Through a competitive bidding process over the last two years, Louis Berger in India has secured several key projects across diverse sectors. We are working on highway projects related to the government’s Bharatmala program, major metro rail projects, projects with major bridges and tunnels, such as the VBSL project and the Mumbai-Pune Expressway Capacity Augmentation project, and several Smart City projects. We are honored that clients across the country have placed faith in our abilities. From a business perspective, we are on track, with further growth expected over the next several years because of the government’s major push for infrastructure.

However, at the same time, a strong sense of responsibility and accountability is being imparted to all team members at Louis Berger to exceed client expectations in the delivery of the projects. It is extremely important for each member of our team to work towards identifying optimum solutions and towards producing work and deliverables of high quality with the highest integrity. Our plan is to continue to strengthen our capabilities of execution by augmenting our resources with technically sound and well-experienced professionals, and through more effective project management techniques. It is our responsibility to work in an ethical manner with our clients in the delivery of these major projects, truly creating “Solutions for a better world.”
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