Precast construction technology is going to be a game-changer and will be widely accepted by the construction industry of India.
PS Patel, MD, PSP Projects Ltd.
What application scope do you see for Precast construction technology in India?
I see Precast construction in India as a construction technology of the future. It is going to be a game-changer and will be widely accepted by the construction industry. In fact, over the last decade, precast has picked up aggressively in India, especially in the Affordable Housing and Industrial segments, and we will see it being implemented in other segments as well and also in tier 1 and 2 cities. On a broader level, Precast technology is going to be a key driving force for the faster economic growth as planned by the Government.
What are the challenges?
- Lack of awareness about the technology and its potential.
- Low acceptability in the market as this technology is still new.
- For small scale projects, Precast may cost a little higher initially, but its overall lifecycle cost due to faster project completion, quality of concrete, durability etc. will make the precast structure more cost-effective and workable. Developing this understanding at the end-user level will take some time.
- From the design perspective, we may see two challenges: Detailed Planning at the initial stage and Standardization of Elements. As a standard process, our design development keeps on going along with the project progress and we see each element with new sizes and specifications in every new project, which can be standardized based on the category of the project. I think our industry is not habitual of following these two points, which is a must for succeeding in precast construction.
Reduced Dependency on Labour: The conventional Indian construction industry is labour-intensive, which we realized during the lockdown when from 12,000 workers we were left with only 1,250 due to their migration. The issue of availability of skilled labour is going to become more problematic in the future. Precast Technology helps construction projects to operate with highly reduced dependency on labourers, since the major part of the elements are manufactured mechanically in the factory.
Uninterrupted Process: In India, we face obstacles at regular intervals, which affect the flow of work and its progress by causing interruptions and delays. These could be due to non-working conditions in the monsoons, workers’ migrations during festivals, etc; but with Precast in place, we can continue with uninterrupted production of the building’s elements in the factory throughout the year and meet the project completion timelines faster.
Construction Timeline: It is proven worldwide that constructing with Precast technology drastically reduces project timelines by 50%. Early completion means faster revenue generation for the end-user.
Quality Assurance: Since precast elements are produced through mechanized processes in a controlled environment, the key factors driving quality of construction such as curing, temperature, mix design, formwork, etc. can be monitored precisely at the factory, and there are no errors onsite.
Safety: As most of the core structure is manufactured at the factory and the number of workers at site is also less, chances of unsafe working conditions or accidents are reduced drastically.
Aesthetics: Precast Technology offers flexibility to play with several combinations of colors and textures. Even the forms produced and finished in the factory are far more attractive.
Eco-friendly: Since a large volume of the project is produced at a factory which is a controlled environment, there is a huge reduction in carbon footprint at site. Material wastage is also reduced significantly, and the construction sites are not noisy, unlike the conventional construction sites.
What benchmarks has PSP Projects established in the construction industry since its inception and what are the company’s manufacturing capabilities?
PSP Projects’ Precast division is still very young; our precast plant was set up in April 2020 and we started commercial operations in August 2021. We completed the construction of our plant using precast technology within 12 months. Immediately after that, we got some prestigious orders of about Rs. 50 cr from L&T for the Ahmedabad Mumbai high-speed train project, implemented by the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL). We are also constructing a 55,000 sq.ft factory building using Precast Technology, which is targeted to complete in 4 months.
Our aim at PSP Projects’ Precast Division is to provide end-to-end building solutions in precast, including but not limited to, Beams, Columns, Slabs, Load Bearing Walls, Partition Walls, Staircases, Lift Cores, Water Tanks, Compound Walls, and Curb Stones, among others.
What quality control systems have you put in place?
PSP Projects has been in the field of construction since 15 years. We have a ‘No Tolerance’ policy when it comes to quality. We have set SOPs and a prequalification process to qualify our raw material suppliers. All raw materials are tested at our internal quality lab and also at an external lab at regular intervals. Our highly skilled lab technicians and engineers make sure that any raw material doesn’t enter the production hall until the quality meets the minimum benchmarks.
What is the design software and code of practice adopted for precast construction?
Depending upon the type of structure, it may vary, but broadly speaking, for structural design we use software like Etabs, Staad or Sap, and for the detailing, we use AutoCAD for 2-D drawings and Tekla/Revit for 3D detailing.
Also, while designing Indian codes such as the ‘IS 15916 - Building Design and Erection Using Prefabricated Concrete - Code of Practice’, and the National Building Code of India (NBC) are used for precast structural design and construction. These codes are used in conjunction with other Indian codes for loading, material and RCC design and construction.
Precast is a highly mechanized way of construction from manufacturing, storing, transporting, and constructing; what equipment fleet do you have for logistics?
We have set up a state-of-the-art precast plant at Sanand, Gujarat, with the technology and major machineries from Finland. We have 2 Batching Plants (60 cum/hr each), an automatic Bar Bending and Cutting Machine, machines for Hollow Core Slabs, Column/Beams and Walls for automatic concrete production and mechanized distribution. We also have a Boiler Thermax for Steam Curing. For safe and efficient movement of raw materials, unfinished goods, and goods for the dispatch areas, we have 13 EOTs and transport wagons at the factory.