G Venkata Prasad, Director – Operations, DFII
Deep Foundations Institute of India (DFII) is affiliated with the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI), a US-based international non-profit organization established to advance the Indian deep foundation construction industry. DFI is comprised of approximately 4,000 active, knowledgeable, and committed volunteer members, who are owners (including government agencies), engineers, consultants, academics, contractors, manufacturers, and material and equipment suppliers spread across the globe.
Challenges in Foundation Construction
It is important to note that major infrastructure projects with values running into thousands of crores of rupees require special attention during the initial phase of work, which consists of geotechnical engineering and foundation construction.
Unfortunately, because this initial phase of work represents a small percentage of the project’s overall budget, owners, designers, and contractors tend to miss the point that if the underground conditions are not correctly evaluated, or if the geotechnical and foundation work are not correctly executed (with quality and on time), major unforeseen problems will arise during the later phases of the project, which can result in quality and safety issues and significant time and cost overruns. It is easy to recognize that if problems and delays are recorded during the geotechnical/foundation phase of a project, the entire project schedule and budget are jeopardized.
Furthermore, as infrastructure development continues at an ever-increasing pace, and as projects continue to become more complex, several shortcomings of the industry have taken a severe toll on the successful completion of some of the important projects due to costly delays and failures. These shortcomings include a dearth of technical expertise, low utilization of the latest construction technologies and updated safety standards, relatively low level of mechanization and advanced materials usage, and lack of skilled workmen.
DFII’s Mission and Intended Role
Realizing these challenges, in 2013, a few prominent geotechnical engineering and foundation construction industry practitioners in India, who were closely associated with the DFI, came together to form DFII with the vision and mission of supporting the growing needs of the Indian deep foundation construction industry through mutual collaboration. DFII was established as a local chapter of DFI through registration as a non-profit organization with the Ministry of Company Affairs in Chennai.
DFII members firmly believe that to tackle the above challenges, significant investment is necessary for the following two areas:
- Development of a qualified geotechnical/foundation workforce and
- Embracing of the latest and relevant foundation technologies to improve quality, productivity, and safety in construction.
DFII Current Programs
DFII’s efforts to achieve this goal resulted in executing trial piles with Continuous Flight Augur (CFA) technology, documenting the load test results, and developing guideline documents that can serve as IS code. There is a potential to replace bored cast in situ piles under relevant conditions with possible production of up to 400 m piles per day with one hydraulic piling rig attached with a CFA kit. 15 member CFA pile committee representing senior management professionals from major Indian and international companies toiled hard over 3 years to achieve this goal.
DFII is ready with yet another novel program of training and certifying soil lab technicians - the result of consistent efforts of the 15-member committee formed over 3 years. This program and others in a similar direction of this committee can enhance geotechnical investigation practices in the long run and help in averting project delays on account of this.
There are other DFII programs covering students with an interest in geotechnical and foundation construction, training programs catering to field personal involved in deep foundation construction, programs that empower women engineers that are currently on, and more on the agenda. DFII can leverage DFI’s relationships with prominent geotechnical engineers and foundation construction companies around the world and bring global expertise to the doorsteps of India. DFI is supporting the construction industry at large in other parts of the world for the past several decades through such initiatives.
DFII will also be able to contribute to the Skill India Mission by helping develop a pool of well-trained engineers, supervisors, and workmen, including foundation equipment operators, in various specialized areas of geotechnical engineering and foundation construction.
Another interesting feature of DFII is its annual conference which is held in November every year. It is special in a way as it has many international and Indian experts participating in interesting deliberations, and giving presentations on matters related to geotechnical and foundation construction important to India. This year, it is going to be held in the online format from 12 to 20 November 2021.
DFII requests the readers of this article to come forward to attend the DFII annual conference and other aforementioned programs to serve mutual interests. Follow the link to know more about conference details at www.dfi-india.org/DFII2021/index.html.