The game changer: Precast, offsite
This method of construction ensures greater efficiency and faster completion of projects, says C.N. Govindaraju
Not too long ago, a large-scale construction project site would be milling with workers, working arduously with a host of materials for completion of the project. Cut to the present and what one is beginning to witnessis a smaller labour force and what is more, large developments being completed on schedule or ahead of time. The game changer: precast construction.
However, this can be taken to the next level where the concrete elements are fabricated offsite using state-of-the art technology, saving not only time and labour on site, but also improving the quality of construction manifold while ensuring timely completion of projects.
Technology-driven offsite companies are currently implementing the integrated offsite manufacturing technology, where the concept of DFMA (Design For Manufacturing and Assembly) is introduced. This ensures 50 per cent faster completion time while reducing pollution on site by over 60 per cent.
Since the elements are manufactured in an assembly-line fashion in a dedicated factory, there is significant saving in the input material, as well as in use of water used since the curing process is done through steam. The design efficiency and precision of the product is also far superior given the controlled planning and machine manufacturing, while ensuring the quantum of material usage at the construction site is reduced.
The factory-finished concrete elements have all the mechanical, electrical and plumbing conduits built into them, not only guaranteeing quality, but also an unmatched finish of the final product. In a few projects are incorporated bathroom pods which are completed in totality offsite (including internal finishes) and merely plugged into the designated slots on a floor plate.
These pods have wall and floor tiling, taps, basin, commode, shower cubicle, exhaust and even a mirror, with each merely requiring to be plugged into the utility lines. The toilet pods also ensure that there are no leakages in the bathrooms, which addresses a major pain point for the customers.
The adoption of the integrated offsite manufacturing technology not only results in unmatched quality of the finished apartment units but also completion of the project way ahead of schedule.
Higher efficiency of space
A point to note about the use of precast elements is the increased efficiency in the interior spaces. A conventional solid block internal wall comes with a standard thickness of 150 mm while the precast load bearing internal wall comes at 120 mm thickness. This results in larger carpet area for the square feet of residence or commercial space. The precast internal walls also serve as load bearing walls, adding to the strength of the built-up space as a higher load factor can be integrated.
Moreover, being a factory-manufactured product, the life of the precast structure is up to 100 years. There is also a 60-70 per cent decrease in the requirement of project site managers and engineers while the hiring of unskilled construction workers is virtually eliminated after the erection of the building foundation. There is no scope for human error in the factory-fitted precast concrete elements.
While the precast technique augurs well for the construction industry, the use of onsite precast is possible only when the construction site is very large as it requires a specific area to be assigned for it. This is where offsite factory-fitted technology aids in meeting the needs.
(The author is former President, CREDAI Bengaluru)
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