Nirmalya Chatterjee, COO & Business Director, Tekla India.
ICR discussed with Nirmalya Chatterjee the status of software technology adoption in the construction and infrastructure segment in India and how 4D building information modeling (BIM) technology can enhance and create better sustainability in concrete and precast construction in India.
Could you brief us on BIM?
BIM is a tool that enables combining construction models, checking for conflicts and sharing information through the BIM environment. With this technology, one or more accurate virtual models of a building are constructed digitally. They support design through its phases, allowing better analysis and control than manual processes. When completed, these computer-generated models contain precise geometry and data needed to support the construction, fabrication, and procurement activities through which the building is realised.
This helps the project participants in identifying and solving issues already in the design phase before commencing construction. For the cast in place concrete contractors and precast fabricators, Tekla´s BIM technology enhances the quality of projects by reducing errors, thereby decreasing the project cost, improving reliability and over all cutting down time required for project completion.
What does 4D refer to?
4D refers to the time factor, which is the fourth dimension. For any project-engineer, managing time and keeping the project running as per the planned schedule is very important. If the project overruns the planned time, it not only leads to delays, but also leads to monetary losses to the execution company. When someone is preparing a study model, our technology helps in saving precious time, hence the name 4D. It helps in managing the project and alerts you of steps to be taken to keep the project on track. The technology can be applied right from the designing stage. When one has prepared the 3D model, one of the applications, such as VICO can help in managing the project. The use of 4D concrete BIM technology can enhance the quality of projects by reducing errors and improving reliability. With this technology one can integrate 3D modeling, seamlessly generate construction deliverable documentation from the same 3D project model.
How do these software help in project management?
For project management operations, we offer VICO Office Suite. With this system, the builders and contractors can collaborate effectively and improve predictability. If a project is scheduled to be finished in three months, with the help of this software the key stakeholders can review what has to be executed in next 15 days, what has to happen in next 7 days, and what must be done by the fortnight. Beyond this, the software also alerts the team of the challenges that can they might face. The system helps to reduce risks and manage costs. It is an ideal solution for optimising schedules of large and complex building projects and it is equipped with highly effective cost management applications.
Tell us about the possibilities in planning a concrete pour using Tekla solutions.
We are providing end-to-end solution to the construction industry with a particular focus on the concrete user. In India concrete is a major construction material. Although, steel is an important item, 70 per cent of the Indian construction activity is concrete based. So when it comes to concrete, the engineer has to know how much of concrete will be poured, where and when. And with the concrete module, this can be done effectively. The software gives total volume of concrete and rebar that will be required for the project. This data can be exported to an excel sheet, where one can apply the prevalent rates of the construction material and keep a check on project costs.
Why is it different than other utilities that can give an estimate of concrete required?
The tool does more than material estimation. It is a unique feature of the software, and which is an added advantage to the project engineer, that is, it helps in managing the pour. It tells you where the pour will break and how should the pour be scheduled accordingly. The system lets the contractor and the developer know or decide where the concrete pour will start on the first day, how much will be poured and where will be the breaking line. The builder can see where the crane will have to be placed for pouring at different locations. These are some of the things that the software can do to make the process efficient and to help execute the project smoothly. You can plan which materials will be required on the first day and which ones you would not. One of our offering, the VICO Office Suite, provides a tightly integrated solution, set into which are multiple building integrated models that can be aggregated and analysed and can be managed a project construction solution. It also helps in project co-ordination, costing and scheduling operations. So it is a system that has integrated functions like designing, project costing, billing operations, scheduling, etc., all into one suite.
What is the kind of savings that one can expect by using your software technology?
We have received feedbacks from many of our customers. Compared to working manually with excel sheets or traditional 3D designing tools, our software systems were able to help customers improve productivity by 200 per cent. Now these are the numbers reported to us by our customers. On an average, our software can help in saving 30 per cent of overall project cost by avoiding raw material wastage and project delays. This is a huge amount. Even if the software saves only one per cent of the raw material cost, it still is a huge amount, since raw material is a major expense in construction projects.
How is the precast industry performing in India and how is that reflected on your solutions for this segment?
Precast was more popular in foreign countries, especially in European countries. This was mainly due to weather and shortage of labour where precast offered a low labour intensive building option. However, in the past few years, India too has picked up the trend. This is mainly due to mass housing demand and quick turnaround time demanded from new projects. Not only we now see the rise in precast units manufactured, we have also noticed a rise in the number of equipment manufacturers for precast industry, setting base in India. With this, the demand for the software to support such construction is growing. We have Tekla Structure for Precast module that caters to the demands of precast project management, and the demand for this solution is growing. Some of our valued customers include, B.G. Shirke Construction Technology, L&T Precast, Sobha Developers, Shapoorji Pallonji, etc.
Is the Indian construction industry primed adequately to shift to high end software solutions?
Construction is the second largest contributor to the country´s GDP after agriculture. The current government is giving more attention to infrastructure building activities, with plans to build airports, highways, etc. This is definitely much needed and is going to uplift the construction sector. However, for such schemes to be successful the companies involved in project execution will have to invest in high end software solutions. Today, these companies are using tools that are fragmented. But yes, they have realised the benefit of using integrated solutions. They have general knowledge of the kind of software that can benefit them, such as those that can help in coordinating between the architects, structural engineers, contractors, in managing communication between design office and site office. They have realised the benefit that one can reap by applying modern technology.
We are getting lots of queries from the construction industry, who wants to know more about such solutions. The awareness and the demand for such software are growing and will continue to grow as we go ahead.
Tekla, a part of Trimble´s Building Group, develops model-based software products for the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) market. The company also works with educational institutes worldwide to provide students with a firm foundation in the use of the most advanced software that helps guarantee integrated project delivery and their future in the construction industry. Tekla has global presence with offices in over 20 countries, a worldwide partner network, and has customers in over 100 countries. Tekla was acquired by Trimble in 2011.
Some of Tekla´s renowned projects in India