Wednesday, July 6th, 2022
CECR

Connected Construction: Can It Be A Game Changer
For India’s Infrastructure Industry?

 

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Mr. Paul Wallett
Regional Director, Middle East and India
Trimble Solutions 
www.trimble.com

The Union Budget this year has presented a strategic roadmap towards the vision of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat,’ with a much-needed focus on the infrastructure and construction industry. The budget speech mentioned the expansion of India’s ₹111 Lakh Crore (or US$1.5 Trillion) National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), from 6,835 projects to 7,400 projects. Of this pipeline, around ₹44 Lakh Crore or 40% worth of projects are currently under implementation, while another 50% are either under conceptualization or development stage, as per government data.

The budget also announced a new Development Finance Institution (DFI) to be set up with a planned initial investment of INR 200 billion, which will debt finance the infrastructure construction industry. This strong backing from the union government has opened up an enormous opportunity for the construction sector to contribute to the continued economic growth and well-being of the country, by building new infrastructure or rebuilding and replacing old and aging infrastructure. However, in order to maximize this opportunity, the Indian construction industry will necessarily have to boost its capacities and capabilities, and also overcome its own inherent weaknesses.

Digitalization and embracing of cutting-edge construction technologies by Indian construction players is a critical part of strengthening their organizational capabilities. However, only a very tiny fraction of Indian companies has made significant progress in their journey towards digitalization. This resistance to change and accept modernization is unfortunately going to prevent the majority of Indian construction firms from rising to the occasion and the infrastructure opportunity.

Around the world, we see owners of mega infrastructure projects proving time and again that technology-based organizational transformation not only improves project delivery, but also reduces costs and wastage. Improvements in task-level productivity are today enabling predictable and on-time delivery of discrete tasks. At the same time, integration and seamless sharing of information between a project’s stakeholder groups throughout the project’s lifecycle is widely proven to help in on-time and on-budget delivery of the final project. Digital transformation of construction is the key agent that will drive the nation’s progress towards ‘Atma- Nirbhar’ India.

We believe that a concerted effort is needed across the construction industry to accelerate technology adoption and digital transformation. By harnessing the technologies available to us right now, we can make long-overdue productivity improvements, overcome the labor shortage, and most importantly, transition to the much larger role that our nation needs us to play in expanding or modernizing the most critical pillar of our economy.

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Connected Construction: A Digital Future For Infrastructure

The infrastructure industry is akin to the skeletal system of our country; however, it also stands apart as one of the most inefficient industries around. Analysis of data shows that a whopping 90% of all projects run late, 40% projects go over budget, and in every project as much as 10% of raw materials are wasted.

To build a smart and sustainable skeletal system, all of its stakeholders must work more efficiently and collaboratively. They must also appreciate the role modern tech-enabled construction, or ‘Connected Construction’ can play in improving the five key pillars of their operations: productivity, quality, transparency, safety and sustainability.

Connected construction refers to the unification of the people, processes and phases involved in each project by taking advantage of cutting-edge hardware, software, and services. It is a whole new way of executing a construction project as it simultaneously connects the digital world of modeling, imagery, measurement and data with the physical world of contractors, work crews, equipment and the jobsite at each phase of construction.

Connected construction also helps manage a project end-to-end, starting with pre-construction planning and continuing through its final handover, operations and maintenance. A ‘connected’ jobsite makes it possible for construction companies to manage with full confidence the sheer volume and scale of moving parts involved in large infrastructure projects through technology. This confidence stems from the tighter integration of hardware, software and services, which in turn enables unprecedented levels of collaboration among all stakeholders and at each level of construction lifecycle.

By embracing connected construction, industry players can build the smart, connected infrastructure that India today needs to carry us into the future. Imagine new expressways or highways that double as WiFi hotspots to facilitate real-time truck and vehicular movements and thus improve business efficiencies; or are able to collect rainwater and divert runoff to retain and preserve groundwater in communities. Connected construction thus holds the key to turning our infrastructure visions into reality by creating collaborative workflows.

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Rebuilding The Indian Infrastructure

While the after-effects of the pandemic linger on, India’s economy is now firmly in the middle of a V-shaped recovery and will bounce back to register 11% growth in GDP, as per the estimates of the Economic Survey for 2020-21. Still, the realization of our stated goal of becoming a Five Trillion Dollar economy by 2025 rests firmly on the timely completion of critical infrastructure under the NIP. 

What’s needed to upgrade our country’s infrastructure today and enable the innovations of the future is full-scale digital transformation and a transition to connected construction. This change is no longer a distant prospect—the foundations have been laid, proven technologies are available and best practices already exist among progressive construction companies around the world. All we need is a concerted and determined push from the leadership.

 

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