PM Guest Article September 2020

E&C PM Footprints – 4th Anniversary

Vignesh Sundaram

Presently working with GSH Group as a Regional Head leading the Facility Management and Project Operations across Karnataka. I possess a B. Tech / M.S in Electrical Engineering. I am a certified PMP and CLSSGB.

“What the Future Holds for New Age Project Management Professionals”

Mr. Ameya Gumaste, Country Manager – Turner & Townsend, delivered the first session of the 4th Anniversary of the E&C PM Footprints. He possesses 23 years of all-round professional experience in the construction industry both in India and overseas in the areas of Programme Management, Project Management and Cost Management. He has worked on large infrastructure projects and delivered projects and fit-outs across commercial real estate campuses. He leads the cost estimation efforts for the ambitious Virgin Hyperloop One project between Mumbai and Pune.  Ameya is a member of PMI, RICS and IoE.

The crux of his session centred around the present and future technological advances, which will eventually usher the Construction Industry into a new era of faster project delivery, higher safety standards and data driven decision making. The last decade has seen many innovations being introduced into the industry. Examples such as use of autonomous vehicles in construction sites, use of Intel’s Falcon 8+ drones for site mapping shows that technology adoption is rapidly gaining pace across all stages of project execution.  This adoption has filtered down even into the Heavy Machinery at construction sites. One such example is Topcon’s Machine Control Software, which enables construction machinery for accurate and efficient earthworks. The software is integrated with Topcon’s GTL100 Survey Station which feeds accurate surveying data into the machinery.

He touched upon technologies and efforts which are nearing commercialization and large-scale deployment. Boston Dynamics Spotmini robot has wide ranging applications including topography mapping, site surveys and monitoring construction progress. ETH Zurich is experimented with “Flight Assembled Architecture “where a swarm of drones work together to build small scale structures. Technologies such as Tybot which allow robots to tie rebars are in pilot stages and will be introduced into the industry in the coming years.

The session also focused on the Global and Indian Construction Industry, which despite many roadblocks, is continuously trending upwards. The global construction industry by 2023, is projected to account for 6% of global GDP equating to approximately USD 11,000 billion. However, on the flipside the industry is one of the least efficient, highly accident prone (3.5 lakh deaths every year) and accounts for 39% of global carbon emissions. In India, the industry is expected to create 51 million jobs by 2025. India in the next decade, will build 100 billion sq.ft, and will be home to 18% of the global construction market. The Indian Construction Industry is expected to generate 1 trillion USD in upcoming years.

However, more pressing needs are to be addressed in the present day. India is ranked 168th by the World Bank on Delivering Contracts. The ground realities in the Indian construction industry might delay or hinder the adoption of efficient and cutting-edge technologies. Mr. Ameya mentioned it is now up to the millennial Project Managers to change the scenario of the construction industry in India, and issued a clarion call to upcoming Project Managers to leverage their Intelligence, Communication and Emotional Quotients to drive these critical changes. The Indian Construction Industry still needs to travel a long way in Ethics, Reliability and Professionalism. The industry faces several unique problems specific to the country such as unorganized labour sector, labour migration and lack of watertight contracting. These issues need to be addressed today to pave for a safe and efficient tomorrow.

UK’s largest construction firm – Balfour Beatty, expects by 2050, widespread use of technologies such as Digital Surveying; Autonomous Heavy Goods Vehicles (A-HGVs); Drone based Site Monitoring; use of Augmented Reality to monitor the site progress and Neural Control of Worker Robots. Efforts are already underway globally to make this future a reality, but the industry as a whole, especially in India, needs to address the critical grassroot issues to enable a technology enabled Construction industry.

“3D Concrete Printing – Challenges & Opportunities“

About the speaker: Dr. Biranchi Panda is Assistant Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. Dr. Panda was previously a Research Associate at the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) and obtained his Ph.D. in “3D Concrete Printing” from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Examples of Dr. Panda’s current projects include additively manufactured smart composites, digital construction, metal additive manufacturing and metamaterials.

3D Concrete Printing was born out of the fact that productivity across construction sites had stagnated. Extensive research led to the advent of this technology which allows for freedom in design and sustainability. 3D Printed concrete was in fact inspired by the existing concept of “Brick Laying Machines”. Additively manufactured concrete technology is still nascent, however, firms such as Apis Cor are a step ahead in the game and are extensively constructing 3D Printed homes and eventually will move onto prefabricated or pre-fab homes.

Additive Manufacturing of Concrete can be broken down into three simple stages – material, design and printing mechanism. The material needs to be pliable but at the same it cannot be too viscous. The material behaviour is governed by its property of “Thixotropy” – the viscosity of a material changes based on the stress applied. A classic example of this property is the behaviour of toothpaste when pressed out of the tube. Cement is a thixotropic material and hence greatly aided the 3D Printing of concrete. The Design BIM file is loaded onto the 3D Printer and the design inputs are then fed onto the printing nozzle. Dry runs are conducted to check the 3D printed concrete’s thickness and quality, and adherence to the design. Post dry runs, the printer goes into production mode and continuously prints the concrete. The three critical process parameters – printing speed, layer height & nozzle shape are continuously monitored to ensure good quality printing.

The key challenge is to address the issues of hardening and compressive strength. Rapid hardening is critical to ensure multiple layers of concrete can be printed in a shorter span. To reduce the hardening time, chemical mixtures are added to the raw materials during the preparation stage. The admixtures are supplied usually in ready to use liquid form. To address the issues of compressive strength, tests such as “Green Strength or Handling Strength” are done in situ. This checks the load bearing capacity of 3D Printed concrete. However, the testing is still rudimentary compared to conventional concrete, where universally accepted tests such as “Cube” and “Slump” are used. Academia is working closely with industry and structural engineers to develop comprehensive testing guidelines for 3D Printed concrete. These guidelines are critical to the rapid commercialization and acceptance of this technology.

Several valorization and proof of concept projects have been undertaken successfully. One such landmark project was the 3D Printing of a 2.1 metre high toilet carried out under the aegis of NTU, Singapore. The complete structure was printed in less than 4 hours and led to cost savings of 30% over casting concrete. Once the right guidelines and framework are in place, 3D Printing of concrete will serve as a boon to rural sanitation and health initiatives.

In commercial and residential buildings, this technology is already being used to print designer facades. However, concerns remain to be addressed on reinforcement in 3D Printed concrete. At present, the steel cabling reinforcement is added before or during the printing. Addressing the concerns related to stability & reinforcement will go a long way in ensuring adoption of 3D Printed concrete for commercial and residential constructions.

Many companies across the world have adopted this technology to meet their product requirements. XtreeE in France has recently printed a complete stormwater drain collection structure and embedded it below the road surface. Dubai based BESIX 3D has printed furniture and Netherlands based BAM Infra has completed infrastructure projects such as 3D Printed bridges. In India, IIT-G is planning to set up a large 3D Printing lab to drive the adoption of this technology and enable its commercialization.