NHAI aims to directly access construction data to resolve disputes

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on July 22, 2019 Published on July 22, 2019

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) would like to directly access data from construction equipment players that would lower disputes among various stakeholders involved in road construction. The disputes relate to the extent of work done on the ground.

Construction equipment makers are indirect stakeholders of NHAI. Broadly, NHAI awards highway construction, development or maintenance work to road developers or contractors, who, in turn, buy or lease construction equipment to construct or widen roads.

“We have a vision that NHAI and contractors should set up a system so that their systems and ours work together, constantly updating the work done on the ground, eliminating all sorts of disputes – including those that involve parties arguing about different levels of deployment (of material and machinery required to build a road),” Nagendranath Sinha, Chairman, NHAI, said on Friday, speaking at a conference organised by CII and construction equipment players.

NHAI indicated that it would encourage its road developers and contractors to use construction equipment that is able to share data directly with NHAI, about the extent of work done on the ground.

“Once the systems start interacting and data is updated in real time, disputes can be eliminated and data becomes the basis for discussion. This will improve the level of trust between various stakeholders and also improve the business climate among various stakeholders, including NHAI, its sister agencies (other road construction agencies, including National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd) and various Ministries, among others. NHAI, on its part, would put a condition to encourage usage of machinery that talks to NHAI’s databases. That’s a promise from NHAI,” said Sinha.

Construction equipment makers already have the capacity to track data on the usage of their machines effectively, according to Vipin Sondhi, CII Trade Fair Council, who is also MD and CEO of JCB India Ltd, a construction equipment firm with six factories in India. “Machines today have the capacity to relay information to operators and owners. The operator gets to know the quality of roads that are getting built, whether he needs to roll the equipment over roads once or twice,” Sondhi told BusinessLine . Effectively, contractors and operators will be able to capture data regarding quality of roads through better measurement tools, and they could also supply that to the government, their end customer. Most of the big construction equipment manufacturers around the world are present in India and make their products here.

NHAI Chairman Sinha also hoped that the construction industry would introduce new business models that would make it cheaper for smaller contractors to use these machineries.

Sinha recalled a business model that he had seen in a remote area on the road connecting Jamshedpur and Ranchi, which allowed the road contractor to pay the construction manufacturer only for the time the machine was used. The road construction sector is the largest driver of construction machinery, which gets 70 per cent of its demand from the sector, said Sandeep Singh of Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers’ Association.

Construction equipment makers, whose revenues have doubled in the last five years, have seen a de-growth in the first six months of calendar year 2019.

Published on July 22, 2019
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