Clean Tech

Turning construction green — how technology bridges gaps in execution

Preeti Mehra | Updated on August 15, 2019 Published on August 14, 2019

Virtual model of Chenab Bridge on Tekla Structures

Virtual model of Chenab Bridge on Tekla Structures

Technology can help projects save on cost, time, energy and resources

When completed, the Chenab bridge on the Baramullah-Srinagar-Udhampur rail link in Jammu and Kashmir will be one of the highest by deck height and longest by span length in the world.

It has been a work in progress since 2004. Standing 320 metres above the Chenab and stretching 1,315 metres long, it is a project of enormous scale and complexity.

It is also the typical example that Harsh Pareek of Trimble India gives of green construction which saves materials, time, labour, money and generates almost no waste through the use of technology. He is in charge of the Buildings Vertical in India for the American technology company that offers software, hardware and services in several industrial sectors, including construction.

To set up the exacting project being executed by Konkan Railway, bridge information modelling (BrIM) was required and this is where Pareek’s company came into the picture. Its software, Tekla Structures, was used from the inception. “They used technology because they saw it was impossible to go on site and build it. They did the complete simulation before they went on site, and it is working. It is the highest bridge, worldwide, at the highest altitude. The digital model is monumental in itself,” he says, making a strong case for holistic green construction.

Green construction is relevant not only for bridges. It can be used for every construction, be it a power plant, a hotel or a mass housing project. For Pareek, closing in on material waste, plugging cost and time overruns is an integral part of green construction and energy saving.

“When you talk about green design, you talk about how this building will perform once it gets constructed, but while it is getting constructed there is a lot of garbage and waste. There are a lot of unwanted job sites which are there, I think that should be the focus at the time of construction,” Pareek explains.

Trimble provides several technology tools, going beyond the usual Building Information Modeling (BIM) used in the construction industry. It provides software technologies that detail each and every aspect of the construction project to a very high level using virtual reality, internet of things (IoT), and simulation, among others.

In a case study on a Larsen & Toubro and Sargent & Lundy (US) construction of a combined cycle power project in West Asia, L&T’s Senior Deputy General Manager, Engineering, Jignesh V Chokshi, recalls how the Tekla software helped in project execution and management and how it reduced wastage and helped with completing tough tasks.

“We have usually avoided including Bar Bending Schedule (BBS) in our scope of work, anticipating a lot of manpower requirement and hassle. The confidence we have gained using Tekla for such a complex foundation has now encouraged us to use BBS for the entire project.”

Reducing delays

Pareek gives the example of a building where the design is excellent and totally environment friendly, but it gets delayed due to faulty planning during the construction process. “For example, imagine you’re laying the foundation of a building but you have done the procurement of something else. That material is lying there and getting wasted as it is not required at that point of time. Maybe it could have been bought after three months. Now that material is exposed to the weather conditions, gets rusty and unnecessarily causes problems. Sometimes you have to start construction at a certain place, but you dig the entire area.” This kind of waste of material and time can be eliminated if relevant technology is used to plan the construction process.

Technology, he feels, is not about design alone, it should provide the entire construction schedule, stage by stage, including procurement, engineering, costing, and help save on time, energy and wastage.

“If you do not have the basic level of data and information, you implement any technology, it will not go on the ground the way you want it and you will continue to have challenges, including cost- time- and budget overruns.” Trimble offers full-blown models, or what he calls constructible models which are not just BIM models. They can be replicated on site exactly as built models.

Apart from offering cutting-edge technology solutions for green construction, Trimble has tied up with several companies (such as Larsen & Toubro) and educational institutes to offer training in these technologies. IIT Madras offers Trimble technology and has become consultant to several projects.

“So, when we drive green, the first thing is logistic planning, construction planning through which you know what to do and when. And the second important thing is to eliminate wastage. Inclusion of technology can give you a huge saving on your project,” sums up Pareek.

Published on August 14, 2019
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