The as­pi­ra­tion to­wards an en­vi­ron­men­tally-re­spon­si­ble in­dus­try promises to pro­mote a wider use of pre­fab­ri­cated el­e­ments, writes R.K. Arora, Chair­man, Su­pertech Lim­ited

The as­pi­raɵon to­wards an en­vi­ron­men­tally-re­spon­si­ble in­dus­try promises to pro­mote a wider use of pre­fab­ri­cated el­e­ments in the com­ing years, writes

MGS Architecture - - Contents - R.K. Arora, Chair­man, Su­pertech Lim­ited

The con­struc­tion in­dus­try is of­ten blamed for be­ing labour-in­ten­sive and pol­lut­ing. Most build­ings in In­dia are still built with con­ven­tional meth­ods in­volv­ing in-situ con­crete, tim­ber form­works and wet trades with high man­power re­quire­ment. How­ever, there is a grow­ing aware­ness on green build­ing prac­tices. Amid rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion and global cli­mate change, pre­cast tech­nol­ogy is be­ing de­ployed by real es­tate de­vel­op­ers for mul­ti­ple rea­sons. Many new tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies avail­able to­day can re­duce car­bon foot­print dur­ing the process of con­struc­tion as well as lifecy­cle of a build­ing. So, ef­forts are be­ing made to­wards sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in­volv­ing op­ti­mal use of nat­u­ral re­sources, re­duc­tion and re­cy­cling of wastes, and sig­nif­i­cantly min­imise pol­lu­tion emis­sions.

The main ad­van­tages of pre­cast tech­nol­ogy are qual­ity, speed and value for money. It can help in time sav­ings of up to 64% com­pared to sim­i­lar projects us­ing nor­mal con­struc­tion meth­ods. If a brick-and-mor­tar method takes one year to com­plete, the pre­cast method can take about four months. The good part is that it not only speeds up con­struc­tion work but also en­hances the qual­ity of the fi­nal out­put and helps cre­ate a big­ger car­pet area. Struc­tures do not need plas­ter­ing as this method makes a sur­face smooth, re­sult­ing in lit­tle main­te­nance.

Cost con­trol

Pre­cast tech­nol­ogy strength­ens the over­all solid­ness of a build­ing and brings down con­struc­tion cost by 10 to 15%. It can be used to bridge the de­mand-sup­ply gap in af­ford­able hous­ing seg­ment. Be­ing a ver­sa­tile tech­nol­ogy, it is suit­able for all types of con­struc­tion: high-rise, low-rise, vil­las, com­mer­cial projects, park­ing lots, etc. At a pre­cast man­u­fac­tur­ing unit, roof slabs, wall pan­els, beams, col­umns, and floors are fab­ri­cated. There is a de­fined space for win­dows and doors. All fit­tings like elec­tri­cal, plumb­ing, TV, tele­phone, etc are laid be­fore concreting. Ev­ery­thing is con­trolled through com­puter-based mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem.

Pre­cast tech­nol­ogy brings a world of cre­ative pos­si­bil­i­ties in ap­pli­ca­tion and de­sign with abun­dant choices for ar­chi­tects and en­gi­neers to cre­ate fu­ture-ready build­ings that are unique in char­ac­ter and of ex­cep­tion­ally high qual­ity R.K. Arora

Var­i­ous com­po­nents are man­u­fac­tured or cast in con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment and erected on the site with tower cranes. The com­po­nents are then joined to each as per the spec­i­fi­ca­tions with grouts and screed to pro­vide rigid­ity and the req­ui­site strength to the struc­ture. Pre­cast con­crete is specif­i­cally de­signed and made to have a sig­nif­i­cantly high span-to-depth ra­tio that al­lows it to bear loads bet­ter, thus, re­duc­ing the need for ad­di­tional col­umns and sup­ports within the in­ter­nal struc­ture of a build­ing.

Adding strength

Its lighter weight can also re­duce the size of needed struc­tural ma­te­rial and over­all foun­da­tional depth. The strength is not sac­ri­ficed by its light­weight con­struc­tion. It stays se­cure and can even be put un­der re­duced dead loads when prop­erly in­stalled. All of that weight sav­ings paired with high strength means build­ings can use pre­cast con­crete to reach heights of up to 80 sto­ries. Pre­cast con­crete uni­for­mity also mutes vi­bra­tions that move through­out the build­ing. For large-scale projects, es­pe­cially those with open ar­eas like con­cert halls, vi­bra­tion in seats and stands is re­duced. It also min­imises the risk of struc­tural dam­age from large crowds. These el­e­ments com­bine to make pre­cast con­crete an ex­tremely safe build­ing ma­te­rial that can help the con­struc­tion crew meet the safety re­quire­ments for projects of al­most any size and shape. Some build­ings, like an air­port, have a vast ar­ray of tech­nol­ogy that must al­ways be op­er­a­ble. But it can­not have wires or other over­hangs that move across its yard. This means ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble runs through the foun­da­tion and base of the build­ings. Pre­cast con­crete al­lows con­struc­tion teams to pre-in­stall util­ity ac­cess, fix­tures and other el­e­ments. Some of the more com­mon in­clu­sions are plumb­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines. Dur­ing and after the pre­cast con­crete is made and moulded, dif­fer­ent util­ity pan­els can be added and in­stalled. Con­struc­tion crews get in­stant ac­cess to util­i­ties and other el­e­ments and there is less need for re­vi­sions or al­ter­ation of the con­crete. Pre­cast con­crete can with­stand flood dam­age, wind-blown de­bris and rain pen­e­tra­tion. Some stud­ies show it can with­stand many freeze-thaw cycles even bet­ter than other con­struc­tion and build­ing ma­te­ri­als. It will not de­cay or crum­ble as it ex­pands and con­tracts.

Eco-friendly

Large-scale in­fra­struc­ture re­quire­ments cre­ate unique weather and el­e­ment de­mands, in­clud­ing the abil­ity to keep heat in dur­ing the cold months and keep heat out in the sum­mer. If the right ma­te­ri­als are not used, costs can go up sig­nif­i­cantly all year long. Pre­cast con­crete leads to ther­mal ef­fi­ciency. Since it is denser and less of a ther­mal con­duc­tor, it does not al­low heat to move around the build­ing. That means re­duc­tion in peak heat­ing and cool­ing loads. Pre­cast con­crete is also fire-proof when prop­erly con­structed and com­bined with the right in­su­la­tion and pan­elling on walls and ceil­ings. It can limit fire’s abil­ity to spread be­tween rooms. Us­ing pre­cast con­crete for all the walls in a stair­well means that peo­ple in­side will be pro­tected, and any harm or loss of life will be lim­ited. In most cases, only pan­elling will need to be re­placed – not the con­crete un­der­neath. The dam­age would be mostly cos­metic, not foun­da­tional. In ar­eas like floors or ceil­ings, a lit­tle clean­ing and ap­ply­ing a new coat of paint will do well.

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