Convenient and Affordable

Schneider Electric Smartment solutions can be adopted by developers in their modern apartments, thus helping their buyers to stay connected, while assuring them of comfortable and connected lives.

Schneider Electric is keen that residents graduate to adopting smart devices that can make their life easier. The company has been an ardent supporter of smart devices and has a host of such apparatus for users. In this light, Schneider Electric along with Construction Week organised an exclusive round table for real estate companies to discuss how integrating IoT into new projects can change the way people interact with their homes. SmartTouch is the new solution from Schneider Electric that makes home control effortless. Smartment is what the company would like developers to adopt to make modern apartments smart. The solutions that the company has on offer can be a delight to buyers presently and in the future, said Anupam Srivastava, EcoBuilding Division, Schneider Electric.
In an effort to reach out to developers, the Round Table was organised across cities. Here we cover Bangalore and Mumbai.

Held on October 23 at the Ritz Carlton, the round table saw participation from reputed development companies. The panellists were Rajagopalan TS, VP, projects, Adarsh Developers; S Narayana Kumar, head, purchase & contracts, Total Environment Building Systems; Shivraam, deputy manager, RMZ Corp; Nagendra M, sr VP, project, design & development, Century Real Estate; Aditya Malpani, GM & head procurement, Mantri Developers; Avijit Kundu, GM & head BD, Shapoorji Pallonji; Srikanth Srinivasan, group head, commercial, Puravankara; Hriday Desai, residential programme leader, projects, Embassy India; Boda Gupta, IT head, Brigade Group; Kamal Kumar Agarwal, product strategy, projects, Embassy India; and Bidisha Nagaraj, VP, marketing, Schneider Electric. The discussion was moderated by Hari Easwaran, head contracts & procurement, L&T Realty.
Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director, ITP Media Group (India), welcomed the panellists and introducing the session handed over the stage to Easwaran. He threw his first question to the panellists asking whether smart is the new norm and its reasons. Nagaraj said that people have actually embraced smart in real life. “Personally we have all invested in smart, but somewhere between our personal embracement and what we want to give our consumers who are building homes for people or commercial buildings, we are not as convinced,” she added.
Desai of Embassy said that developers need to understand the levels of customisation they are willing to go to or justify smart at a B2B and B2C scenario. “It has become more of a norm to comply with. It’s about being connected at all times with the world network rather than a local network,” he said.
Explaining the need to go smart, Rajagopalan said that in order to keep pace with the generation, one needs to comply with the needs of the customers. There is a need to market products and for that offering upgraded technologies, new features is imperative. Customers are used to controlled environments and would like the same in their homes.
According to Shivraam, individuals have taken care of security immaterial of a single house or a large community. Wellness is what needs to be built up. For this, developers need to consider how much they are willing to spend and invest.
With more things moving to wireless, Narayana Kumar said there are lesser interventions during construction. That brings the timeline lower. The difficult systems are HVAC, which take more time because the software is also customised. Otherwise, it’s more plug-and-play.
Malpani, a seasoned procurement head, believes that one can’t place any value to technology considering its dynamism. “If you don’t adopt, you are left behind. As a developer, one really doesn’t know what to offer, and would be sufficient. The best thing is to offer a system that is easy to upgrade,” he added.
There’s constant advancement in technology. “At this point in time, the smart application can come at the last stage as a retrofit. Today with wireless, everything will be a retrofit, said Agarwal.
It’s important to understand the level of requirement for the customer, said Kundu. The expectation is up to the user, and few know their limits.
There are also different levels of SLAs, be it entertainment or security, said Gupta. “There are various players involved and it’s not easy to integrate it into a single SLA. Bringing all the players together is challenging for any developer,” he said.
Srinivasan said that smart used to be typically associated with luxury projects. In Mumbai a 200 sq-ft home may cost Rs one crore, but Bangalore is still reasonable. It could be done to differentiate between projects.
Nagendra said that his company is offering affordable homes and smart features. There are ways of offering this by reducing certain aspects of a home to make them affordable.
Anupam Srivastava, EcoBuilding Division, Schneider Electric, ended the discussion by explaining the smart products his company has to offer and how they would benefit users as well as developers.


Bibhor Srivastava warms the panellists to the discussion in Mumbai.

The second leg of the round table was held in Mumbai at Hotel Sofitel BKC on October 15. Moderated by Puja Dattatraya, LEED AP, senior director, CBRE, the panellists comprised Aniruddh Bapat, head, MEP, central procurement & contracts, L&T Realty; Sandeep Mehta, head contracts, Shree Naman Group; Rajiv Batura, sr. VP, MEP, Omkar Realtors; Meera Kulkarni, deputyy, GM, contracts & procurement, L&T Realty; Virendra Bamne, deputy, GM, MEP, Tata Housing Development Company; ND Sadri, GM, corporate head, procurement, Shapoorji Pallonji; Bhavin Khant, procurement head, Dosti Realty; and Prashant Mewada, director, operations, Runwal Group.
Dattatraya asked the panellists to describe how Mumbai developers are looking at smart apartments.
To which Mehta said that as compared to developed countries like London or US, here typical customers are more cost conscious even though they might be living in high end apartments. While smart is in, it’s the value for money concept that customers look for and prefer basic smart solutions.
Some developers prefer that customers install the smart devices for their apartments. Bamne said that yes, many developers are offering smart installations. Smart means a self-learning system that will listen to the owner, react to them, and record their gesture. “Most customers are ignorant of what exactly constitute smart homes and the devices available in the market. If it’s an extended intelligence, then it is not smart,” he added.
Agreeing with Bamne, Khant said that more opportunities can be created using smart solutions. “People are moving towards change, a smart change, and this can take time. More users are realising the advantages of adopting smart solutions in their homes and also learning how to use those devices. WIth the new models of mobile phones, older generations too are taking to it like fish to water. I think that more buyers will want smart solutions and smart homes going forward, he added.
Considering that modern projects are catering to an elite crowd of buyers, Bapat voiced that smart is becoming the new normal in India. “Not only are metropolitan cities seeking smart solutions, but Tier II cities are catching up faster than one can think. More developments in those cities are seeing smart construction in terms of building, automation and design. The buildings in Mumbai do not lack or are deficient in any way when compared to world class buildings,” he added.
While smart solutions can also be installed at the execution stage, Sadri was of the opinion that it would help if developers considered all aspects of this at the design stage itself. It’s necessary to know the level of smartness that customers would like in their apartments. “With the government stressing on affordable housing, one wonders how smart solutions can be incorporated there,” he wondered aloud.
Kulkarni felt that immaterial of whether smart is expensive or not depends on the kinds of products or the projects one is segmenting it into. For a premium project, customers expect smart solutions, and today’s offerings become tomorrow’s expectations. But are developers prepared to meet up to expectations and offer this as a value add?
Comparing the Indian scenario with global standards, Batura said that in the case of developed countries, residents expect such solutions to come with the apartment. In fact, they encourage the development of such solutions. “In India, considering our labour cost and value for money thought process, it’s hard for us to seek out such technologies, even less adopt them. It all depends upon our attitude if we want to spend that kind of money and bring it in,” he said.
Mewada said that his company has been installing smart solutions in the premium developments it is constructing across the city. However, he added that considering buyers’ moods and demands, it is always safer to seek out their opinions before compelling them to accept smart solutions that they might not even need.
In both the cities, Anupam Srivastava explained the solutions that Schneider Electric has and the benefits it can offer developers in terms of giving them an edge in the market, while offering buyers a sense of comfort and awareness.
The evenings ended with cocktails and dinner and the panellists were more keen to understand from Schneider Electric about their solutions and gathered around for the demo it had to showcase.

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