Metro Rail India Webinar Series 2020: At the right signal

In July, Trimble presents Metro Rail India Webinar Series 2020 was an eye-opener in terms of adoption of technology

Metro Rail India Webinar Series 2020, Elias George, Harsh Pareek, Trimble, Tekla, KPMG India, Jitendra Tyagi, Uttarakhand Metro Rail Corporation, Ranjit Singh Deol, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, MP Naidu, L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad), Daljeet Singh, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Raghavendra Pandey, Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation, Santosh Rai, Hindustan Construction Company

For some time now, Construction Week India has been keenly following Metro Rail projects across the country. The way it transforms cities, brings in technology and makes commuting easier. Similarly, Trimble has been an active player in Metro Rail projects and has been a long-term provider of technology and software to enhance Metro Rail projects.

Hence, it was in each other’s mutual benefit to conduct a webinar, Metro Rail India Webinar Series 2020 on July 30 from 4:00 pm onwards.

Indrajeet Saoji, director, ITP Media Group (India) was the host for the day. Introducing the agenda, he pointed out the virtues of the magazine and how the Metro Rail sector has become a lynchpin for progress and infrastructure development in India.

The virtual summit began with a presentation by Harsh Pareek, Regional Sales Director – India & SAARC, Trimble Solutions India. In his presentation, Pareek said, “The digital transformation in construction is just begun to happen. Trimble is a global solutions provider in the construction segment and we have technology even for metro projects today, which are driving a whole lot of construction activities. Everyone has their own processes. But a Metro Rail project has multiple stakeholders. How can one work efficiently and stay on the same page when people from different cities and countries are involved? Our software is so accurate that what is constructed virtually is exactly what you will get when the final project is done.”

The presentation was followed by a keynote address by Elias George, Partner and Head - Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare, KPMG India. He said, “The Indian Metro Rail journey started with Kolkata and then moved on other parts of the country. Then came DMRC and they constructed one of the most successful Metro Rail in the country. Today, I believe, they are advising others on methodology. Now every city wants to have a Metro Rail. For them, it’s a sign of progress. Metro Rail projects are expensive and laborious. Moreover, most Metros are not making profits. One should not actually count the benefits of the Metro Rail by the balance sheet of the company. Instead people should look at the economic benefits it brings to that city. There is also the situation where one must consider making these projects sustainable.”

The keynote address was following by a panel discussion. Eminent panellists were: Ranjit Singh Deol, Managing Director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation; Jitendra Tyagi, Managing Director, Uttarakhand Metro Rail Corporation; MP Naidu, Project Director, L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad); Daljeet Singh, Director, Works, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation; Raghavendra Pandey, Chief General Manager, Planning & Design, Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation; Santosh Rai, Head - Business Development, Hindustan Construction Company; and Harsh Pareek, Regional Sales Director – India & SAARC, Trimble Solutions India.

The discussion was moderated by Elias George.

He shot his first question to Ranjit Singh Deol asking him about his way of coping with the challenges of constructing a Metro in India’s busiest city?

Deol said, “Land acquisition is the biggest deterrent in such large projects. In a city like Mumbai, one has to consider the ecological problems, and also displacing large number of people who have lived in homes since generations. Cutting into mangroves is a serious issue. Then there are the heritage buildings. Not to forget the hundreds of permissions. So many myriad issues make it difficult for us to progress smoothly.”

Speaking about evolving technology, Tyagi said, “While we do use advanced technology, labour accounts for a large portion in execution. Now with the lockdown, most of the labour has gone back to their towns. We will have to consider mechanisation in smaller batches so as to continue work.”

Elaborating on the technology used at his project, Naidu said, “We could manage to execute our project because of our experience and the hand-holding from the government. Of course, balancing cost and timely project completion was a major challenge. But then there are so many protocols to deal with. Thankfully, with the number of metros coming up, India has gained a lot of knowledge.”

Pandey agreed with this and said, “Before starting construction, we focused heavily on planning and getting the design right. When the contractor was chosen, land acquisition for the project was near complete. We even ensured that all equipment was ready at the site so that work could begin. Safety precautions were a primary concern and we had all the safety gear at the site.”

Having heard most of the panellists, Pareek said, “Most of the delays that occur in projects today are because of the lack of information between the stakeholders. Most of the times they fail to understand that transparency needs to be brought in very early into the projects. The benefit of using a software is that the design can be shared across teams so that everyone works with the same design. Engineering and construction need to be tightly integrated.”

Currently a contractor for one of the line for MMRCL, Rai said that use of technology is must in complex projects like metro rails. When we are constructing a viaduct and someone says that in order to align with the station, the viaduct needs to be brought down a little, it cannot work with human calculation. Use of advanced technology will tell us the repercussions of our actions. I believe in telling each of my metro rail clients that they need to bring in specialists to do the job.”

Singh responded to the query on being the expert in metro rail projects saying, “I guess technology does take priority today. However, India is a populous country and we should be able to make use of the labour force as much as possible. DMRC has been at the forefront of construction of metro rails. I have noticed that each time we moved from one phase to another, there were a lot of changes in methodology. That is because of the changing landscape of designs and construction. New things come to light and this makes it compelling that we adopt these changes.”

The webinar ended with questions from the audience that were answered by the panellists.

There were also poll questions to the audience and most agreed that use of advanced technology is a must, but cost can be a deterrent at times. Most often people work on tight budgets and there is a need to reign in costs, but not at the cost of quality of the project.

Indrajeet Saoji and Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director, ITP Media Group (India) thanked the audience.

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