In search of excellence
How do we recognise the best companies? The word best means the ability to create customer value, quality, workplace safety and delivery on time but equally important is that the companies have the ability to create economic stability and productivity for themselves.
Assuring quality in construction has become a major challenge to the design/construction industry today. What has drawn attention to the issue is the result of problems in structural failures directly related to the design and/or construction phase. One aspect of assuring quality in the constructed project is having adequate inspection during construction. A prerequisite to adequate inspection is having enough well qualified inspectors to insure the work is done in accordance with the approved plans and specifications.
Throughout the six years of Construction Week India, we have made the recognition of excellence in relationships, process and results one of our cornerstone. Part of this process has been to develop the awards programme aimed at recognition of that excellence. However, last three years of conducting the Construction Week India Awards have made us understand that recognising excellence in construction and infrastructure demands a more analytical approach.
A focus on certain innovative processes and business strategies improves competitiveness. By studying innovation, we realised that there exist two areas in which a company can innovate. These are external innovation as a market oriented factors and internal company strategies and characteristics.
“Construction is one of the most significant contributors to the GDP of a nation and hence witnesses massive investment. Businesses in the construction sector these days have to strive extremely hard to achieve excellence and customer satisfaction which is critical to their growth. Maintaining a healthy and robust construction supply chain is a key imperative for such businesses,” says Amber Dubey, partner and head, KPMG India.
Considering that sustainability seems to be the much discussed topic in construction, it is possible they can contribute to the achievement of its development by following measures like being more profitable and competitive; delivering buildings and structures that provide greater satisfaction, well-being and value to customers and users; respecting and treating its stakeholders more fairly; enhancing and better protecting the natural environment; and minimising consumption of energy (especially carbon-based energy) and natural resources.
Sunil MK, head (architecture, engineering and construction), Autodesk, India & SAARC, says, “Construction is an area that incurs large amounts of waste which more often than not results in cost appreciation for the end consumer. Our innovations in 3D design software can significantly reduce costs, improve operating margins and increase efficiency of the supply chain. Reduction in waste can save the companies billions of dollars.”
Autodesk’s main value proposition is to shrink the waste by providing solutions for the construction companies to complete the project within the stipulated time and budget without losing focus on safety, sustainability and efficiency. Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology pioneered by Autodesk allows companies to visualise their projects virtually thereby greatly reducing errors. BIM helps in improving coordination among various disciplines in various project phases, a faster construction cycle, increased efficiencies, cost reduction and reduced wastage. Cloud-connected workflows are made possible through Autodesk 360, a cloud-based platform that improves the way users design, visualise, simulate, and share work with others anytime, anywhere. “Architects can create large-scale preliminary designs in context with InfraWorks 360 and collaborate with multiple stakeholders virtually anytime and anywhere. Big projects like the Navi Mumbai airport terminal, Mumbai Monorail and Khed city have used BIM. Khed City has saved 7% of their construction cost by using BIM,” he adds.
India has seen exceptional cases of
innovation and leadership, the hallmarks of excellence, in urban infrastructure projects around the world. Indeed, today’s infrastructure is increasingly being designed and delivered in a way that enhances urban sustainability by creating more livable and vibrant urban environments that support economic growth and development. “But – as is the case with any emerging field – India also sees clusters of excellence emerging in some regions while others fall drastically behind. One of the challenges as an industry must therefore be to share the innovations and best practices of these urban infrastructure pioneers with those around the world who can benefit from these shared experiences,” says a senior spokesperson at Essar Steel.
S Srinivas, deputy executive director, CII-Godrej GBC, says, “Companies today need to be world-class in their approach, no matter which sector they are in. For example, productivity in the construction processes is there for all to see. Progressive developers use some of the latest technologies to achieve time schedules and also reduce waste. Pre-cast concrete blocks, casting technology for roof, standardisation of fenestrations and UPVC windows are perhaps some examples.”
He adds that post the construction, green buildings facilitated by IGBC have been operating with much less resources – 7mW/million sq ft as compared to the conventional 10mW, 30 litres of water per person per day vis-à-vis 45-litres and air-conditioning at 400-600 sq ft/TR of load as compared to 150 sq ft/TR are again world-class examples. Monitoring of buildings post occupancy is another trend that is seen through IGBC’s existing buildings rating programme. With this, one has not only designed and constructed a green building but ensured that they are high performing through their life. Embracing best-in-class practices, technologies and design practices can go a long way in achieving operational excellence.
“Quality assurance and quality control, expertise on raw materials and mix designs, transparency of business operations and capability of production are just some of the differentiating factors that go into creating excellence,” says Rashid Merchant, associate VP, RMC Readymix India.
Excellence in operational units and production has many names and comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether lean, six sigma or total quality management (TQM) – operational excellence and lean manufacturing provide the basis for maximising the efficiency of your processes and using company values to your best advantage.
The aim is to continuously improve processes and results in order to increase added value, reduce variability and improve the flow of processes. Therefor core requirements in terms of cost, competitiveness and differentiation must be considered for an optimal process design, says the spokesperson at Essar Steel. The sustainable implementation of process excellence can be achieved only if the entire organisation identifies with a culture of improvement and the people within the organisation are closely involved regarding leadership, skills and behaviour.
It would help construction and infrastructure companies to take recourse to benchmarking as a method of improving performance in a systematic way. Whilst benchmarking has been used occasionally in the construction industry for many years, the recent surge of interest has been encouraged by the publication of sets of national key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow companies to measure their performance simply and to set targets based on national performance data.
This would enable the industry to walk the road to success.