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Raising the ‘Bar’

Materials

Satish Pendse, HCC’s CIO discusses how better management and optimisation of reinforcement steel is possible with the use of a software called ‘Rebar’.

I nformation technology has become all pervasive. Its being leveraged by all the sectors, including construction, for improving efficiencies and for gaining competitive advantage. In  the last couple of articles, we discussed how world-class ERP solutions such as SAP can be leveraged by the construction industry. In this issue, let’s discuss yet another software application that can be quite useful.

Construction projects face following challenges with regard to reinforcement steel:

  • Need to reduce wastage
  • Reconciliation of stock
  • Overall management of reinforcement inventory
  • On-time billing to sub-contractors
  • Need to reduce manpower

Material costs constitute a significant portion of the construction costs and steel/cement form a  large proportion of these  costs. Standard length reinforcement bars are required to be cut into required cut-lengths as per the bar-bending schedule (BBS).

The last piece i.e. off-cut gets wasted or scrapped. For a typical Rs500 crore construction project, the reinforcement component can be between Rs50-90 crore. Even if we save 1-2% of this cost by reducing the off-cuts, then it can be a sizeable saving for that project. We developed software called “Rebar” for optimisation and management of the reinforcement steel.

The software understands the BBS and it also has a track of inventory available in terms of diameter wise reinforcement bars of different lengths. Software has the optimisation engine that is developed using the principles of “linear programming” of “Operations Research”.

This optimisation engine provides best possible cutting schedules so that the wastage can be minimised. The system also allows us to keep track of off-cut pieces so that they may be used in future to reduce the wastage further.

A representative process flow diagram is as above:
Some of the important reports that can be generated using this software are as under:

  1. Cut-length required to be carried out for a bar
  2. Date, vendor, diameter wise receipts
  3. Diameter wise reconciliation
  4. Rolling margin and stock-list
  5. Pending requisitions
  6. Structure, contractor and diameter wise fabrication and dispatch reports.

Benefits
The software is used for the past four years. It is observed that it provides a wastage reduction of 1–2 % of total reinforcement used at the project. For example, for a 25000 MT of reinforcement consumption, it provides a wastage reduction of 250-500 MT. Benefits can be summarised as below:

  1. Generation of optimum off-cut lengths leading to reduction of reinforcement wastage
  2. Reduction in manpower due to defined shifting of bars and related cutting
  3. Any time availability of cut-lengths as well as raw material stock
  4. Faster verification of sub-contractor bills
  5. Aids in accurate reconciliation of reinforcement yard
  6. Inventory control and procurement monitoring
  7. Accountability of sub-contractor’s productivity.

Time to implement
Before offering the software to the industry, we used it successfully within HCC on more than 25 projects of different sectors during the past three years and it is now being used at a few other organisations too.

The software can be implemented within ten days once the reconciled physical stock of reinforcement steel is handed over.

This includes adequate training to concerned people. It is observed that the end-users adapt the software quite well and quite fast once they undergo the required training during the said ten days. It’s very simple to operate.

Innovative alternate use of the same software
Some of the projects made a very innovative use of the same software. They decided to use the software not only after the reinforcement steel lands in the yard, but ‘before’ i.e. at the time of procurement.

The software was used to decide the optimum order length of reinforcement so that the wastage is minimised at the procurement stage itself. The optimum order length was different compared to the standard 12 meter length. It resulted in less procurement and obviously less wastage in terms of off-cut.

In a nutshell, this software can optimise your use of reinforcement steel, reduce wastage and facilitate better management of reinforcement. It’s easy to use, quick to deploy and inexpensive compared to the value that it provides.

It’s recommended that one should try it for couple of projects to begin with and proceed further based on this experience.

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June 2020
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