Since precast is manufactured in a controlled environment it is easier to control the mix, placement, and curing.
BY TEAM CW
The Indian real estate sector has been witnessing a change in the modality of construction. The latest one on the radar is precast technology. With this, major realty players are eyeing bigger opportunities to radically trim the biggest conundrum of real estate- ‘project delays’ and ‘lack of value-for-money products’ – which have occurred due to increased material costs and labour crunch.
Having its roots in European countries, precast technology was first used in ancient Rome for the construction of aqueducts, culverts and tunnels. Precast panelled buildings made an appearance in Liverpool, England back in 1905, but were not taken up extensively.
In simple terms, precast technology is an advanced method of construction that involves casting of concrete in a reusable mould. It is cured in a controlled environment, transported to the site and fitted into place. Precast concrete is highly versatile and is available in different sizes, functions and finishes and colours, if need be.
Raj Pillai, executive director, concrete products division, Sobha Limited, says, “It is an added advantage to the concept of sustainable building practices. Its robust nature of consuming low water-cement ratio ensures optimum usage of natural resources and minerals. The thermal mass of concrete allows shifting of heating and cooling loads in a structure to help reduce mechanical-system requirements. Since the end-to-end process of developing concrete products happens within the factory and through the implementation of exact batching technologies, the construction wastage can be reduced at large.”
Interestingly, precast concretes can be reused when buildings are dismantled. The demolished structures of precast concretes can be reused to protect shorelines and also as base materials for roads or concrete slabs by crushing it.
The advanced technologies used in precast plants globally vis-a-vis in India are as follows:
*A circulation system with imported pallets (no joints in the pallet) with imported concrete spreader and rack operator having provision of finish using smoothing stations is the most common precast system in advanced countries. Sobha precast is the only precast set up in the country which is in line with such global practices.
*Precast concrete requires high quality concrete and to produce this, globally, the standard practice is to have a sophisticated concrete batching plant. This is highly neglected area in India. Sobha precast has state-of-the-art imported German plant dedicated to precast requirements only.
*Lattice girder usage in slabs is very common in Europe. Owing to its initial cost, this technology is not popular in India. We have a lattice girder machine from Italy.
The usage of precast technology-based structural systems have been gaining progress worldwide and is being used in Asian countries in a big way in the residential sector. For India, precast is relatively a new trend and is slowly catching on. The technology offers commendable benefits like quality control, uniformity, time saving and weather independence. Through precast, the company can ensure quality consistency in all structures at different stages. This eludes frequent checks on quality aspect as it is done in the conventional way of construction which is again an additional operation cost to the company. In simple terms, precast concrete is a combination of excellent quality with a relatively inexpensive material. Also, the repair/maintenance costs of precast structures are highly limited.
Precast concretes can last for years. In some of the foreign countries, ancient structures and buildings constructed with precast technology still exist till date. With effective design and detailing, the life of a concrete building can be lengthened. Therefore, it is imperative to focus highly while designing a precast structure.
Given today’s business scenario, it is said that precast technology has a tendency to reduce construction cost by 10-15%, if integrated properly, and it is the only right answer to India’s affordable housing needs. Overall, the precast technology allows developers to uphold clear-cut grip on important functionalities like quality, design, strength, safety and sustainability. As a result, while a majority of Indian structures both residential and commercial infrastructure are being built the cast in place/in-situ mode, there is a growing demand for precast technology within the Indian construction community as the conventional system has its limitation.
The Sobha Precast plant erected at the project site is probably one of the most modern set up. The state-of-the-art plant allows modular structures to be assembled with ease, by means of mechanisation and thus reduce delivery timelines.
Precast technology helps in:
* Faster occupancy: Due to its faster construction process, the buildings can be occupied and revenue generated sooner. The solid, secure, high-quality look and feel of solid precast fosters greater occupancy at higher rents, with better selling and resale values.
* Life long comfort: Ceilings and floors made of precast offer some of the lowest sound transmission available in building material, making noise complaints disappear. The buildings are solidly built, fire resistant and decay-proof.
* Low maintenance cost: The highest form of quality construction offers escape from leakage, seepage, cracks, atmospheric corrosion and so on, minimising the maintenance cost.
Having enlisted the versatile advantages of precast technology, it is important to be aware of its cons as well. Precast technology is highly planning intensive. There is a need for thorough preconstruction planning before it is put into action, as construction of a project involves huge investment, quality and credibility of a given company.