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Steel Structures: Solutions & Trends

The last issue of the magazine explored new developments emerging in the structural steel industry. As an extension of the story, Buildotech interacted with Anshul Singhal, Director, JSW Severfield Structures Ltd (JSSL). The company, a 50:50 joint venture between JSW Steel Ltd, India and Severfield-Rowen Plc, UK, is bringing in a professional and innovative approach to steel construction in India.

What is JSSL’s unique service offering to the Indian construction industry?

JSSL as an organised player, backed by two large corporate companies (JSW Steel & Severfield Rowen, UK), offers high end products and methodologies at par with international standards to the Indian market. In terms of services, we provide turnkey solution to the client including faster execution of steel structural design, connection design, fabrication, delivery & erection all under one roof. One of our biggest USP is pre-planning before the execution of the project and the technology and resource back up. JSSL is currently working on a number of specialized projects like air traffic control tower at Mumbai airport, multi storey commercial, residential buildings in Mumbai and Bangalore, power plants and largest cold rolling steel mill in India.

JSSL trademark technology and production process

JSSL trademark design software is Indisec which offers design of long span cellular and bespoke plated beams. It can produce optimal designs to suit any structure thereby saving on building weight, foundation cost and providing greater levels of project performance and efficiency. Indisec can design composite and non-composite plain and cellular beams both ambient and fire engineered. It can also deliver physical spaces through the beams for service conduits like air-conditioning ducts, sprinkler systems and electrical wires to pass through thus achieving higher and clean floor to ceiling heights.

Also we employ advanced welding techniques MIG (Metal Inert Gas) for high quality welding connections and Submerged Arc Welding which can weld plates up to 100mm thickness. Unlike site welding done by poorly skilled manpower with no control on quality, the MIG welding done by JSSL is under controlled factory conditions by trained workforce, following strict QA/QC. We have excellent testing facilities like Magnetic Particle Test, Ultrasonic Tests, DPTs, etc., with trained, certified engineers who can test those welds. On site, only bolting connections are undertaken which are pre-designed.

The entire manufacturing facility is similar to a car manufacturing facility as all operations are done by sophisticated CNC machines. Tekla software is extensively used in the production so that the accuracy and correctness of the fabricated members are maintained. This will avoid the manual interference and makes the production process completely automated. This will also facilitate to cross check the bolt holes locations, clash checking, splice accuracy, etc. It is a specialized process and will facilitate the ease of site erection. JSSL employs its own team for erection of the structures with complete safety gears. In such a short span, we have won many safety awards.

What value addition has been brought in by Severfield in the joint venture?

The Severfield Rowen Group is the largest steel fabrication & erection company in Europe with in depth expertise in structural steel work. While JSW provides the raw material and local knowledge and know-how, Severfield’s contribution is to the software technology, production processes, erection and also includes transfer of people skills. Most of JSSL top management consists of expatriates handling major responsibilities. It is a strategic partnership formed three years back, wherein Severfield provides world class structural fabrication & erection expertise and JSW has offered a platform for significant growth in fast developing construction market in India.

What are the reasons for rising popularity of steel structures in India?

Till recently in India, steel construction was associated with industrial buildings. Now, with the rising economy and international companies entering the country, new buildings whether residential, commercial, retail, hospitality or IT parks are all changing in terms of construction and look which is driving the demand for steel structures. Some of the advantages of steel construction are:

Speed of construction: Buildings can be fabricated and erected in half the time as compared to conventional methods of construction. This is a big advantage for developers who save on interest on their investments, commercial buildings that can realize early rentals or for that matter, hotel properties that can garner room revenues sooner.

Lighter construction: Steel being a lighter and stronger material offers the benefit of reduced foundation sizes, resulting in cheaper civil works cost.

Thinner and fewer number columns and longer spans give customers benefit of more usable area. As steel columns are smaller in overall size than concrete columns, within any FSI/TDR they provide more carpet area on each floor of the building. This is a major advantage in commercial buildings.

Sustainability: Steel buildings are completely reusable, 100% recyclable and environment friendly and has a good resale value when demolished.

Challenges and limitations confronting the structural steel industry

The biggest problem in steel construction in India is that of over designing due to non- availability of required section sizes and this is where JSSL brings in its expertise. Engineers are still not exposed to efficient fabrication techniques. There is still not adequate awareness about optimal use of steel structural components based on research and testing among design professionals in India. This limited design knowledge arises from the lack of proper and specialized training available in this field.

The other major limitation is the mindset of the developers, who want immediate execution of the project without understanding the importance of pre planning. The more they plan, the less will be execution time at site.

Currently in India, consumption of steel is much lower than the world average. However, the fast paced urbanization is leading to an accelerated demand for high quality building structures. This offers immense opportunity for growth of steel construction due to its inherent advantages.

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