Prices of all raw materials, land and everything allied with the term ‘Real Estate’ are on the way up. The same goes for people’s expectations. In a country where there is a deficit of housing in the 20 million plus range, construction needs to catch up to the need. Alejandro Morales, Chief Construction Technology Officer, Value & Budget Housing Corporation Pvt Ltd (VBHC) talks about Form Technology which can help faster construction.
Cast in place technology or ‘Form Technology’ allows projects to be completed in a time frame which India needs. Dubai, China and the Middle East have realized this; Dubai for e.g. has up to 40% of use of this technology. It saves numerous man hours, is better in final output as compared to the traditional brick and mortar system and most importantly saves time, thus negating (to an extent) the continuous price rise of raw materials. Additionally, the buyers now don’t have to wait for 3-4 years for their homes to be done thanks to this technology.
Cast in place or forms are pre-fabricated and engineered modules of shuttering panels with a metal frame and thin contact surface, such as aluminium or steel. A series of forms are joined together edge-to-edge and spaced parallel to a second series of forms. As per the structural design, steel reinforcement is placed inside the forms. Wet concrete is poured in this space to make walls, floors and ceilings. After the concrete within the formwork strengthens, the latter can be dismantled. On removal of the formwork, a high quality monolithic concrete structure with accurate tolerance and verticality is produced. The superior (machined) tolerance of the forms gets reflected on the finishes. This means that no further plastering (external or internal) is required.
Furthermore, buildings that use metal forms for cast-in-place structures provide a higher level of performance with greater durability and seismic tolerance as compared to traditional brick and mortar construction. In India, metal forming systems are being used only for very expensive apartments.
After reviewing different forming technologies aluminium forms are seen to be ideal. Aluminium forms have many advantages: High speed of construction, high strength (concrete pressures of 60-85kN/sqmt), quality of finish and durability. Weights of standard forms are a little over 30kg, allowing for ease of handling. Wastage of material with aluminium forming is low. With about 8% of the earth’s crust consisting of aluminium, it is one of the few metals in which the availability of raw materials is literally unlimited. What’s more, aluminium can be recycled repeatedly for the same uses, without losing its unique properties. Besides, recycling requires only 5% of the original energy input (and CO2 emission).
Then there is also implementation of BIM (Building Information Modelling) in which the design is rendered in 3-D modelling. This aids in the planning process by detecting any clash between the architectural, electrical, plumbing and structural design, in the pre-construction stage itself. After reviewing multiple simulations, the optimal model is selected.
Vaibhava in Bangalore, the maiden project of Bangalore based Value & Budget Housing Corporations used this form technology. The township project of over 1900 homes completed its Phase I in 24 months. Phase II has commenced, again promising to deliver in 18 – 24 months. VBHC being in the affordable housing segment, is using a manufacturing approach where in it considers land as part of its inventory and thus looks to hand over flats as soon as possible. Thus ‘Form Technology’ helps align the business objectives with the production objectives. For this, VBHC has partnered with Western Forms (Established in Kansas City, Missouri, USA in 1955), which manufactures and supplies aluminium forms for residential and commercial concrete structures, concrete foundations and cast-in-place concrete walls.
Innovation helps one to ensure better quality, speedy time frame and cost savings. Mechanization of the construction process is an area of opportunity where one can establish a systematic approach to handling transportation, lifting erection of raw materials, assemblies and pre-manufactured components, as well as placing of concrete, cleaning and storing of materials.
VBHC engages leading NGOs to work with the residents to promote sustainable practices like water conservation, cleanliness, sanitation and solid waste management. The company believes that a close-knit and content community, whose feedback and participation are actively solicited and encouraged on an everyday basis, is the cornerstone of a truly sustainable residential development.