“A consultant helps in optimum utilisation of equipment
Rambabu, Director, ConMech Auto Consultants India Pvt Ltd
Have contracting houses adopted the best practices, both
in terms of site mechanisations and the adapt¬ability
of modern practices, especially the vertical movement of man
and material? What positive change can a consultant bring
into this segment? EQUIPMENT INDIA meets up with Rambabu,
Director,ConMechAuto Con¬sultants, and gets some pertinent
answers. Excerpts from the interview.
What is the present status of the vertical movement segment,
which includes the use of cranes for material handling and
hoists for both materials and manpower movement?
The usage of tower cranes, passenger and material hoists,
has been taken up by the corporate contractors for getting
the benefits of using technology. Five per cent of the total
projects are just getting used to the new methodologies of
material handling at the project sites. The builder hoist
is the age -old hoist, which is yet to find more than 50 per
cent acceptance within the contracting fraternity. The use
of fractional tonnage winches is gaining a bit of popularity
but is subject to the applications for custom-made use.
Is there any kind of shift in quality?
The quality is as defined by the manufacturer today. The user
is yet to get too deep into the concept of quality and what
it means to have high quality equipment at the sites. Quality,
again, need not reflect in the high cost of the equipment.
As suggested, the cost should be calculated both in terms
of initial investments and running costs. This would definitely
be a saving in terms of the lifecycle of the equipment.
What are major parameters that determine the selection of
Tower cranes, in most cases, are under -utilised. In some
cases, it has become a marketing tool for the promoters to
let the end user know that they are using high quality equipment
for the construction.
The major parameters for the selection of tower crane are:
• The areas of the structure (Project).
• The height of the structure (Project).
• The volume of the material to be handled.
What advantages can a consultant normally offer to a builder
or a contractor in terms of vertical movement?
The consultant usually comes with a holistic view of the sites.
The consultant can offer suitable equipment for the optimum
utilisation of the equipment at the site. They also look at
alternate methodologies which can bring savings to the site.
The considerations are usually on the inputs of the construction
practices. The features that affect the material handling
• Usages of RMC at the site.
• Practice of rebar fitting at the sites.
• Form work and related methodologies.
• The super structure details.
• The project completion time.
A consultant looks at the site from the surroundings point
of view, which would definitely affect the progress of the
sites. The equipment thus defined should be taken into consideration
vis-a-vis all these parameters ,which should be helpful to
the site progress.
How modernised are the methods in India and what are the
challenges facing the sector?
The top 200 contracting houses of India have, by and large,
adopted the best practices both in terms of site mechanisations
and the adaptability of modern practices. These are the houses
which also have strong financial muscle and are on a buying
spree of equipment. There are corporate houses, who have allocated
Rs 100 – 200 crore for creating their equipment banks.
The change management in view of the said mech¬anisation
is yet to take shape in most of these organisations. Most
of the contracting houses are yet to create a mechanical department
and a central workshop in-house. The scheduling of maint¬enance
is advisable for the benefit of the usages of the equipment,
in view of the productivity.
Safety always seems to be in the back seat as far as the
use of cranes is concerned. Could you throw some light on
the prevailing systems, and how this can be bettered?
The equipment that contractors are buying are in the range
of Rs 15 to Rs 250 lakh depending on the various equipment
that would be put to use in terms of irrigation projects,
power projects, road and highway infrastructure, as well as
the constructions practices of housing and commercial structures.
The owners are still to adapt to a trained operator who can
understand the process of the equipment, the maintenance of
the equipment and the safety methods of the equipment.
Most of the manufacturers have adhered to the safety norms
while designing the equipment and also give a detailed suggestion
of the preventive maintenance schedules.
The consultant would suggest that this high-value equipment
should be under the supervision of a technician or engineer
who understands its electrical / mechanical functioning. Safety
is the outcome of the machine designs, the manufacturing process
and the usage of the equipment. Most of the accidents which
have been recorded in the past decade are due to the abuse
of equipment and the sub-standard practices at the site.
Audit of equipment and safety practices should be made compulsory
for every qua¬rter in terms of usage of the equipment.
The efficient use of equipment to its optimum level, especially
in terms of vertical movement in a site (both man and material)
still seems to be a pipe dream. Your views on how the prevailing
methods can be bettered and some kind of benchmarking?
The usage of the equipment is connected to the choosing of
the right kind of equipment. In our country, there are manufactures
that have been helping the sites with a lot of material handling
equipment, especially in terms of passenger and material hoists.
Most of the contractors are made to believe that the existing
equipment will be more useful as multiple units. Since the
adoption of technology is also new and there is a lack of
cross- reference or the experience from their counterparts
abroad, contractors are forced to buy what is available. Some
of the consultants, who have understood the need and the importance
of the material and the manpower movements at the sites, have
gone one step ahead in suggesting and sourcing equipment and
from developed markets like Spain, Italy and China.
The prevailing practices can be bettered by taking the education
to the architect, structural consultants, the project managers
and the consulting engineers. They are the best people to
adapt to the required changes for the projects.
How do you look at the skill level of operators in this area?
So far, contractors have been using the existing labour by
giving them the additional responsibility of operating the
equipment, too. Most of the time, labour adapts to the process
blindly. In my opinion, the skill sets on a scale of 10 is
today at 2. This leads to the abuse of equipment and could
prove to be a bottleneck in the progress of the projects.
This can be overcome by the manufacturers getting trained
people to handle the operations and also by the preventive
maintenance at the sites.
Do you think some kind of standardisation can be brought
about in this area? How can this be achieved?
Taking in view the project and the budget for equipment, the
consultant should work towards letting the contractor adopt
the technology. If this process is a mature one, only then
can any kind of standardisation or benchmarking be introduced.