Bhavin Shah, Associate VP (Structures), VMS Engineering & Design Services (P) Ltd.
VMS was founded 50 years ago. The value system established by the founders has helped VMS to sustain, evolve and grow with the changing market, society and economy dynamics. Some of the themes espoused by our founders that have stood us in good stead are: placing client’s interest ahead of financial consideration, academic rigor, research based approach and quality orientation, being the best workplace, team spirit and collaboration, sharing and spreading of knowledge, contribution to the professions, mentoring and grooming of young professionals, ethical conduct and a high level of integrity, standardization of details considering good engineering practices, etc.
There are many research and developments happening across the world for new materials and technologies. In my opinion, our engineers in the country need to appraise the same based on our requirements. There are advantages / disadvantages for a particular material / technology with respect to the project under consideration.
Irrespective of the material used, be it concrete, steel or any other, the design procedure and the fundamentals essentially remain the same. The decision to opt for any of these materials is a call that we take at the time of building of the project with respect to functional requirements, constructibility and maintainability aspects, life cycle cost, etc. In specific cases, all stakeholders involved in the project – owners, consultants, architects, contractors even the maintenance people who are going to use the building are also included in the brainstorming sessions and from these discussions, the best material for construction is decided.
Steel construction is definitely on the rise. Earlier, labor was readily available for RCC work. However, the same is not the case in today’s times, and labor is a scarcity in the market. It is this very shortage that has prompted people to turn to the precast industry and steel industry, both of which are almost parallel and are going in the same direction.
Green buildings are a part of the bigger picture. We are talking about energy conservation, sustainable buildings, etc. more and more. So we ought to keep all these finer parts in control, whatever controls we have, should be exercised so that a particular structure designed becomes energy efficient and kind of a green building.
The complete end-to-end cycle for steel construction may be further explored which starts from conceptualization, design, detailing, fabrication, transportation, erection and maintenance. For speeding up the entire cycle as well as for increase in durability, major areas of innovations may be identified as: usage of BIM technologies, improvement in IS codes, standardization of fabrication details, modular structure approach for erection, exploration of paint/technique for retarding the maintenance cycle, etc. The collective efforts from all stakeholders may accelerate the innovation cycle.
Structural engineering is very vast field. Major criteria for any design of building/structure are for meeting functional requirements, speed in construction, cost optimization, durability, maintainability, etc. There are challenges for optimally achieving all the above mentioned criteria and at the same time finalizing design calculations/drawings in the shortest possible time for initiating the execution activities. Also, in addition to rehabilitation of old structures, retrofitting of existing buildings not designed as per current IS codes is a major challenge. It is required in the country to develop required skillset and manpower for the same.
This, I believe are major challenges for which, structural engineers should gather at one platform, discuss, brainstorm and the data thus collected should be collated and sent to the concerned authority for necessary action to be taken. Basically, there is a need for more communication in the fraternity for true change to actually happen. We are in process of creating such platform through Indian Association of Structural Engineers, Gujarat Chapter.