Enabling Efficient Construction Through Software Solutions
Regional Director, Trimble Solutions India and Middle East
CECR: What are Trimble’s products? And how is the construction industry benefitting from them?
Paul Wallett: We have a fairly massive portfolio of solutions for the construction industry. I will comment in respect to the division that I manage, which is Trimble Buildings, and within Trimble Buildings we have various franchises, such as Architecture, Structures, MEP, Contractors, and Real estate owners/operators. In addition, outside of Trimble Buildings we have a few other business groups like Geospatial and Civil Engineering Construction that also have very competent solutions for the Buildings and Construction industry. For now, I’ll just focus on the Trimble Buildings portfolio. Our flagship solutions, which are quite well known in the market, are the Tekla suite of 3D modelling BIM solutions. Within Tekla, we have different verticals of the market, like the steel fabricators and detailers, and our solutions for this audience have been around for a good 20 odd years. Then we’ve got the Precast solution, the Cast-in-Place solution for general contractors, and finally we have an Engineering vertical as well. While Tekla structures is the Modelling and Fabrication platform, on the Engineering side we have the Tekla Structural Designer, which takes care of the analysis and design of all structural components, be it steel or concrete. And then there is one of the solutions, which is more of a calculation solution, called “TEDDS”, it is the Technical Engineering Document solution. So all of these solutions are just within one portfolio, which is Structures. Besides that, in India we have another franchise which is GCCM - General Contracting and Construction Management. Within that portfolio we have a number of solutions: Vico - a scheduling and cost management platform, which uses location-based estimation and cost management and then we have Project Sight, which is a cloud connected solution, where on site people can locate commissioning, errors, and documentation to manage those. From the innovation side we have Holo Lens, which is an immersive technology, mixed reality for some; it can project the actual digital construction into the site and that is an innovation for which we partnered with Microsoft to develop these special tools. So, these are some of the core solutions that we market from our India operations.
CECR: What is the need for the industry to migrate from BIM to Constructible BIM? How would it help to speed up the existing construction processes?
Paul Wallett: BIM as a term has been around for about 5-7 years now, and there are different levels of development of BIM. So typically, engineers and architects would be at a “lower level” of development, where they usually start out with a general concept design, which could be on an architectural platform, and could also be on outsourced solution. For conceptual design, we have possibly the world’s best tool named SketchUp Pro, which is a solution owned by Trimble. However, BIM’s application is limited to space design, general design, positioning of openings, putting in the interior finishes and so on. Therefore, the level of information with the BIM that has been around for some time is more on the high level design before it moves down to the engineering level where member sizes are put in. For example, is it a structural concrete component, is it precast, is it structural steel? Then the next level down would be developing member sizes with connections, so we start to get to a deeper level, in terms of the understanding of the collaboration, where everything fits together – where the particular connections of details are and subsequently, you’re into a certain level of fabrication that will then be handed over to the manufacturers.
With the sub contractors, it depends with respect to the construction type. Is it Cast-in-Place where people are laying the rebar, pouring the concrete and building formwork or its Precast, which is pre-manufactured columns, beams and other units, then shipped to site and put together as a building? Is it structured steel fabricators, wherein again pre-fabricated elements are bolted together. In essence, constructability is really making sure that everything fits together on site while minimizing all the errors and of course speeding up the whole construction process. So the initial engineering level is a lot less detailed but to execute the construction you need our solutions so that you to have a product, which will be as good as it gets at the end of the day. Trimble inherently is looking at construction from a digitization point of view, taking construction into a virtual world (as-built) and then trying to get that back to the site in the same format.
CECR: What is the latest technology from Trimble, which can be employed for Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Housing for All’ initiative?
Paul Wallett: It really depends upon what type of construction ‘Housing for All’ will be using. It could be any of the three different types of construction, i.e., either Cast-in-Place, or Precast or Light material engaged framework, it depends on the design and what is most optimal for the conditions, and of course the most optimal time as well. While we have credible solutions that can fully cater to the needs of ‘Housing for All’ initiative of the Govt, the point is that how do we enhance the process. How do we get information from the office to the site and back to the office? Supporting that objective, there are the cloud-based applications that we have such as ‘Trimble Connect’. This is a solution where we connect all the different stakeholders and projects live, online. Information can be sent through a mobile device, I can open up the project that I am working on from my smartphone or tablet, and from there (without having the need for paper), I can be on the site opening up the 3D Model of the construction that I am working upon. We can now actually share live-updates of the data, therefore if something is positioned or installed on site, we can click on a mobile device and say that this is installed, and it would synchronize via the Cloud. So when we look at just in time construction, let’s say in the scenario of precast construction, and we are shipping all the precast elements to site, we can be clicking and saying that this material has been received on site, or this item is damaged. Post that, we can immediately synchronize back to the office and then to the plant, to say that this piece is damaged and needs to be replaced. So it is a lot of different technologies and a Cloud based collaboration platform enables us to pass information instantaneously so that we can communicate on how we are going about the construction process.
“What we are trying to basically create is an ecosystem – an ERP for engineering construction, like there is an ERP present in the business app, this is more about creating an ecosystem which takes care of construction industry’s end to end needs.” Here in conversation with CE&CR.
Mr. Harsh PareekCECR: India is a country which makes huge jumps when it comes to adapting new technologies. Considering that, how do you see the Indian Construction Industry reacting to Trimble’s new technologies?
Regional Sales Director,
India & SAARC Region
Harsh Pareek: When you look at construction, how it is happening now – there are three key stakeholders: first, the one who conceives the idea of creating a shape, which is an architect, the second person is concerned with how this shape is going to withstand loads, and they are the engineers, and as Paul said, the third person is somebody who is going to create, which the building contractor. Automation is the need for the market because in the last 20 years, the construction industry has had a fairly fragmented approach, especially in India. And now with the new regulations, such as RERA and other regulatory mechanisms, there’s a very clear mandate and demand on the Construction Industry’s and its ecosystem to bring in transparency of a much higher order. There is no way that they should not adopt the forward looking technologies, especially Trimble solutions as they connect all the stakeholders to the ecosystem for higher efficiency. And secondly, wherever we talk about construction for ‘Housing for All’ – a lot of precast construction is happening in that space. People are setting up their workshops, we have already seen a huge amount of interest from new precast fabricators, even as the existing ones are expanding and setting up additional workshops. Even big construction firms are migrating towards manufactured construction instead of the conventional onsite construction.
CECR: How do you identify the needs of your customers to improve upon the Trimble products? And how often are the products re-designed?
Harsh Pareek: We only look at how we can make our customers more profitable and the profitability comes with time and proficiency provided to their people. If we are able to provide these two things to our customers, I think we are able to ensure that our core objectives are met, and this helps us build even more thoroughbred solutions. The second question is about countrified solutions, and a lot of things are already being countrified by the local Indian development team. We have most of the catalogues already available to our systems for most of the manufacturers who provide the solutions and services in India, for example the steel manufacturers I talked about. And as the need arises, and things evolve, we are very much open for customers’ demands and requirements to make available what meets their requirements best.
CECR: What are Trimble’s plans to develop products in the future, specifically in India?
Harsh Pareek: We are very much committed to create our products according to the local demand here. Our products are global products, and although they serve most of the requirements for the local market, any requirement that is highly localized, we are able to act upon it through our local development team. We are quite open to localize or ‘Indianize’ as needed. As far as new developments are concerned, I believe what Trimble is trying to do is to create an ERP for engineering construction. When you talk about a business ERP application, you look at procurement, how you manage labour, basically how to optimize everything. Similarly, at Trimble, we are basically trying to create an ecosystem, an ERP for engineering construction, as I mentioned - from concept, to fabrication to optimal utilization of the space that we operate in.
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