At the 2nd Ci3 India Roundtable held in Mumbai in Feb. 2016, it was decided to formulate specific Action Items that capture the critical industry issues and areas for improvement in the Indian construction industry, as identified at the 1st and 2nd Roundtables. A brief description of the initially formulated Action Items appears below. These items were rationalized and allocated to seven Action Teams
Identify and/or formulate a set of useful KPIs (based on international practices, but adjusted to meet local needs and priorities) for use by a ‘Benchmarking club’ to facilitate focused and regulated data sharing* and continuously improve project level efficiencies vis-à-vis industry averages/ norms.
Formulate 5 year targets to significantly reduce both average project construction costs and overall project time-frames. Note - International studies indicate that significant cost reductions and project time savings can be achieved by restructuring basic project procurement and delivery strategies and protocols, including construction standards, proactive procurement and working arrangements, lean methodologies, labor standards and continuously improving best practices.
Design Practices and Technology Adoption
Revisit design process management, with a view to upgrade design quality, as well as optimize the ‘economics’ of construction and ‘life cycle value’ of the built assets themselves. Note: Both must be targeted together from the design conceptualization stage. An adequate number of concept design alternatives should be evaluated before the detailed design stage, so as to select the optimal approach.
Also: Clients must create the need for awareness of the use and benefits of technology and disseminate the benefits of technology adoption to industry with demonstration projects, cost-benefit case studies, sharing reports etc., including on benefits of Lean Construction approaches, BIM adoption etc. to target overall efficiency and sustainability.
Revisit design codes and strengthen technical inputs (from academia, construction clients, architectural & engineering consultants, construction companies) to the revisions of such codes so that BIS and other code development authorities would realistically update and rationalize relevant design codes to increase efficiencies, while also targeting quality, safety and sustainability of construction processes and the built assets.
Human Capital (including Labour, Technical & Managerial and Skills Development) and Productivity:
5a. Establish the business case for significantly increasing the proportion of direct/ formal workers in a construction project i.e. for quasi-formalization of workforce-on-site to minimize attrition, accidents and delays due to ‘lack of skilled manpower’. Note: Studies indicate that the average construction worker age is 26, indicating absence of experienced skilled workers, while construction work is seen as a ‘part-time’, unskilled profession instead of a skilled, long-term career.
5b. Set stage-wise targets for mandating the proportion of trained and certified direct/ formal workers in a construction project e.g. from 30 % in 2 years to 50 % in 4 years to … in 5 years?). Note: Given the impending demand of skilled workforce and sectoral growth, attracting and retaining talent at all levels from entry-level onwards, is critical. Thus, we need to revisit the popular paradigm of construction manpower requirements being ‘project-based’, from an organizational perspective that aims for an adequate pipeline of projects to move manpower from one project to another within the organization. Thus metrics like % formally trained and certified workforce should be mandated during the tendering and contract finalization stages and closely monitored for compliance.
5c. Improve the overall construction industry image and make it attractive for all talent pools at entry-level as well as for career development. Note: The aspiration of most rural Indian youth is now for ‘decent work conditions, good treatment, respect and potential for advancement’ in addition to pay/ wage considerations. Thus, investing in basic accommodation, food and travel facilities (if need be on deductible basis) like in the Middle-East countries would yield worthwhile dividends.
Also: Up-skill professionals with advanced technologies. Survey existing institutes – eg. PMI, Institution of Engineers, CIDC, Universities. Consider options such as ‘finishing schools’ (‘top-up’) for young graduates with different specializations – in Structural, Geotechnical, MEP Engineering, Construction Management, etc.
5d. Formulate scientific measures for skill levels, productivity, along with benchmarking and linking of wages to skill-productivity levels rather than to government-fixed, minimum-wages. Note: This may provide a more a cost-efficient, viable approach to construction than increasing mechanization purely to reduce manpower needs.
Also: assess the potential benefits of off-site construction (including precast concrete and pre-engineered components e.g. bathroom units) for large projects and project portfolios, where higher skills and a more mature workforce segment can also contribute.
6. Construction Clients’ Charter
Voluntarily subscribe to a ‘Construction Clients’ Charter’ based on which relevant targets would be embedded as necessary conditions in bidding/tendering/vendor selection processes and protocols e.g. in prequalification/ tenderer requirements and selection criteria/ ratings.
7. Ci3 India – Institutional Platform
Set up an institutional platform to enable and propel Ci3 India activities. Given overlapping objectives and thrusts, it was proposed that this initiative can be spear-headed by a Special Task Force of the Institute for Lean Construction Excellence activities. Note: It is envisaged that a Ci3 hub in Chennai would still be needed.