Greater awareness about raising efficiencies and cutting down costs has gone up over the years as a wide range of technology-based solutions that allow accurate and quick decision-making is available now. Moreover, technological advancement in the form of automation and smart solutions riding on the wave of digital transformation has further accelerated the drive towards enhancing efficiency and cost optimisation of infrastructure projects, says Raj Kumar, Chairman & Managing Director, Rodic Consultants.
Excerpts of the interview…
Why do you think that cost optimisation is critical to the execution of infrastructure projects in India?
Cost optimisation is critical to any project, especially infrastructure projects in India. Infrastructure projects comprising civil engineering works are labour-intensive, thereby creating maximum employment to investment compared to any other sector.
Besides, right from planning, designing, execution, monitoring and supervision, technology plays a significant role in civil engineering projects. A stable design of complex megastructures has been made possible by high-end computers and software. This improves the cost-effectiveness of projects.
That said, cost overrun for infrastructure projects is very common, especially in India. Barring the recent metro rail projects, and some highway and bridge projects, most of the projects face delays due to multiple reasons, leading to cost overruns.
India is at the cusp of a major transformation across all sectors. The fundamental requirement is to build robust infrastructure as the overall economic development of a country is strongly linked to the development of infrastructure. Well-built infrastructure with sizeable capacity is the backbone of any progressive nation.
If infrastructure projects are not delivered on time and in a cost-effective manner, it will halt the overall progress and growth of the country. Apart from completing the projects on time, optimisation is required in every aspect. Better design, judicious utilisation of resources, latest technological inputs and state-of-the-art engineering have to come together to deliver the project. Further, wherever possible, the target should be to deliver the project before time.
Furthermore, all stakeholders must work cohesively and seamlessly for the completion of the projects.
Could you list some of the best ways to ensure cost optimisation in the infrastructure sector?
Infrastructure plays a pivotal role in a country’s development. It is the basic framework that establishes trade, transport, and communication via land, water and air. Expert management of construction is, therefore, crucial to ensure its functionality and longevity. An important challenge for infrastructure projects is cost optimisation or else there may be significant cost escalation.
The best way to ensure cost optimisation is to carefully assign ownership and accountability of the project to a single person. The target should be to complete the project on or before time as it helps in containing costs and setting best practices and standards. A highly motivated team backed by adequate resources is critical for cost optimisation.
Furthermore, better design, judicious utilisation of resources, latest engineering inputs, and state-of-the-art technology should be combined to deliver the project. Detailed investigations and design parameters should be assessed as accurately as possible.
Additionally, it is imperative that proper man, material and equipment planning is done before the start of the project. Also, measures should be taken to minimise the loss of time and resources.
Lastly, risk assessment and evaluation should be done properly so that no eventuality results in a cost overrun.
What is the quantum of saving that can be availed on a big-ticket infrastructure project through the use of solutions suggested by you?
Our technologically-empowered solutions-based service portfolio is designed to drive efficiencies across the value chain of our clients’ businesses. Using the latest, state-of-the-art construction technology, we ensure on-time delivery of quality projects along with operational and cost efficiencies of the highest level. Backed by technical support provided by domain experts and a de-centralised decision-making system, we drive excellence across our business value chain and enable value accretion for our customers. With advisory, project management and detailed engineering and design services, we strive to achieve cost optimisation and on-time delivery of projects, which result in significant savings for our clients.
Having completed 20 years in the market, do you think there is a greater awareness about cutting down on unnecessary expenditure and enhancing efficiencies?
Yes, awareness about raising efficiencies and cutting down costs has gone up over the years as a wide range of technology-based solutions that allows accurate and quick decision making is now available. Moreover, technological advancement in the form of automation and smart solutions riding on the wave of digital transformation has further accelerated the drive towards enhancing efficiency and cost optimisation of infrastructure projects.
What is your opinion on the Central Government's plan to provide a greater role to project management consultants (PMCs) in the execution of infrastructure projects?
Central Government realises that the consultant’s role is of paramount importance when incorporating the latest technical know-how. Given the speed at which these technological advancements are being done globally, it has become even more crucial that the consultant’s role is further enhanced to keep up with the rapid and dynamic technological advancements. A single consultant should be responsible and accountable for everything from design, execution to monitoring and supervision of projects. This will reduce time lags and ensure cost-effectiveness, ensure seamless communication, and, consequently, accelerate the work.
Central Government has also realised that the lack of rigorous risk management right from concept to commissioning is one of the biggest lacunae in handling big infrastructure construction projects. This is precisely where PMCs may play a major role in risk management during a project's entire life cycle. Furthermore, PMCs may play an indispensable role in assisting contractors in employing lean construction principles for productivity improvement.
- MANISH PANT