Innovation in building materials is an ongoing reality in the construction industry, which is largely dominated by invincible technology and knowledge. Following a long construction boom, the construction industry struggled to protect its workers and reopen job sites in the year following the pandemic. The industry has responded to this difficult period by focusing more on innovation, and the coming year is likely to witness further development of automation and technologies that are revolutionising construction as we know it.
New building materials enable architects to better realise their vision by fortifying structures with increased strength, durability, and flexibility. New technologies are accelerating construction growth. Artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are assisting construction companies in eliminating long-standing inefficiencies and low productivity. These groundbreaking innovations have made construction sites safer and workers more productive. It has enabled us to boost productivity, improve collaboration, and take on more difficult projects, says Nidhi Aggarwal, Founder, Spacemantra.
In an exclusive interview with Sanjeev Sinha, Ms Aggarwal talks about the growing need for new building materials and new technologies in the construction industry and shares her business outlook. Excerpts:
How do new building materials prioritise human safety and well-being?
Advancing to the needs of modern times and evolution, innovative designs along with cutting-edge materials and technologies are shaping industries, economies and, ultimately, the future. New building materials can protect building users from hazardous chemicals that can be inhaled, such as volatile organic compounds, or by dust that can be ingested. Being surrounded by natural materials increases the overall well-being of humans in addition to being eco-friendly. Such materials result in a better indoor air quality and safeguard humans from high exposures of toxins that can lead to serious health effects and can affect wellbeing by causing headaches, lethargy, skin and eye irritation.
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How will the rise in raw material costs affect real estate prices?
The rise in raw material prices, such as cement, bricks, and steel, may result in cost overruns for developers. If the trend continues, developers will be forced to pass some of the increase on to home buyers. The price increase will to some extent affect negatively the rapidly-recovering Indian real estate market. Cement prices are being influenced by rising input costs such as coal and crude oil prices. Given that the upward trend in coal prices is expected to continue for some time, developers will face some challenges in the near future. However, the overall industry will still keep seeing a surge in demand.
How improving technology will improve the construction sector?
Today, however, many construction companies are capitalising on the power and flexibility that cutting-edge construction tools provide to industry stakeholders. When it comes to integrating data collection and analysis systems, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been a driving force in real-time tracking and monitoring. 3D printing in construction has resulted in faster and more precise development of complex projects, as well as lower labour costs and less waste. The use of drones and several robotic equipment has also been extremely beneficial. They have aided in extremely efficient tracking and inspection in difficult-to-access areas of the project, resulting in a safer working environment.
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Covid has been disrupting the entire world for more than two years. What has been the trend in demand, supply, and price over the last two years?
Following a period of adjusting forecasts and changing expectations, 2022 has been identified as a year of re-emergence and growth in the construction industry. The pandemic of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the construction industry. Many contractors lacked the financial resources needed to cover employee wages and keep their businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Closures and delays were caused by the pandemic at international factories that manufacture these materials. The Indian market has, however, regained its momentum, and demand and supply are both on the increase now. Buyers are ready to bear price escalation as India looks forward to a robust infrastructure growth.
Supply Chain management is still one of the most important concerns in the Indian construction industry. What is your take on this?
In today’s market, Supply Chain Management usages assist enterprises by assisting them to improve competitiveness, increase profits, and have more control over the various factors and variables within the project. Aside from lowering costs, Supply Chain Management improves relationships with vendors and distributors, promotes effective communication among all project participants, and ensures the project is completed within the time-frame specified. Considering the size and scale of this industry, there is still a large scope of improvement in the supply chain management in the future.
What is your company doing now, and what are your plans for the future?
SpaceMantra is building a one-stop eB2B platform with the aim to consolidate the highly-fragmented and unorganised construction industry. We are strengthening our vendor base by tying directly with manufacturers and brands to be able to offer better prices and product range to our customers. We are working on providing solutions to the long-existing procurement challenges existing in this industry. Our future plans are very progressive and we are looking forward to expanding our customer reach by offering various integrated services that will help them ease out their operational challenges.