Pulin Trivedi
Pulin Trivedi, GM, Building Solutions, Tata BlueScope Steel, in a discussion with Maria R, elaborates on why PEBs are gaining increasing attention in the Indian construction landscape

What kind of shift are you seeing from the conventional system of construction to the pre-engineered system in India?

The ‘Make in India’ campaign and Smart City development initiatives, have triggered a sustained demand for infrastructure from all sectors in our country. The shift has been a gradual one especially towards smart steel-based pre-engineered building solutions with a quick turnaround time, which offers faster return on investment.

Tata BlueScope Steel, through its new age technologies, has successfully converted the Indian mindset from traditional to non-conventional construction methodologies. At present, 33% of the Indian construction industry is PEB-based, while the remaining 67% is conventional construction.

Compared to masonry construction, PEB construction is 30 to 40% faster, resulting in cost saving and a greater overall ROI. Strength and sustainability make a pre-engineered building gain advantage over its non-conventional counterparts.

A steel structure is not only economical but also eco-friendly as steel conforms to the green standard specifications world over, and the reason why PEB has become an important consideration within the construction fraternity

Pulin Trivedi
Tata BlueScope Steel

PEB structures have a longer life since they are termite, insect and fire-resistant, and can withstand rigors of terse environments. Hence, environmental degradation is minimal while erecting a PEB. These are the some of the reasons why PEB’s are gaining attention within the Indian construction landscape.

Long seen as industrial buildings and warehouses, PEBs are now finding application in multi-storied buildings, metro rail stations and stadiums. What advantages does a PEB offer?

Need for speed is critical for a swift project delivery and optimised construction cost. PEBs, therefore, are no more restricted to warehouses and are finding takers from other segments too, such as Manufacturing, Automobile, Large Commercial Spaces, Oil and Gas Industries, Infrastructure Segments like Metro Stations, Airport Hangers, and most recently the High-Rise space, and for any building/structure looking for a quick and quality turnaround.

Early occupancy and return on investment owing to reduced construction time, with possibilities of large, clear spans and mezzanine floor construction (that maximises space), provide better space consumption for every buck spent per square feet.

Tata BlueScope Steel offers its customers optimum, cost-effective, customized and complete PEB solutions from design, manufacturing, and material supply to project management and erection.

Tata BlueScope Steel

What are Tata BlueScope’s new, innovative solutions for PEBs?

Our innovative BUTLER® and ECOBUILD® systems offer customized pre-engineered steel buildings, designed for strength, durability, longevity, and sustainability. BUTLER® is a premium, globally renowned engineered steel building solution with MR 24 roofing system that carries a 10-year leak-proof warranty.

On the other hand, ECOBUILD® is a cost-effective, contemporary building system that offers tailor-made solutions to match various designs, functions, sizes and a host of segment specific requirements. Large clear spans upto 85 meters optimizes functionality of the structure. Aesthetically superior roofing systems made from high strength COLORBOND® and ZINCALUME® steel addresses specific architectural requirements.

Our multi-storey structural system under the BUTLER® System offers cost-effective and high-performance solution for high-rise buildings enabling faster design, manufacturing and installation as compared to any conventional RCC building. The practicality of a rigid frame with virtually unlimited design flexibility, enables signature styled architectural structures that last long.

Our construction capabilities are derived from BlueScope Steel, Australia’s best practices that are renowned and implemented globally. BlueScope Steel has always been a leader in Construction Safety where Zero Harm is the number one priority. So far, in India, we have clocked 7.8 million LTI free man-hour on our sites for numerous MNCs and Indian companies.

Going forward, do you think PEB construction could be made more affordable and a viable option for constructing low-cost housing?

Over the last one year, we have witnessed a steep rise in the raw material pricing, which has affected PEB pricing as steel is the major constituent. With the introduction of GST, the cascading effect of taxes is eliminated, and taxation has become uniform in all states.

Going forward, we anticipate that PEB construction would be more affordable as a low-cost housing option, the main reason being quality and early occupation of the premises. Customers are more discerning now and are aware that low cost does not always mean superior performance. Moreover, PEBs have more advantages than conventional RCC structures such as faster construction with early occupancy, early return on investment, optimal design flexibility and aesthetics, and low foundation cost due to optimum foundation design.

Government initiatives like Make in India, allocation of funds for infra development like metro rail, smart cities, hospitals, etc, modernization of railway stations, and initiatives for generating solar energy have been encouraging. The GST regime will further make PEB more cost effective, whereby, the customer would be able to utilize the input credit from a PEB building.

Tata BlueScope Steel

Are there any design standards or BIS code for PEBs?

The Indian design code for steel applies to the general construction usage of hot rolled steel sections. There is no specific code or provision for design of PEB structure currently. The Bureau of Indian Standards should ideally add sections for PEB building designs as these are lighter structures and not all clauses of current code are applicable for PEBs. As of now, we work on clauses based on international codes and as advised by project consultants for the most adequate and economical design of the structures.

Please tell us about a recent, challenging project executed by Tata BlueScope.

We recently undertook building of an airport hangar for DRDO Bangalore through Vishal Infra. DRDO works for the Ministry of Defense in various areas of military technology such as armament, combat vehicles, missiles, naval systems etc. Due to the highly sensitive area of operations, there were a few challenges, besides space constraint in the project site, and the civil work was hampered by rain and slippery ground conditions.

After initial material offloading, it was impossible to further offload the shipment. TBSL advised the team to first address the anchor bolt pedestals on priority along with gravel filling and compaction inside the building area. Parallelly, TBSL reviewed temporary brace plan along with engineering, and subsequently, the safety team decided to start erection of columns with wall secondary members and temporary bracings of steel ropes.

Each column weighed 7MT to 16MT due to the huge, clear span requirement. This allowed unloading space and further offloading, with some space for material shake out. Rafter assembly was taken up within the space available and braced bay erection was started with 5 cranes to safeguard frame from sway, considering 81m clear span.

Yet another space constraint around the building created a hindrance for cladding fixing. So, TBSL advised that wall cladding should be done first, followed by installing the pre-cast walls. Subsequently, TBSL installed drip trims and down spouts. This helped in continuing the PEB work. Similarly, on the other side, TBSL and the glazing façade agency were working continuously on fixing the cladding.

Another example of alternate thinking was introduction of strap to rafter profile for fixing bird mesh under the roof. This helped in avoiding binding the wires mesh with a wire knot at every 1m on purlins. Our team of PEB construction experts helped the customer to overcome the challenges and complete the project within the timeline. 

MGS Architecture October 2018