Today we have embarked on a great journey and it’s just the beginning, talking about precast if I have to put it in simple words - we do construction either in cast in situ or precast. Cast in situ is where you do the entire construction at the site, and when you do the construction at a factory, you bring the elements to site and assemble it, its precast it’s as simple as that.
When it comes to infrastructure projects, precast has been in India for decades. Most notable is the metro rail project where the segments are casted at the yard, brought to the site and assembled. When it comes to the housing segment I think we are far away from where the world stands today, especially from the developed countries.
In case of Sobha, if I put it in a filmy andaaz – “yeh toh hona hi tha”, the reason I say that “yeh toh hona hi tha” is because we already have a backward integration model which is in place for the past 15 years, we have state of the art factories where we have metal & glazing, interiors where we make wood products and also the concrete products division. Now, the concrete products division was just a step behind – where we have embarked upon precast technology - we were making the blocks and paver's slabs - all that which goes into constructing the building. So it was obvious that we would be getting into the latest precast technology sooner or later. I am proud and happy that the day has come when we have embarked upon precast technology. We went around the globe in hunt for the best technology because it was important that we bring something that is best in the world and which is apt for the Indian condition. So we finally zeroed down on this technology.
The work started almost one and half year back, because one thing about precast is you have to plan everything in advance, there is a saying in precast that precast revolves around 3P’s - that is Planning, Planning and Planning! When this work started about a year and half back, the first thing we had to do was to identify the best in class plant and machineries. We at Sobha have an obsession with German machineries – in all our factories, primarily, we have German machineries and one of the reasons is - these machines last for life and they consistently produce quality products, so we decided for a company called Vollert. Vollert is from Germany and it’s a 90years old company specializing in precast technology. We also got the best concrete batching plant in the world from a company called Leibherr which is an absolutely state of the art plant.
Once we got all these machineries in place the biggest challenge for us was to integrate all the services into drawing, in case precast doesn’t allow anything retro-fitted. So for last one year our team at Sobha - and that’s again an advantage at Sobha that everything is in-house we have our own team of architecture, own team of mechanical, electrical, plumbing you name it and we have it - we put all these heads together and for the last one year we came out with comprehensive drawing and designing which was meant for this project. After which we identified a consultant from Netherland, who would help us to take these drawings to the shop floor drawings and we also got into collaboration with a company from Singapore as partners in precast.
This one and half year of hard work has finally taken shape and our factory, which is incidentally located at the site at Balagere, is a 75000 sqft of covered area and it has got a capacity which can be scaled. If I have to give you some numbers - almost 20,000 sqft of elements can be produced each day and the beauty of this factory is
- The elements that are made in the factory are: walls, slabs, columns, beams, staircase, sunshade elements – basically everything which goes into constructing the building will be made here and brought to the site and assembled.
- By doing this in the factory, what the customer gets is assurance and consistency in the quality of the building for years. He need not worry about the durability of the structure, the leakage and cracks that you primarily see in buildings because of the usage of bad concrete.
- You get timely delivery because everything is mechanized.
- We can bring the client to the factory and show him/her how a house is built. They can see how the elements are made first hand. They can even touch them to see how they feel.
So the whole idea is that we want to live up to our philosophy of quality, transparency, integrity and that’s where the precast has come handy to us in a big way.
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