:: Seminar1
Seminar on
Cost Effective Construction and Management
15.9.2008 Inaugural Address
Prof. S.Muthukumaran

I am indeed happy to associate myself with this seminar this morning, mainly because the first research project I did in the Public Works Department in 1953 was on ‘How to construct a dwelling in a budget of Rs. 1000’ The cost effectiveness is a concept with which I was associated soon after I joined the department in 1952. I am also happy that you have chosen a topic of relevance, as with increase in population and consequent increase in construction activities, cost becomes more important.

The broad components of construction project may be the following:
* Land * Structures * Roads * Other infrastructural facilities like schools, hospitals etc. and * Water supply and sanitary arrangements.

The cost of the construction project will be the sum total of the costs of all these components. However the concept of cost effectiveness of the project may embrace not only the initial cost of construction but also the cost of maintenance of the project while in operation.

As such the owner of the project may have his own perception of cost effectiveness. The perception may be one or more of the following:

• lowest construction cost • lowest operating and maintenance cost • longest life span • the greatest percentage return on the investment • the occupants or users are most productive and the like.

Therefore conceptually cost effectiveness may mean different things to different owners and it may not be possible to state and determine a truly cost effective structure or project. In general it may be said that the true cost effectiveness may be based on the initial cost as well as the cost of maintenance and the benefits that may accrue during the entire economic life period. Thus in a discussion on cost effectiveness the following may require consideration:

* land utilization * planning and management * design * construction techniques * economic life time * maintenance.

The foregoing items may also be expressed as:
• maximizing the usable built up space for given land area • minimizing the time of construction and maximizing the use of space created • adoption of economical structural systems, proper analysis and design of roads and other infrastructure • use of local materials, making the same available in time • the structure as a whole to be long lasting and • the project requiring least maintenance and operating expenditure such as dependence on natural lighting and aeration thus saving on lighting and air conditioning. There are also other benefits that cannot be quantified or expressed in monetary terms such as aesthetics, security, safety etc.

Engineering Economy:
Most engineering projects can be carried out in more than one way. The economic study would therefore involve in estimating the differences in the economic results between the alternative options in executing the engineering project. The economic study may need the following steps:

• defining the objectives • identifying the different possible solutions to meet the stated objectives • estimating the cost of each alternative taking into consideration all aspects including the time involved in construction during which period there is no useful return from the investment.

Economy through Design:
Proper analysis and design of structures will result in economical structures by reducing the conservatism which exists in approximate methods. With the availability of computers and software tools for analysis, even complex structures can be analyzed accurately in less time. Rational design methods like limit state method of design will ensure that the capacity of the material is fully utilized with appropriate safety factors. Indian standard codes of practice are being periodically revised incorporating the latest knowledge for estimating loads and design methods. The use of these standards will not only ensure safety but also economy.

Economy through proper use of methods and construction techniques:
While selecting the materials for construction, preference should be given for use of locally available materials which will be economical when compared to materials brought from long distances, since transport cost is increasing day by day. Use of local materials will also make construction easier with local labour. Use of locally available industrial wastes like fly ash, blast furnace slag etc. in concrete will reduce cement consumption and also cost. High volume fly ash concrete is nowadays used in many places with up to 50 or 60 % replacement of cement.

Introduction of ready mixed concrete will result in cleaner construction sites and better quality besides being economical. Time is money. By adopting prefabrication techniques, construction time can be considerably reduced. Quality of construction can also be substantially improved.

Housing is one of the basic needs.In Tamil, it is said that the basic needs are unna unavum, uttukka uddaiyum, irrukka idamum. i.e. food for eating, clothes to wear, a place to live. Thus the quality of life is enhanced by the availability of adequate and appropriate living space. With increase in population the need for housing is increasing. The growth of cities is also faster than the growth of population as far as this country is concerned. As such with time, the shortage of housing is increasing. This situation calls for a construction revolution. Such a revolution may be made possible by prefabrication techniques.

In prefabrication the units of the structure are produced in controlled manner in a factory, transported to the work site and assembled. The advantages are speed, reduction in cost by disciplined use of materials, higher productivity, and good technical control, maintenance of quality, better design, cleaner site, and better working condition for the workmen and above all, construction can proceed without interruption irrespective of weather condition at site. The disadvantages are the precast concrete members may require larger quantity of steel to meet the stresses in transport and the free end conditions; care has to be taken in joining the components and the need for larger initial capital investment.

Concluding Remarks:
More recently there is a thinking on eco-friendly construction which will take into consideration energy and water efficiency, rain water harvesting, site ecology, provision of green areas, enhanced indoor air quality, effective waste disposal and recycling, keeping windows open at sunrise etc. During the course of the day, you will be hearing lectures from experts and have the opportunity to discuss on the various issues of cost effectiveness in planning and management, design techniques, construction techniques, construction materials, etc. I do hope you make the best use of the same. With these words, I have great pleasure in inaugurating this seminar and wish you all a fruitful day and a bright future.


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