AEC Roundtable: The Role of Infrastructure Design in India’s Ambitions

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By Sandhya Michu & Shibul Pavithran

To achieve the goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025, India’s infrastructure segment must play a leading role in our transformation story. With nearly $2 trillion earmarked for investment in road, rail, port, air and other infrastructure projects, the intent is very clear. Today, infrastructure plays multiple roles such as facilitating growth, building resilience and ensuring sustainability. We need to do more projects to support the population with better project results, but with fewer resources available to build those projects. Digital technology becomes the only catalyst that can achieve the best combination of doing better and more, but balancing that with the limited resources we have.

In this context, Express Computer and Autodesk have co-organized a powerful roundtable on “the future of design”, around the theme The future of design: designing and building infrastructure projects that will be relevant in 2050.

The discussion provided a deep dive into the infrastructure ecosystem and discussed key solutions and issues to pivot Infra projects towards a sustainable and resilient future. The hour-long discussion focused on the impact and business outcomes that innovative technologies such as design automation, artificial intelligence and BIM are driving in the transformation of the infrastructure industry in the present and the future.

The roundtable was attended by senior officials from key government departments. RK Pandey, Member Projects, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI); Sanjay Kumar Nirmal, Additional Director General, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and Secretary General, IRC; Pradeep Agrawal, Director, Projects, National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency; Sunil Jain, Senior Principal Scientist, CSIR – Central Road Research Institute and Nikhil Bagalkotkar, Technical Sales Manager – Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) – Autodesk. Sandhya Michu, Senior Correspondent, Express Computer and CRN India moderated the session.

Opening the panel discussion, RK Pandey of NHAI, who is heavily involved in the implementation of the Bharatmala project, which is an important project connecting destinations in the country, said, “The new and renovated infrastructure, which it s be it a road, a bridge, a railway line – should be developed with a vision for the future, a vision that includes multiple layers of smart city technologies, say public and industry experts industry.

He also said, “The infrastructure industry can embrace digital transformation by incorporating advanced sensing and analytics across its entire project and lifecycle to achieve 20-30% increased efficiency in maintenance and the forecasts.

Supporting Pandey’s statement, Sanjay Kumar Nirmal suggested, “We need to build infrastructure for the future, for the next 50 years, not the last 20. Innovation should be a priority not only for the technology itself, but also for the way infrastructure projects are imagined and designed. Digital intelligence could be leveraged to create safe, reliable and resource-efficient urban management. »

While sharing the experience in building the Rural Infra projects and how NRIDA developed an evidence-based IT solution for real-time monitoring of road performance through an IT architecture based on web and mobile applications and systems generating and paying digital bills. Pradeep Agrawal informed. “The NRIDA Chennai based automotive crash test laboratory is state of the art in terms of world class facilities equipped with the latest performance tools and applications in which we track road performance and durability.”

Aggarwal also advised synchronizing infrastructure with long-term rural planning. “Coordinating infrastructure planning with development needs could minimize ad hoc and siled infrastructure decisions,” he said.

Nikhil Bagalkotkar, Technical Sales Manager – Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) – Autodesk

Driving the discussion forward, Nikhil Bagalkotkar of Autodesk shared the context of three major disruptions in the design and construction industry: automation, industrialized construction, and digital project delivery.

He added saying, “Over the past 20 years, the productivity of the manufacturing segment, which is a peer of the construction segment, has increased by 89%, at the same time the productivity of the construction segment has increased from a mere 22%. Much of this is possible due to the change in building methods from what we did 30 years ago to how we build now. We have mostly automated all of our operations, but the process remains more or less unchanged. »

Another panelist, Sunil Jain, highlights the modernization of design and technology in the pavement design concept. He explained how CSIR uses pavement design tools such as PAVEXpress and shared interesting use cases of AI, ML automation and BIM. “Infrastructure should be designed with layers of integration to maximize connectivity, functionality and sustainability for new and existing projects,” he said.

Therefore, Nikhil Bagalkotkar summarized the importance of digital transformation in the design phase. He projected saying, “In the design, we used AutoCAD, which is the de facto name in premier 2D and 3D design and drafting, which has evolved over the years into BIM (Building Information Modeling). In recent times we have also seen an evolution of BIM, where it has really moved beyond the third dimension. Finally, Bagalkotkar explained, “The way digital transformation happens in the ecosystem is through the evolution of BIM from 3D to 5D to 7D and even beyond. “

In addition, he shared his thoughts in front of the audience on sustainable infrastructure, Nikhil Bagalkotkar said, “Sustainable infrastructure is essential not only for the future but also for solving today’s problems. Sustainability is now a mainstay of infrastructure conversations, investments and projects. »

Right after the insightful panel discussion. Vivek Ramesh, Solutions Engineer, AEC, Autodesk India took the floor and gave an interesting presentation titled “The Future of Design in Design and Construction that will be relevant in 2050”. In his showcase-led presentation, he highlighted several BIM and GIS use cases that enable advanced understanding of projects in context, minimize data loss, and reduce inefficiencies.

The conference concluded with defining key directions for the AEC industry that will be most relevant to the industry overall. He highlighted the role technology can play in delivering large-scale infrastructure projects on time, on budget and safely. The growing adoption of BIM adoption, digital transformation and intelligent infrastructure design were among the key takeaways from this unique conference.

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