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ACETECH 2013: Reviewing the Event

ACETECH 2013, which was held during 5-8 December 2013 at Pragati Maidan, Delhi, proved to be a highly successful event. It gave many exhibitors a chance to showcase their equipment, products, services and technologies. Interestingly, this year’s flagship shows were held in six cities, namely Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai. The huge success of the event in Delhi, which gave many potential business visitors an opportunity to scan the products for their high-end projects, can be gauged from the fact that many noted architects, developers, project consultants, designers and engineers visited the exhibition.

InagurationThe event certainly brought to the fore all the latest technological updates, innovative products and prevailing market trends from the industry. A vast range of ceramic products, tiles, natural stone, fittings, bath accessories and many other related items were exhibited at the trade show. During this four-day event, the participating companies were also helped to get acquainted with viable business development strategies. Needless to say, this exhibition gave the attendees an excellent scope for networking.

ACETECH 2013 – Asia’s largest building materials, architecture and design exhibition – started in a spectacular manner in the presence of some of the stalwarts of the architecture and design community. During the inaugural ceremony, speakers and attendees alike were highly energised. Speakers at the event aptly raised the issues and concerns of the construction industry.

The gaiety of the occasion set an upbeat mood for the inaugural ceremony, which was followed by a welcome note. Welcoming the attendees, Mr. Samir Gandhi, managing chairman and managing director, Asian Business Exhibition and Conferences Limited, said, “Since its inception, this event has been on a long and happy note constantly looking forward to the future and forging synergy to keep up with the changing design trends in India… . ACETECH has proved itself as one of the most ambitious exposé in a league of its own. Across the four days of ACETECH 2013, Delhi, you all will witness the best brands and products across 22 segments along with the winners of the first ever edition of the ace TECH design wall.”

The inaugural speech was delivered by Dr. K. Ramamurthy, CEO, Emaar MGF. Commenting on construction industry, he said, “The privilege of being at the centre of a dynamic industry – an industry that is the second largest employment generation sector in India after agriculture – overwhelms me. I congratulate The Economic Times for organising ACETECH 2013. This event’s emphasis on promoting innovative products, services and technologies outlines not only the ethos of Emaar MGF, but also the industry’s needs. The criticality of the right product and service innovation has a direct bearing on cost, quality and timely delivery. As you all know, real estate contributes to round about 6.3 per cent of India’s GDP. With FDI in the sector expected to touch somewhere around $25 billion in the next 10 years from the current level of just $4 billion and the expected real estate sector’s revenues to touch around $180 billion by 2020, sector predictions are definitely on the upswing. The sector’s progress is driven by factors such as rapid urbanisation, a growing trend towards nuclear families, positive demographics, rural-urban migration, ever developing infrastructure, higher levels of income and housing demands. Recent impetus in the form of steps taken by the government such as 100 per cent FDI in the construction development sector, FDI in retail and the likely coming in of the Real Estate 2000 Bill are clear signals of the urgent need of regularising this high-value sector. “

1“The Bill as approved by the Union Cabinet is a pioneering initiative in the delivering uniform regulatory environment to protect the consumer, to help quick verdicts of disputes and to ensure systematic growth of the sector. Now look at the four sub-sectors – housing, retail, commercial and hospitality – all of them are represented here in a smaller or larger measure. These must gear themselves to meet market opportunities while addressing issue of quality and delivery. Our success comes from timely delivery with assured quality. Our reputation too will depend upon the quality assurance we give to our work and how we manage timely project execution. All these call for committed leadership with an emphatic focus on the customer.

“The importance and relevance of talent in our sector has never been as high as it is today. Having the right team for efficient project management is of paramount importance. Success in the industry depends upon people, processes and strategies backed, of course, by passion and professionalism. If these are in place, robust project management can help ensure 100 per cent customer satisfaction, which is essential to the industry’s growth. For efficient project management, we need to invest in the training and development of our prime assets, that is, our engineers.

“We at Emaar MGF continue to embrace global best practices that set benchmarks in development, offering a life style that can dramatically improve the quality of residence – especially the ones in the city. It’s against this backdrop that we have begun to develop integrated townships in India, which not only offer best residential options for end users, but also promote the walk-to-work ethos. While the integrated township concept may be relatively new to India, Emaar enjoys the benefit of drawing upon the global legacy of MGF Dubai, which has to its credit developed large townships not only in Dubai, but also across the world.

“I take pride in saying that in all real estate projects, we have decided to focus on offering global quality, design and architecture and the timely delivery of all these. In this mission, we are trying to create new paradigms in design development projects and wishing to give sufficient amount of time to planning before the start of construction… .”

Addressing the attendees, Mr. Dikshu Kukreja, principal architect, C.P. Kukreja Associates, said, “What we see in the industry today is that we have various state-of-the-art products and international brands before us. When we as developers and architects dream of a project, we know that it is possible to launch it in India. But when we look at the projects around us, when we look at the buildings around us, when we deal with the government, we find that all the state-of-the-art stuff we have seen is missing. In most of the government contracts, they seem to focus a lot on penalty clauses. We start with the pessimism that attends penalty clauses. There are penalties for contractors, for vendors, for suppliers, for professionals and for architects. I think there should be penalty clauses for bureaucrats and government officials as well; for the amount of time they take to actually launch a project and the liberty they take in delaying it are invariably unaccounted for. They are not accountable to anyone.

2“In 2008, the chief minister of Delhi announced projects like state-of-the-art interstate bus terminals in Delhi. She was keen on getting them developed before the Commonwealth Games. Our honourable bureaucrats told her that the terminals would be ready by 2010. Sadly, those projects were not carried out. So, there is no question of their ever being completed. The biggest question we need to address is how to get such projects carried out.

“Coming back to the building products we see at ACETECH 2013, this smorgasbord of building materials before us is surely going to inspire us all – both developers and architects – to make building designs, develop integrated townships and launch other types of state-of-the-art projects – works on which international magazines like to do feature stories.”

3Speaking about the need for establishing a connection between Delhi’s green areas and people’s lives, Mrs. Sonali Bhagwati, director, Spazzio Design Architecture Pvt. Ltd., said, “Today’s pedestrian is lost. Gone are the days when we used to walk to places. We used to have areas for leisure walks. Today, we drive to our place of work. However, Delhi still remains a green city. Unfortunately, these green areas are cut off from our daily lives – from the urban fabric. These places are walled and locked, with very little access. As a result, many do not even notice them. You may drive past a huge green sector on a lazy Sunday afternoon – a huge city forest – without realising that you have denied yourself the pleasure of spending some of your time in a green paradise. You don’t realise it because you are on a fast highway and you just see some green trees here and there.

“If we study the green and the urbanised patterns of the city, we would realise that there is an immense amount of green area that is defined but locked. Also, there is an immense amount of green area that is undefined and unfortunately open to encroachment. If these areas are identified, we’ll realise that there is a great deal of connection that we can make. We can actually connect various green areas of the city and form seamless connections that stretch for miles. You can travel for 20 to 30 kilometres without having to negotiate the traffic. This would give a seamless track to cyclists and pedestrians – a track away from busy roads, safe and secure, with no exhaust fumes, something that is attractive and inviting.

4“You need the will and an organisation to establish these connections. The government must go for it. It can do it. Remember that if we create green connections, we can go from, let’s say, Harinagar to Central Ridge or Tuglakabad Fort to City Fort with ease. We could travel for 20 to 30 kilometres on tracks that are completely secure. This would not only decongest the roads, but also provide people with beautiful alternatives. It would energise the green areas as well; it would activate them; it would bring the green fabric closer to the urban tissue, thereby making it more connected; and more and more people will love to use these areas. So, let us get the green areas back into the city, back to us all; and let us make this city a green city, which it used to be.”

Making a few points about the industry, Mr. Anil Saraf, chairman, ASF Group, said, “We live in a dynamic world. We are doing everything possible to improve the quality of the infrastructure, the services and the construction we offer. In this sense, all of us need to get aligned with the end customer, who is the buyer. But what I am increasingly finding is that we as sellers, manufacturers, land owners, developers, architects, designers and consultants are constantly out pricing ourselves. This holds good for our products as well. As a result, we make a huge dent in the true demand potential and the true growth potential of our business. We generally think that if the going is good, there is no harm in hiking the prices, starting from our products and raw material to every other thing connected to our business. Some of this tendency is a product of inflation and genuine price rise – factors beyond our control. But by and large, we tend to out price ourselves… . Developers and stake holders of this industry must not out price themselves. Also, we need to focus more on quality. The challenge is to show consistency in quality.”

Mr. Navin Raheja, chairman, Raheja Developers Limited, also attached importance to quality. Speaking at the event, he said, “We need to achieve quality and fast growth. We should be in a position to live up to our customers’ expectations.

“We tied up with Arabtec and ECC and became stakeholders in their Indian branches. It so happened that one of the representatives of these companies visited us and after taking a look at our projects, said, ‘Are you living in the 1950s or in the present world? His comment made us stand up and rise up to the latest requirements of the work. From that time on, my son and I have been trying hard to integrate the latest technology with construction processes. Most of us in this industry do not spend enough time on finding the right technology – how to construct houses; how to construct roads; how to develop infrastructure. The world has reached a stage where one puts the drawings on one side and manufacturing of buildings begins on the other side. They are so prompt. But we usually face issues such as unavailability of workers and delays. We take very long to carry out a project. In brief, we are still living in the old familiar world.

“So, our first requirement is that our designers need to know how to design with the latest technology in mind. Then we need to find out what technology is currently available. Next, we should find out how to conduct skill development based on the intricacies of the new technology. We also need to know how we should go about procuring the machines and systems required to employ the new technology. Also, we need to decide upon their productivity parameters… . We need to catch up with the rest of the world. We should know how to integrate computers with our lives – that’s what the new generation wants. We should be able to integrate our computers with our houses. We need to understand the present requirements and try to keep ourselves abreast of the developments taking place in the industry worldwide. The aspirations of the new generation are high when it comes to finishes, the presentations of complexes, of cities. Unfortunately, we still consider the parameters that were prepared more than 60 years ago. We still have the National Building Code of India (NBC), the Punjab Scheduled India Act and the same old books on construction. We ignore the current requirements. Are we constructing houses, commercial structures, infrastructure, etc., according to the actual requirements of our customers or according to the books we have read? Planners must look at their larger master plans and the constraints – constraints related to Airports Authority of India clearances, to environment sustainability, to safety or parking. These parameters should be defined and put online. Also, we should let people decide what they need. Do not let those books dictate the terms to you. We also need to ensure that nothing holds us back from carrying out our projects; for unnecessary delays lead to higher cost and greater frustration. We have to adopt a new approach to construction… .”

Colarge

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