India is one of several developing and rapidly urbanizing countries where there will be massive demand for new infrastructure and housing in the coming years. Prefabrication (prefab) and modular construction are poised to provide perhaps the most viable solution for the rapid, cost-efficient, and sustainable construction that will be necessary to meet this demand.
Prefab is a construction methodology whereby components are fabricated at a production site and then transported to the building site for final assembly. Prefab brings about faster completion of a project at a lower cost. This is exactly what India needs to meet the requirements of its increasingly urban population.
India’s Infrastructure Needs
It’s estimated that by 2050, India’s urban population will swell by approximately 416 million people. This will require India to build the equivalent of a large city comprising both residential and commercial space each year. This level of building construction just cannot be sustained by traditional building methods with their heavy reliance on manual labor.
However, this is beginning to change with the production of modular prefab buildings. One company called KEF Infra (KEF) is leading this development by successfully integrating design, engineering, and fabrication to produce building kits ready to be assembled right out of the box.
Kef Infra – Build it Before You Build it
KEF Infra One is a prefabrication plant located near the town of Krishnagiri. Here, houses, hospitals, and cafeterias roll off an assembly line, along with premade furniture and fixtures such as doors, windows, and bathroom components. KEF aims to build in half the time compared to the traditional way of doing things.
The company estimates that India is looking at a need for twenty million homes and three million hospital beds over the next five years. There’s just no way to achieve this without innovations in building practices. Here are some examples of how prefab construction in India aims to meet this massive demand:
- Canteens – KEF’s highest-profile project has been the construction of over 400 semipermanent cafeterias (canteens) delivered to Bangalore in 2017. The canteens are served by a network of attached kitchens and provide approximately 200,000 people per day with inexpensive meals.
- Schools – Using its prefab and modular techniques, KEF has been able to design, manufacture, and assemble new schools in just a few weeks. One Indian state has now opened 1,000 government schools produced in this way.
- Homes – KEF is heavily invested in the prefab construction of affordable residential buildings. Amazingly, prefab homes can be assembled on site in under three hours.
- Hospitals – KEF’s 500-bed hospital in Calicut was built in just eighteen months, at a per-bed cost of approximately one-quarter less than for hospital construction in the US.
The Future of Prefabrication
The future of the Indian construction industry belongs to prefab. KEF is working on its “E Home Project” whereby people will be able to design and order a home online. Potential homeowners will be able to choose from about fifty different designs including two, three or four bedrooms and single or double story. KEF is demonstrating that the dire need in India for rapid deployment and assembly of buildings can indeed be met with prefab techniques.