With the rising demand of speed of execution in construction sector, site team has become more dependent on skills and experience of foremen and skilled workmen like charge-hand, carpenters, riggers, fitters etc. While on one hand construction sector has become more mature with speed and technology, on the other hand technical competence at site level is diminishing day by day. It has resulted in continuous reduction of design knowledge/ competence required for execution. This aspect is more fueled by aspirations of young Engineers to become “Managers” as quickly as possible. Site Engineers are hardly focusing (or expected to focus sometimes) on technical aspects of execution.
Construction sector as a whole is suffering from lag of technical knowledge and competence resulting in reducing levels of safety and quality in execution.
Basic design knowledge and skills required for a site engineer for day to day site execution like calculation of loads, macro level checking on number of props/ supports required, soil bearing capacity etc. is very much important to ensure safety and quality (maintaining tolerance limits).
I would like to quote an example here during my first project as Graduate Engineer Trainee. It was an Indoor stadium project in Bangalore designed with 440 numbers, 40m long, precast folded plate elements resting on two ring beams. For joining the two folded plate elements, a 200 mm. diameter half PVC pipe was fixed and filled with non-shrink grout as per specifications. One day I was given assignment to calculate quantity of grout required for the entire project. I noted calculated around 275 cum of grout required for the project. However I extended my calculations to the weight of this grout material approximately 700 MT. Since the structure was designed with lightweight folded plate elements, I raised this concern to design department. The grouting work was immediately put under hold as we were told that this may result in serious disaster to the entire structure. Later, a light weight elastic membrane based jointing method was adopted.
With small engineering interventions, we can prevent such occurrences in our work areas and save damages to property and many lives.
I therefore urge Engineering Fraternity that, they must study and practice such design skills to acquire and apply knowledge to ensure safety in their work areas. We are expected to be responsible for structures designed and executed by us throughout its life cycle. To blindly follow the drawings without application of common sense and Engineering competence shall not be encouraged which may result in disasters. On the other hand, technical skills shall be respected and duly rewarded to create motivation and encouragement for young engineers.