Saturday, January 16, 2021

Precast Concrete

The plus factor

Precast concrete is increasingly becoming ubiquitous in real estate projects across the country mainly on account of the enormous benefits it offers constructors. CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES reports   

India’s real estate skyline has changed dramatically over the last decade and half thanks to increased urbanisation and a growing emphasis on all round infrastructure development.

With cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Pune out growing their former limits and increased demand for constructing new structures – residential and commercial like hotels, offices, malls and SEZs – the challenges of building them are huge particularly in the light of requirement of delivery of enormous volumes.

While a majority of the projects taken up are delivered through conventional construction techniques precast technology has already begun to leave its impress across the country owing to a combination of urgency in terms of shorter timelines of construction which reduces cost in the sector, as also its efficacy.

Prestressed and precast technology process involves casting concrete in a reusable mould, then curing it before transportation to the construction site where it is appropriately placed and positioned.  What is remarkable about the technology is that precise casting of concrete under controlled circumstances ensures adherence to the highest international standards of safety and production. This goes against the conventional grain of construction which necessitates the pouring of standard concrete into specific forms onsite – an effort which lacks uniformity and quality control which precast technology affords. Assuredly precast technology has found growing popularity globally where it is used for residential, commercial projects and public projects like bridges, flyovers, dams, canals and in the manufacturing sector.

Currently in Europe, United States and the Middle East region up to 80 per cent of structures are constructed using prefabricated concrete elements. In India, rapidly urbanising, precast is now beginning to find acceptance as the challenges of building mammoth projects and individual structures on urgent timelines increases.

For real estate developers and constructors precast is also increasingly becoming a practical option because of its cost effectiveness, environment friendliness – it reduces energy consumption and subtracts from the waste and dust on site – and in ensuring longevity of the structures where such technology is employed.



For an India in which housing is a major issue precast concrete can produce wonderful and quick results mainly because of its ability to deliver greater volumes of structural construction which would be well nigh impossible through the conventional building route which requires a lot of labour. In the latter case project management becomes complicated in terms of speed and quality of the construction. Using precast hugely subtracts on the cost of construction labour and maintenance, ensures seismic resistance and for the developer ensures a quick financial turnover.

With the emphasis shifting to quality in construction and shortage of skilled manpower precast concrete could well show the way.  It therefore needs to be underlined that precast must be exploited to the fullest by construction communities in India’s growing urban space through careful planning and designing. It is ideal for large scale projects.

Admittedly there is inevitability about the prospects of increased usage of precast concrete technology as India marches ahead with its ambitious construction exercise particularly to address requirements in the low cost affordable housing segments. Precast concrete technology can be used to construct compact sized apartments. Developers can implement the projects in two ways – site based precast plant and dedicated precast plant according to their economic convenience.

The first is a good value proposition because it saves excise duty which factory made precast components attract. However adopting the second option, a site based plant, necessitates sufficient construction volumes to justify the initial installation costs. Further onsite plants have lesser efficiency than regular state of the art plants.

Buildings using precast concrete use a load bearing – cross wall frame – type of construction thus eliminating in the process ugly looking columns and beam offsets inside the compact confines. In the case of flooring the slabs could assume the form of solid reinforced precast units of the size of a room(this, in the case of site based plant) resting on load bearing walls thus obviating the need of structural topping. Meanwhile for dedicated precast plants precast planks of a certain size would be required in the light of difficulties in conveying it to the construction site.



Precast concrete concrete find applications over various segments of real estate. In the case of high end condominiums they reduce the need for load bearing walls and thus contribute to the interior layout of the apartment becoming more flexible and attractive from the point of sale. Usage of decorative precast walls or spandrels on the exterior makes the building more attractive in terms of elevation treatment.  Further in the case of structures like hotels and hospitals which require large column free space – to accommodate restaurants, dining rooms, operation theatres and waiting halls – precast portal frames at the ground floor to support the load bearing walls of the larger super structure could be employed effectively. Precast pre-stressed hollow-core slab units offer the best solution for commercial buildings which are largely column beam framed structures requiring large column free areas with floors large span load carrying capacity.



  • Hollow core roof slabs: These are lightweight and spanning long spans – standard width 1200 mm and depths ranging from 150-300 mm – and can be used for any kind of construction where speed and efficiency is the key requirement. These subtract from the need for shuttering works at site.
  • Beams: These are suitable for usage in commercial and residential real estate, marine jetties, and pedestrian bridges.  Beams cover a wide spectrum with multitude of applications like spine, edge and for balconies.
  • Retaining Walls: Precast concrete retaining walls are walls that span vertically between supports, such as the basement floor and ground floors in buildings, or walls spanning horizontally between columns. These are used to prevent the ingress of water and to retain materials like soil 
  • Boundary Walls: A wide variety of wall panels are used in residential and commercial estate including educational institutions and office buildings, are easy to maintain and sometimes constitute an architectural requirements.
  • Façade Panels:  These panels can be heat and sound insulative and are available in various sizes and shapes.


Concrete trends

A new Timetric report on the global concrete and cement market offers a glimpse of the key trends and opportunities through 2018 Asia-Pacific was the largest regional concrete and cement market, accounting for 61.1per cent of the global share. Europe and North America were the second- and third-largest regional markets, with respective shares of 18.9 per cent and 11.1 per cent. Growing economies in the Asia-Pacific– particularly China, India, Japan and Indonesia – are expected to support the expansion of the concrete and cement markets, and increase their market shares as the rapid development of the infrastructure, industrial, residential and commercial sectors increases demand for building materials. The shares of the European and North American markets are expected to be 17.6per cent and 10.0 per cent respectively in 2018, down from 18.9 per cent and 11.1per cent in 2013, while the Asia-Pacific is forecast to increase its share to 64.1 per cent over the same period.


Key Highlights

  • The Asia-Pacific prefabricated buildings market recorded a review-period CAGR of 15.94 per cent, outperforming all other regional markets. China contributed the most in the region, holding the largest share of 45.0 per cent, followed by India, Japan, and Indonesia, which constituted respective shares of 5.0 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 2.4per cent.
  • The European concrete and cement market covers the markets of 26 European countries. Russia held the largest share of the market, with 3.7 per cent, followed by France, Germany, Italy and Turkey, with shares of 2.5 per cent, 2.2 per cent, 1.9 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively. The remaining countries captured shares ranging from 0.02 per cent to 1.2 per cent, demonstrating the diverse market dynamics within the European region.
  • The US was the key market in the North American concrete and cement market, as it accounted for an 84.4 per cent share of the market in the same year. The construction industry's demand for concrete and cement, however, declined as a result of the recession, causing the total North American concrete and cement market to record a CAGR of 3.54 per cent during the review period. The market is expected to post a CAGR of 4.06 per cent over the forecast period.
  • In Latin American concrete and cement market, Brazil accounted for the largest share (58.9 per cent), followed by Mexico, Argentina and Colombia with respective shares of 21.4 per cent, 10.7 per cent and 9.0 per cent. The Latin American market registered a CAGR of 6.04 per cent during the review period, and is expected to record a CAGR of 4.30 per cent over the forecast period. Brazil is anticipated to be a key source of the demand for concrete and cement in Latin America over the forecast period.
  • The Middle East is the smallest regional market for concrete and cement. The UAE was the largest market in this region, accounting for a 48.5 per cent share, followed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, with shares of 46.4 per cent, 4.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively. The Middle East recorded a CAGR of 1.86 per cent during the review period, and is expected to register a CAGR of 4.85 per cent during the forecast period.


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