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L&T setting innovation benchmarks in engineering and construction

Indian engineering and construction mammoth L&T is setting global examples of tech-enabled operations at the site level

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Industry 4.0 initiatives are among critical components of the overall digital transformation journey for organisations, particularly in the manufacturing space. However, construction and engineering are two other sectors possessing a vast potential for technology adoption. A US$ 20 billion company, L&T is one of the largest conglomerates in India, with business in more than 100 countries. About 70-80 per cent of its revenue is driven from the core industries of construction, engineering and manufacturing.

Sharing an overview of this sector, Sudip Mazumder, Deputy Head – Digital, L&T, says, “According to industry reports, engineering and construction is positioned low in terms of revenue for the last two decades. Technological investments in this sector has been so less, that whatever initiatives we take today seem big.”

For L&T Group, engineering and construction is a major component of its overall business. Of the US$ 20 billion, the revenue contribution from the engineering and construction sector is around US$ 12 billion. The group is actively involved in infrastructure projects in many other countries. For instance, it is building the Dhaka Metro project and a power plant in Bangladesh.

Futher speaking on the challenges and lack of IT adoption in this sector, Mazumder says, “Around 90 per cent of our workforce is at the site, where connectivity is often a big challenge. We focused on going digital at the last mile and connect the machines and workforce. Most organisations today speak about technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain, but our challenge was basic connectivity and we started addressing that. However, we haven’t ignored any technology; we decided to evaluate and experiment with every technology available today.”

He believes that organisations need to retry if technology adoption fails; but when they succeed, they have to scale it up. This approach has led L&T to undertake some of the most unique projects in the India. For instance, L&T undertook crowd management through facial recognition at Prayagraj Kumbh Mela.

“At L&T, we have around 300,000 workmen at the site. Today, at L&T sites, workmen are trained through virtual reality modules. We have also connected our equipment and machinery, which has allowed us to track the productivity and other parameters in real-time using analytics. We have also equipped our site workforce with mobile devices, thereby eliminating paper-based procedures. Interestingly, last year, we saved 4.2 million pages, which is equivalent of 400 fully-grown trees,” he informs.

Tech-enabled accomplishments

  • 12,000+ plants and machinery connected
  • 350+ projects being monitored in real-time
  • 28,000+ workmen connected
  • 26,000 safety harness tagged
  • 6,500 + GPS enabled vehicles
  • 1,65,000 safety and quality forms submitted on mobile devices per month
  • 452 + project sites are using digital applications
  • 235 projects are using geospatial technologies in various applications
  • 18,000 + users are using digital platforms to monitor, submit and assimilate information
  • 4933 tools are tagged
  • 50,000 + workers trained through 65 virtual reality modules

Training and enablement of the workforce is a critical factor for any technology initiative to succeed. Mazumder states, “We realise that if our workforce is unable to use the technology, then our efforts and investments will not yield benefits. Thus, in a first-of-its-kind initiative in the engineering and construction sector, we trained and sensitised our workforce through gamification.”

Using IoT sensors even in complex machinery, L&T has almost increased its productivity two-fold in various cases. In another instance, it has used geo-fencing at the sites and has placed RFID tags on helmets of workers. “This allows to further ensure their safety and track productivity. Ensuring even 30 minutes of enhanced productivity can add Rs 300 crore to the bottomline. Furthermore, L&T is investing in AI-enabled geospatial engineering in a big way,” he comments.

(Mazumder was speaking at the recently organised Technology Senate Bangla organised by
Express Computer)


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