Automation and the embrace of technology
India is building up its infrastructure at an unprecedented rate as it seeks to transform itself from an emerging economy into a developed country by 2047. The government, in its recent interim budget announced a 33 percent increase in capital expenditure on infrastructure for 2023-24 amounting to 3.3 percent of GDP. 

At the same time, analytics and research firm Crisil estimates that the country is set to spend Rs 143 lakh crore on infrastructure over the next seven years through 2030, more than double what it spent in the preceding seven years. 

This surge in infrastructure spending is palpable across the nation, with massive projects underway in various sectors. From the bustling metro projects in metropolitan cities like Mumbai to the expansion of crucial highways such as the Pune-Bengaluru corridor, signs of progress are evident. The modernisation of airports, upgradation of ports, and revamping of logistics networks further underscore India’s infrastructural ambitions. Additionally, efforts to develop inland waterways and construct dedicated freight corridors contribute to the comprehensive infrastructural overhaul underway.

The construction sector, being the driving force behind these monumental projects, stands to benefit immensely from this infrastructural surge. The infra push promises to be a windfall for the sector, with only 20 per cent of the infrastructure that will be needed by 2050 currently built. It will make the country the third largest construction market in the next two-to-three years. 

More crucially, it will carry the sector, which already accounts for 9 per cent of India’s GDP and is the country’s second largest employment generator, past the $1 trillion milestone by as early as 2025. This, to be sure, represents a singular opportunity. But, unleashing this trillion-dollar potential will depend, unsurprisingly, on the sector’s embrace of technology.

Promoting growth with technology
Digital technology is drastically changing the way we live, work, eat, shop, consume content, travel, make transactions, and stay connected in our daily lives. Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence (AI), entire industries, from banking to manufacturing, is being upended and disrupted by new-age technology. The same is true for construction. Traditionally reluctant to embrace change, the construction sector is slowly but surely turning to digitisation, robotics, AI and autonomy to address its challenges and unlock a higher level of growth. This embrace of technology is happening on two fronts — on the assembly line and on the construction site.

On the manufacturing front, construction equipment manufacturers are increasingly adopting Industry 4.0 practices to improve efficiency, streamline operations, and enhance overall productivity. They are automating multiple aspects of the manufacturing process such as welding, painting and assembly. They are also using automated guided vehicles (AGV) and mobile robots for material handling and transportation and harnessing the power of computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). These technologies enable the fabrication of automated components and 3D models of machinery, cutting the time and expense of generating parts and minimising mistakes. 

At CASE Construction Equipment, to cite our example, the manufacturing, research and designing process are all aided by automation on various levels. Our Pithampur facility is designed with cutting-edge automation technologies to manufacture superior-quality products. The automation includes robotics welding which gives welding joints superior strength and robustness. This helps in the repeatability of the same welding, minimises human error and maintains consistency in quality. 

Our ultra-modern paint shop uses both Manual and Automated Paint operations providing aesthetically appealing products. It also boasts eco-friendly next-gen technology ensuring that the paint lasts longer. 

Automation in CE industry
Additionally, we use automation in laser cutting, gas cutting, and in our machining centres. Similarly, the products themselves are becoming increasingly smarter and automated. These machines have the ability to function remotely and autonomously, made feasible by the incorporation of cutting-edge communication and artificial intelligence technology within them. Cranes, excavators, and trucks — which are widely used for numerous construction activities — are all being equipped with automated technology. 

The benefits of automation are manifold. Construction sites are inherently dangerous and automated equipment can significantly improve on-site safety, especially of the workers working there. Automation also increases equipment efficiency and removes the need for human involvement during operation, lowering the overall cost of the construction project. It is anticipated that this will increase demand for automated construction equipment over currently available equipment.

Telematics and IoT boost CE efficiency
Telematics and IoT are other aspects of automation that are finding their way in construction equipment. Telematics and IoT give customers real-time data about the performance and operation of their equipment. Telematics in construction equipment involves the use of sensors, GPS tracking, and other technologies to monitor and transmit real-time data about equipment performance, location, and usage. 

Sensors gather this information, which is then sent across a wireless communication network to a central server. Software programmes are then used to evaluate the data in order to provide information about the fuel usage, maintenance requirements, and productivity of the equipment. The benefits of telematics include improved equipment efficiency and productivity, reduced downtime, proactive maintenance, and optimised equipment utilisation.

As India embarks on this transformative journey of infrastructural development, collaboration between the public and private sectors will be crucial. Investment in technological infrastructure, workforce upskilling, and regulatory frameworks conducive to innovation are imperative to realising the full potential of technology-driven construction. Moreover, continued research and development initiatives are essential to stay abreast of emerging technologies and industry trends.

India’s infrastructure boom presents a monumental opportunity to propel the nation towards its aspirations of economic prosperity and global leadership. By embracing technology as a catalyst for change, the construction sector stands poised to not only meet the burgeoning demand for infrastructure but also spearhead a paradigm shift towards sustainable, efficient development. As the physical and digital realms converge, India's journey towards becoming a developed nation is not just a matter of bricks and mortar but a testament to the transformative power of innovation.


Shalabh Chaturvedi is Managing Director of CASE Construction Equipment – India & SAARC region. Case is one of the leading manufacturers of construction equipment in India.