“The urbanisation trends will push infrastructure growth in India in megacities and tier II towns. There is a need to spend about $1.4 trillion in the next five years to build this close to 30,000 kilometres of railway tracks to create new hundreds of new railway stations and refurbish existing one”, asserted Simon Huffeteau, Vice President for Construction, Cities and Territories at Dassault Systèmes in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Smart Cities World.
What are the latest offerings of Dassault Systemes in the space of 3D City, infrastructure and construction?
Dassault Systemes is a 3DEXPERIENCE company offering solutions to 11 different industries. Construction, Cities and Territories is one of them that caters to city mapping, planning, and infrastructure and building construction projects.
In the buildings components space, our solutions help the modularization of the building. Instead of building one-off structures, we help companies in re-fabricating in factories or on the remote sites, in elements that can then be assembled and facilitate the modularisation process. The process in assembly of buildings parts just like in manufacturing. This approach, facilitates rapid urban developments, while at the same time ensuring highly customizable buildings because the goal is not to have standardised building for everyone. We maximise the usage and get the maximum value out of the usage of the work force. The industry solution experience ‘Creative Building Design’ makes sure that we can keep the one-off look and feel and experience of the building while at the same time having the modular structure behind it that will allow a greater level of productivity.
In the domain of large infrastructure projects like bridges, roads, highway, Dassault Systemes offers an Industry Solution Experience (ISE) called Civil Infrastructure Engineering. This ISE helps the engineers to make sure they can leverage very high detailed design, integrate multiple disciplines, while at the same time leveraging standard formats to make sure that the infrastructure can sustain over a very long time.
At the city level, we offer collaborative virtual twin experiences. The virtual twin experience enables us to create a robust city differential, on which we can test new projects, visualise, analyse outcomes and provide town planners a dashboard to make the best decisions. We also help cities enact new policies; facilitate collaboration around the execution of these public policies. The virtual twin experience helps in urban planning, mobility adaptations in the city, increase and maintenance of biodiversity.
How do you see this segment moving in India as to the market scenario in the current situation?
In India, the ability to deliver the critical infrastructure is a bottleneck of the growth of the GDP of the country. While many countries in the world do rely on major infrastructure to maintain a competitive advantage or to maintain some good level of growth, in India, there is a clear requirement to continue to grow and build new railway lines, to create new roads, bridges, flyovers, tunnels and large infrastructure projects. Therefore there is a mandate to execute the infrastructure programme in India.
The urbanisation trends will push infrastructure growth in India in megacities and tier II towns. There is a need to spend about $1.4 trillion in the next five years to build this close to 30,000 kilometres of railway tracks to create new hundreds of new railway stations and refurbish existing one. With my global view, I see different trends in how cities will grow worldwide and in India I clearly, the pace will be higher than other countries. Dassault Systemes will be a catalyst and enabler in this infrastructure growth in the country.
How do you see the tech adoption been taken in the space of global and the Indian construction and infrastructure rates?
Construction and infrastructure sector needs to adopt the pace of digitalization that has been adopted in the manufacturing sector in India. Most of the industry remains in the way of working which has been unchanged despite the introduction of digital improvements. When we look at the transformation of the manufacturing world, the nature of the jobs have changed. In the manufacturing industry, people have not been doing the same thing, over the last 25 years that jobs have evolved. We need to go in this type of changes as well for the construction industry.
A big example of a change in technology in construction industry is the new type of prefabrication of modularization that we want industry to adopt. We really want to get the maximum value of working can help with managing complex project lines, with managing a new type of plants that can be highly automated, where the modularization and the creation of product line of modules that can be assembled to create a building.
We understand that behind this type of change, we're not just talking about digitising the worksheets but we’re actually transforming how the companies deliver a building and how the companies actually think about even designing a building. I actually think that India is ready to adopt most of this technology.
Therefore in India, we as a company are explaining the industry of the requirement of a virtual twin experience wherein every requirement to the nuts and bolts are captured in the digital model so that there is transparency, cost benefits and timeliness of project completions.
What are your views about building sustainable cities in the Indian ecosystem?
From a western point of view the sustainability topic have two main legs - one is around, making sure the city is better prepared to offer to citizens, less consumption of energy, greener environments. Therefore, it is really sustainability from focusing a lot on the green aspects of the things. We see many initiatives around planting trees, creating new bicycle roads in the cities, initiatives around making sure that the consumption of energy is reduced. In scenarios like this, the collaborative virtual twin can be of significant help.
The second leg we see a lot on the western countries is related to the quality of life over the long term. In addition, for instance, how do we manage that heatwaves can be better balanced. Therefore, make sure that we allow citizens to have a better quality of life, making sure that it’s greener and more liveable. However, sustainability refers as well to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations which is socio-economic development topic.
To ensure that the sustainable developments can be actually developed in India as well, there’s a lot that we can do in managing the lifecycle of complex assets. While we are looking into the sustainable, sustainable development of countries, making sure that we build the robust differential, keep the virtual twins up to date over time that represents the real physical assets are critical elements to make the right decisions. In the solutions, we have ‘Civil Infrastructure Engineering’ and ‘Integrated Built Environment’ industry solution experiences, that support the comprehensive lifecycle management and complex infrastructure. This can be critical for the proper decision-making in the developments of the cities and infrastructure.
How do you observe the infrastructure in the construction segment growing both over scenario worldwide?
We see a very short term impact in the management of the crisis. What is happening now is actually crisis management- How do we protect life? What are the decisions we need to take to make sure that the built environments, the places where we leave, the city where we will leave on a daily basis remains protected, give for the community remains adapted for this current situation, and that the proper decisions that can be taken in a very short term do take place? Dassault Systemes has been working with several governments all over the world to help to create these integrative cockpits, to help in the decision process. So, of course, we not only create full virtual twins of cities, but we actually help with creating appropriate cockpits where we gather all the necessary information to assist policymakers to make the right decisions.
On a midterm level for buildings that are privately owned, that require private financing, will suffer as the demand for new building whether they are residential or commercial will most likely slow down. In parallel during this midterm, governments worldwide are working on stimulus packages. The magnitude of these stimulus packages is very significant. We are talking about several percent, sometimes double-digit percent of the GDP of a country. Those stimulus packages, most of them target sustainable developments of new infrastructure and new urban areas. These relates to public infrastructure or social infrastructure- hospitals, new schools, new railway, new bridges, new tunnels, all of those could and will be part most likely in many stimulus plans have and will at least sustain or even boost in some countries the demand for the new linear infrastructure as well as the social infrastructure. This will be a way to help industries recover on the longer term.
COVID-19 will have an impact on urbanisation practices. The parameters that people will take into account in imagining new buildings or designing new streets will most likely change from a long term basis.
How are the government associations on cards for Dassault Systemes with the perspective of creating more 3D cities buildings and categorizing infrastructure in the construction space?
What we see in many countries in the world is that around certain regions and combination of cities and townships major critical decision-making elements are taken by multiple authorities. For example, when we work with cities such as Guangzhou, we do not work with a given municipality. The decision of creating a virtual twin is something which is taken at a regional level and then executed at the lower scale. The policymakers, governments, local regional governments are able to prioritise where to create this innovation of the virtual twin experience and where to implement these innovations.
Coming back again on the COVID crisis, we see a very strong push of their mid-level, not national but not too local these regional governments with do a lot of ability to take decisions and leverage the best digital technologies to foster transformation in their regions and communities.
What are your plans of expansion going forward for the Indian market?
There are a lot of projects in India that are going actually to benefits virtual twin experience. We mentioned earlier of highway, roads, tunnels, all of those critical infrastructures, we believe are actually projects that can take a lot of benefits from virtual twins. We can make sure that by creating virtual twins and helping in the management of the lifecycle of these virtual twins that these critical assets will be better kept and will be better maintained over time. We would like to help the developments of this critical infrastructure in a vast country like India.
The second element is around virtual twins of cities. The need for large cities and regions that are looking for innovative ideas to address the developments of their cities. Those are actually places where we believe we can help as well in policymakers and in developments of the city.
On the longer term, we are really looking at helping the construction companies reinvent- by creating the modularity mind-sets, and very high detail design mind-sets, that we believe the industry can benefit from for its buildings to make sure that it can foster the rapid urban developments and high level of productivity that the construction industry needs.