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[Quality of Services] Concluding remarks

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Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:00 pm    Post subject: [Quality of Services] Concluding remarks Reply with quote

Dear SEFIians,
We are coming to the end of the e-conference. It was a good attempt by SEFI to discuss various issues faced by Structural engineers. I thank the organisers for providing me an opportunity to moderate a sub topic “Quality of Services of Structural Engineers and the conflicted Architect -Structural Engineer relationship
Various points were raised regarding improving the quality of services provided by structural engineers, maintaining minimum standards , defining the role and responsibility of structural engineer, liability of structural engineer against providing stability certificate, training to structural engineers, relations with Architects and expecting minimum fees. Some good suggestions emerged through the discussions but many issues are yet to be resolved. It is clear that we all structural engineers need to come together and speak in one voice.
If all the like-minded organisations like SEFI, IEI(I), ACCE, ECI, CEAI, ISSE etc join hands to prepare guidelines on professional practices addressing all issued discussed during the conference, it will be a great achievement. I hope SEFI may take lead role in this endeavour since it has the largest membership 20000+ across India.
I thank all the participants who expressed their views and provided valuable suggestions during the discussions.

Warm regards.

Hemant Vadalkar ( Moderator)

Vadalkar & Associates
B-703, New Samadhan CHS, Senapati Bapat Rd., Opp. Dadar Stn(W), Mumbai-400 028 India. ( Near Zarapkar)
Tel 022-2430 8872 Cell +91-93225 32578
Email : vadalkar@gmail.com Website : www.vadalkar.com

From: va [mailto:forum@sefindia.org]
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2016 1:46 PM
To: econf@sefindia.org
Subject: {E-CONF2016} Re: [Quality of Services] of Structural Engineers and the conflicted Architect -Structural Engineer relationship

Dear All,
I would like to summarise discussions during last week on the topic of “State of Structural Engineering practice in India” with a sub topic “Quality of Services of Structural Engineers and the conflicted Architect -Structural Engineer relationship

Our friend Sunil Sodhai expressed that in the age of marketing, structural engineers have no direct contact with the clients and they have to work through architects without any regulatory mechanism or government support. So we have to work hard.
Senior Structural Engineer N. Prabhakar feels that quality of structural engineering services can be improved if there is third party quality audit or proof checking. This is lacking in the building industry which is controlled by property developers and building contractors. For other type of structures like bridges, industrial structures, port structures etc proof checking is mandatory.
He suggests that it is high time that the system of proof-checking is adopted by appropriate legislation by the Central Government for all types of construction projects to improve on the quality of service offered by structural consultants.
Practice of providing schedules of RCC components must stop. Structural engineers must produce detailed structural drawings which is the language of engineers to communicate the date to site. Ductility provisions, closely spaced links, splice locations, beam-column junction details must be provided by structural engineers and should not be left to site staff. Derailed drawings for improving the quality.

Senior Structural Engineer Vasudeo Pandya who worked for S.O.M. feels that ASCE manual covers most of the points of discussion. ASCE Manual: Manuals of Practice (MOP) MOP 73 :
Quality in the Constructed Project, Third Edition A Guide for Owners, Designers, and Constructors.

On the relation with architects he shares that One very Sr. Architect at S.O.M. ( Skidmore Owings & Merrill) says that “ NO SERIOUS ARCHITECT CAN AFFORD TO UNDERMINE CONTRIBUTION OF HIS SR. STRUCTURAL ENGINEER TEAM . He ( Architect) wants his good looking building to stand in Chicago's Wind Loads.” This truth must be understood by Indian Architectural firms also.
SATYA PAUL feels that there must be single body to regulate the structural engineering profession and we must work together to pass the bill for engineers in parliament. We should join hands with architects and other international engineers to provide services.

I feel the time has come that we all structural engineers must come together. There has to be a single central body which should get recognition from the Government. This body can then register the structural engineers based on their level of experience and knowledge under various categories. The body can define role and responsibilities of structural engineers, minimum standards to be maintained in providing the services, prepare a manual of practice to guide structural engineers, publish draft certification formats to be provided by structural engineers. ISSE ( Indian Society of Structural Engineers) has done some work in this direction by publishing a manual of practice for Structural design consultants in 2003. This is under revision now. ISSE has defined some minimum fees related to minimum standards. For more information one may visit www.isse.org.in
I hope there will be more discussion on this topic and good suggestions will emerge through the brain storming sessions.
Warm regards.
Hemant Vadalkar
Consulting Structural Engineer

From: va [mailto:forum@sefindia.org] ([mailto:forum@sefindia.org])
Sent: Monday, February 08, 2016 7:00 PM
To: econf@sefindia.org (econf@sefindia.org)
Subject: {E-CONF2016} [Quality of Services] of Structural Engineers and the conflicted Architect -Structural Engineer relationship

Welcome to the most exciting e-conference on "State of Structural Engineering practice in India" with a sub topic "Quality of Services of Structural Engineers and the conflicted Architect -Structural Engineer relationship"

I welcome all SEFI colleagues to this important e-conference for expressing their views freely on this forum. We need to understand the country wide situation in the profession of structural engineering, problems faced by us and the probable solutions.

Deteriorating services of structural Engineers and minimum standards :

Structural engineers are supposed to be the bright students of civil engineering. First choice of students for specialization in post-graduation is Structural engineering. Society is looking at us for good and economical solutions. But why the services offered by structural engineers are very poor and deteriorating ? If one looks beyond the urban areas, there are no guidelines for practicing as structural consultant. Any civil engineer or even diploma holders are acting as structural engineers in semi-urban areas. With their very limited knowledge and experience, they are providing the designs which are of very poor quality. With some exceptions, this happens in urban areas as well. In urban area, local municipal bodies are insisting on registration of structural engineers with some annual fees. Sometimes, grading is provided to designers permitting maximum number of storeys based on qualification and experience. Many aspiring structural engineers are not able to draw correct bending moment diagrams and are poor in understanding structural behaviour. They can be good at producing huge computer output and acting as computer operator. This is very serious.

Most of the times, schedules are only provided for all structural components like footings, columns, beams and slabs without any detail drawing. In gaothan area, houses are touching each other with common walls on two sides. There is no concept of open space or setback. This necessitates construction on the entire plot with columns on the boundary. Even today, many engineers are providing half and quarter footing ( eccentric footing) for periphery and corner columns or provide floating columns from plinth beams. It is necessary to educate these engineers on probable solutions.

Other major reason for poor quality service is the meagre amount of fees paid to structural engineers. Clients or architects pressurise and negotiating hard with structural engineer for reducing the steel and his fees. It is the fact that an estate broker ( agent) is earing much higher fees by selling one flat in the building compared to fees received by a structural engineer for the design of entire building. Structural engineers are also undercutting the fees to grab the job. The range of fees charged ranges from Rs. 2 per sq. ft. to Rs. 10 per sq.ft. depending on the location , project size, etc. Even structural engineer rarely gets the promised full payment. We can not expect wonders by paying pea nuts. Many a times client hints that he can manage the stability certificate from the market.

We need to have minimum design standards, preparation of design basis report, basic design calculations and detail drawings are expected from a good structural engineer.

Relations with architects :

Most of the times client is not willing to appoint separate agencies. To have one point responsibility, client appoints architect as the project leader for all the design services including liaison, architectural, structural, PMC, HVAC. Architect is intern appointing other agencies. Naturally architect start dictating terms to structural engineers which may include restriction on structural framing arrangement, forcing to reduce sizes of beams and columns, orientation of columns, omitting some columns as per their wish. This may lead to poor structural arrangement. On one hand, client is pressing for minimum steel consumption. Structural engineer’s efficiency is measured by steel consumption ir-respective of whether he follows any code guidelines.
Definition of good structural engineer from perspective of property developer is " Lighter the design (steel) better is the engineer". From architect’s perspective, a good structural engineer is a person who listens to architects without arguing on structural framing, deletes the columns as directed, ready to carry out any number of revisions without grumbling, does not send reminders for his meagre fees, signs the stability certificate with life time responsibility of structure without any control over material and workmanship "

There are always exceptions to these rules and there are some good knowledgeable clients and wonderful architects but their number is very small. One should be really lucky to get an opportunity to work with such people.

Architects are charging fees on the total cost which ranges from 3 to 6%. When it comes to paying the structural engineer, it is either about 1% of RCC cost of on sq. ft basis or lump-sum. This fees is very less compared to what they are charging the client. E.g. if an Architect is getting 4% on total cost, he is getting 4% on RCC cost as well but only paying 1% of RCC cost to Structural engineer.
Therefore many a times structural engineers are not happy to work with architects but for the fear of losing the project, they fall in line, ready to compromise the structural system to please the architects, accept less payment, even delayed payments. This generally happens in building segment. Eminent structural engineer Late N.N. Bhagwati of Bhagwati & Associates had decided not to work under architects. He founded a firm of structural consultancy and employed architects to work for him.
Structural engineers working for infrastructure projects like bridges, roads, dams, tunnels, ports, industrial structures etc. generally have better freedom for implementing innovative solutions without much interference from architects.

We require a mechanism by which Structural engineers are to be directly appointed by client and paid reasonable fees.

Roles and responsibility of structural engineer :

Time has come to define role and responsibility of structural engineers. We are endlessly waiting for Engineers bill. Alpa has done good amount of work for preparing exhaustive document on this subject. We need to push it at least at respective state level. There can be a state level registration of structural engineers with grades. They should be able to work in the entire state without any hassle and no need to have separate registration with various municipal corporations.

Presently structural engineers are signing all formats of stability certificates and taking the life time responsibility of structure without any control over the construction process. Structural engineers are only responsible for the correctness of their design and compliance to code provisions. There is no standard certification format . All the Govt. agencies wants someone to be responsible. Who is the best scape goat for this job than the structural engineer? Certification drafts by various agencies like local Municipal corporations, CIDCO, Town planning, Collector office, Industrial Development corporation etc are one sided and putting whole responsibility on the shoulders on structural engineers for design, foundation safety, quality of material, material testing, workmanship, supervision etc. Responsibility should be fixed based on the scope of work of each agency. Design responsibility to Structural engineer, Supervision responsibility to PMC, construction safety responsibility to contractor, stability of founding strata, settlement, stability of deep excavations for basement to geotechnical consultant and overall responsibility should be with the owner who is controlling the finance.

ISSE is working on clearly defining the role and responsibility of each agency in the construction project. Sample stability certificate is also available on ISSE website. We need to collectively push for implementation of these guidelines.

I hope SEFI members will express their views on these topics. Some good suggestions are expected for overall improvement in the system.

Warm Regards.
Hemant Vadalkar
Consulting Structural Engineer , Mumbai.

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