We are delighted to present a Q&A session with Srinivas K Pai, a luminary in the realm of construction and technology. With over 13 years of hands-on experience in construction project management, Srinivas brings a wealth of insight garnered from esteemed roles at companies like Sobha, Sahara Prime City, and Egis India.
As the Co-Founder and CEO of Pace Robotics, Srinivas champions Lean Thinking in construction, fostering collaborative work cultures and implementing cutting-edge practices. His passion for identifying industry pain points and fostering innovation has propelled Pace Robotics to secure substantial funding and partnerships with industry giants like IIT Bombay and the Pidilite Group.
A visionary at heart, Srinivas is spearheading the mission to revolutionise construction through robotics, aiming to launch a groundbreaking product for building interiors by April 2024. His fervent belief in technology's role in shaping the future of construction makes this Q&A an unmissable opportunity to delve into the transformative power of startups and technology in the global construction landscape.
#PTS: Can you tell us more about your journey from being a civil engineer to co-founding PaceRobotics? What inspired you to delve into construction robotics?
Mr Srinivas: Before I started up with Pace Robotics, I spent over a decade working in various construction projects in residential, commercial, industrial and infrastructure space. For 2 years, I also worked as a Lean construction consultant, helping an Industrial project adopt Lean construction practices.
Through these experiences, I got a closer look at the challenges faced by construction projects, their impact on different stakeholders and I started exploring potential solutions. Around this time, I met my co-founder Mr Ayushmoy Roy. He is a robotics expert and has built a prototype of our current product. He needed someone who understood construction to support his idea. This was truly a novel idea, especially in India, and it gave us a chance to introduce a faster, more cost-effective, and efficient way of building things, potentially revolutionising the construction industry.
The penetration of technology like Robotics and AI could also make construction appealing to the younger generation as an employment opportunity. As an industry insider, this was too good an opportunity to miss. The construction industry is massive and faces significant challenges and robotics has the potential to address many of these problems.
#PTS: What specific labour and productivity challenges in the construction industry does PaceRobotics aim to address with its robotic solutions?
Mr Srinivas: We are currently building a robot for painting, putty, sanding and plastering works for the wall and ceiling of building interiors. Our robots can do these works at 10 times faster speeds, 3 times lower costs compared to current manual work methods and do the work at a consistent quality thus eliminating any rework.
Use of robots for advanced construction tasks can solve the labour availability, productivity and skill consistency problems. It makes the work more predictable and thus provides direct savings in time and cost. Additionally, robots can also collect execution data in real time – quantity and quality work done, real time progress and material consumption and provide actionable digitised data that can be used by other stakeholders for billing, progress reporting etc.
#PTS: Safety is a critical concern in the construction industry. How does PaceRobotics ensure that its robotic solutions enhance safety on construction sites?
Mr Srinivas: Use of robots eliminates the need for workers to stand on raised platforms and scaffoldings to perform the work. It also eliminates physically hard manoeuvres like throwing of plaster on walls, application of plaster and putty on walls and ceilings, sanding of surfaces etc. and reduces worker’s direct exposure to paint and dust. It makes the work environment more safe and healthy for the construction worker. Our robots are also capable of continuously monitoring its surroundings to prevent collisions with obstacles or humans.
#PTS: Collaboration and support from incubators and investors play a crucial role in the growth of startups. How has the backing from SINE-IIT Bombay, Pidilite Industries, MARL 5 G Accelerator, and Kochi Holdings impacted PaceRobotics' journey?
Mr Srinivas: Products in the robotics and hardware space require a longer R&D cycle that involves multiple product iterations, trials, testing and pilots before it can be ready for market. We have been lucky to get the backing of investors who understand this and were ready to support us from a very early stage. As first-time entrepreneurs building a novel product, the guidance and mentoring from our investors have helped us overcome several obstacles and ensured that we stay on track to achieve our product and business goals. Early backing from them has also helped in opening several doors for us and gaining the trust of customers.
A major benefit of being part of incubator and accelerator programs is the entrepreneurial ecosystem that they open up. We can reach out to several other entrepreneurs from diverse industries and geographies who have travelled the same path and share their lessons with us.
#PTS: How do events like the London Proptech Show contribute to the growth and development of construction robotics and proptech startups?
Mr Srinivas: The shows are attended by companies who are keen to explore and learn about latest technologies in their respective areas of work and are avenues for us to reach out to potential early adopters of any novel technologies in construction. It serves as a platform for companies like ours to showcase our innovation, get feedback and validation from potential customers. Since several other innovative products and technologies would also be showcased at these events, they also serve as a space for us to understand whats happening around us and latest trends in construction and proptech space and meet, learn and get inspired from fellow innovators.