Industrial construction is a relatively small part of the entire construction industry. However, it constitutes building of power generation and transmission, refinery, chemical plants, etc. Such construction activities require highly specialised expertise in planning, design, technology and cost estimation. With the evolving construction industry, many such projects are handed over to EPC companies. And why EPC companies? Because such companies have expertise and they use modern technologies to complete the projects on time. According to Savan Godiawala, Senior Director, Deloitte India, technology plays a crucial role not only while setting up the facility but also at a later stage during de-bottlenecking capacities, modernisation and upgradation. “As these projects generally have long gestation period, selection of technology considering the future outlook of the industry becomes critical. It is now increasingly important to select the technology before the engineering agency commences critical tasks,” he points out.
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IT, the enabler
In this direction, IT is playing a significant role; but one has to be careful while selecting the product. This is because the use of industry-standard tools expedites the smooth transfer of engineering information among the customers and vendors. With the increasing complexities of projects and the decreasing time-frames in which to complete the projects, the need for real-time information on materials, design, plans, progress, and documents arises. These are areas that can be serviced by the information and communications technology. Whereas few years ago such facility did not exist to support these needs, now the technologies are available making the execution of projects simpler. “Adopting the right technologies definitely improves efficiency and productivity of any project. IT-enabled engineering and project management solutions play a major role in this regard. Advanced concepts like modularisation have helped Essar Projects Ltd (EPL) immensely in assuring cost and delivery times for projects and reducing the need for complex and intricate logistics of sub-parts and materials,” says Alwyn Bowden, President & CEO, Essar Projects India Ltd.
Adopting sophisticated technology or equipment alone is not enough. Equipment management is equally important. The equipment management activities at jobsites like mobilisation, commissioning, operation, periodic maintenance and repairs, etc, have to be monitored closely. Reputed EPC companies have strategic tie-ups with heavy machinery suppliers for hiring of equipment in case of large-scale project execution. “EPC companies need to invest in latest project management tools and techniques for better project planning, scheduling, reporting and tracking. There is also scope to reduce engineering time through usage of latest design software, which can save both on material cost as well as fabrication, erection and construction time,” points out Biswanath Bhattacharya, Director, KPMG India.
It is not necessary that one has to always bank on new technology. With right approach, existing technologies can do wonders. GR Singh, Vice President, BD, Sales & Execution, Linde Engineering India Pvt Ltd, rightly points out, “Technologies are to be proven to satisfy clients for their investment plans to be viable and build confidence for successful returns. However, that really does not mean that we stop improving on our existing technologies. Moreover, for better execution of project, it is also important to adopt new technologies / tools for EPC phase of execution, which ultimately helps to complete it on time, with budgets meeting the quality parameters.”