Industry Insight In Engineering

The role of Engineering in the formation or manufacture of a product is often underestimated. This is mainly because the contribution of Engineering to the cost of the product, as compared to purchased supplies and the cost to assemble, manufacture or construct the product is low. The cost is higher in such activities since material and labour costs in large quantities are involved.

It will be suicidal to devote attention and management involvement to the phases of evolution of the product according to the costs, as these are not proportional to their importance. Having said this, it is also the duty and responsibility of those responsible for Engineering to be sensitive to, and consider the market situation and dynamics.

Let us consider the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) industry, for example, where the cost of Engineering, be it a chemical plant or a commercial complex is anything between 15% and 25% of the total project cost.

Knowledge of the industry, the market and availability of certain types is very important for the engineering team. In the absence of this insight, the design and engineering will be correct, but not practical. Instances of changes in, and rework of, Engineering are legion. Civil Engineers will agree that steel structures should be designed and engineered according to the sections available in the market. Further refinement can be done if one knows the manufacturing programme of the steel rolling mills and using sections appropriately. This is just one example.

There is always a difficulty expressed about engineers who design and engineer a product not having enough exposure to the industry. This “hurdle” can only be overcome by giving these professionals the opportunity to update themselves with industry progress. In the EPC sector this can be facilitated with visits to manufacturing units and construction sites. Going a step further, job rotation will make them complete engineers. Quality control and quality assurance in every project is also very important and so is supervision and management.

Construction safety in India has come a long way, but a lot needs to be done for it to be on par with international standards. Safety mechanisms and safety management at site need to be improved. More important is to inculcate the need for safe working to the construction labour, which is predominantly uneducated and unorganised. This is a challenge most organisations are faced with.

It is also important for companies to increase the use of advanced technology to bring them at par with international players. This is, of course, a multi edged sword, as consequences in terms of project costs and reduction of employment opportunities for the labour force is inevitable.