Saturday, January 16, 2021

Project Management

We’re like a departmental store for the construction sector


Structwel Designers & Consultants Pvt Ltd., is an engineering consultancy for the past four decades having an in-house team of architects, structural, electrical and mechanical engineers and project management consultants. The Navi Mumbai headquartered firm has handled various industrial, infrastructural, commercial, and residential projects. It has also been at the forefront of heritage and conservation projects. CHETAN RAIKAR, CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR of the firm spoke to SHRIKANT RAO about his organisation’s areas of focus



Briefly tell us about Structwel as an organisation?


We started as an engineering consultancy.  Today we are a multidisciplinary organisation having in-house architectural, structural team, mechanical and electrical team, project management team, repairs, archaeological and heritage conservation and material testing laboratory. We’re also like a departmental store for the construction sector.  Today my job profile varies from the first five Starbucks they were done by us – now the Tata group has developed their own team and are doing it themselves – to industrial projects and also commercial projects like hospitals, malls and even sports complexes. Except for residential buildings with builders, we’re building practically everything. Our work is mainly in the Western part of Maharashtra.



You like to describe Structwel as a firm having ‘all disciplines of engineering under one roof’?


That is the USP of Structwel.  I may not be wrong in saying that there are very few organisations in the country that cater to medium level projects, are into multidisciplinary areas like us, those that are doing mechanical, electrical, civil and architecture under one roof, and are well integrated.  What we also do is we take EPC projects of smaller magnitude of less than Rs 50 crore. I think we are the only organisation that takes EPC projects and executes it departmentally.  If the client gets us a plot, we can build a structure for him including with all the permissions, architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical, project management, tendering and estimation – everything under one roof. We have about 150 people including the entire consultancy team and engineers sitting in this building itself. That is the key strength of Structwel and we’ve already started getting fruits of this USP because clients today want single party responsibility.



You are saying with all the disciplines under one roof it becomes easier for the other side to say “Look, there’s a man I can catch hold of.”


Correct! Because you cannot say ‘I didn’t get these drawings or I didn’t get that mail, nothing of that sort. We used to have an everyday snag listing. If there was a delay of one day it would be recorded. For example we had done a warehouse for Crown. It is an American company at Taloja. That warehouse we completed after a delay of 21 days and the penalty we paid was Rs 1 lakh per day.  We could prove to them that out of 21 days, 9 days’ delay was on their account, and 12 days were because of us.  Of course we paid Rs 12 lakh as penalty. It was that strict a contract and we executed those contracts with professional integrity. For a project of 18 months if the delay is of only 12 days, you can imagine how accurately and to the last rupee or paisa everything was worked out. 



Is this standard practice in all the projects that you do where one sticks to project deadlines or is forced to pay up?


Yes, clients don’t mind paying for that accountability so that you can give them good quality work at a reasonable speed and a guaranteed maximum price (GMP). There are no escalation clauses at all in the tender.



Tell us about the important projects your EPC wing has executed recently. 


Now we are doing an expansion project for an Austrian company called Bohler at Khopoli. We do mostly projects for FDIs.  Phase I of Bohler, which is an industrial structure, was done by us and they have now given us Phase II also.  We erected the entire structure taking care of the mechanical part of it which is the cranes’ erection; the electrical part of it which is installation of high tension and low tension site. In most cases the client gets us a plot and we do everything else for them. From start to finish, or call it pin to piano, we do everything. There are not many companies that take up such a responsibility with such confidence for smaller value projects which are in the range of Rs 30-50 crore. Let me emphasise that these kind of projects are usually taken up by L&T, but L&T wouldn’t take a project less than Rs 500 crore, or Shapoorji wouldn’t take a project less than Rs 200 crore. We have also taken up hospital and retail projects. We did the entire interiors, refurbishment and vertical expansion of the Sushrusha Hospital at Dadar about 2-3 years back. In Kalyan there is a mall in which we were engineering consultants and were associated with the project management.



Heritage conservation is a major area of focus for you?


In conservation today we are doing palaces. The Morvi palace, a 200,000 sq ft stone structure, was very badly damaged in the Gujarat earthquake. We retrofitted the structure and reconstructed the collapsed portion. It is at the finishing stage. Two years ago we completed the Taj Hotel in Mumbai which was damaged in the terrorist attack – we did the complete architectural and structural conservation of the hotel. 



Your approach of having EPC under one roof is of a recent vintage?


We were doing mechanical, electrical for almost the last 30 years through external associates. Those things occasionally led to delay due to mistakes in drawings which in turn led to a certain amount of rework. You see our mechanical consultant was in Chembur, and our electrical expert was in Thane. This led to poor coordination and there were mistakes. So about eight years ago I said, let me invest into a mechanical, electrical team. We now have about 25-30 mechanical, electrical engineers on our payroll.  When we started this, clients were happy because the number of mistakes in drawings reduced substantially. Today, we have everything in the same building and the response time is a lot faster. Having all consultants under one roof brings down the cost of the project. Then, about six years back, a client  told me to take up construction  because that’s the only thing which we were not doing – and as a single-point responsibility. We started with a Rs 1 crore project seven years back which we completed successfully. We’re now doing projects of up to about Rs 35 crore now.



Tell us about your learnings through these eight years. Have there been mistakes you have made and have corrected along the way?


We have had bad experiences. In many cases the client wants to save some money and says ‘Ok we’ll supply you cement or steel.’ This creates a hurdle. Often cement does not arrive on time. Coordination becomes a big problem and ultimately the client suffers. Half of the work gets done by us and the other half by another contractor and a blame game on cost and quality arises out of the delay. We now do a delay analysis of every day and are strong in project management. Therefore we have taken a decision to take up single point responsibility. Now we don’t accept projects where the client says ‘I’ll give you half of the job or that will be done by others’. This ensures that we adhere to time and cost schedules – we give clients a date not beyond (DNB) and a guaranteed maximum price (GMP). 



Who are your clients in terms of pure consultancy?


As far as pure consultancy is concerned, we work with corporates and corporations. We’re doing work for HPCL, BPCL, RCF, CIDCO and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. As far as scope of work is concerned we are offering our expertise in areas like architecture, mechanical and electrical for various projects. We also do health assessment of structures for bodies like MCGM and CIDCO.


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