The Financial Express [FRONT PAGE][ECONOMY]

Thursday, December 25 1997

SAIL design centre comes of age, offers consultancy services to foreign firms

Tapan Chakravorti

Ranchi, Dec 24: When the Centre for Engineering & Technology (CET) was formed in 1983 as an in-house design & engineering consultancy division of the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), very few in the industry took notice of it. Today, according to DA Pikle, executive director of CET, it has matured as the premier technical consultancy wing of SAIL and is viewed as a potential threat by the established engineering consultants.

Nobody took CET very seriously those days, leave alone being threatened by it, Pikle told The Financial Express. Initially, it was assigned only small jobs such as making feasibility reports and technical specifications for small addition, modification & replacement schemes, balancing facilities etc. The big jobs were always assigned to larger established consultants such as Mecon & Dasturco.

Today, Pikle said, CET was offering its services not only to SAIL plants and units but also to the private players in the industry, both within the country and outside. "Interestingly, now CET's presence in the market is deemed to be a potential threat by established engineering consultants,"he said.

He said in the last 15 years, CET had successfully carried out several important projects such as the modernisation of blast furnaces at Bhilai, Rourkela and Durgapur, design & engineering of the first indigenously designed furnace for VISL in Bhadravati, rebuilding of coke oven batteries at Bokaro, complete civil, structural & utilities work for the installation of a slabcaster at Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP), 60T ladle furnace for Alloy Steel Plant (ASP), various pollution control projects, walking beam reheating furnaces for Rourkela and Bokaro, modernisation of rail and structural mill at Bhilai Steel Plant and development & modernisation of various stockyards. This alone had resulted in a saving of Rs 40 crore for SAIL, he said.

Referring to the present major projects undertaken by CET for SAIL, Pikle said work for a raw material storage & handling package for sinter plant No 3 at Bhilai was going on. Other critical projects are: upgradation of one blast furnace at DSP, coal dust injection plants for the blast furnaces at Bhilai, ladle furnaces for Rourkela and Bhilai, power projects for MEL in Chandrapur and VISL in Bhadravati, rebuilding of one coke oven battery each at Bokaro and Rourkela.

Pikle said CET had acquired new technologies for SAIL over the past few years including hot blast stove technology from HTS, Netherlands, bell less top carrying system and INBA cast house slag granulation system for blast furnaces from PW Luxembourg and ceramic welding technology for coke ovens from Fosbel, UK.

He said the competence of an in-house service provider like CET was not really proven until and unless it provided its services to the external clients. CET has made a headway in this regard by extending its expertise to non-SAIL clients, both within the country and outside, which were: revival of open hearth furnaces and introduction of continuous casting facilities at Piscor, Philippines, feasibility study for a 0.3 mtpa integrated steel plant for Kanishka Steel in Chennai, INBA cast house slag granulation facilities for corex plant of JVSL in Vijaynagar, benchmarking of steel-making facilities for Egyptian steel industry, repair of coke ovens by ceramic welding technology for RINL in Vizag and FCI in Sindri, project report for the installation of a section mill and capacity enhancement of a plate mill for Rolling Mill & Steel Production Company of Teheran and assistance for productivity enhancement for Ashok Steel of Nepal.

Pikle said CET was the first unit of SAIL to receive ISO-9001 certification in 1994.

Commenting on the decision of establishing an in-house unit like CET for SAIL, Pikle said the majority of the steel majors worldwide have their in-house consultancy and design wings.

He said an in-house consultancy unit had the total expertise available in a major steel company at its disposal, which was not the case with an external consultant.

According to Pikle, CET enjoys the support of 18,000 technologists and engineers of SAIL. Additionally, CET has free access to the knowledge and experience of an in-house R&D and all the operating plants.

Pikle said the technological and engineering solutions worked out by an in-house consultant was most cost-effective since the consultant was a part of the company and it was not paid a percentage of the project cost.

Besides, there is no net cash outflow from the company on account of consultancy and engineering services.He said that CET was shifted from New Delhi to Ranchi in 1987 so that it could have better interaction with SAIL's in-house R&D establishment (RDCIS) and it could be close to the steel plants.

Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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