Engineering consulting consist of mainly four types of services, Architectural, Structural and MEP services and project management. Segmentation of Engineering consulting can be done in various ways, in terms of type of industry, sectors of industry. We can segregate them in Govt sectors and private sector where Govt controls all high cost infrastructure projects like companies operating in power, oil & gas, banking, roads, bridges, railways and private sectors like manufacturing of metals. components, chemicals, drugs, FMCG, Textiles etc.
Consulting business also functions in organised and unorganised forms. Most of the organised industries and organised companies are normally getting services from organised consulting organisation. Whereas most of the unorganised sectors are normally looking for cheaper services and takes services from individuals who can offer them the services at reasonable price due to negligible overheads.
Over the years Indian engineering consulting industry has seen a substantial growth and also evolved itself to offer various services for the various projects. They have separated the offerings for infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, railways, airports, dams, jetties, power plants. Heavy engineering like oil, mining, ship building, steel manufacturing, copper manufacturing, aluminium, refineries, large chemical plants. Industrial projects like textile industry, auto mobile, pharmaceutical, sugar, food Industry, FMCG and engineering products. The other sector is residential, commercial, hospital, hotels and education. Based on these industry separations, Engineering Consulting firms have became specialised for specific type of Industry and has created its own market segment for operation. It is also widely accepted by the clients and clients are choosing the consultants as per expertise of their operations.
As per The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) the total consulting business is currently about 25000 crores in India involving about 10000 consulting firms and about same number of individuals operating as engineering consultants. In other consulting businesses like IT, KPO, BPO, finance, you can higher less experienced people and train them on the job to acquire some knowledge and start earning for the organisation. Where as in Engineering consulting it is entirely different than other consulting jobs as it required more practical knowledge and hence more experience will lead to more knowledge and smooth execution.
Demand for Engineering consulting is increasing at rapid speed of about 15% however, on supply side the number of individual working over a period of time have started offering the services either forming a new team or as an individual, which is making the consulting business more and more competitive, as a result the fees are on declining trend. The market has hundreds of consulting engineers, who tend to compete on prices; the one with the lowest quote price is usually handed the contract. This is true for all the categories of consultants. Therefore customer relationship plays a significant role. Since most services offered by a consultant are indistinguishable from its competitor, customers find it easy to play one against the other in order to extract the best price possible. The economic crisis has upset the normal growth trajectory of most sectors and real estate development is no exception. The payment cycles have been affected as they are deferred to a later date. This make is difficult for Engineering consultants to grow business, hire professionals.
The good Consulting organisations used to get fees up to 3-6% of project cost or used to get 150-200 per sq ft has declined to 1-3% and Rs. 80-100 per Sq ft. There is a huge reduction in margins upto 40-50% in last 5 years. However, the cost of operation which normally fixed cost in terms of salaries has increased by 30-40%. Due to current slack in demand for services there is cut throat competition of getting the business and leading to unviable business for many smaller and medium companies.
Over a period of time the architects have lost the creativity to some extent and created concrete structures as per requirement of client. Also design, build contracts and EPC contracts have eliminated the importance of design and creativity, however, now due to geographical changes, climate changes and green concepts the creativity is revived to some extent. Many of the smaller companies are not even engaging any consulting firm and get the work done directly from the contractors and suppliers, which eventually land up many times in wrong designs or face operation problems. So it is important for the client to understand the need of consulting engineers.
Indian Engineering Consulting organisations have few weakness like marketing of services, connectivity and reach to other countries, international quality standards, insufficient international experience, compliances. Which will overcome with the experience of working in 3D modules for architectural, structural and MEP services, however Indian consulting engineers are still reluctant to start working on these platforms due to lack of knowledge, lack of skill, high cost of such infrastructure, adoptability of such systems and also they are not getting paid for such services.
Most of the approving authorities have a started accepting the online submission of design in Auto DCR in 2D format. Once they really gear up and ask for all the design in 3D modules automatically all the consulting organisation are forced to shift to 3 D Modelling which is normally done in the other countries. 3D Softwares like BIM, REVIT and many other softwares are in the market which can help the consultants to resolve many basic conflicting issues during execution of the project and help in creation of complex designs. However, due to reluctance from the clients and end users because of additional cost it is not promoted by the engineering consultants. On the supply side due to high cost, lack of skills, learning curve, 3D softwares are not used by engineering consultants. 3 D Modelling works very well if all the technical parameters and variables are frozen before starting the 3 D Modelling. It is difficult for the designers to operate 3D Models in dynamic situations.
For designing of layout plans 3D Modules will take almost same time as 2D designs, but other drawings like elevation, sections and many views can be drawn much faster. Many ready made plugins are available even for calculating BOQ and estimates. In other words it will save lot of time and will improve the quality of designs.
Indian Engineering Consulting Business has to shift its focus to 3D modelling and should gear up themselves to undertake the opportunities which will be propelled through international organisation
who have plan to invest in India. There would be huge potential available to encash such opportunities in next 10 years. The manufacturing sector of India has the potential to reach US$ 1 trillion by 2025 and India is expected to rank amongst the top three growth economies and manufacturing destination of the world, there is good potential available for consulting engineering services.
With the expectation of economic growth and shifting of business from high cost countries to low cost countries, the demand will improve invariably and will be able to sustain the engineering consulting industry for next decade. In terms of resources, professional competence, skills, knowledge base, low cost structure, high flexibility, acceptability and technology, India is placed at a better platform than other countries. This will help industry to keep the pace of the growth again at 15-20% per annum.