MECON with its headquarters in Ranchi, in close proximity to the steel belt in Eastern India, is a premier consulting engineering company in the public sector. The veteran EPC giant has a reputation spanning over five decades, having provided end-to-end solutions for the entire value chain of integrated steel plants in the country. Its versatile capability of project execution in fact covers virtually all core sectors of our economy including iron & steel, power & energy, oil & gas, infrastructure and even aerospace. Its milestones are studded with a number of landmark projects, most of them the country’s firsts which would make India proud. Mr. P.K. Balasubbramaniian converses with Mr. Atul Bhatt, the effervescent CMD of MECON to get a vivid picture of the company’s engineering acumen and EPC capabilities and its pivotal role in nation building. Excerpts:
As a Chemical Engineer from IIT, Delhi and PGDM from IIM, Calcutta, Mr. Atul Bhatt’s professional journey started with Tata Steel and continued with Arcelor Mittal as Country Manager (Iran) based in Tehran and then as General Manager (Mergers & Acquisitions) based in London. Prior to joining MECON, he was Executive Director (Business Development and Corporate Planning) in NMDC. With this experience, when he joined MECON as CMD, he was strongly motivated by the prospect of not only spearheading the wide spectrum of business activities of MECON from EPC/ turnkey jobs to Project Consultancy in diversified sectors of iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, power, oil & gas and infrastructure, but also contributing significantly to the economic growth of our nation.
Q. MECON is a well-known name in the domain of Engineering, Procurement & Construction. What’s your standing today?
MECON with its headquarters at Ranchi in Jharkhand State, in close proximity of the steel and coal belt in Eastern India, is one of the premier consulting engineering companies in India. It has presence in all Metro locations with Ranchi, Bangalore and Delhi, being the main Engineering offices. MECON also has a network of offices at various client sites like, Steel Plant locations of Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL). There is no other consultancy firm comparable to MECON with respect to deep domain knowledge of the Indian iron and steel industry. It has undertaken a number of consultancy assignments overseas as well.
Apart from being a consultant in its business arena for both public and private sectors, MECON is also called upon to perform the delicate task of being a consultant-adviser to the Ministry of Steel/ Mines, Government of India on various technical as well as policy issues. For instance, MECON has been closely associated with the Ministry of Steel for providing technical assistance on several issues like Minimum Import Pricing (MIP) for various grades of steel. We have been providing inputs for preparation of ‘National Steel Policy- Vision & Strategy for Steel’ and have been contributing as Convenor of Four (04) Joint Task Force Committees in respect of Ministry of Railway, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways for the thrust area of increasing Steel demand.
MECON’s journey in EPC project execution started in early 70’s when MECON executed various Rolling Mills projects and we have never looked back since then. MECON has acquired competency in EPC execution of various projects in the areas of Coke Oven Batteries & By-product plants, Sinter Plants, Pellet & Beneficiation Plants, Blast Furnace, Rolling Mills, Ports & Material Handling and Special projects demanding core engineering skills. MECON has most notably executed Second Launch Pad for ISRO, at Sriharikota on EPC basis in 2005.
Presently, MECON is executing major EPC projects of Rebuilding of Coke Oven Battery No. 7 & 8 and Power Supply System for Sinter Plant-II at Bokaro Steel Plant, SAIL. In the special projects segment, MECON is executing EPC project for Establishment of Structural & Mechanical Systems of Integrated Engine Test Facility for ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. Further, we have just been awarded the project for EPC execution of External Coal Handling Plant package for North Karanpura STPP (3×660 MW) of NTPC.
Q. What’s your differentiated offer to the customer that makes your services unique?
MECON provides flexible modes of project execution i.e. Design, Engineering & Consultancy; Project Management Consultancy; EPCM and EPC. MECON can also develop entire project execution based on basic engineering provided by technology suppliers, including assistance in capability development to bridge technology gaps.
Q. What’s your contribution to the Oil & Gas sector?
In the field of Oil and Gas, MECON has been providing its services in the areas of Cross country Hydrocarbon Pipelines and Terminals (Natural Gas and Liquid); City Gas Distribution; Petroleum Oil and Lubricant (POL) Terminals and LPG Bottling Plants.
Presently, MECON is providing EPMC services for three major cross country Natural Gas Pipeline (NGPL) projects namely Vijaipur-Auraiya NGPL, Kochi-Kottanad-Bengaluru-Mangalore NGPL and Jagdishpur-Haldia NGPL. The cumulative length of pipeline of the above projects is more than 3,500 km.
MECON has recently completed India’s largest POL terminal for HPCL at Kanpur on EPMC basis. MECON has provided EPMC services for City Gas industry and executed many prestigious City Gas Distribution projects for various cities such as New Delhi, Hyderabad, Agra, Pune-Chinchwad and Agartala. MECON is presently rendering its services for City Gas Distribution projects in eight cities namely Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Rajamundry, Taj Trapezium Zone, Vadodara, Haridwar and North Goa.
Q. What are the services you offer to the Iron & Steel sector?
MECON’s service portfolio includes the entire gamut relating to setting up of Greenfield as well as Brownfield projects from Concept to Commissioning. These services are categorised under Consultancy and EPC projects as follows:
Consultancy and Project Management Services:
Market Survey & Product Mix, Feasibility Reports, Detailed Project Reports, Basic and Detailed Engineering, Procurement & Contract Engineering, Construction & Project Management, Inspection & Expediting, Computerization & Industrial Automation, EIA / EMP Reports, Health Studies, Asset Valuation, Techno-Economic Viability, Due Diligence and Residual Life Assessment (RLA).
EPC Execution: Design, Engineering, Procurement & Supply; Erection and commissioning; Achieving Performance Guarantee Parameters.
In addition to the above, MECON also provides Value Added Services such as Transaction Advisory Services, Technology up-gradation, Productivity enhancement, Energy optimization, Turnaround Strategies, Re-structuring & Privatization and Re-location of Plants.
The above range of services are not only limited to Iron & Steel sectors but spread across all strategic business units- Metals, Energy & Infrastructure.
Q. What are your capabilities in Infrastructure development?
India is a fast growing economy and Infrastructural development is one of the priority sectors in this country. MECON has already established its presence in setting-up of projects in the areas of town planning; ports & material handling; water management including desalination; educational institutes; sports complexes; healthcare; roads & bridges, airports and environmental engineering. Besides, MECON has provided its services for various defence & space infrastructure projects also. MECON is well poised to take-up projects in these areas by providing its engineering and project management services.
MECON has most notably executed India’s landmark project of 100 MLD Sea Water Reverse Osmosis Desalination Plant of Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) installed at Nemmeli, Tamil Nadu as a Complete Solution Provider from Concept to Commissioning of the plant. We are proud to share with you that MECON was awarded “Golden Peacock Award” for Eco-Innovation by the Institute of Directors, India, for successful execution of the project, which is producing potable water at the most competitive conversion cost with respect to the global benchmarks.
Q. What’s the mark you have made in the Power sector?
MECON’s association with Power sector can be related to its execution expertise acquired over four decades. MECON is successfully rendering services for Thermal, Hydel and Solar power projects. MECON’s experience is ranging from Process Power Plants up to base load Utility Power Plants of large capacities. The versatility also covers the types of fuels handled and fired in the Power Plants. MECON has also rendered services for various Power Transmission & Distribution schemes of the Government of India and executed numerous assignments for varied corporate clients. MECON has experience in both Conventional Outdoor Air Insulated type (AIS) and Indoor Gas Insulated type (GIS) sub stations up to 400 kV. MECON is also closely associated with the power sector reform projects such as APDRP, RGGVY & RAPDRP.
Recently, MECON completed a remarkable project of preparation of Road Map Document for Providing 24X7 Power For All in various States & UTs of India (9 numbers) for the Ministry of Power.
Q. Does Energy saving figure in your projects & technology solutions?
- In the last 10 years MECON has made effort to bring down Specific Energy Consumption in Steel making from 7.0 Gcal/tcs to 6.3 Gcal/tcs, almost 10% reduction in existing plants and for Green Field Projects, energy consumption reduced to 5.3Gcal/tcs, which is almost 25% reduction.
- Under expansion and Modernization Program energy savings measures introduced in integrated steel plant are innumerable.
- MECON provided PMC consultancy services for installation of 20.6 MW waste heat recovery based power plant involving existing two numbers Straight Line Sinter Coolers of RINL at Vizag, which is the first of its kind project in India.
Q. Talent management is crucial in EPC business. How do you manage talent within MECON?
MECON has always been focused on attraction and retention of its only asset, its Knowledge Workers. The recovery of the world’s economy is standing next door and in our view, it is inevitable. In such a scenario, there is no doubt that the single most discriminating factor for business success will be an organization’s talent level.
Therefore, at MECON, we believe in the set of three key strategies:
- Attraction and Acquisition of Talent
- Developing and Aligning Talent with Organizational needs
- Retention of Talent
Q. What are your major strengths?
As already explained MECON’s major strength lies in its versatile capability of project
execution across various sectors and the skills it developed over decades of business operation with multi-disciplinary team of Engineers, Scientists, Architects, Law graduates, Chartered & Cost Management Accountants, Management professionals in Finance, Marketing & HR fields.
Q. Could you throw some light on your organizational infrastructure and resources?
MECON has a set up with 1,439 strong workforce, of which 1,055 are Graduate/Postgraduate Engineers. MECON’s multi-skilled expertise, in 35 technical disciplines & varied professional fields, creates the synergy vital for realizing projects in Time, Cost and Quality.
With Head office at Ranchi, Jharkhand; Regional engineering offices at Bangalore & New Delhi and around 27 Project Sites & Liaison offices ensuring pan India presence and facilitating express support services to the Client’s specific needs.
MECON has its own Environmental lab and it is also the first and still the only approved agency by National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET), Quality Council of India (QCI) (a requirement by MoEF & CC) to carry out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Study for Nuclear Power Plants and Processing of Nuclear Fuels. Additionally, MECON has adopted various IT related solutions for its business operations including various design software.
R & D lab of MECON is fully equipped to undertake Applied Research and Experimental Development in core area of Business such as Iron and Steel as well as focused areas of national importance such as Defence, Environment, etc.
Q. Which is the most spectacular project you have accomplished proving your engineering mettle and managerial acumen?
- MECON believes that turnkey execution of the ADB funded INR 2600 million External Coal Handling System project at North Chennai Thermal Power Station of erstwhile Tamil Nadu Electricity Board can be considered a spectacular project as it was first of its kind, which in spite of lots of challenges and hurdles during implementation could be completed with zero time and cost overrun. MECON integrated the domain knowledge, expertise and decades of experience of its team of engineers at multiple locations relevant to specialised engineering services for coal handling systems. It was the sound engineering skills which in synergy with the managerial acumen of MECONians located at length and breadth of the country led to successful completion of the project before the scheduled time.
- The installation of BOF – CCP shop at SAIL ISP’s Burnpur site is yet another spectacular project MECON has accomplished in recent times. The site was filled with slag, muck and ladle skulls. Based on the soil investigation report, entire equipment are to be erected on pile foundations. About 1,89,000 t of skulls were excavated from the site and an estimated 21,500 piles were to be made to erect entire equipment of BOF and CCP shop. The entire engineering and supervision of the same was done by MECON. The plant is operating at almost rated capacity.
Q. Is export a thrust area for you?
MECON is eyeing at International market for business potential and is participating in overseas projects particularly in Africa, Middle East, South East Asia and Indian sub-continent region. Recently, MECON has completed one project for a Client based in Nigeria and we are expecting a few more projects in Iron and Steel sector. Export has always been MECON’s thrust area and we are geared up to encash the opportunities in global markets.
Q. What are the technological breakthroughs and innovations you could showcase to make India proud?
Large Blast Furnace technologies in the country have been coming from international sources causing dependency on foreign suppliers and resulting in loss of foreign exchange. There was an impetus from the Ministry as well as the iron & steel industry in general towards development of indigenous technology for large Blast Furnaces that can take care of the problems faced by Indian operators and produce hot metal in a more environment friendly, efficient & economic way. Accordingly, with a view to having self- reliance in the field & taking a cue from the Governments flagship “Make in India” program, design development work of 4,250 m3 Blast Furnace has been undertaken by MECON suiting to Indian raw materials. The size of the Blast Furnace selected is apposite with the future need of adding large Blast Furnace production modules in the country during the course of prospective expansion plan of the Steel Industry.
It is a proud moment to inform that the prestigious assignment of aforesaid development work has been successfully completed and “Angara 7.1 and Loha 4250” were launched by the Hon’ble Union Minister of Steel Shri Choudhary Birender Singh at MECON, Ranchi on 21st December, 2016. Presently, MECON is capable of complete design & engineering of 4,250 m3 Blast Furnace, entirely based on indigenous technology acquired over the years & vast in-house database and know-how.
- ANGARA 7.1 – Design & Engineering of 1 MTPA top charged recovery type Coke Oven Battery 7m tall, useful volume- 49.8m3. Advantage of this Battery: a) Increase in productivity, b) Utilization of less space & energy for producing 1 t of coke, c) Less pollution. This can match the requirement of coke for 4000 to 4500 m3 Blast Furnace.
- LOHA 4250 – Design Development of 4,250 m3 Blast Furnace.
In order to acquire intellectual protection over the development, a patent application has already been filed & provisional patent number obtained.
Q. What’s your roadmap to take MECON to still greater heights?
MECON has the opportunity of executing a number of prestigious assignments in diversified sectors like Infrastructure & Energy, in addition to its core competence area of Metals and Mining. We are well poised to capitalize every opportunity that will come across. MECON will thrust upon execution of technologically oriented turnkey projects and also look for projects in energy sector, which are need of the day, to insulate the company from business cycle of a specific sector. MECON has already diversified its business areas and clientele to eliminate market vagaries and is fully geared up to harness the prospective opportunities. Mining & Minerals, Energy & Infrastructure sectors, which are experiencing resurgence in alignment with the Governmental initiatives, are providing business opportunities. MECON is fully prepared to meet the market expectations & challenges and to play an enhanced role in socio-economic transition of the country.