There’s a good reason why bright engineering graduates consider TCE Consulting Engineers (TCE) an excellent choice. Not only is it one of India’s leading engineering consultancy firms, it is also one of the few that works on projects across sectors as diverse as the space programme and water management.
TCE is a place where engineers go beyond their textbooks to explore the cutting edge of technology, where innovation and experimentation are encouraged. The company has worked on building a fuelling machine for a nuclear reactor for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, and automating the solid propellant fuelling for the Indian Space Research Organisation’s space vehicles.
This unique capability is partly due to the fact that TCE has nearly 50 years of experience. The company’s roots go back to 1962, when it was set up as Tata-Ebasco Consulting Engineering Services to engineer a thermal power plant in Trombay for Tata Power.
After Ebasco pulled out, the company carried out projects for state electricity boards. Today TCE operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons. It offers a wide range of multi-disciplinary services in project engineering across several sectors. It has completed more than 5,500 assignments, ranging from power (where it has engineered several power plants with a total installed capacity of over 41,000MW) to urban water supply and waste water management, and facilities for chemical and industrial plants.
A wide landscape
Besides these core sectors, TCE is keen to extend itself in other areas. It began working in minerals and metallurgy three years ago to cater to the steel industry.
Architecture and town planning is another core strength. The company now plans to hive off this sector into a separate business unit so that it gets more focus and thrust. The company also intends to enter new areas: naval architecture (especially the structural and utilities aspects), aerospace engineering and agricultural engineering.
At TCE, the company is aware that its employees frequently use innovation in the course of a project. Today, the company is trying to capture and acknowledge these instances of product or process innovation. Mr Mull says, “In each of the assignments that our engineers do, there is a lot of innovation but they don’t realise it. We want them to come out of their shell. If there’s something novel, then report it. We had a contest last year and picked four entries for recognition.”
The initiative has been hugely successful. A year ago, TCE applied for intellectual property rights on its innovations by filing for nine patents.
Last year the company established a subsidiary at the Qatar Science and Technology Park in Doha, Qatar. The new company, TCE QSTP-LLC, will focus on applied research related to energy, water and material science.
There are lessons learnt here as well. Mr Mull recalls a time when the company stopped recruiting people at the graduate level, and as a result became too top heavy. “In this year’s campus recruitment, we have taken almost 700 engineers.We have learnt that we should never stop bringing in new blood into the organisation,” says he.
In contrast to other companies, TCE does not worry about attrition. “All those people who go out become our ambassadors. TCE has always been known as the best training ground domestically, and anyone who does a stint here is sought after. But still, we are trying to minimise attrition,” Mr Mull says.
Upbeat in the downturn
Former Tata Sons chairman JRD Tata would have approved. In a speech in 1963, he had said, “Growing organisations in any field must constantly evolve, accept, or even seek new ideas, new visions, and new enthusiasms.” The people at TCE intend to do just that.