This article gives a snug indication of these parameters such as qualities, functions, selection, availability, career prospects and future outlook, which ultimately decide the role and efficacy of consulting engineers.
Each project has a specific mission or purpose to be achieved within a specified period and specified cost. To attain these, six parameters are needed to be strictly evaluated. These are: size, complexity, quality, productivity, completion time and cost. The planning, controlling and implementation of these parameters reflect the final outcome and it is in here that a consulting engineer can make a lasting contribution depending on his skill, experience and expertise.
- Studying project reports including their financial reliability and cost estimates.
- Preparing, designing and/or scrutinising structural drawings and designs.
- Inviting tenders and checking tendering procedures.
- Supervising works and ensuring highest quality of performance standards.
- Advising on repair, alteration and maintenance of existing structure.
- Offer advice on inter-related matters such as selection of plant and equipment like elevators, electrical and water supply work etc.
- Act as Proof Consultant for cross-checking design in case of complex structures to ensure complete safety and economy.
- He should be distinctly familiar with modern developments in construction technology: have knowledge of ISO 9000 Quality Management and Practice as well as done Lead Instructor's Course, ISO 9001/-2008.
- He should have a knowledge of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) useful in aerodynamic design and complex wind engineering analysis as well as in Visual Design which enables construction professionals to pinpoint the potential \ problems well in advance of the start of the construction.
Apart from technical qualifications and expertise, a consulting engineer should have other qualities for the success in his profession. Some of these are:
- A fair working knowledge of finance and business procedures.
- Team spirit and human relations.
- Leadership to convince clients.
- Language skills when working in foreign countries or with foreigners.
- Keep client's information completely confidential.
- Accept no commissions in connection with supply of materials or manpower.
- Hold no directorship or controlling interest in the project handled by him.
- It is not the code of conduct itself but its rigorous and intelligent applications which finally determines the real professional worth and integrity of a consulting engineer.
Need of a Consultant
Large engineering organization often maintain in-house consultants on a regular payment basis. While not trying to belittle their work and ability, in-house staff may have their own set of ideas and pinpricks as well as traditional and fixed concepts, while an outsider independent consultant can push in fresh proposals, latest concepts and be totally unbiased in their approach.
Selection of Consultants
The contours of consulting fraternity are changing from the original one-man show to large consulting organizations which have come up providing multi-disciplinary services and serving global clients including those in India. A case in point is the recently built 4.7 km. Bandra Worii Sea Link. It has two cable-stayed bridges of 500 m and 150 m span. The bridge system was designed by Seshadri Srinivasan, Director of the London based multinational consulting firm Dar AlHandasah with inputs from engineers from several other countries. Incidentally this septageraniun engineer also designed Mumbai's J. J. Flyover and the reknowned Jamarat bridge in the holy city of Mecca. The proposed 720 m long Manori creek bridge, connecting Manori, Gorai and Bhayander will have a cable-stayed bridge of 420 m span with the rest comprising viaduct roads. It appears that this project will be handled by foreign consultants. It is high time. Indian consulting firms gear themselves up for handling such projects and show their skill and resourcefulness in competing with foreign consultants.
The doors of universities should also be opened out widely to bring more of the 'design office' within the classroom. The mechanism of a stable, effectively planned and rightly motivated interaction of 'educator-practitioner' has to be evolved on a priority basis which can go a long way in the training process.
As far as dissemination of engineering knowledge is concerned, in India pitiably there are very few consultants who present papers at engineering forums or write articles in technical and professional journals. Most of the substance emanates from professors and research personnel from various universities and research institutions. It is high time consulting engineering professionals come out and contribute in print the fruits of their matured experience and knowledge for the benefit of the fraternity and even the public at large.
In this connection, two specific examples can be cited. The Orchid Hotel in Mumbai's suburbs and the proposed Masdar City in Abu Dhabi. While looking quite plain on the exterior the Hotel has one of the largest arrays of environmental technologies far too many to be detailed here. The Masdar City is the most sustainable development scheme in the world. When completed after seven years at a cost of $20 billion, it will be the world's first Zero Carbon, Zero Waste city powered entirely by renewable energy sources. In all such projects consulting engineers are bound to play a significant role in the growth and progress of construction industry in these projects.