Simon India - Engineering Oriented Acumen

Rakesh Verma, CEO, Simon India Ltd, discloses why he is so upbeat about the company’s sustained progress from a ₹100 crore entity in 2016-17 to a targeted ₹600 crore in the next few years, and how their engineering expertise in diverse heavy industries is propelling the EPC business growth. Excerpts from an interview with Maria R & Seema Gupta.

Please tell us about the Adventz Group and its various business verticals.

Rakesh Verma
Adventz Group has a significant presence in agriculture, engineering & infrastructure, real estate, consumer durables and services, all of which are the key drivers of Indian Economy. It is a major producer of a wide range of high-quality complex fertilizers and other agricultural inputs such as seeds, pesticides, micronutrients and specialty fertilizers. It is also one of the largest manufacturers (in the private sector) of new gen freight wagons and hydro-mechanical equipment.

The Group has engineering expertise and offers technical consultancy, project management and contracting services to chemical, fertilizer, oil & gas, petrochemical, power, and other infrastructure projects. It ventured into real estate with the aim of creating world-class yet affordable homes and office spaces. In the consumer durables segment, the Group manufactures state-of-the-art, RTA furniture, a complete range of fittings and hardware to cater to all the three segments of furniture manufacturing (office, residential and kitchen & bath). Adventz Group represents many well-known brands and has a fantastic synergy of human talent, technological expertise and financial prowess across diverse sectors.

What is the business profile of the Adventz Group’s EPC arm- Simon India Ltd?

Adventz, which originated from the Zuari Group, currently has 26 companies under its banner with various verticals such as agro, lifestyle, engineering and infrastructure. Texmaco, for instance, provides complete rail solutions from coaches to tracks, metros, dedicated corridors etc.

Simon India is the EPC, which was set up in 1995 following a 50:50 JV between the Zuari Group and UK company Simon Carves chemical division, which was pioneering niche chemicals’ technologies. The JV was formed to cater to fertilizers that need very niche chemicals like sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid etc. Slowly they started some EPC work also and established offices in Saudi Arabia, where they took on some very good projects in chemicals and petrochemicals, including EPC of our in-house acid plant.

In 2005, the Zuari Group took over the 50% of the JV and set up Simon India as its wholly owned subsidiary. The business entered petrochemicals and waste heat recovery in cement plants. The heat that comes out of cement plants is utilized to make steam and the steam drives the turbine and generates power, which is utilized for internal usages. This project was acquired two years back and is now commissioned and is producing more than the rated/promised capacity.

Today, Simon India offers technical consultancy, project management and EPC Contracting services to Chemical, Fertiliser, Oil & Gas, Petrochemical, Cement & Power and other Infrastructure projects.

Methanol ComplexMethanol Complex, Chemanol, KSA

What are Simon India’s strengths and how has it grown over the years?

There was a time of industrial slowdown and businesses like ours were simply surviving. This was during 2014 to 2016. I joined this company in 2017 from L&T, prior to which I was with Samsung, and for a very long time with Engineers India Limited (EIL). So, I carried reasonably a rich experience in heavy industries.

At Simon India, my initial efforts were on reviving the business, whose size at the time was not right for any company. Simon had an employee strength of 200 people and you need a minimum of ₹200 -300 crore of business. My target was to reach to ₹500 crores in 4-5 years.

With a strong focus on the engineering aspect of EPC, and by promoting our strong engineering capabilities, Simon India today is seen as an EPC company with expertise in fertilizer-related chemicals, petrochemicals, heat recovery from cement plants, oil and gas, and we are also bidding on grinding units of cement plants.

While we are a diversified EPC company,our engineering skill has been kept exclusive. We are undertaking engineering jobs like PMC and EPCM. We call Simon India an ‘engineered’ EPC company, as we believe that ultimately, engineering is the key to success of project. So, our engineering texture will continue to be very bold.

Waste Heat Recovery System
Waste Heat Recovery System OCL, Odisha
What is your strategy for entering diverse industries?

Diversification is necessary for an organization to grow and to avoid market risks when one industry begins to experience slowdown and such like. For instance, we decided to enter the cement industry because it is bound to grow as infrastructure develops.

We would like to participate in the smart city projects because they hold a lot of business potential, and national growth, and if organisations like us don’t make efforts in the nation’s interest, then who will?

Sewage is the biggest problem for which no contractor has given the best solution to. Most of our sewage plants are not working properly; they are contaminating the air with foul smell; contaminated water is seeping out, and effluents are going into rivers and drains-all of which are the causes of many diseases. So, we believe that an efficient sewage plant will plug many holes.

Another infra business on my horizon is treatment plants for water and sewage. If we can effectively do sewage treatment then water treatment will automatically get controlled. Currently, our hands are full, so we will venture into these new areas in years to come.

Sulphuric Acid PlantSulphuric Acid Plant PPL, Paradeep, Odisha

What are the major projects in your order book?

Within the last two months, we have got two new orders: one is from a Belgium company EcoPhos to set up their first greenfield di-calcium phosphate (DCP) plant in India and the other big order is expected from a large multinational oil & gas operator company.

Our very prestigious contract for Adani LPG Terminal at Mundra Port in Gujarat - one of the largest of such terminals in terms of capacity, which we bagged in June 2017, is also progressing well. We also have a relatively smaller EPC project from SABIC Group, KSA in hand, which is currently in the engineering stage.

We have just commissioned a Quality Improvement Project at Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals Limited (GSFC)’s Caprolactam manufacturing establishment in Vadodara. Caprolactam is an organic compound primarily used in the manufacture of synthetic fibers. The project was undertaken by Simon India as its sole EPC contractor on a turnkey basis. We are also executing other prestigious projects from Dalmia Cement and Paradeep Phosphates Limited.

We have doubled the company’s revenue in FY 2017-18 from 2016-17. My target is to reach ₹500 crores by 2019-20, and I think we can achieve this as our order book is already supporting it. This certainly calls for building up an equally supporting and efficient execution system, which we are working upon.

What advanced technologies and equipment does Simon India use in the projects?

We have a very smart and advance suit of IT tools which we use in producing state-of-the-art engineering deliverables.

Right from Process simulations, Equipment sizing, material selection, Line sizing, development of layouts, system studies, system architecture, etc, are few of the latest software tools that are used in our projects.

We also use a number of 3D tools to design various Plants in order to make it smart and clash-free, thereby, creating an ease of operation & maintenance.

We are also equipped with all the latest Communication technologies such as multi-party video conferencing, etc.

Phosphoric Acid StoragesPhosphoric Acid Storage System PPL, Paradeep, Odisha

Which business sector of the Adventz Group is the major contributor of revenue?

Agri business vertical is the major contributor to the revenue of our group.

Tell us about your software management systems that help Simon India complete projects on time and within the budget.

Simon India has a Document Management System, namely WRENCH, which creates a gateway for all the documents coming in and out of Simon to track complete history of documents, thereby, reducing errors at site.

Similarly, during the Engineering phase, we use 3D Modelling System, on which various engineering disciplines such as piping, civil, electrical etc, model the complete engineering and also check the various interface and run clash report to avoid re-work at site.

When it comes to project management, we have an advanced software that aids in complete and detailed planning of any project.

What is your immediate and top-most priority to take Simon India to the next level?

Our top-most priority now is to have a strong execution team as we have to deliver projects in time, since the best marketing of an EPC company is its successful projects. For this, we are strongly focusing on skill management systems.

What are Simon India’s international operations and plans for expansion?

Simon India has its office in KSA which addresses to the local Saudi market. We have carried out a few significant projects in KSA for various prestigious customers. Currently, we are executing a small EPC project for Saudi Kayan.

We have expanded our international business network through signing a new E&P contract with EGIL, which is a JV between EcoPhos, Belgium and GNFC. We have also recently signed a MoU with Ecophos, Belgium during ACHEMA 2018, Frankfurt; for business co-operation in regards to construction of similar Plants in India as well as overseas.

Simon India has a sound track record and strong economic and technical fundamentals; how do you see its business growth in the next 3-4 years?

Our aim now is to sustain the growth of our company and become a ₹600 crore company which, no doubt, is a challenging task. We enjoy a good positioning in the industry. One big advantage that we have is that we belong to a Group that has strong synergies within its various verticals.

The other advantage is that we are a mid-size company and there are not many EPC companies like us in the industry. Most are either small or big. So, we can readily take on mid-sized projects of ₹200 crores or so.

Simon India has been better known for fertilizer/chemical-based projects. Currently, due to our oil & gas project sizes and our acumen in this industry, we are also being seen as an oil & gas EPC.

However, we do not want to be branded for a specific business sector. Through our diversification plans, we would prefer to be known as an efficient ‘Engineered EPC’ company in oil & gas, chemical/petrochemical and infrastructure sectors.

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