Sterling & Wilson - Pathbreakers in Infra Development

T.P. Prakasan, COO – MEP business, Sterling & Wilson, speaks to Maria R on the company's EPC expertise and the factors driving its sustained growth.

With over 9 decades of experience in the infra sector, how do you view the past two decades of infra development in India?

In the past two decades, the infrastructure sector in India has witnessed a major transformation. The Government of India has been investing heavily in infrastructure, owing to this year's Union Budget. With continued focus on infrastructure to drive economic growth, the government has committed close to $1 trillion investment by 2020. Recent research indicates that India's infrastructure market will grow larger than Japan's (in terms of nominal value) and is set to surpass its current position of being third-largest in Asia.

As a leading EPC player in India, Sterling & Wilson (S&W) has been playing a key role in the industry. On the back of growing urban infrastructure, significant investments are expected to further boost EPC companies across the globe. Furthermore, an increased need to standardize design and strengthen operations and processes will continue to raise the potential not only for S&W but also for the infrastructure industry as a whole.

S&W has established itself as a trusted EPC solution provider in the infrastructure and energy space. What factors are driving the company's growth?

S&W has consistently aimed for a progressive outlook in the delivery of complex and challenging projects. The company has transitioned from being a predominantly India-based MEP-focused company till 2010 to a global, diversified conglomerate with a presence across more than 28 countries.

In line with the industry's demand, today, S&W is contributing to more than 25% of the passive infrastructure segment in India. The company's multi-service integration under a single MEP division as well as its introduction of five new services: Industrial Fire & Safety, Fuel-gas Desulfurization, Process Control & Instrumentation, Industrial Clean Room EPC and IBMS Special Projects (Smart Cities & Defence Segments) is expected to take its ₹1,600 crore business to ₹3,000 crore by 2020.

Sterling Wilson
The company has also seen major developments across all its key businesses and remains India's leading EPC Data Center company (based on order booking), the world's No.1 Solar EPC company (outside China) and is currently eyeing ₹1,300 crore topline for its Diesel Generators business. With its recent foray into Energy Storage, the company is poised to play a vital role in the global trend of moving away from thermal plants to a future of renewable energy with storage.

Please tell us about your MEP Business, its current order book, and growth drivers.

As the Government of India continues its focus on infrastructure development, leading companies like S&W will continue to keep in line with the industry's growth and subsequent demand. In fact, in recent years, we have witnessed an upsurge in commercial and industrial projects, which has triggered demand for integrated MEP services across the country.

An increased need to standardize design and strengthen operations and processes will continue to raise the potential of EPC companies in the infrastructure industry

In this regard, S&W realized the opportunity early. Established in 2008, the turnkey MEP business has come a long way, having integrated a host of services such as Electrical, HVAC, Firefighting, Plumbing and IBMS for seamless delivery of projects. More recently, it has added five new services, as mentioned above.

It is important to have strong expertise and knowledge in many areas of EPC business to have a sustainable growth. S&W from the beginning, has been focusing on acquiring the skill sets/knowledge on Engineering, Procurement, Construction and commissioning of various types of MEP projects in different industrial verticals and geographical regions. Today, we have a very strong team of technically and commercially strong individuals at all strategic locations who are confident of securing very large orders and executing them profitably to the satisfaction of our customers. Such consistent success stories ensure repeat orders and business sustainability.

What advanced technologies are you using in your projects?

Sterling Wilson
We are using various process automation software for efficient running of the business, which ensure timely decisions and actions on various activities such as SAP, ARIBA, Primavera, MS Project etc.

On the project front, we have deployed 3D MEP Revit software, which enables us to do clash detection during the engineering stages itself and avoid rework and duplication of efforts.

Please elaborate on S&W's skill and manpower development programs.

Started in 1927, S&W has developed from a home-grown company to a global, diversified conglomerate with exceptional expertise and remarkable technologies to adhere to international engineering standards. The integration of the five key MEP services is testament to the Mistry-Daruvala partnership and the sustained dedication of our employees. It also benefits majority of our internal and external stakeholders and supplements other critical businesses such as Data Centers (70-80% of a data center order for S&W constitutes of MEP services).

We conduct periodic training programs to improve the skills and knowledge levels of our employees. Subsequent to our decision to integrate all MEP services into a single MEP division, we came out with a “One MEP” training program that covers change management, culture change, technical and project management. We also have a Knowledge Management online portal and iLink - a training initiative to improve the overall development of employees.

Sterling Wilson

What are the company's plans for the next 3-4 years?

S&W is looking to expand its MEP business in India, including a market share of 15% and penetration into foreign geographies such as Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

The company has always worked in line with Government of India's efforts to ensure achieving the country's ambitious goals in the coming years. Coupled with our key business verticals of Renewables, Data Center, Diesel Generators, we have crossed our current turnover of INR 9000 crores and are expected to touch INR 20,000 crores by 2020.

In the near future, S&W is planning to foray into the Wind Energy business to become an integrated clean energy player.

What about S&W's global operations?

S&W operates across a multitude of sectors in 28+ countries across geographies such as Middle East, Africa, Australia, Europe, USA, and South America. Now in our 91st year, the culmination of the Mistry and Daruvala families has resulted in a robust foundation, enabling exponential growth and development for our multiple business segments. As we enter a new business juncture, it is imperative that we continue to explore new and cutting-edge solutions to foster our role as path breakers in the industry.

NBM&CW August 2018

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