2.1 by 5-10% for multiple indoor substation projects. This

2.1 Introduction

Working with the same company, I executed
another significant operational excellence program for Larsen and Toubro – Power
Transmission and Distribution business unit, State of Qatar, Worth USD 1.1
Billion revenue. The program was to streamline entire engineering process flow
that is from drawing release to execution and commissioning, reducing project
delivery time by 26 weeks with the reduction in project material cost by 5-10%
for multiple indoor substation projects. This career episode shows my position
as an Engineering Operational Excellence Manager for this project. The location of the Opex program was Doha, State of

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Project Name: Streamline
Engineering Process flow for faster project completion

Date and
June 2015 to April 2016 (11 months)

Location: Doha,
State of Qatar

organization: Larsen and Toubro Limited

Engineering Operational Excellence Manager

2.2 Background

CE2.2.1 Larsen and
Toubro Limited (L&T) is one of the largest Indian multinational
conglomerate companies, headquartered in Mumbai. This 75 years organization has
a strong business presence in Engineering,
Construction, Manufacturing, and Technology and maintains a leadership in all
its major lines of businesses.  Currently, it serves customers in more than 30
countries of the world across a number of industries.

CE2.2.2 The Company
provides turnkey ‘Design and Build’ solutions backed by experience and
capabilities across multiple business units. It also designs and engineers
power plant equipment’s for coal and gas power plants, power transmission and
distribution, and boilers and turbines. L’s Hydrocarbon Engineering
Business serves the Oil & Gas sector across multiple geographies. The
company offers custom designed equipment and systems for critical process
industries, delivered to customers around the world. Some other solutions and
systems for the defense sector backed by a strong focus on R&D and IT
Solutions and services are also offered worldwide, through a network of

CE2.2.3 The work
assignment was assigned to OPEX department by Power Transmission and Distribution–Middle-East
top management to develop new strategies in project execution to reduce project
completion time by at least 26weeks from the current state and also to optimise
material cost by 5 – 10%. This will help the organisation to capture larger
international market share in power construction.

CE2.2.4 PT&D Middle-East business head wanted to position L&T Company in
front of the client as EPC contractor with high potential and extra caliber to
complete 10 substation projects in a year. Initially, L&T used to construct
7- 8 substation per year. Further, to achieve the target of 10 substations to
be completed per year and also to take high volume projects in future, PT&D
Middle-East head, had invited operational excellence department to work on
following parameters:

Streamline entire engineering process flow to
Reduce project delivery timeline by 26weeks and
Minimize project consumable material cost by 5 to

I was selected by Operational Excellence
department head to lead this program based on my in-depth knowledge of power
transmission and distribution construction. Major expectations were:

To Increase
PT&D business revenue and
improve the business profitability

CE2.2.5 My project
tasks were as stated below:

Led and managed
operational excellence assignment to streamline entire engineering/business

Leveraged lean methodology combined with the problem – solving
tools as a key strategy to deliver cost and responsiveness goals.

Assessed current state of business process efficiency &
performance and identified improvements opportunities.

Formulated business
cases and charters and established financial and non-financial goals.

Conducted idea generation workshop with cross-functional departments
to generate solutions.

Managed people and team to deliver top management expectation.

Implemented mechanization initiatives by investing in CapEx items.

Analyzed and scrutinized “As-Is” productivity data for civil
structure construction, electrical and HVAC equipment installation and MEP

Improved business working capital requirements by restructuring
Design, SCM, execution and inventory policies.

Organized war room concept at project site office where the
cross-functional team gathers to solve critical problems.  

Prepared project plan and budget to complete Opex assignment.

Contacted multiple vendors to organize an on-site demonstration of
advanced tools and techniques.

Organized workshop to coach project team on new initiatives.

Established relationship with
external consultants and industry experts to keep track on new advanced

Developed proprietary
knowledge material on Turnkey execution excellence to strengthen firm’s
competitive positioning

CE2.2.6 My project
position can be seen from the chart shown next:


From the above chart, I independently handled
the program with three Opex assistant managers directly reporting and eight persons
assigned from PT business who indirectly reporting to me during the
program journey.

Personal Activities

CE2.3.1 I and my team were
engaged by PT Middle-East top management to develop an engineering
process improvement strategy. I and my team started by interviewing and brainstorming
every person in business at the different altitude (C-suite to site staff) and conducted
department wise diagnostics to map current state business process and to
identify improvement levers. I utilized Fishbone diagram and issue tree tools
to identify levers of improvement and value stream mapping (VSM) tool to map
the current state of engineering process flow. Later, I invited and organized
Opex program kick-off meeting to take buy-in from business key stakeholders. I
presented Opex initial diagnosis report, which identified improvement areas and
took the consensus from stakeholders and concluded with project objective, key initiatives
and benefit/savings expected from Opex program such as faster project completion, man-days savings, material cost savings and
improving business profit margins. I estimated Opex assignment expenses and sent to PT business top
management for approval

CE2.3.2 I identified mechanization need and reduced
manpower cost and increased productivity by 60%. For instance: Earlier, prior
to concrete pouring activity manpower used to do rebar tying manually, productivity
outcome was  60 tie’s in 20 minutes, but
after my intervention using my past experience, I introduced and implemented
rebar tying machine, the productivity shot up by 20 times that is 60 ties in 1
min with handheld machine. It resulted in huge savings of binding wire,
increased steel tying productivity and reduced manpower and skilled dependency

CE2.3.3 I deployed one of Opex
team person to site to capture “As-Is” productivity data of civil structure
construction, electrical & HVAC equipment installation and MEP works.
Moreover, I consulted industry expert and used my past project experience to
establish new productivity norms to complete execution work faster. Based on the project objective and top management mandate, I redesigned
project execution plan referring to timeline, manpower, material, and plant
& machinery availability. I combined multiple activities and defined new critical
and subcritical activities using my prior work experience, taking PT&D
senior experts and suggestions from industry experts. I got an approval of this
new execution plan from the internal and external client. Snapshot showed below

CE1.3.4 I and my team rationalised manpower requirement based on skillset needed
for the activity. Based on upcoming critical and subcritical activities, I
ensured desired & the number of skilled/unskilled resources were deployed by
the project manager. I made project team interact with the team and prepare three
weeks to forecast planning for resources and material required to complete the
critical activity. I computed new unit Man-days norms after discussing with project
directors, industry experts, and using my past project site experience (image
is shown below). I conducted idea generation workshop at a project site, which
included site team and business cross-functional staff to generate ideas for
engineering improvement.


CE2.3.5 I prepared roles and
responsibilities of my team and assigned key result areas and gave feedback
frequently. During Opex program journey, I found one of my teammates was facing
difficulty in understanding the linear project, as he was from manufacturing
background, so I arranged a linear project management training session at
L&T Institute of project management. I harmonized with the project manager, construction manager, site
engineer, safety engineer to ensure safety standards are met as per
organizations norms, I implemented safety scorecards which will be filled by
site engineer and supervisor before the start of an activity. Also, I developed
the Quality scorecard, where quality engineer along with site engineer inspect
the activity and give clearance to raise RFI/RFQ to the client, this minimised
rework and time. I followed Qatar National Constructions standards (QCS) and Qatar water and
electricity standards in the tasks. I made risk register and created Heat map
basis on severity scores. I listed down all the risk involved in the project
and associated cost impact.

CE2.3.6 I received training on next level of negotiation, communication, client
relationship management and advance excel, and attended the workshop for steel
and concrete detailing software by Tekla. I referred articles on advanced
construction techniques, modular formwork to eliminate unnecessary carpentry need.
I used internal R&D department to find strength & durability tests of new
chemical curing agents, processed sand, etc. and along with project team take
the test results to client & consultant and discuss the benefits of new
materials for the way forward and approval.

CE2.3.7 I along with my team organized weekly meetings with business key
stakeholders to update Opex progress, take approval of CapEx item, and decision
on cascading initiatives across other projects. I also meet with PT&D Middle-East
top management once a month to update on Opex progress and share the tangible and
non-tangible benefits. Further, I created way forward roadmap for cascading
initiatives across the business. I used software such as Microsoft suite and
Microsoft projects and Primavera for planning and preparing schedules. I also
used in-house software called EIP for reverse auction of transformers, cables,
and other project consumable materials. I prepared project flowchart and
network design using Microsoft Visio and took help of mind mapping software to
layout thoughts and capture new ideas.

CE2.3.8 Referring to
new execution strategy, I developed multiple systems for planning, monitoring
and tracking the project. I took the weekly report from project site team,
reviewed daily progress tracker, if needed invited project team to cluster
office for understanding their difficulty in implementation. I identified one
person from PT&D business and deployed at the project site to monitor improvement
continuously and also to capture other pain areas for continued improvement. I
created engineering design tracker to track drawings status, the number of
drawings revised / modifications done, the number of man-hours spent to do
design and to track client approval status. 

CE2.3.9 I revised
SCM policies for formwork procurement. One of the major policies changed in
PT&D business was formwork expenditure. I observed, formwork was rented and
after work returned to the vendor. While returning, some of the formwork items
were misplaced, damaged & lost, resulting in paying huge damage charges to
the vendor. To minimize this loss, I analyzed formwork expenditure data,
checked with local vendor price of new formwork and prepared formwork owned vs
renting cost-benefit analysis and shared with PT&D top management for decision
making to buy rather renting. Finally, after a lot of discussions, top
management approved to buy 2 sets of formwork as pilot run and advised SCM to
procure 2 sets of formwork instead of renting and CAPEX to be approved from
Business unit.  To monitor and control, I
created centralized formwork department at Qatar project

CE2.3.10 I took care
of performance metrics of the initiatives. I prepared Opex project Standard
Operating Procedure (SOP), standard templates to capture productivity, project
milestone completion, material planning and operational metrics, management
dashboards, weekly review template. I made PowerPoint Presentations of PT&D
Opex program & benefits to the top management of Larsen and Toubro group
which included CEO and MD of the company, Sr. Vice president of the Opex department,
PT&D international GCC business head & PT&D IC head and Opex
department head

CE2.3.11 Problem

Problem 1: One of the critical challenges in the project was the
implementation of steel reinforcement tying machine. There was major resistance
from the project site team, as people were unaware of the technology and they
had their own apprehensions.

Solution: To ice break on new technology, firstly, I invited rebar tying
machine vendors on board and along with team discussed machine operating, technical,
productivity and cost details and also cost of the binding wire with different
gauge size. I checked with the vendor on machine certification also. I prepared
productivity and cost comparison statement between manual and automatic tying
and presented to PT&D top management & project team (Image below of
comparison statement).


I highlighted
the tangible savings of rebar machine implementation. After reviewing cost of
machine & benefits, PT&D top management was convinced but project team
had too many concerns, therefore to clear project team doubts, I again invited
vendor and  asked him to conduct on-site demonstration
at live project site so that project team could see physically live performance
and also take look and feel of the machine. I organized the demonstration on
the construction of Raft and vertical columns & walls in presence of labors,
technicians, supervisors, site engineer, construction manager, project manager,
project consultant and senior management. Post demonstration, I organized
knowledge transfer and Q&A session of the machine. Later, all doubts were
cleared and finally, the Purchase order was placed and implemented successfully.

Problem 2: Next major
problem I encountered was the preparation of engineering drawing, which was
taking a lot of time and impacted the delay in getting construction approvals,
permits and delay in the start of execution work.

 Solution: I conducted detailed diagnostics
of the engineering drawing release process and came to know that major delay
was due to vendor finalization. Further, I noticed that substation layout
drawing was the key drawing; therefore next delay identified was in preparation
of substation layout drawing. I invited SCM and Design team together for
discussion and interviewed them. Then I got to know that the real delay was in finalizing
top 5 key equipment vendors that are GIS, Transformer, CRP panel, 11KV switchgear
and LV switchgear due to longer negotiation and payment terms.

I listed down key equipment vendors with
their technical details and then asked design team to check the database and
pull out similar equipment drawing used in past for same Kahramaa client projects
for reference purpose.

I discussed the issue with PT&D top
management and they gave go-ahead to redesigned SCM and Design drawing process.
In new process Design and SCM team together will start the activity immediately
after P-LOA is received. Further, I advised design team to shortlist key equipment’s
and list down all technical data points and queries needed to be addressed by
vendors. On another side, I asked SCM team to take an input of key equipment’s from
the design team and immediately start procurement process. I also told them to place
LOI to the vendor with conditional payment and delivery terms to minimize transaction
time by 2 months.

CE2.3.12 I identified
another major challenge during Opex assignment in this business was “missing of
unified / builders’ engineering drawings”. To bridge the gap I invited external
design agency, in-house design, SCM, and site teams for the discussion to know
the reason for unnecessary cutouts and rework at the site in spite of getting
an earlier approval of substation equipment layout drawing. During the
discussion, I found there was no proper coordination between the in-house
design team, external design agency, and site team. Also, SCM team was taking
6-8 months for finalizing LSP, firefighting and HVAC vendors. Resulting,
unnecessary cutouts and reworks. I created following new system to solve the

In-house design team forwarding substation equipment layout
approved drawings to the external design agency.

SCM to finalize LSP, firefighting and HVAC vendors within 2months
from project zero date.

Revised external agency contract conditions. The new contract mandated
external design agency in coordination with an in-house design team to prepare
all relevant drawings first and later superimpose and prepare unified /
builders drawing and send it for approval.

Civil head identified as the owner to coordinate and track builders’

All builders’ drawing to be reviewed and seek approval first from
the civil head and in-house design head and upon satisfaction sent to the
client for approval and later to site for construction.

CE2.3.13I used
Microsoft suite (Excel, word, and presentation) and Microsoft projects /
primavera for planning and preparing the schedule. Additionally, I also used in-house
ERP platform called EIP for reverse auction of transformers, cables, and many consumables.
I took help of Microsoft Visio for preparing flowchart and network design and mind
mapping software to layout thoughts and capture new ideas.

2.4 Summary

I gained a number of professional abilities by
working on the project that included leadership skills, unique project
challenges, ideas on mechanization, ways of handling pressure and stressful
situation. I improved my planning, decision making and communication abilities
to convince client and business top management with enhanced negotiation
skills, cross culture resource management. I along with my team successfully
streamlined most of the critical engineering activities and reduced project
timeline by 24weeks and saved material cost. Summary of benefits is shown below.
I was again awarded top performer badge and rewarded with money for
successfully completion Opex program