India's skills in the $125-billion global engineering services market will also take centre stage at Nasscom's 15th annual India leadership event, which will kick off next week at Mumbai.

Sudha Menon

Pune, Feb. 7

THE National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) has roped in international consulting heavyweight Booz Allen Hamilton for a detailed study of the booming engineering services space and to chalk out an action plan for India to leverage its skills and get a huge slice of the business.

The consultant's report is expected to be ready by March, sources said. India's skills in the $125-billion global engineering services market will also take centre stage at Nasscom's 15th annual India leadership event, which will kick off next week at Mumbai.

While the country's skills in the software services space is now an established fact, industry watchers point out that its skills in the engineering services is now slowly making a dent in the international market. The last couple of years have seen hectic action with a number of global heavyweights across industries homing in on India to either outsource or set up captive research and product development centres.

Betting big on India

The $15.6-billion Emerson is betting big on India's design engineering skills with its Pune-based centre designing products for 27 divisions of the corporation worldwide and, with more design engineering work expected to be outsourced gradually, the company wants a 250-member team in place at the earliest.

Neilsoft, a specialised engineering technology services provider, is running a dedicated centre for Back and Veatch and has recently bagged a contract from European construction major Skanska, to set up a dedicated offshore design centre in Pune with 50 people in place by March 2007. Steel company BlueScope Steel announced a Rs 340-crore investment in three new manufacturing facilities in India and followed this up with a joint venture with Tata Steel in November 2005. The joint venture will develop and manufacture value-added steel products including zinc/aluminium metallic coated steel, painted steel and pre-engineered buildings to tap markets in India and Asia.

Farm equipment manufacturer John Deere and Atlas Copco, both have engineering design centres now in Pune. Cummins Research and Technology India has over a 100 engineers providing design services for engines, power generations sets and filtration systems for its operations globally.

"Engineering services will take our IT industry beyond the functional IT services into the realm of complex, core functions from product development to product maintenance. While we are very well positioned to tap the opportunity, there is a lack of awareness about India's edge in this sphere," Mr Gaurav Singh, Nasscom's Senior Manager, said, confirming the appointment of the consultant to study the evolving business opportunity.

Special forum

Nasscom already has a special forum set up to help India-based engineering service providers exploit the potential for engineering services off shoring / outsourcing.

The forum is currently working on developing a definition for the scope of engineering services, helping the segment and the players to build a distinct identity to help in the market development efforts.

The stakeholders at present include a spectrum of players from biggies such as TCS, Wipro and Infosys to boutique players such as Neilsoft who come together to share learning and issues and to develop a concerted plan to address them at an industry level.

The Nasscom event next week will have a special track on the engineering services segment which will have panel discussions on the current market scenario and what India can do to capitalise on the opportunity.

Companies such as Nielsoft, meanwhile, are taking proactive action in anticipation of the explosion in demand. Come summer this year and the company is all set to kick of a slew of academia-industry partnership initiatives to enhance curriculum with a view to make engineering education more aligned to the needs of the industry.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 8, 2006)
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