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A giant in engineering

Published : Apr 08, 2005 00:00 IST

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T+T-
A fluid catalytic cracking unit designed by Larsen and Toubro for Exxon's Esso refinery at Southampton, United Kingdom.-SHASHI ASHIWAL

A fluid catalytic cracking unit designed by Larsen and Toubro for Exxon's Esso refinery at Southampton, United Kingdom.-SHASHI ASHIWAL

FROM its humble origins in 1938, Larsen and Toubro Ltd, better known as L&T, has grown into a diversified engineering and construction giant with an annual turnover in excess of Rs.10,000 crores. L&T was founded by two Danish engineers at a small place in Mazgaon in 1938. It became a public limited company in 1950 and is now a professionally managed Indian company that has set its sights on becoming an Indian multinational.

L&T, with its corporate headquarters in Mumbai, has 22 manufacturing units spread across the country, including at Hazira, Ankleshwar and Vadodara in Gujarat. Hazira Works was the first unit to be set up by the company in Gujarat. Since then L&T's presence in the State has grown manifold.

L&T has a precision stainless steel fabrication facility at Ranoli near Vadodara. The company's engineering centre is also located at Vadodara, which takes up turnkey EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) projects in hydrocarbons, fertilizers and the power sector. L&T also has two units in Ankleshwar, manufacturing welding consumables and powder-coated carbide tools. In L&T's map of Gujarat, however, the pride of place goes to the Hazira Works. In the early 1980s, the company's leadership took a strategic decision to set up heavy engineering facilities near Hazira on the banks of the river Tapi in south Gujarat. The facility is a part of the company's heavy engineering division, and is engaged in the design, engineering and manufacture of plant and equipment for core sector industries such as cement and steel, nuclear power, aerospace, oil and gas, petrochemicals and fertilizers.

L&T had acquired about 200 acres (80 hectares) of wasteland at Mora village on the northern bank of the Tapi. Construction began in 1985, and production commenced in November 1987. Major expansion has been carried out since then in two phases, in 1992-93 and 1998-2000.

Today, Hazira Works has emerged as a world-class heavy engineering facility, supplying critical high-tech plant and equipment to its customers located all over the world. It undertakes the complete design, engineering and manufacture of heavy equipment such as reactors, pressure vessels, columns and towers. Hazira Works specialises in nuclear power plant components such as endshields and steam generators, aerospace equipment for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), offshore platforms for oil exploration and special project equipment for entities such as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Unlike process industries, heavy engineering is a labour-intensive industry. Hazira Works directly employs 1,150 people. It also provides employment to about 3,000 people through its various contractors. The company does not believe in hiring skilled labour from the markets but has evolved an elaborate in-house training programme for its employees drawn from nearby areas. The company took special permission to train youth from Gujarat under the scheme, and has imparted training to about 1,400 youth from different districts. Out of 635 workmen on the rolls of Hazira Works, 450 are from this in-house training scheme.

L&T follows the credo of thinking global and acting local. Accordingly, the company has been working to get international recognition. Hazira Works is an ISO 9001-2001 company. It was the first unit in the country to get accreditation to EHS (Environment, health and Safety) standards of ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. In April 2003, Hazira Works organised a comprehensive quality audit of its systems by Det Norske Veritas of the Netherlands against their quality protocol IQRS (International Quality Rating System) and became the only organisation in the country to be placed at Level 7. The efforts have paid off, and 60 per cent of the total sales of Hazira Works come from the highly competitive export markets. Hazira Works feels it can take on the challenges of a global market and turn them into opportunities. The company has represented to the State government that the Hazira seafront should be developed into a full-fledged port for break bulk cargo with adequate loading facilities. At present, Shell is developing an LNG (liquefied natural gas) port at Hazira. L&T also feels that the Gujarat Maritime Board should maintain adequate draught in the river by periodic dredging of the channel so that larger ships can dock at its jetties and at Magdalla port. As of now, Hazira Works has to ship its equipment by barge to Mumbai port, from where it is transhipped to larger ships.

As L&T expands its stature as an Indian multinational, Hazira Works will have a greater role to play in the group's activities.n

(This story was published in the print edition of Frontline magazine dated Apr 08, 2005.)

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