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Keeping in touch

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I just got back from Hyderabad, a city an hour and half away by air, from Bangalore where I live and work.
I had taken a break for a day.
Tekla's top honchos from Finland were visiting India for the first time and a get-together of major users of Tekla Structures in India was arranged at a private resort on the outskirts of the city.
I am not a major user. I own just 6 licenses but, being notorious internationally, they did not forget to invite me! (Thank you Anil Kumar and Ajit Mohite)
Their business plans were discussed in an audio visual presentation.
Tekla structures 13 will soon be released.
I hope they throw in a free good luck charm to neutralize the bad luck associated with number 13.
(Was Autocad Rel 13 popular and successful? Remember Apollo 13?)
Hospitality at the get-together was at its warmest, the spread on the dining table was sumptuous and I ate like a glutton. I now plan to punish myself and work off all the fat gained by longer hours at the Gym during the week.
I am writing to share some information that I gained by meeting several Tekla users from all over India who had been invited and who attended.
In my article on Overseas Steel detailing written over 4 years ago (it badly needs updating)  I had stated that X steel was a rarity in India. The scene has changed. Overall, I understand over 10,000 licenses of Tekla structures have been sold all over the world. This is an impressive number. (Does any one have the corresponding figure for SDS/2?)
In India all the firms that matter are now Tekla users and their turnover has zoomed.
The number of licenses has increased sharply. An organization that I associated with in 2003 had 19 detailers and 5 licenses then.  They have 68 detailers today and 25 Tekla licenses and another 10 SDS/2 licences too.
A team of 40 or more detailers is quite common these days.
It used to be less than 20 a few years ago.
Some of the heads of detailing firms I spoke to were talking about their ambitious plans to ramp up to 100 or more.
Autocad is practically neither software nor hardware nowadays. It has been relegated to "Shelf ware" in many detailing offices.
Pdf output has become common. No more Autocad plt files.
On the flip side:
Getting trained staff is still a major bottle neck.
Poaching and job hopping is rampant.
In the early eighties, any young pup with knowledge of Lotus 123, Dbase and Wordstar could pass for a "Software professional". Today the picture is different.
Likewise, today, any one who knows the menu structure of a 3d Modeling package wants to call himself a 3D modeler and holds his head high in interviews. Most of them can produce beautiful looking pictures on the screen in 3D. Not many of these pictures will translate to usable 2D dwgs for the fabricator. In interviews, I find ability to read and interpret contract dwgs is rare. They need someone to do that for them and once that is done for them, they are fast with the menus and the mouse. English communication is abysmal. They can't write a clearly worded Rfi.
Unethical practices by young detailers is also becoming common.
Some of them use their offer letters from one prospective employer to bargain for better terms at their present places of employment or use it in interviews at other places to ask for more.
Instances of people not joining on the promised dates after signing the offer letters as token of acceptance, are becoming common. Detailers who promised to serve for a certain minimum period are merrily breaking their promises to their employers. No employer has the time and patience to resort to legal remedies. Some take the precaution of asking for their certificates to be deposited with them till their committed period of service is over. Such practices were not necessary in this industry till now.
Instances of people leaving just a few days  after joining are also being heard about.
To return to the positive side:
Many Indian detailers working on INDIAN projects have finally graduated to 3d.
Four years ago, I had opined that considering the prices at which Tekla offers their licenses in India, no Indian detailer doing Indian jobs will ever be able to afford them. The only ones who use Tekla structures are those working on Overseas jobs where the returns are much higher and those who availed of Tekla's deferred payment schemes.
I must revise my opinion. I was impressed with the story of Reliance Petrochemicals project in Gujarat in Western India.
Their General Manager Mr Venkateshwarlu was an invitee and he made a presentation on how they had used modern methods successfully in a recent project.
Their petrochemical  project involved 120,000 tonnes of steel.
The owners had fixed up fabricators with a combined fabrication capacity of 10,000 tonnes per month.
They needed detailing capacity to match and it would have been considered impossible just a few years ago.
Detailing has always been a bottle neck here in large projects. I have faced it in the past.
But this time around they did it.
The job was divided among 13 detailing agencies, each using Tekla structures.
The detailers rose to the occasion.
This is the first instance to my knowledge where a major Indian Project involving so much steel was done successfully in so short a time.
The problem was in roping in good and experienced detailers who could work at Indian rates which is peanuts compared to what the detailers working for US projects get.
I understand that the detailing companies were paid about Rs 1000 per ton for this project  which is nearly three times the rate I was familiar with just a year ago (Rs 350  per ton).
When I was Deputy General Manager and heading the structural steel department at MECON in the late nineties, the prevailing rates were Rs 125 per ton up from Rs 90 per ton in the early nineties.
In comparison, Rs 1000 a ton, even after considering an average of 5 percent inflation, is a lot of money.  A dollar is  about Rs 44.  Do not convert Rs 1000 per ton to US dollars. It will still seem ridiculously low and give a warped picture. Remember that living costs are low in India compared to USA.
Salaries of Detailers have shot up sharply.
A rookie now gets paid double of what he got just three years ago.
Those with 5 to 10 years of experience now command figures close to software industry salaries. No one here has more experience than that. We began working on US projects only in 1997-98.
I am happy for my fellow detailers.
The market price for detailing has gone up and rightly so.
This is a grossly undervalued skill and service and the profession deserves better compensation.
The US market and the advent of 3D is directly responsible for this boom we are witnessing today in India.
Just keeping in touch.
Will write again later.

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