Vital detailed design and CAD work for utility diversions on London’s Crossrail project is being sent to engineers in India to cut costs, NCE has learned.
Work heads to Bangalore
Consultant Hyder is to outsource most of its work on the project to its office in Bangalore. It is managing the relocation of Thames Water assets affected by the project.
Hyder will scope out work and carry out optioneering and feasibility studies in the UK. Once this is agreed, the firm will send most of the detailed design and CAD work to its office in Bangalore, India. Once completed, the work will be returned to the UK for technical review and presentation to the client.
Hyder explained the move to staff in an internal newsletter, seen by NCE. “Crossrail is a very challenging client and wants the design consultants to show greater efficiency and value for money in the delivery of schemes,” it says.
“The Bangalore design team offers a flexible resourcing arrangement, to meet scheme delivery demands at a competitive cost.”
It claims that the firm is now able to undercut its competition on cost, without reducing quality.
UK graduate redundancies
But a source close to the project told NCE that the move had led to graduate redundancies in the UK as only senior engineers are required to manage the work.
Hyder’s UK managing director Graham Reid denied this. “We are proactive in developing our graduates,” he said. “It’s not a new thing [to move work] and over 70% of our revenue is from overseas. We are a global firm and our work location is driven by technical competence.”
Reid said that a lot of competitors were adopting similar approaches.
“We’ve always used remote sources − it’s not just in Bangalore. There is cost pressure now as well and the Philippines and Bangalore can offer us cost efficiency”
Atkins chief executive Keith Clarke
Britain’s biggest consultant Atkins angered its employees in October 2009 when it told them that work for its water company clients was being sent to its Bangalore design centre (NCE 25 November 2009).
At the time Atkins chief executive Keith Clarke rejected claims that the outsourcing would compromise commitment to UK employees, reduce investment in the UK or become the equivalent of outsourced Indian call centres. “We’ve been doing it for five years,” he said.
“We’ve always used remote sources − it’s not just in Bangalore. There is cost pressure now as well and the Philippines and Bangalore can offer us cost efficiency.”
Thames Water has been cooperating with Crossrail over the last two years to assess the project’s potential impact on its own assets. Where necessary it has come up with solutions so Crossrail’s construction programme can proceed while minimising the impact on its customers.
Hyder opened its Bangalore office in 2009.