UTC Engenharia S.A. is one of Brazil’s leading industrial engineering companies. A recognized pioneer in the nation’s growing offshore and energy sectors, the company continues to channel its energy and investments into excelling in the industry. Reuben Ford discovers how UTC made it to the top.
With us oil exploration slowing to a crawl over the past year, interest is growing in Brazilian oil reserves, which are believed to hold twice as much as US deposits. No wonder therefore, that one of the biggest areas of development in Brazil’s booming economy is offshore drilling and platforms. The country’s oil company Petrobras has exploded in size and importance, especially after the government’s 1997 decision to break the company’s monopoly on the development of the oil fields. Following the discovery of many reserves off the vast coastlines plans to build more and more rigs to drill all the wells have flooded the industry.
Great news for the country’s industrial engineering companies, in particular UTC Engenharia S.A, which was recently ranked first in a list of 500 national engineering and construction companies published by O Empreiteiro magazine. Despite the 1997 ruling, companies are focusing on local content and getting a lot of equipment built in Brazil, not only supporting the economy, but reducing costs and tapping into the growing expertise in the sector. In 2010 UTC handled projects to the value of $1,700 million and had annual turnover of almost $1,000 million. Equating to net profits of $100 million the figures earned UTC second place in Dinheiro (Money) magazine’s list of top earning engineering and construction companies.
RISING TO THE TOP
Founded in 1974, the company was a part of Grupo Ultra and immediately began rising to the top of the industry, competing with the country’s major Engineering enterprises. Due to organizational and strategic reasons, Grupo Ultra sold to Grupo OAS in 1992 and the company began to operate as UTC Engenharia S.A.
A management buyout in 1996/1997 led to the acquisition by the current directors of UTC whose primary concern was to maintain market position within the dimensions of an erratic climate. As this phase passed, UTC entered a process of strategic planning and growth that continues until today.
Having developed into one of the most important industrial engineering companies in Brazil, UTC has the structural capacity to work on small and big projects alike. “We operate in all industry segments, leading in oil and gas projects both on- and offshore, petrochemical and chemical plants, and the generation of hydro, thermal and nuclear energy,” explains Aline Guedes, institutional communications manager. UTC also provides engineering and maintenance services to the paper and cellulose and mining industries.
As one of the first companies to work with offshore installations, UTC has dozens of successful operations under its professional belt and has made its mark through performance, quality and responsibility. “We are one of the most active in the offshore sector and participate in every stage of the construction of maritime platforms, involving engineering, detailing, manufacture, assembly, integration of services such as technical assistance and operational guidance as well as offering modifications, extensions and maintenance for existing rigs,” Guedes continues.
With the unprecedented growth of the economy, UTC has proven this technical and professional capacity by holding on to its leadership position among the top engineering, construction and assembly companies in the country. “Considering the advantageous economic climate in Brazil and planned investments in the private and public sector, the outlook for 2011 is extremely positive. As well as marking our presence among the recognized market leaders, new contracts and construction should generate 10 percent to 15 percent annual growth on 2010,” confirms Guedes.
Located in the main industrial regions of Brazil, UTC has Offshore Operational Bases in Niterói and Macaé (Rio de Janeiro) of 112,000 square meters and 21,000 square meters respectively. The Niterói base is completely equipped with state-of-the-art technology for modular construction, while Macaé provides offshore assembly, maintenance, repairs, modifications and technical assistance for the oil and gas platforms. Both are strategically close to the ports and naval construction center at Baía de Guanabara. The bases are also prepared to meet the demand for pre-salt. All of the company’s contracts are monitored through UTC’s head offices located in São Paulo.
In addition to the head offices, UTC also has an equipment department in São Paulo and administrative support offices in Salvador (Bahia state), Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), Rio de Janeiro and in Houston, Texas.
Infrastructure and technology are areas of constant investment. UTC is also one of the biggest suppliers of engineering services for petroleum terminals, for clients such as Petrobras, Shell, Ipiranga and Statoil, all of whom have plants in São Paulo. However, being in the most easily accessible state in Brazil, the equipment park caters for all areas of engineering undertaken by UTC. “Considering current investment, we will soon double the value of the technology in the department,” says Guedes.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
UTC opts to develop its own technology and processes or licensed alternatives for the execution of its projects. “Our aim is to provide a differentiated service, with financial and intellectual advantages for our clients. In the global market we face today, these added values are the most important factor for sustaining business,” Guedes relates.
The development of equipment and services is carried out and presented to the client when it is ready for implementation; the final phases however, are completed together so that the conclusion is sure to solve all of the project needs. A group of engineers and technical support work on the technological development process. Exclusive to UTC, the highly qualified professionals are mechanical and civil engineers, experienced in construction, electric, mechanical and commissioning projects as well as the hard and software resources available in the international market.
Also recognized by industry magazines for its excellent working conditions and benefits given to staff, UTC’s management model favors the development of skilled employees who are committed to the company’s goals and responsibilities. Offering training schemes and programs, as well as respecting working environment standards (SA 8000 certified), UTC retains staff and is also a popular choice for new employees (both trainees and experienced executives), a useful quality considering current growth. “The staff is the energy that drives our company and UTC gives back by valuing all collaborators’ efforts,” Guedes adds.
With an extensive list of completed current projects, UTC certainly the company is a leader in the refining and pipeline sector, operating important projects for major oil and gas companies. Electromechanical engineering equipment and drilling services as well as painting, renovating and construction projects are all underway as well as the services to the cellulose, mining and steel industries.
The construction of the hydroelectric plant in Itaipu in 1980 is an example of one of the groundbreaking constructions in which UTC has taken part. At the time, the energy plant was the second largest in the world and the largest construction in Brazil. The project was an important step forward for UTC, which gained subsequent energy contracts with constructions such as the Angra nuclear plant in Tucurí. Throughout the 1980s, the company spent more than 8 million man hours building and engineering facilities, which have marked the history of the industry.
This decade has seen important contracts with Petrobras Netherlands and technical engineering of petroleum treatment plants. In 2008, UTC successfully installed a tower for propane production at the Paulínia refinery in São Paulo. The tower is the largest in Latin America and was installed at the plant which treats LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas). UTC pre-assembles such towers in the horizontal position and each can weigh up to 900 tons. The crane used to lift and position the towers in the largest to be used on the Brazilian mainland.
The list of achievements is endless and the accumulated experience has been thanks to technical innovation and processes that have contributed to UTC’s position and expertise today. Together with investment in training and increased knowhow, the company has built solid working relationships with industry giants such as Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras); PNBV; Brasoil; Transpetro; PQU; Gerdau Açominas; Companhia Vale do Rio Doce; CST; Thyssen Krupp; Polysius; VAI; TBG; Itaipu Binacional; Dresser; GE; Novo Pignone; Veracel; Halliburton; Demag/Siemens; Eletrobrás Nuclear; CSN; Cemig; Voith; and others.
A pioneer and industry frontrunner, UTC dominates the markets in which it competes. From basic projects to detailing, planning, construction and installation, the company that has won awards for excellence has it covered. In the fast moving and competitive world of industrial engineering, UTC has the infrastructure, efficiency and technology plus both pre- and post operational service to go the distance.