Telecommunication Consulting Group: A Holistic Telecommunication Design House
Albert Ko Director and Foo Ding Khen, Engineering Manager
Prior to 2009, the local telecommunications Oil and Gas engineering and design sector lacked cohesion, specifically around the sharing of knowledge and the exchange of best practices. On one hand, large multi-discipline design houses and Oil and Gas operators did not maintain a high headcount of telecommunication engineers, and on the other, experienced engineers preferred engaging in consulting practices and chose to work as freelancers. “Companies resorting to engineering consultation in the oil and gas industry face problems such as sourcing for telecommunication experts, in addition to the high cost of recruitment and retention. Therefore, creating a challenging and enticing environment for these experts becomes all the more difficult,” says Albert Ko, Director at TCG.
"We aim to stay at the top of the game through active engagement with stakeholders"
Realizing the need for an independent outfit owing to the lack of competent engineers and the lack of career prospects within the oil and gas industry telecommunications sector, the founders of Telecommunication Consulting Group (TCG) aspired to connect the dots between the two realms. TCG was created to deliver a ‘holistic telecommunication design house,’ where the exchange of knowledge and the training of the next generation of telecommunication engineers could be carried out effectively.
Today, the company is regarded as a market leader in the deployment of telecommunication services for Oil and Gas projects in Malaysia especially in deepwater, with its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and a branch in Perth, Australia.
Bridging the Need within the Telecommunications Oil and Gas Industry
Having 120 years of combined consultancy experience within the team in the oil and gas industry, TCG understands the ins and outs of the telecommunication business. Engineers at TCG have worked in various ecosystems, including the operator, vendor, fabricator, system integrator, and design house environments. Such experiences play a crucial role in acknowledging the priorities of clients, the values of the different stakeholders, and the challenges that organizations face. As a result, TCG delivers ‘fit for purpose’ solutions that address the discrete requirements of its clients. Ko sheds light on a scenario that substantiates the company’s approach to solving industry impediments: “The recent downturn in the oil and gas industry has resulted in the reduction of enterprise budget, without compromising on the design integrity and operational excellence. We work closely with our clients and effectively deliver the desired outcomes while taking into account their preferences and necessities. We aim to stay at the top of our game through active engagement with stakeholders in the industry whilst encouraging best practices, embracing newer engineering technologies, and adopting innovative approaches.”
TCG also investigates international, regional, and local regulatory requirements pertaining to the project at hand, in order to ensure that compliance constraints do not hinder the on-going developments made by the company while collaborating with its clientele.
It analyzes multiple technical and commercial viabilities for each ‘fit for purpose’ solution, in accordance with constraints such as terrain, bandwidth, power requirements, and geographical prerequisites, thereby devising the most cost-effective solution possible. Furthermore, TCG effectively manages its tenders by developing procurement strategies and considering a vendor’s capabilities to cater to the needs of the clients.
Market Authority for Local Deepwater Projects
TCG is regarded as a market authority in the discipline of telecommunications for deepwater in Malaysia as its consultants have been a pivotal force to assist clients in most of the deepwater projects, i.e. Kikeh spar Dry Tree Unit (DTU) vessel, Gumusut- Kakapsemi-submersible platform and Malikai Tension Leg Platform (TLP). Deepwater is particularly challenging as establishing a reliable and stable communication link on a floating offshore structure requires in-depth technical knowledge.
We always give paramount importance to our clients’ priorities and try to reduce their overheads of telecommunications solutions and services
In one particular venture— Malaysia’s first TLP project, TCG was involved in the Basic Engineering Studies. The deepwater establishment was also the first floating platform in Malaysia to deploy WiMAX radio and the second to implement a digital Troposcatter radio for inter-platform and offshore-onshore communication respectively. Due to the excellent performance and past deepwater experiences, one of TCG’s consultants was recruited by the client’s project team to evaluate the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) bids. The consultant was subsequently retained to assist the client in the pre-commissioning operations at the fabrication yard, and later, for final commissioning at the offshore enterprise in Sabah. The depth of his technical knowledge and contribution to the project enabled TCG to feature as a prominent contributor to the Malikai TLP project. As a result, TCG was awarded a noteworthy recognition from the client for the rendition of telecommunication services.
Revitalizing the Oil and Gas Industry
“The oil and gas telecommunication engineering landscape is changing partly due to the drop in oil prices and also the evolution of telecommunication services. We now see clients and operators going directly to vendors for design, build, and supply packages,” explains Foo Ding Khen, Engineering Manager at TCG.
The company observed an increase in the requests for telecommunication engineering consultation and services from both system integrators and oil and gas organizations. A trend such as this perfectly aligns with TCG’s Managed Engineering Solutions (MES) model, through which, it provides a comprehensive solution that is both transparent and cost-effective while being customizable for individual clients. With this model, the clients receive a list of engineering documents, schematics, and deliverables that are designed and developed natively by the company. TCG takes full responsibility for the quality of services provided by its consultants through an internal Quality Assurance (QA) procedure and peer-review process.
One of the outsource model success stories is the detailed design engineering of the Mobile Offshore Production Unit (MOPU) for the K5 Strategic Technology Project.
This project is expected to position Malaysia’s National Oil Company (NOC) as the world’s first offshore CO2 cryogenic distillation facility operator, and the endeavor is a significant milestone for embarking on a journey towards a greener oil and gas industry. Through the K5 project, it is envisaged that no contaminants are emitted into the atmosphere without venting or flaring setbacks.
Owing to TCG’s MES module, TCG’s client which is a British- Malaysian engineering company, one of the few companies licensed to undertake major offshore engineering projects for Malaysia’s NOC, was able to participate in the endeavor, despite the lack of telecommunication resources at the operational facility. TCG delivered a complete telecommunications engineering package with total transparency of work and undisputed quality in services. On the other hand, the MES module turned out to be instrumental for the client, as it served as the building block for future telecommunication projects. TCG exceeded client’s expectations by helping them reach the project timelines as the client was falling behind on the schedule, prior to the collaboration.
“We have added immense value to our client’s list of services, and they can now partake in various projects without having to hire and retain an in-house telecommunications engineer. Therefore, reducing their cost without compromising on service quality has become the need of the hour,” explains Foo.
TCG considers the MES, which is essentially an outsourcing service, as a crucial factor in addressing some of the critical challenges plaguing the oil and gas industry. It provides interoperability of systems, where clients working with different vendors can obtain maximum value out of the available solution sets. The company takes a ‘multipronged approach’ to help both vendors and clients collaborate on a multitude of ventures. Additionally, TCG extends consulting services for a wide range of equipment used on floating platforms in the oil and gas industry such as gyrostabilizers for backhaul transmission, microwave devices, radio frequency modulators, fiber optics, integrated communication consoles, meteorological systems, cameras, and LAN configurations.
Realizing Organizational Objectives
TCG’s cultural foundation is built on accountability, teamwork, excellence, and consistent improvisation of its portfolio. TCG empowers its employees to make decisions and challenge their status quo while being fully accountable for the mandated responsibilities. Hence, it has passed many milestones by chartering credible engineers for telecommunication ventures. The company has also revolutionized the largely male-dominated industry with over 35 percent of female employees who actively work as consultants. A culture such as this not only upholds the collective spirit in diversity but also quenches the dearth of talent in the telecommunication sector. Bolstered by a workforce devoted to delivering efficient telecommunication engineering/ consultation services, TCG aspires to venture into the area of contracting and outsourcing services to offer high-quality output while providing cost-effective solutions to clients.
“We always give paramount importance to our clients’ priorities and work toward reducing their overheads of telecommunication solutions and services. We are aiming to double the feature sets and functionalities that are delivered through MES in the next 12-18 months while enhancing the knowledge sharing capabilities of our model,” concludes Ko. These milestones and roadmaps offer a promising future for the oil and gas industry as a whole while cementing a strong pedestal for future telecommunication experts.