Civil engineering companies’ prescriptive and rigid style of managing contractors should be changed to a more modern collaborative style in order to address time and quality issues within the industry.
So says Dr Ron Watermeyer, of Soderlund and Schutte Engineers, who presented a case for an entirely new approach to the audience of the South African Readymix Association (Sarma) Conference at Emperors Palace recently. Rather than a master and servant approach to construction projects, he recommends that engineers, contractors and suppliers pool their expertise and work as a closely knit team.
“Each party has an important role to play on projects need so that the expertise of all role-players is used from the very beginning. In this way we can move to a system of early warning and plan projects better as each expert reviews the scope of a new project. It is preferable that engineers, contractors and suppliers be identified at the design phase and have input from the design phase through planning to final construction,” Ron says.
He explains that if a consultative approach is adopted then lean construction techniques can be implemented where the design team and contractor work together from the beginning. Materials are procured and suppliers are informed and can prepare for the job in advance. In this way the right skills and supplies are available when needed.
Suppliers such as readymix concrete manufacturers are mostly called once a project is underway. If supply problems or vehicle access, or even quality issues arise they are quick to be blamed even though they were never involved in the planning stages. A consultative approach with all parties can prevent such problems and time wasting issues from the outset.
“There are some barriers that will need to be overcome before we can fully embrace these new methods of construction. These include a requirement for better professional services, quality management, strategic planning and thorough documentation being kept as proof of workmanship. In order for new techniques to be adopted the compilation of production information is critical. It is very important every step of the way for planning and to allow for quality management systems, as well as completion strategies of all parties to be aligned.”
Sarma quality system
He continues that self regulation is also critical and points out that industry standards can provide guidelines to work from. Organisations like Sarma, that recently introduced its own quality management system (QMS), therefore contribute to members adopting higher standards and playing a more trustworthy role in these projects in future.
With better regulated services from suppliers, contractors and engineering teams work can be better planned and regulated and this contributes to better quality and on time construction.
For more information call Sarma, Nico Pienaar, on (011) 791 3327, or fax 086 647 8034. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.sarma.co.za