Every construction project is different. On one hand, no two projects are the same in respect of stakeholders, the finished product or its environment; however, on the other hand, all projects have a greater or lesser commonality of the processes used to create them. Projects have large numbers of different participants, each of whom have their own goals and perceptions as to what constitutes success both for the project itself and for themselves as organisations.
The key to achieving satisfaction is therefore to optimise alignment of these potentially conflicting objectives by ensuring initial understanding and “buy in” by all the project stakeholders to clearly define project success factors. Agreeing on, and then achieving these common objectives is the essence of Partnering/Teamwork approach in project management. This approach is highly dependent on mutual attitudes of mind, open communication, trust and cooperation. It is founded on an agreed strategy and built by working together on a fair basis to implement integrated project processes (Blockley and Godfrey, 2000).
Processes are what we do to get what we want. The output of a process is a product such as a new design for a facility. Thus, there is a great benefit by thinking of everything as a process. Many complex engineering problems involve using the ‘ing’ form, i.e. planning, designing, calculating and checking. Then, the attributes are identified by asking questions based on who, what, why, when, how and where. The answers to the ‘why’ questions drive the process – they are the reasons for the change and they define what is important. The answers to ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘where’ questions are the descriptors – they are the state variables. The ‘how’ questions define the method – the transformations.
The implication is that decisions on facility management, data management, construction methods, e.t.c., taken through this approach will become more effective. How? We engineers often neglect the why questions. Hence, we sometimes do not appreciate what the client really wants. Of course, he wants our building, roads, e.t.c—but the structure is only something he needs on the way to getting what he really wants, which is to add value to his life and business.
Partnering is best considered as a business ethic that can be adopted for all projects regardless of procurement route or contractual form. It needs to be emphasised. Working in a team requires that all team-mates have a dependable perception of each other and mutual recognition that the outcome will be better than working separately in competition. To achieve this, in a project, it is necessary to:
Take an interest in each other.
Work together to earn trust.
Share knowledge and information.
Understand and measure as dependably as possible the benefits of partnering.
Unlike sport (which is win – lose), engineers must strive for win – wins in project implementation. Thinking win-win is not a technique, but a philosophy of life. Adversarial approaches need to be replaced by teamwork/partnering, trust has to push aside suspicion. It is important to separate the people from the problem, focus on interest (and not on positions) to identify options for mutual benefits.
The seven pillars that support the ‘partnering’ approach to successful project management are: Strategy, Membership/Stakeholders, Equity, Integration, Benchmarks, Project Process and Feedback. It must be noted that benchmarking of outcomes is used to provide feedback and to, thereby, foster continuous improvement in product and services; and, most importantly, in relationship between satisfied stakeholders. This, in turn, promotes ongoing profitable business (equity) for all concerned (Smith, 2002).
5.2.2 Application of Partnering to implement Reid Crowther’s Projects
Being a leading player on the consultancy field, Reid Crowther has evolved its unique method and principle of management in whatever projects it is involved in. For the period that this report covers, this report tries to explain how this philosophy is applied in the projects handled, where applicable, during the period.
(a) Villages’ Water Supply Scheme: Upon submission of the preliminary design report by Reid Crowther to CNL, the latter undertook an evaluation of the report vis-à-vis proper consideration of locality conditions. The grey areas were sent to Reid Crowther to evolve solutions to them.
This onerous task is not about forces of nature, for which engineering always look for means to control. It is about people—the people of the oil-producing areas in the Niger Delta. Part of the agreement in the oil exploration licence issued to CNL is to improve the living conditions of these people. But corruption, at all tiers of government, has not allowed this to yield dividends to these people; thus, their anger is usually any form they deemed fit.
To reduce this incessant violence and allow the successful construction of the project, Reid Crowther applied some of the features of partnering in the management of the Villages’ Water Supply Scheme. A forum of all stakeholders – CNL, NNPC, Delta State Government, Villages’ representatives, e.t.c—is initiated to discuss vital factors pertinent to the success of the project. In this forum, the aim is a ‘win-win’ resolution on these issues; such that it is cost-effective to CNL, improves the living conditions of the villagers and reduce violence to the barest minimum, becomes a key point for the Delta State Government in its account of stewardship to the state.
Moreover, feedback means are provided to all stakeholders in the construction process. This led to the production of a construction philosophy for the project, which all stakeholders agreed to, as follows:
The project will be completed by the most cost-effective means.
It will maximise the opportunities for local contractors in the villages to become involved and to develop relevant skills.
Its construction activities will be broken down into small independent units that can be done by local contractors.
It must ensure that the maximum percentage of the capital expenditure is retained in the communities in the form of wages and earnings (Reid Crowther, 2002a).
Furthermore, considering the highly volatile personality of these villagers in CNL’s areas of operation based on tribal differences (particularly, Ijaws and Itsekiris), Reid Crowther (2002b) emphasises that per capita consumption be increased by an amount needed to cater for an estimated 1000 persons to account for the satellite communities close to the villages considered. This is to avoid any ill-feelings and consequent disruption of the project construction in the area.
In conclusion, the adoption of the partnering approach in the management of the Villages’ Water Supply Scheme by Reid Crowther promotes and ensures ongoing profitable business (equity) for its client and improved benefits for the villages in terms of provision of infrastructures.
PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED AND SOLUTIONS PROFFERED
Concerning Villages’ Water Supply Scheme
In carrying out the design of reinforced concrete units of this project, a major problem is working with specified dimensions of units. These restraints arose from locality consideration, which are paramount to the successful constraint of this project.
The problem lies in reaching a compromise between laid-down design procedures, as stated in BS 8110, and the specified dimensions that the units must take. Usually, design aims at achieving the most economical, balanced section in which the maximum stresses in both reinforcement and concrete are reached together before failure. Hence, dimensions are chosen purely from the consideration of this design principle; and it leads to an economical structure that is safe, within a reasonable factor of safety, at the least cost of material and workmanship. However, this project has assumed dimensions with which an unreasonably high factor of safety is introduced because of political considerations of past communal clashes.
The solutions proffered at every encounter with these consequential problems include looking for options/alternatives that balance the code requirements with locality considerations, through the experience of the professional engineers in the design team. These are evident in the design results of the drainage channel and the retaining walls as contained in Appendices B and C respectively. In line with the principles of Partnering, every important details are discussed with the client (Chevron Nigeria Limited) so as to achieve the general objectives of the project.
Concerning the PIE for Lagos State
The PIE project is about the application of GIS to land-use development. Hence, it is data-driven. In executing the project, the problems encountered centred on the GIS process: data acquisition, data structuring and analysis, interpretation of results.
The only ready source of data is the aerial map of land parcels in Lagos State, and it was taken in 1986 for the Water Supply project. The difference n time between when the maps were produced and the current year is too wide apart for the maps to be used as a data source for the PIE project. The solution to this problem is site visits/surveys to/of such land parcels to update the records of the old maps.
Moreover, in collecting data on site, technical personnel experience, in some cases, frosty welcome from land occupiers, despite the legislative backing given to the project. Hence, the difficulty in establishing spatial location, and extracting spatial and aspatial data. To overcome this, the personnel were trained to use manual surveying methods in arriving at the linear and area measurements on site as well as putting to good use their instincts in determining the relevant data of the land parcel in question. Also, a good interpretation of knotty map drawings is required to solve these problems.
Furthermore, problems were encountered in the data verification and input stage. Land parcels that are not prepared in an unacceptable format become stumbling blocks to the GIS process. For this type of problem, data collected are checked to ensure their completeness, accuracy and consistency. If any of these is/are found missing, the locations would be re-visited to obtain the data in acceptable format. This is mainly dependent on the fastidiousness of the technical personnel, and is important to the success of the project one way or the other.
Concerning Construction Site
During the course of construction site experience, the major problems encountered include: source, purchase and transportation of raw constructional materials to site; wayward behaviours of labourers; quality assurance; and irregular provision of finance for construction activities.
In solving these problems, the solutions proffered include precautionary purchase and storage of constructional materials; good management of, and formal relationship with, labourers; and close supervision of activities. As to provision of finance for construction, one cannot but trust in divine providence in order to be kept in business.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
SIWES was established to provide opportunities for students to be involved in the practical aspect of their respective disciplines in the industrial working environments.
During the 6-month industrial training, the trainee gained a wide range of experience from the various projects implemented and assignments undertaken such as the flow process design of the Villages’ Water Supply Schemes, design of reinforced concrete members, application of GIS to land-use development and construction site activities. All the experience gained help to fulfil the objectives of SIWES.
From all these, it is evident that good design results when there is harmony among the artistic, the scientific and the practical facets of civil engineering. Moreover, civil engineering consultancy is a multi-disciplinary practice that offers a vast array of general and specialist services to the construction industry.
Having gone through the 6-month industrial training, the trainee has the following suggestions for the effectiveness of SIWES:
Trainees should endeavour always to be involved two types of civil engineering practice (i.e. consultancy and construction). This really goes a long way to ensure the completeness of one’s experience in this profession.
Companies should show more commitment to the training of engineering students so as to improve the quality of training given.
Government should endeavour to improve business relationships with companies that have SIWES students, as a way of adding importance to the scheme, in reality.
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APPENDIX B DESIGN PROCESS FOR THE DRAINAGE CHANNEL
Overall Channel Length = 8.617m
Average Channel Width = 0.5m
Average Channel Depth = 0.4m
Channel Thickness = 0.075m
Surcharge Load (Davnor Filter Unit) = 4000kg covering a circle of 2.2m diameter
Bulk weight of Soil, γ = 19kN/m3
Angle of internal friction, Ø = 30°
A typical cross-section of the drainage channel is as shown in Figure B1. Most of these data are illustrated in the figure.