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Sat 26 Jul 2008 04:00 AM

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Streamline your systems for increased productivity

Al Masaood Bergum production manager Wicus Fourie says streamlined production saves on costs and increases productivity among workers for construction companies.

With the vast amount of property and infrastructure development currently underway in the region, construction companies are seeing a year-on-year increase in the demand for materials, skilled workers and production facilities.

With demand outpacing supply, it is becoming increasingly challenging and difficult to find affordable and suitable land for industrial complexes, hire an adequate number of skilled workers and source suitable and affordable staff accommodation.

As a result, construction companies like Al Masaood Bergum (AMB) need to identify more efficient and cost-effective operating solutions. This means maximising output from the current workforce and production facilities to gain the most in terms of productivity and profitability.

Many companies don't consider the production process when organising and arranging work areas, which can lead to a significant loss in time and money. Often workers do not think twice about double handling materials and sub assemblies, thus creating extra work.

Having studied our AMB facilities, we found the layout of our production yard meant that many processes were duplicated with materials often being transferred from one end of the yard to the other and back again. Companies should carefully study their production facilities to ensure machinery, equipment and storage areas are strategically placed to enable the greatest level of worker efficiency.

Staff shortages are becoming increasingly prevalent in the construction industry as a result of the now competitive salaries being offered to workers' in their home countries. Accommodation is also becoming a serious issue, with a combination of rocketing rents, lack of land availability and the ever-increasing cost of living.

Staff retention is also becoming a problem, with well-trained workers moving from company to company once they gain the relevant experience. Due to these issues it is therefore worth considering an upgrade to suitable equipment and machinery that is automated and requires less manpower.

The company invested time to research new advanced technology, which would increase productivity whilst maintaining the company's high quality output. As a result of this research, AMB was one of the first companies in the Middle East to receive the revolutionary ‘FrameCAD' machinery. This technology enables high-volume production and construction of cold-formed steel buildings from villas to warehouses, by accurately cutting, punching and dimpling the steel.

The machinery is the world's most advanced end-to-end steel frame building solution, which allows users to confidently and rapidly produce cold formed steel for buildings with consistent accuracy that is determined by the system, not the skill level of factory workers or on-site assemblers.

The fast and precise building solution streamlines the steel frame design and building process. The result is an increase in return on investment, with a dramatic rise in productivity due to a reduction in the design, production and construction process, skilled manpower and errors; an increase in product range; minimal floor space and production area; a reduction in waste and improved quality. The steel produced complies with internationally certified quality standards.

In order to raise standards within the industry, it is essential for companies to study the advanced technology available on the market and bring it to the region to compete with other global construction companies.

Companies also must adopt consistent and regular training practices to make certain staff understand and implement efficient practices. Employees must be completely comfortable with any new machinery or technology to ensure efficient use and to avoid problems by implementing detailed training sessions internally and externally from the manufacture.

It is also important to recognise that the more people you employ, the more expensive it is to control the working area, with a need to employ more line managers to supervise and ensure the smooth operation of the production line.

By reorganising and streamlining production facilities, centralising certain activities and educating and training the workforce, employers can expect a significant increase in the production capabilities in facilities after automating and streamlining certain activities.

At AMB each production facility greatly improved its productivity and yard efficiency and the company's total production turnover increased by nearly 50%.

Employers continually striving to meet the ever-increasing demands of their clients by identifying ways for improving production, ensuring they employ the highest standards of safety and quality, and finding solutions for staffing shortages.

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