Posts Tagged ‘Robotics

22
Nov
15

SAY HELLO TO your new robot

traveller

I first became aware of the Spread sheet and it’s use in Construction projects in the Thatcher glory years, when Company’s where floating on the Stock Market, daily.  Everyone was becoming a shareholder, bar myself and I still haven’t joined in, today.

I was on a Refurbishment job, in Wincanton, Somerset. My company had recently floated, a vast proportion of staff, had bought in. New Business managers had been taken on. The job had been priced and everything had been assigned a little coloured box within an Excel document. It was going to be done for that price in that amount of time. One price i remember well, was the price payable to fit a door.

A deal had been struck with Travis Perkins, i presume so prices could be fixed,, and volume buying could be worth a discount. Our discount at the time was better than a senior member of Travis Perkins was. All materials for the refit of the door could be obtained there.

My Carpenter and his team came from Yeovil, not too far away. The price for a door fitment, complete with frame, lock, hinges, door handle  and Architraves was £15. I had phoned the person responsible for the price, who had rustled some paper around, “ah yes, the door, i presume he has power tools, he continued,  the door, three hinges, routed, three screws, three minutes, door lock, routed”. He went on and on. “it comes out just over 45 minutes, i have been generous and paid for the hour”. I was enlightened, and dismayed. I informed him the house was old and the door didn’t fit. The frame was easy to alter, the door not so. The price didn’t alter.

The document above is part of another Refurbishment project.  It involves External Wall Insulation and render and as such it should involve the weather. Seeing as the weather is an unknown element there is no space for it on the sheet. The price payable for the system install was the lowest i had expected.

Houses where expected to start and finish on a set day. Partly running through the winter months, i’d mentioned the weather, holding a printed out Excel sheet for the first time in my life. Next Wednesday we would be starting Number 34, but they give a storm coming in. I voiced my opinion, not possible, and was duly stitched up and sacked. My first warning regarding the lengths managers will go too, to protect the spread sheet, even if it’s wildly wrong.

Last week Peter Hansford the Government Minister for Construction issued his recommendations, we/ I await any response. Part of the document mentions training and pay. I have asked for the price to be set by the supplier of the system, like buying a VW car. Sto Track and Rail system costs £? per metre to install to this standard, Alsecco Adhesive free system costs,  £… per metre, to install to a standard. Make them responsible for the training also. You can still add in the price for labour on your sheet, the figure can be obtained from them over the phone or by mail, easy peasy, it will come in an un-editable box.

 

list2All the ECO, Warmer Homes, Green Deal projects have all been guilty of this practice, hence the lowest price ever paid, and the lowest quality, and deviation from the specification, displayed on every street in the country. Hence my arrival on the list, partly shown here. Looking at the list a lot have had correspondence from myself regarding the spread sheet  and it’s operation. Real life excerpts off the shop floor, some in the list like BRE.co.uk went out and had a look, so alarmed where they and others, is why this report is out.

The suppliers need to step up their game, it’s their product on show, after all. Training needs to be in depth, where ever it’s practiced, none of this half a day and home, or NVQ’s on the doorstep. A proper visible achievement, visible by eye. Noted STO.co.uk didn’t have anything to do with any of the subsidised EWI, SWI installs over the last ten years.  They where protecting their quality standards.

Where are we at the moment?, every boss i have had since Wincanton has been looking in the boxes, shaving a bit here and there, none stop.  I’ve been fuming about it since that day. To achieve the required quality, we need to be Robotic in our attempts, the weather needs to be ignored, illness and public holidays. More often than not, it’s un-achievable, set by someone with no  idea of the job involved or just plain greedy/ tight. As we are not going to be saying hello to a Robot just yet, I’m hoping Peter’s report has some effect. I’m rubbing my chin trying to imagine, what..

On the shop floor, speaking to an ex boss (ex Green Deal and Eco warrior), only last week. “You can’t do it for £24.50 a metre” he says. He knows that, as I and others have been telling himself and others, since Wincanton. Along the way I’ve had a boss who reckoned he could get EWI/SWI done for nothing, his rendition of the Art of Plastering would have flummoxed any game of Charades. He wasn’t responsible for the Initial figure during Green Deal and ECO etc, the Government department DECC or Suite’s as I call them, where. Now we are left with that price. It was odd how his tone suggested it was a recent event, on the trowel it’s been a ten year slog at least. He had been alarmed at my suggestion of him loosing control of wages. I tried comforting him, “it’s just a box”. I can only try and imagine what the other boss would have thought about my ideas. It didn’t go down well. But it would be a box DECC and others couldn’t alter. He also dumbed down the skills needed. He actually said “it’s not Plastering” I begged  to differ. All in all, not a good chat, estimations of people dented.

Now they are having trouble getting people to do it for the amount they have left in the box. Most fully trained operatives have left the Industry, long ago. I thought this would be the outcome in Wincanton all those years ago after the phone call, luckily an influx of cheap labour has helped bosses shave the box ever tighter, but now they are training up, they want more money. For those who are already trained, this isn’t enough money and hasn’t been for sometime, I Brian (note the Capital) “The Individual” say so.

One other suggestion i have put forwards is bringing back the Clerk of Works on Retrofit projects. Put an end to the in house assessments. The cost of this can go in a box. I will let you know if any of these measures come in too play.




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