http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 14.15Change: 0.10
R/$ = 11.20Change: 0.08
Au 1212.33 $/ozChange: -3.93
Pt 1268.50 $/ozChange: -19.50
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Jun 08, 2012

The buck should stop with the project manager

Back
Construction|Cable|Consulting|Industrial|Petrochemicals|PROJECT|System|Systems|UPS|United States|Petrochemicals|Systems|Harry S Truman|Power|Cable
Construction|Cable|Consulting|Industrial|Petrochemicals|PROJECT|System|Systems|||Petrochemicals|Systems|Power|Cable
construction|cable|consulting-company|industrial|petrochemicals-company|project|system|systems-company|ups|united-states|petrochemicals|systems|harry-s-truman|power|cable-product
© Reuse this



The buck stops here’ is a phrase popu- larised by US President Harry S Truman, who kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office.

We all know what ‘passing the buck’ means – to pass responsibility for a matter to somebody else – and ‘the buck stops here’ means that a person is facing up to that responsibility.

This article is about project managers. In general, there were no project managers in the commercial world when I was a young engineer – the architects did it (for an additional fee) and the engineers did what the architects told them to do. There were some project managers but they were mostly in the industrial world related to industrial or petrochemicals project construction. But, somehow, the architects were ousted and the modern project managers arrived. Now, on every contract, there is a project manager. Some are good, some very good and some just plain awful.

My practice gets work from project managers. If I bad-mouth them in print, they might not send us work. So, all you out there, assume that, if I have been under your guidance or on your project, I regard you with a reverence close on adoration. However, I have some general thoughts that I would like to get off my chest and hope you will not be too offended.

Firstly, on an electrical project . . . please remember that I have been an electrical engineer for 34 years and a professional engineer for 28 years. What this means is that my opinion on an electrical matter should have a lot more weight than that of an electrical contractor, a young engineer or a design technician. They may be able to argue better but, in general, in a dispute, I am right.

Secondly, it is not all simple. If I recommend a certain electrical contractor, usually it is not because the contractor’s fees are the cheapest – it is normally because the contractor is the best for the contract. And it is not my function to do quality assurance for a contractor. If I say: “Use this firm”, it is not because that firm will give me a back- hander; it is because it will produce, with a minimum of fuss, good-quality work that lasts. Ignore my recommendations and . . . you will be sorry.

Thirdly, in electrical work, there are very few ‘nice to haves’, apart from types of light fittings. If some smart person implies that the design can be done more cheaply than my design, he or she is usually right – only it will not work as well.

Unfortunately, electrical systems are deviously cunning. They lie in wait and take time to fail and, when they do, they do so in pairs, with one failure having nothing to do with the other. So, if you use cheap plastic distribution boards with cheap plastic circuit breakers, jammed with wiring since they are too small, the whole thing will fail– often on a long weekend, when the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system has gone down.

Fourthly, in general, inte- rior designers know nothing about lights, light fittings, socket outlets, wiring, data points, cable trays, cable terminations, UPS systems, power poles or the SANS 10142 standard. Similarly, consulting electrical engineers know nothing about interior paint finishes, wall cladding, tile types, carpet finishes, counter tops, bathroom taps or sanitary fittings. Thus, in the same way that you do not give the consulting electrical engineer the interior design, do not give the interior designer the electrical design.

Then there is the impossible we do immediately. Miracles take a little longer. Nope, I’m being sarcastic. But do accept that, in my life, I have (as have many others) worked through nights, had very early starts and worked over weekends. Trust me, very little of it has been necessary or of value in the long run. If there have to be changes to a design, then allow sufficient time to make sure those changes are not a stuff-up.

Finally, if things go wrong . . . you are the project manager. The sign on the US President’s desk read: “The buck stops here.” For some project managers, the sign should read: “The buck stops here . . . very, very briefly.” Don’t you be one of the latter. Think about it.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Terry Mackenzie-Hoy News
I have been surprised to find that many people know the Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum strike is over but few know the terms of settlement. Besides other terms, workers whose basic wages were less than R12 500 a month receive a yearly wage...
There is a place down the road which sells tea and coffee, as in beans and leaves.  It has many types of tea and coffee and they are all in bins and stuff. Surrounding the bins are shelves, and every single spot on the shelves is crammed with glass tea cups, tea...
Four years ago, I went to Zambia, to the Zambezi river, to fish for tiger fish. The fishing camp was exquisite, the food great and the fishing good (the fellow fishermen were the usual bunch of  no-hopers who do not get out enough and behave like schoolboys when they...
Article contains comments
More
 
 
Latest News
Updated 5 minutes ago Promulgating the long-awaited local-loop unbundling (LLU) regulations would go a long way towards stimulating competition in the telecommunications sector in South Africa, Neotel MD Sunil Joshi said on Thursday. LLU, a critical inhibitor for a competitive market, had...
Updated 24 minutes ago Domestic cement sales declined by 5.1% year-on-year to 3.04-million tons during the three months ended June 30, cement producer PPC announced on Thursday. The second-quarter sales were, however, higher than the 2.48-million tons sold during the first quarter, which...
Updated 31 minutes ago The International Energy Agency (IEA) has welcomed the launch of the world’s first large-scale power station equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, describing it as a “historic” milestone on the road towards a low-carbon energy future. The 110...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
The latest TransUnion Vehicle Pricing Index (VPI) contains a number of small, but significant indications that the tide may at last be turning for the beleaguered used car industry. For the third successive quarter, used car inflation has increased on a year-on-year...
The South African new vehicle market is likely to reach around 630 000 units in 2014, down from the 650 000 units recorded in 2013, says Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) president and CEO Dr Johan van Zyl. Van Zyl is also president of the National Association of...
Efforts by the Kenya government to increase energy generation by 5 000 MW over the next three years received a major boost following the award of a $2-billion contract to build a coal power plant in Lamu.  Despite allegations of irregular tendering process, the...
Using crafty wordplay on a well-known Internet meme, brilliant South African-born US entrepreneur and businessperson Elon Musk announced that Tesla Motors would not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wanted to use its technology. Instead,...
August new vehicle sales declined by 1.4%, to 55 722 units, compared with the same month last year. Assisted by the car rental market, the South African new passenger car market, at 37 953 units, contracted by 1 047 units, or 2.7%, compared with August last year.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks