http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 13.08Change: 0.09
R/$ = 12.03Change: 0.09
Au 1200.05 $/ozChange: -6.66
Pt 1142.00 $/ozChange: -12.00
 
 
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 Letters 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|Contractor|Design|Industrial|Petrochemicals|PROJECT|System|Systems|UPS|United States|Petrochemicals|Systems|Harry S Truman|Power|Cable
Construction|Cable|Consulting|Contractor|Design|Industrial|Petrochemicals|PROJECT|System|Systems|||Petrochemicals|Systems|Power|Cable
construction|cable|consulting-company|contractor|design|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
Every year we have a student or two joinING the practice as part of their requirements for vacation training. Without this training, engineering students cannot complete their degree course. We usually ask the students to undertake a project, which then results in...
A lawyer and I were on site the other day. He had asked me to send a technician to do some noise measurements over the weekend. So I arrived and said hello and I set up the instruments and then did the calibration and we sat around, talking. And he said how long had...
Actually, not all people in this great nation of ours are stupid or, perhaps, even slightly stupid but in one area they seem to be (from my arrogant viewpoint), and that area is knowledge of electricity. But let me not moan or groan about this – rather, let me assist...
More
 
 
Latest News
Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari
Updated 9 minutes ago A forensic audit of Nigeria's state oil firm released on Monday said the company, accused of corruption, actually overpaid the state by almost $750-million, but should still pay it an additional $1.5-billion. Outgoing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan released the...
Updated 19 minutes ago A collision between two trains at Denver station south of Johannesburg on Tuesday morning left an unknown number of people injured, Metrorail confirmed to News24. The Gauteng spokesperson for the train service, Lillian Mofokeng, said a Metroplus and business train...
Updated 26 minutes ago The first part of power utility Eskom’s maintenance drive has been completed without the parastatal having to implement load-shedding over the weekend. The State-owed utility on Friday embarked on a three-day maintenance “festival” to improve the performance and...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
Sappi Southern Africa CEO Alex Thiel
Forest products group Sappi has confirmed the selection of its 25 MW biomass-to-power project, to be erected at its Ngodwana mill, in Mpumalanga, as a preferred bidder under the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement...
Information and communications technology (ICT) distributor DCC is making Windows- and Android-operating systems tablets available through retailers and education equipment suppliers to provide school children with affordable, high-performance education tools. The...
Another cement manufacturer is set to enter the Ugandan market, raising hopes that prices will come down and spur growth in the construction industry. National Cement, a Kenyan manufacturer, has unveiled plans to invest $195-million in a new manufacturing plant in...
With growth rates exceeding that in the developed world – at an average of between 4% and 5% between 2002 and 2014 – African countries provide investors with ample reason to tap into booming consumer demand says Manufacturing Circle executive director Coenraad...
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) Business Confidence Index (BCI) decreased by 3.7 index points month-on-month to 89.1 in March.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96