International lift manufacturer develops in-house talent

24th September 2010 By: Megan van Wyngaardt - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

International lift manufacturer Schindler, in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg’s human resources management faculty, has established the Schindler Development Academy, which aims to develop in-house talent and transform this individual talent into managers and leaders, earlier this year.

The company believes that this will result in improved productivity and greater commitment to the common aim of quality and long-term growth for Schindler.

Through the academy, Schindler aims to strengthen its current and future leaders through leadership development experience through assignments, job rotation and specific projects.

It also aims to unlock employees’ potential to achieve strategic business aims, develop commercially astute and business-minded leaders and facilitate the delivery of learning solutions to increase business efficiencies.

The course development took two months of research and compilation, with input from Schindler International’s training material. Employees in seven different categories each have a specific curriculum.

All the courses are developed specifically for South African conditions and the learning is divided into three areas, namely leadership competence, management and business orientation – the latter is specific to the lift business and Schindler.

Each curriculum runs for six months and there will be two semesters a year.

Changes to Business Philosophy

Growth in the construction industry in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup boosted the demand for lifts and elevators, says Schindler national field operations manager for South Africa Pankaj Sinha.

This required the company to ensure that all its systems were ready to take on the volume of work and to deliver to the standard required of Schindler worldwide, he explains.

The demand motivated Sinha and the Schindler team to introduce a number of changes to its business philosophy.

Sinha explains: “Firstly, in the lifts industry, companies rely on subcontractors, and to ensure that we received the best service, we carried out an extensive evaluation of these companies. The companies were categorised as ‘a’, ‘b’ or ‘c’, with the rating based on their record and the resources they had available.”

He explains that it is imperative to subcontract the best company, as incorrect installation, irrespective of commissioning and maintenance, will result in problems throughout the life of the elevator.

For this reason, the company decided to work only with subcontractors categorised in the ‘a’ group, and to develop those that fell within the ‘b’ group. However, these groups did not have all the required expertise, resulting in a technical skills shortage, which required Schindler to source previous contractors from abroad to increase its service capacity.

“Secondly, we made changes to the company structure. Quality had previously been evaluated after the completion of work. This meant that, once a lift had been installed, an engineer would inspect the elevator, and then report back with a snag list, which often consisted of as many as 50 points,” he says.

The accuracy of the guide rails is of great importance in a lift installation and critical to its ongoing reliability during its life. If this is not aligned correctly, the whole structure of the lift is flawed.

It is considered difficult to correct the guide rails after the installation of the lift and the alignment of the entrances and the doors are also difficult to fix. “If these are skew, inaccurately measured or misaligned, there will be endless problems with the lifts after commissioning. Inspecting after installation, is often too late [respond to] these problems,” Sinha adds.

By working as a team from the outset, Schindler aimed to achieve a zero-snag list, which was guided by a number of milestones during installation. These included inspection by a field engineer of the installed rails, followed by approval and certification.

Sinha adds that the company has seen significant success, with the previously recorded 50 snags being reduced to five or six minor snags during installations.