The construction industry in many developing countries is marked by inefficient practices, poor and outdated equipment and materials, lengthy construction projects due to poor funding schedules, and a lack of good modern management and professionalism. As a reltlt, the quality of construction is frequently substandard which lowers the standard of living. Moreover, project costs are inflated, and industry profitability is reduced.
How can a CEI program help?
CEI programs to the U.S. can expose managers to modern construction management techniques, materials, organization, and methods. Building costs can be reduced, lead times shortened, and more efficient use of existing manpower. Only by visiting actual construction sites and talking to experienced construction managers, foremen, and workers and seeing for themselves what works, can the construction managers fully appreciate the benefits of streamlined and updated procedures and practices.
What will they see?
The programs acquaint participants with the detailed procedures, forms, and practices used in the U.S. They will visit construction companies, construction sites, suppliers of construction materials such as brick and cement factories, manufacturers of prefabricated homes and components, material testing companies, government agencies, trade associations, and others.
Topics to be covered
Construction management and scheduling
Reduced construction costs
Improved labor management
Reduced construction lead times
Where will the programs travel?
The program will be centered in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area with trips to at least 3 other states in the Midwest. At least one week will be spent outside the Cincinnati area.
Example Benefits from Ukraine
CEI has conducted economic development missions for construction management in the Kharkiv and Slavutych (Chernobyl) regions of Ukraine.
At the end of each program CEI interviews each of the participants to learn of technology seen in the U.S. and to hear what they may be able to adopt. After the 2000 construction tour several participants said that they were impressed by the organization of work at the construction site. They explained that at each site visited by the tour there were only a few workers and they all knew what to do and were busy doing it. Work was proceeding smoothly. On the other hand, back in Ukraine the job responsibilities were not as well defined. Moreover, there were usually many more workers at the site than in America. Then, when something went wrong, which happened frequently when materials were missing or work was defective, the workers would start shouting and blaming each other. The result was often chaos.
After returning to Ukraine, many companies were reorganized. Job responsibilities were more clearly defined and workers who could not adjust were replaced. Olena Turchanova, Deputy Director of Atet even had her President replaced. Equally significantly, companies started using foremen to direct activities at the building site where previously the Executive Director was the only one to make decisions and direct the work.
Construction management system
On the economic development mission, construction companies were shown the Construction Management system which is used in the U.S.A. as a standard programming method of scheduling projects. This resulted in labor cost savings, time savings, material cost savings, helped improve the construction process and lead to better work flows. New job positions were introduced, such as a construction foreman and a construction manager. The workers were organized to do special work which saved time and money. More work was accomplished each day and construction times were cut by 25%. Another result was that worker’s pay increased by up to 50%.
New construction materials were introduced including drywall, metal wall studs, and air duct heating systems. They were able to lower building material costs by 30%. This resulted in higher company profits of 25 to 40%.
All the construction tours have visited American Homes in Decatur Indiana where they saw prefabricated houses being built. Everyone was extremely impressed and many expressed interest in setting up similar operations in Ukraine to construct dachas.
While at American Holmes, participants saw for the first time plasterers on stilts working on the walls and ceilings. The Ukrainians were astonished and amazed. It was clearly a better method than constructing scaffolding that had constantly to be moved.
On their next trip to Kharkiv, the CEI Tour Director Jim Titus brought one set of stilts to the group for demonstration. A local TV reporter and cameraman were present to record a demonstration which was shown on the nightly news. Volodymyr Ilyin of KDSK-1 and Alexander Chub of Kharkovstroyproekt determined to manufacture the stilts and make them available for their industry.
Although not new to Ukraine, tool belts are not commonly used. Although they are expensive by Ukraine standards, they do improve productivity significantly. A sample tool belt was also given to the group and again some were planning to manufacture them for the Ukrainian market.
Longer Lasting Roofs
The climate in Ukraine can be harsh and roofs traditionally lasted only a 2 or 3 years. One visit on the economic development mission was to a metal roof company. They saw a metal crimping and overlay system they would apply to their roofs back in Kharkiv. This system goes over existing roof systems and lowers the cost of installing roof sheet panels. It has extended the life of a roof 20 to 40 years. This has created new business opportunities and profitability increased 20 to 40% over old roofing systems.
Many benefits for the Construction firms were reported. The most significant include:
The quality of construction work is up. CEI visited one Chernobyl site where the quality was now up to Western standards. New attitudes and tools are being adopted which will help Ukraine in the long run.
As a direct result of the program experience, participants are better prepared to understand the requirements and instructions of Western contractors on the Chernobyl site with whom they have to work.
Several tour participants were recognized as having higher qualifications and were promoted. This helps not only the individuals, but also the organizations and the nation.
Construction projects are being better organized, thus reducing costs and lead times.