Right-first-time Construction

Right-first-time Construction

Published: January, 2017


The competitive construction market demands quality results – first time around – to keep clients happy and business profitable. Gauteng-based contractor Probuild has its own proprietary quality management software to make sure this happens.

It is busy applying this technology and approach on the upmarket Capital on the Park development in Sandton, a 240 unit residential and hotel mix which is reportedly the flagship of the Capital Hotel Group.

“Our quality management software comes out of our 25 years of experience in the industry,” says managing director Nicholas Buck. “We have developed a proprietary database that we use on all our projects, to ensure that our quality standards are linked to sub-contractors’ performance.”

The system uses ‘electronic tickets’ that are generated on a tablet computer as each parcel of work is completed – so a foreman can check each completed piece of work by a bricklayer, for instance, by ticking off the items against which the quality of the job is measured.

“This puts in place a culture of self-management and self-regulation,” says Buck. “A sub-contractor understands that if he doesn’t build the unit correctly first time around, and within the timeframe in which he expects to get paid, he will have to wait another payment cycle before payment can be made.”

The quality approach extends to Probuild’s choice of equipment, which at the Capital on the Park project includes two Potain tower cranes from SA French.

“The primary crane – a Potain MD310B – was erected at the beginning of the project and is dedicated mainly to convey formwork, reinforcing and concrete,” says Probuild contracts manager (buildings) Matthew Simmonds. “The second tower crane is a Potain flat top MCT85F5 model, a smaller unit brought on board to serve the wet trades – mainly brickwork and plaster.”

Simmonds highlights the constrained space in which contractors operate on high rise sites, as these tend to be in established suburbs where buildings are close to each other, making cranes a valuable contributor to safety and productivity.

“Logistics in this environment are quite demanding, as contractors have to deal with all the same volumes of material as any building construction, but with less space for storage, deliveries and moving material around,” he says.

Some 3,5 million bricks will need to be moved into place to construct the Capital on the Park building; at 500 bricks per pallet, that means moving about 7 000 pallets to where the bricklayers are, and the bricklaying will go as fast as their material supply will allow.

He says this demands better planning and coordination to ensure an efficient sequence of operations, so that material is at the right place at the right time.