Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 10th 2014 Contents JULY 2014 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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training in management systems, health and safety training,
first aid training, obtaining welding certification and risk man-
agement. Rhou said development of the management systems
dictated the roles and responsibilities of the company's staff,
from management straight to workshop employees.
Expanding in La Brea
In light of exponential growth in the past two years fuelled
by increased requirement for quality structural steelwork within
the Caribbean Basin and surging demand for its services within
the south-Trinidad energy industry, the board decided to build
a $31 million four-acre facility in La Brea in 2014. Completion
and fit out of the 110,000 square foot facility is expected in
"The satellite facility will offer the same range of services
we provide at our Caroni facility, albeit on a larger scale. To
complement our menu of services, the facility will also feature
sandblasting, specialist and finishing capabilities, offering
clients an integrated service that plays to our strengths," the
company said in an earlier statement. "We expect that the
facilities will together process in excess of 6,000 tonnes of
steel annually by 2020.
"In anticipation of the new facility, we are training a coun-
ty-based erection team as we intend to fill 75 per cent of our
vacancies from the La Brea community. In addition, we intend
to forge alliances with technical and vocational institutions in
the area and commit the necessary resources to train/retrain
new hires and technical positions over the first three years of
Christopher said the new facility was decided on because
clients visiting the company's Caroni offices, saw the relatively
small layout and decided that Francis-Lau Construction inca-
pable of doing jobs of a certain size.
Investing in software
The STOW qualification and an investment in 3D Tekla
modelling software, an upgrade from its 2D AutoCAD system,
and communications technology, totalled $3 million.
Wayne, Christopher and Rhou Francis-Lau were in praise
of the difference Tekla has made to the company's operations.
Christopher said a client doesn't have to be a technical
person to understand the drawings.
"It also interfaces with our management system, which we
plan to implement, so when the drawings go up, we can track
the job as we go along. It's very easy to track the job and
materials," he said.
Christopher said the client can now track his progress of
the project in real time; he can see what percentage of the
building has been done.
"Previously, if a problem developed, the client would have
to go on site when he'd see some change an engineer made
he wasn't aware of. With construction, there are always prob-
lems, always errors, always issues. It is so diverse. What we
try to do is track these problems at the very source.
"The sooner we find the problem or the error, it's much
cheaper to correct. Whereas before, when we're actually putting
up the steel building, we'd realise something doesn't fit, it's
extremely expensive to fix. If we try to get it at the drawing
stage, we try to get it at the fabrication stage, but we definitely
want to get it before we start erecting. Once it goes up, it's
a lot of problems, and we've gone through that," Christopher
Rhou said the IT system allows for collaboration between
the draughtsman and the field director if there is some incon-
sistency or incongruence about the job. The system also allows
the company to track materials stored on the compound.
"The field director or technician can contact the office and
collaborate on the drawing, make changes in real time and
discuss the project with clients in real time," Rhou said.
Tekla allowed Francis-Lau Construction to trim its timelines
by up to 20 per cent, improve its efficiency by 35 per cent
and save clients money.
Wayne couldn't stop talking about the differences Tekla has
made to every job.
"Tekla redflags errors in the drawing of a building. Tekla
actually allows you to order the correct quantity of materials.
Let me tell you how good Tekla is. Tekla is the system they
used to design the Bird's Nest stadium in China," said Wayne,
referring to the Beijing National Stadium that was especially
built over five years for the 2008 Olympic Games. "That was
a very intricate project."
In order to make the structure 'lightweight' but earthquake-
proof, the strength in 110,000 tonnes of a new grade of steel,
the purest ever developed in China, including 36 kilometres
of steel struts, was combined with an ingenious design. It is
saddle-shaped, but the interlocking steel parts resembling a
lattice of twigs, make the name Bird's Nest an obvious alias.
About a third of Francis-Lau Construction's projects emanate
from the region, with the first job being for National Commercial
Bank in St Vincent in the early 1980s.
Wayne said regional jobs accounted for roughly 60 per cent
of its workload between 1985-1993, but that's now down to
35 per cent.
One of its current projects is the first phase of St Kitts'
Golden Rock commercial park project, a multi-purpose facility
comprising a mall, condominiums and a hotel for that country's
citizenship programme, for developer Scott Caines. That's a
$15 million job. There's also a $1 million commercial building
Francis-Lau construction is doing in St Vincent.
"We fabricate the steel and send a crew," Wayne said.
"The company has a strong presence in Grenada, St Vincent,
St Lucia, St Kitts. It has also done work in Dominica," Christo-
• Francis-Lau Construction erected the green St James/Port-
of-Spain sign leading to the popular liming strip.
• The Victoria Keyes apartment complex in Cocorite
• Princes Town East Secondary School ($5 million)
• 65,000 square feet Servisair warehouse and office building
at Piarco in 2010 ($5.8 million)
"The Servisair project was a turning point for FLC as it was
the first project into which the company's HSE management
system---developed as part of a push toward STOW certification
---was integrated," the company said in a statement.
STOW is a certification programme for contractors'
HSE management systems.
The Energy Chamber started the STOW programme
in 2004 after hearing the complaints from its members
in the energy service sector experiencing challenges in
meeting the range of health, safety and environmental
(HSE) requirements among the major oil and gas
operating companies. This made it difficult to prequalify
for work and fully explore business opportunities in
T&T's leading industry.
At the time, each upstream and downstream
operating company managed contractor safety through
their own company specific HSE requirements, usually
adopted from the parent company abroad. While this
approach worked for the operating company, it stifled
the attempts of local contractors to offer their services
to more than one operating company at any given time,
mainly due to the cost factor for meeting the different
In 2005, the Energy Chamber developed the STOW
project proposal identifying the need for consensus on
the HSE requirements to prequalify service contractors
across the energy industry. The Energy Chamber
approached the Inter-American Development Bank
(IDB) for funding and initially received funds to conduct
a mini project to set the parameters and get consensus
among stakeholders for the STOW project.
In April 2006, the Energy Chamber signed an
agreements with the Inter-American Development Bank
(IDB) to implement the project 'Improving Health,
Safety and Environmental Standards in the Energy
Sector' using grand funds from the IADB's Multilateral
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35 per cent
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