Understanding Awards

Understanding Awards

 

 

The pendulum for researching tender awards swings from one extreme to the other. The only constant are the benefits. When researching tenders awards, you never know what you are going to get. It could be so simple and painless that you’re unsure if you’ve actually just worked on, confirmed and published a tender award. It could also be so teeth-gnashingly frustrating, that you would think you’d been charged with finding the Holy Grail. The cast of characters are vast and numerous, but tend to favour certain categories:

 

Quick and Painless: This category is populated by those that publish award information in the media (you would think that this is a given. But it’s not); who answer phones and are willing to answer questions; those who answer emails (regardless of the email content. Answer emails. That’s it). Basically, if you are willing to engage in a conversation and confirm or supply me with award information, this is your category. I thank you. My Department thanks you. Our subscribers thank you. Transparency in the tender process hard at work.

 

Not Quick and Definitely Not Painless: This category contains everyone else.

 

Every unanswered email, ever.

 

The “instant-hangup”. You know the one. You call, it rings, it’s picked up and then “Click”. A sub-category that involves me phoning back and remaining on hold indefinitely. This results in partial deafness in my right ear from listening to either a tinny Greenleaves on an endless loop or a wind instrument butchering of a ’80’s One Hit Wonder. I will turn that ringing phone into an instrument of torture until that Government employee crawls out from under their desk and answers the phone. Generally, this results in them realising that if they give me what I want; I will go away. Until next time. But let’s not burst their bubble.

 

The “Wrong Department”. I tend to end up at HR. Regardless of how I worded my request. When I’ve done the full circuit of synonyms for “tender” and am now on a first name basis with the woman in HR; I know it’s going to be a long day.

 

There’s the blatant “No”. I can respect these guys because at least they’re not wasting my time or theirs. But I do think “Dodgy” when this happens. Which I will concede is unfair. The construction industry is very competitive, and as we all know, information is very valuable. Not everyone likes their “business” to be spread all over the place. Of course not, why would any company in this day and age want other people (with money), to know about their services and how some people (also with money) trust them with it to do a job? Scandalous. Yes, I know. You main contractors and some consultants out there don’t want to be inundated with calls. I get it. I know. I sympathise. But I’m still going to call anyway. A sub-category of this group are the “No Internet presence” people. They don’t exist. At least not digitally anyways. They can not be found. It baffles me, how they do business at all?

 

The “Who are you and why do you want to know?” category can go either way. This category either just wants to be informed (I can admire this) or they are suspicious of us. I’m perfectly happy to explain myself and what L2B does, just short of submitting a DNA sample. This category is an opportunity as they either subscribe to us or give us the opportunity to explain that publishing their awarded company details on the L2B website, is the grownup version of “Na-na-nana-na!”.

 

The “Uber-suspicious” group is like trying to have a conversation with Gollum, protecting his Precious (insert bad Gollum impression here).

“Sir, I don’t want to take it from you. I just want to talk to you about it”

“Filthy Hobbitses!”

“Um… okay. You have a good day, sir”. I don’t really blame this guy. Tender awards sometimes happen when they are needed the most, and sometimes when they won’t help a damn.

 

Tender Awards are not boring, that’s for sure. And very emotional. Anything from surprise, joy and excitement to doubt, jealously and anger. And that’s just the researchers.

 

Construction isn’t my business; information is, so those of you out there:

 

Subbies, reach out and touch someone. In the non-lawsuit kind of way. And no one likes a Spammer. This isn’t about shot-gunning a kitchen and hoping a cake will fall out. Be selective. Be smart. Approach those that you know will use your product or service. Approach those that will know what you are talking about. Create relationships. Even if the answer is “No!” that’s still a conversation.

 

Contractors, do not ignore the subbies. New products, skills and services are being created every day. The construction industry, although very traditional and conservative, is also incredibly innovative. Broaden your supplier lists and don’t get held hostage by suppliers/ subbies who are unwilling or unable to adapt to the times. Give the new guys a chance to impress you. Those that can’t deliver won’t last long anyway. You were once new too. Help a brother/ sister out. Plus, a little healthy competition never hurt anyone

 

If you’ve been awarded a tender and you’re proud of this fact, and want to metaphorically thumb your nose at your competitors, please email Tenders@L2B.co.za with the details.

Your company is doing well, broadcast it.

Free advertising, people.

That stuff’s expensive.

 

About Claire Donaldson

I started working at Leads 2 Business in February 2005, and have served as Head of Department of Daily Tenders from 2007 until the present. I oversee both the Daily Tenders South Africa and Africa Departments.

Documenting your Project with Pictures

Documenting your Project with Pictures

 

Photo documentation and the use of clear and concise photos is an invaluable tool in the Construction & Building Industry.

Methods of photo documentation:

You can snap photos using your smart phone or tablet, save them instantly and store in a dropbox. You could use a camera and upload the photos from your computer. You can add details and notes describing weather, manpower, constraints to the contractor and any other details. Remember that all your photos should be stored securely.

There are numerous methods of photo documentation; the most commonly used are Word, MS. Paint and Power Point. Adobe Standard can be used for combining pictures into a PDF and then making the annotations. The photo is converted into PDF and this provides some protection against your work being easily edited or tampered with. One can also provide hard copies to clients and anyone involved in the project if necessary.

Construction teams around the world rely on webcam technology and software to monitor, document and promote their most important projects. Webcams can be used to capture job site images. You can also capture interior images of your building project at key milestones for a complete visual record.

Types of Photography:

There is ground level photography as well as aerial photography. Aerial photographs have an advantage over ground level photographs as the aerial view enables the whole of an area to be observed, rather than just a portion of it as the scale of aerial photography is relatively consistent throughout the entire frame. This enables relatively accurate measurements to be made using photographs taken from this vertical view however the main disadvantage of aerial photography is that the point of view is unfamiliar. Most features look very different when viewed from above and this can make it difficult to recognise ground features. It is advisable to use a combination of both aerial and ground level photographs.

To accurately and best show the progress of construction you should take daily, weekly or monthly photos from the same perspective. You can also take ‘walk through’ videos and ‘still’ pictures at different stages of construction.

Reason for Photographs on Projects:

1. Help to lessen potential legal issues.
2. Used as a document trail to help resolve potential disputes.
3. Used when you want to explain exactly where something is or what is it.
4. It provides a valuable training tool for improving the quality of work.
5. They are a measure for protecting and covering yourself. It’s a safe guard for getting blamed for something you did or didn’t do. “The eye in the sky doesn’t lie.”
6. Taking pictures before and after specific item was completed can be used as a good addition to the company portfolio. This can be used as a pre-sale. It’s a portfolio of completed and current projects.
7. Used by subbies so that they can estimate using the scales plan, pictures and real details specs.
8. For warranty purposes.
9. Many clients appreciate photographic documentation.
10. Photo’s offer a unique perspective of the entire project.
11. Used to record already damaged items delivered to the site or items that have been vandalised.
12. Recording milestones in the building work.
13. To show the equipment used on site.
14. Used for monthly progress reports and marketing materials
15. Photos can be used to document why a project might be running behind. They will show snow, flooding, and other situations hindering the progress such as subs not performing on time.
16. Portfolios can also be created for containing a final image, prints etc. for those who have worked on the project.

Photographic documentation helps give the client a visual of what is going on at the site when they cannot be there. Photos are also used to document any safety concerns. It takes very little time and in today’s technology driven world, to whip out a camera and take photos of the site every now and then helps document progress and concerns.

Think about when you’re looking at purchasing a specific product, vehicle, house or appliance. When searching online, people generally scroll past the items for sale that have no image available. Pictures are eye catching, attract buyers and potential future clients.

Photos and backup documentation go a long way to ensuring that you are keeping your project on the right path and saves a lot of headaches later on. It is important to remember that you not only document problems but follow the problems through to resolution. You want to be able to tell a story with a beginning, middle and an end. Tracking your project from planning, site clearance, breaking ground right through to the final ribbon cutting at the grand opening of a successful complete project.

“If you aren’t using photo media in your workplace yet you are missing out on a real money maker and money saver”. Remember the classic saying…..a picture is worth a thousand words.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:
http://www.linkedin.com/groups/How-important-is-project-photo-102651.S.183473485?view=&item=183473485&type=member&gid=102651&trk=eml-b2_anet_digest-group_discussions-25-grouppost-disc-1&midToken=AQHA-MYM12l6-g&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=1q9wYECfJogCs1

http://www.skysiteaerial.com/aerial_construction.html

http://www.eagleseyephoto.com/

http://www.consumerbuild.org.nz/publish/phase/buildingphase-monitoring.php

http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-16_u-188_t-633_c-2350/aerial-photographs/nsw/aerial-photographs/geography-skills/photographs-and-drawings

About Michelle Hosford

I work full time, study part time and now am the proud owner of the cutest puppy. Sleep...? What is that?

Profile of a Green Building

Green Building

 

 

Buildings play a huge role in addressing environmental concerns. They contribute around 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and the same proportion of waste. Unfortunately South Africa is in the top 20 list of worst offenders.

Green building is essential because we are running out of resources. We live in a time of global climate change challenges, increasing regulatory pressures for greater energy efficiency and carbon reduction, consumer interest, and employee pressure on corporations.

A green building can be thought of as a living organism, and as with all living things, it must have a nurturing environment to achieve sustained health and performance over its life. Such buildings are designed for economic and environmental performance over time, with an appreciation for unique local climate and cultural needs, ultimately providing for the health, safety, and productivity of building occupants. Architectural, systems, and end-use design, coupled with continual care and monitoring, lead to lower energy use, reduced CO2 emissions, and focused environmental stewardship while providing long term value to the community, building occupants, and building owners. Triple bottom line benefits can be expected—measurable benefits for people, profit, and the planet.

The energy dilemma is here to stay. Our planet faces an unprecedented energy challenge, with global energy demand growing faster than current production capacity, resulting in diminishing supplies and increasing prices. By 2050, energy demand will double in order to keep pace with demographic, economic, and industrial growth throughout the world. Within this same timeline, we must cut in half the amount of carbon gas emissions compared to 1990 levels to avoid the dramatic consequences of climate change that will affect every citizen, business, and country.

Working environments have a significant impact on employee productivity, and green buildings offer better day lighting, outdoor views, and indoor air quality for occupants to enjoy. These features of a healthy work environment help to attract and retain employees. Moreover, occupant comfort and satisfaction reduces sick time, improves workplace occupancy rates (office spaces are typically unoccupied 30% of the time) and most importantly, improves productivity.

The new Group Five Head Office within the Waterfall Commercial Business Park located midway between Pretoria and Johannesburg is a good example of a Green Building in South Africa.

The sustainable building features include:
• 70% of all demolition and construction waste was recycled or reused.
• 80% of the office UA has access to views of the outdoors
• Low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) paints, carpets and sealants have been specified and low formaldehyde composite timber products will be used in the shop fitting.
• Water saving is achieved by capturing rainwater for reuse within the building
• 50% of the timber is specified to be either Forest Stewardship Council Certified, reused or to have a post-consumer recycled content.
• The site will develop a watercourse protection plan to ensure that there is no degradation of the Jukskei River as a result of activities from the Group Five site.

Project floor areas of the Group Five site : Total gross floor area (GFA) 39 617m², total commercial office area 24 661m² and car parking area 27 539m². This office building achieved 5 Star Green Star SA – Office v1 Design Rating in December 2013.

These are ten points (in no particular order) that green buildings are already doing in different parts of the world:
1. Green buildings can command rents as much as 10% above the norm.
2. Green buildings improve productivity.
3. Green buildings show respect for the people who use them.
4. Green buildings raise the quality and standard of buildings generally.
5. Green buildings inspire innovation.
6. Green buildings encourage learning about what works and what doesn’t.
7. Green buildings can help electricity utilities by reducing peak demands.
8. Green buildings raise awareness of what constitutes a high quality environment.
9. Green buildings can trade energy
10. Green buildings present exciting new challenges for environmental stewardship.

So that’s the list. You may have noticed the absence of the most obvious benefit of a green building: its reduced environmental impact. But since that is, in essence, what a green building is all about, it goes without saying.

Sources:
https://www.gbcsa.org.za/projects/certified-projects/
http://www.envirocitizen.org/article/green-building:-what-is-it-and-why-do-we-need-it/6038.html
http://www.carbonsmart.com/carboncopy/2008/11/top-ten-reasons-why-we-need-green-buildings.html
http://www.l2b.co.za/Projects/Project/View?ID=884d1819-3b2e-409e-883f-6640eebe2346

About Debbie Wessels

Juggling a energetic, full of surprises life, working full time with two teenagers and hoping to still be sane and normal by the time I retire.

What the Frack!

What the Frack?

 

The topic of fracking seems to be coming up more and more these days and sure, I can hold my weight in a 3 minute conversation about it, but in no way have I ever been left feeling 100% confident I know exactly what the frack everyone is on about!  So I went on an information quest and this is what I came up with.

 

Let’s start with the basics like the definition:

fracking1

ˈfrakɪŋ/

noun

noun: fracking

  1. the process of injecting liquid (usually water mixed with sand and chemicals) at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc. so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.

Just by definition it sounds invasive, but I knew I was going to have to be objective during this quest in order to find out all the facts and make an informative decision as to whether I’m “for” or “against”.

So let’s break this down, as the definition implies, fracking is the extraction of natural gases or oil by fracturing the layers of shale by means of hydraulics. 2.4 to 7.8 million gallons of water is added to +- 40,000 gallons of chemicals and used during this process, to put that in perspective for you the gallon/litre conversion is 1 Gallon to 3.78541 litres!

The list of chemicals used is longer than my arm but here are a few, Hydrochloric Acid, Ethylene Glycol, Triethanolamine Zirconate, Methanol, Lauryl Sulfate, uranium, lead, mercury and the list goes on, and honestly they all sound a little frightening but mainly because I have no idea what many of them are or what they do, so I will hold any judgement for now due to ignorance.

To continue, once all the fracking has taken place there are geologic formation pressures that force up the “fracking water”, this is then meant to be stored and treated…. never to contaminate.

This is where my investigation got a little shady, and my impartial views began to diminish.

Site after site I stumbled onto terms such as:

“Fracturing fluid migration into drinking water aquifers”

“Waste water transportation accidents”

“Possible environmental impacts include ground water contamination, methane greenhouse gas fugitive emissions, waste water handling, and even potential earthquakes”

Not to mention these fun fracking facts:

  • There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.
  • The waste fluid is left in open air pits to evaporate, releasing harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air, acid rain etc.
  • Methane concentrations are 17 times higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.
  • Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing.
  • Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid

 

Explain to me why again is South Africa considering this?!!

Let’s bring South Africa in to this equation, where are we on the fracking global debate? It will seem we are firmly in the exploration phase of fracking as reported on the 2014-03-23 on the News 24 website, the headlines read “Govt gives go-ahead for Karoo fracking” It states that this is going to be an “economic game changer” and I couldn’t agree more, I love job creation just as much as the next person but does the “economic Game Change” outweigh the impact to our environment? Well to be fair, we were not given a vote and neither were the residents of the Karoo.

So all we can all do now is wait and see what the results of the exploration fracking will bring and hope that our government is responsible enough to do what is right for our Beautiful Country and the people who live in it ….

 

And that is the conclusion of my quest, but don’t take my word for it, go do some investigation yourself, I personally may have got stuck on the negatives of Fracking, so bring us back some positives and we can thrash those out in another blog installment entitled “Why the Frack not!”

 

Until then 😉

 

 

Sources:

http://www.energyfromshale.org/hydraulic-fracturing/hydraulic-fracturing-fluid

http://www2.epa.gov/hfstudy/plan-study-potential-impacts-hydraulic-fracturing-drinking-water-resources-epa600r-11122

http://www.what-is-fracking.com/what-is-hydraulic-fracturing/what-is-in-fracking-fluid/

http://www.dangersoffracking.com/

http://www.what-is-fracking.com/

http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/sa-to-be-fracked-within-weeks-1.1665020

http://www.news24.com/Tags/Topics/fracking

About Sherina Shawe

"You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining." from: Silver Linings Playbook.

T is for Tender

"T" is for Tender

 

There is much excitement when a Project Status moves into Tender Stage. This means the project is going out to tender – tender for construction! Whoop whoop! Things are happening, construction is going to commence shortly. If, however, the Project goes out to tender for the professionals the Project Status will remain in Procedural stage as this is a tender for professional services to conduct feasibility studies, EIA studies etc.

But, back to the tender for construction. This could be an invited tender and this is limited to preferred contractors only who are invited by the developer to tender on the contract. These tenders are very hard to obtain information about as they are, well, invited. “Invited” also translates as code for “big secret, don’t tell anybody anything!”

Open/public Tenders are published in newspapers and the media and these are open to general contractors who may only be limited by their CIDB grading. With publishing of the Tender notices comes site inspection dates (which are generally compulsory) and site attendance registers. The Tender closing date is perhaps the second most important date after the site attendance date. The Tender notices (DTA) that are listed on the Projects include a hyperlink which links the Project and Tender. Once the Tender has closed and the bids are in, bidders lists are then requested and if successfully obtained, the bidders list is attached to the DTA and the Project as a document.

On average, it takes about 3 – 4 months for Tenders to be awarded, (but it can take longer. Much longer in Africa). Once 3 months have passed, it is time to follow up on the Tenders and see if any awards have been made and this is when the fun begins.

It involves phoning the contact(s) listed on the Tender, usually in the Procurement Department and hoping they are willing to release details of the awarded company. When phoning African countries, this could involve many calls and being transferred to several different people and then finally being told…. “No, you cannot have the award details”. So, I wait (after all, “good things come to those who wait”) and try again in another couple of weeks or months depending on the forcefulness of the ‘No’. Sometimes, I get lucky and if the Project is big enough to warrant media attention, and an article appears in a local newspaper giving details of the awarded company I am able to update the award details on our database.  Alternatively, more phone calls and emails, until eventually (sometimes only once construction has commenced) a kind person will relent and give me the award information. Other times, sadly I am not so lucky……

But I digress …… back to getting the award information….

When obtaining the award information, it is important to get the spelling of the awarded company’s name correct, usually using the NATO phonetic spelling which is: Alpha for A, Bravo for B, C for Charlie etc. However, it appears that not everyone is able to recall this list when it comes to spelling and in Africa there appears to be many variations to this list, including the use of animal names – and I have had some more unusual phonetic names, including “J” …. for Giraffe and “A” for ….Umbrella!! Really!?!

T is for Tenacious, E is for Excellent, N is for Never giving up, D is for Diligent, E is for Enduring and R is for Relentless: T E N D E R

 

 

 

About Marlaine Andersen

I have been working for Leads 2 Business, in the Private Projects Department, for 10 years this July. I am Deputy HoD for Private Projects. Researching mining projects and projects through-out the African continent are my areas of research and I find them most interesting.

Understanding the Tender Life Process

It's better to be at the bottom of the higher class; than the top of the lower class

 

In the 9th Grade, I got to choose which science class I would be assigned to. My marks had landed me right in the middle of the class breakdown, so my teacher gave me a choice. I could go to the “lower” class or the “higher” class, the following year. The implication being that the “higher” class would be harder.

 

There are few instances where being slap bang in the middle are beneficial. Bidder’s Lists are one of them. There is nothing more perplexing than looking at the prices submitted on a tender and there is one extremely high tender price and one ridiculously low tender price. You can almost imagine the tender prices in the middle huddling together trying not to make metaphorical eye contact with either end of the Bidder’s List, in a bid not to be “tainted”. You do not want to stand out on a Bidder’s List. This is not the time to be an individual. Because if you are that incredibly low price; people will assume that you’re under cutting your prices. And if you’re that really high tender price; they assume you don’t know what you’re doing and trying to win the “tender lotto”.

 

Granted, tenders aren’t awarded by price alone. But price still speaks volumes.

 

Tendering is not a passive endeavour. It isn’t something that just “happens”. It has to be enforced and monitored at every stage. Tenders are about being competitive and cost effective; while promoting equality, transparency and fairness (I can practically see you rolling your eyes). Yes, I know you are more likely to see the words “corruption” and “price fixing” when reading any headline concerning tenders. And I can’t argue with that. Those in Supply Chain Management Units need to be trained in the correct and legal way of handling tenders, and those in the building and construction industry need to know just as much. The right hand keeps the left hand honest, as it were. In case, no one’s told you; you are allowed to object. If you see any dodgy dealings, call them on it. Maybe you’ve become too jaded; and gone to the private sector (no one can blame you). Maybe you’re too new and naïve; and not sure of the procedures (go learn them). Hell, maybe you’ve joined them.

 

If you don’t like what your industry has become, change it. If the client isn’t paying you; cancel the contract. If your contractor isn’t doing the job correctly; kick them to the half-finished kerb. In a legal and professional manner, of course. It happens all the time; so why can’t it happen every time? Yes, this is overly simplified. I realise, on the ground, it is far more complicated and messy and nuanced than an outsider like me; could possibly understand. Hard choices abound.

 

I can only offer this piece of advice my dad gave me “It’s better to be at the bottom of the higher class; than the top of the lower class”. At least you’ve got somewhere to go.

 

 

 

 

 

About Claire Donaldson

I started working at Leads 2 Business in February 2005, and have served as Head of Department of Daily Tenders from 2007 until the present. I oversee both the Daily Tenders South Africa and Africa Departments.

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