Mention the word partnering and most people will have an idea what this means and many will appear to be enthusiastic about building relationships between all parties involved in a project such as the client, contractor or suppliers. Most recognise that a climate of openness and trust can lead to fast track procurement and monetary savings, however, whilst many have enthused, few have delivered. Sadly, in the arena of lifts and escalators, there has been little evidence of progress in partnering over the years.
Historically the lift and escalator industry has been an industry with little mutual trust and almost an expectancy of financial wranglings at the end of a contract. The lift and escalator side of a project has often been seen to work in isolation from the rest of the project with little communication between any other parties involved. Whilst such attitudes exist it has been difficult for partnering to move forward.
At Elevate Consulting Ltd, we firmly believe that partnering is the best way forward and we strive to work in partnership with all our clients creating a climate of trust, openness and honesty. The historical climate has provided us, as lift and escalator consultants, with the opportunity to take a lead in opening up the channels of communication and instigating collaboration between all project parties and in our experience partnering can work extremely successfully leading to long term relationships, fast track procurement and other benefits for all involved.
Our clients put their complete faith in us, as do the manufacturers, suppliers, installers and contractors. There is a total transparency of costs with the figures available to all parties involved. Everybody involved in the project makes profit from their participation and all the parties involved know exactly what the profit has been so avoiding the historical issue of financial wranglings at the end of the contract period.
The move towards partnering is long overdue when you look at the advances that have been made in other areas of the lift and escalator industry. Technological advances have meant that Elevate Consulting is unique in its’ ability to provide 3D lift and escalator design facilities. 3D design gives us the ability to get designs signed off early, it describes exactly what the contractor needs to build and ensures that the tendered costs are the same as the final costs.
It has allowed us to increase our information flow (if a 2D drawing was worth a 1,000 words a 3D drawing must be worth at least 10,000) and has also enabled us to compile the complete set of full engineering drawings with other members of the design team which allow them to fully understand their interfaces.
In this way the requirements of the main contractor who is building the lift shaft and surrounding staircases are as apparent as the needs of the M and E specialists and the manufacturers of the lift itself.
The example of a lift installation at Zara UK demonstrates how the 3D rendered image relates to an actual photograph of the installation. The Zara lift was fully designed using 3D technology and has three glass walls and a glass ceiling. The specially designed bespoke scenic lifts for Zara UK were procured within 12 weeks, fast track procurement. Compare this with a normal procurement period of 20 weeks for a standard engineered product on most normal projects.
The benefits of a smooth exchange of information becomes apparent at the time of installation, which on some projects is a 24 hour a day exercise. This requires meticulous planning on the consultant’s part to correctly rosta the various disciplines and ensure every minute detail has been covered for the teams working during the night. Co-ordination of building activities around the lift shaft is imperative to success.
The level of co-operation encouraged by partnering also has some rewarding spin offs. Manufacturers who have seen the collaboration between the various parties are more inclined to put their faith in the promises that Elevate Consulting make. Rather than demanding every detail is in place before they issue a production slot (often months away) they will agree a production date based on our projected delivery of all necessary documentation.
This allows documentation to be delivered promptly and the tendering process has been adapted in favour of selection based on all criteria including mutual trust. Time is crucial on many projects so a time saving is a great benefit when contractors work with suppliers rather than battling against them. It’s also good to see that when contractors and suppliers do build up a rapport they are able to commit to working together in the future on a long-term basis.
So by working in partnership we have generated a situation where everybody is happy. The manufacturer still has a forward production programme, the contractors and suppliers have forged a good relationship for the duration of the project and future projects, Elevate Consulting has the flexibility to pull everything together and the client has the best opportunity to make changes, particularly cosmetic alterations which may become apparent as design of finishes evolves.
Many of these interim decisions will affect the quality of the final project and ultimate client satisfaction. We therefore all have a chance to build in a life expectancy substantially greater than the minimum that comes with the ’off the shelf‘ product when a client/developer says ’I just need a lift’.
Elevate Consulting have successfully partnered on some very straightforward projects however, the results of partnering and collaboration when employed as an essential element of procurement discipline of a prestigious, quality installation have been quite stunning.
Because of the amount of design that goes with a bespoke lift, particularly one of the scenic variety, every job becomes a turnkey project, and the more complex the project the greater the benefit from partnering. If it can work for us and our clients, there is no reason why it should not be successful across our entire industry.
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