September 21, 2012

Can you be happy with smog?

When travelling in China, the first thing that one is paying attention to is the color of the sky. It is not blue. It is not white. It is grey. First you wonder, then you start to feel sorrow and empathetic for the Chinese people. Why do they have to live in man-made smoggy conditions similar to Germany or UK some 100 years ago?  On the left you can see a picture of the "blue" sky of China, how blue the sky was this week - without any real clouds around.

The funny thing is that all the real estate commercials and advertisements have complete blue skies – so blue that it is almost feeling like a joke when you see the reality.
In my trip this week to China I saw again a lot of construction activity on-going. I was also myself visiting some construction sites – massive projects with massive number of people working there. I was also amazed about the salary levels explained to me. Particularly in the coastal areas workforce is no longer as cheap as it used to be and not as easily available. There is definitely room now for efficiency, also in the form of precast construction.  I wish the precast machinery manufacturers and their sales force are now very active in this country! Efficiency and environmental considerations are needed for construction, not only on most smog-causing coal power plants.
But to answer the question of the title, can one really be happy when not seeing really the sun? I think one can, but I still believe one can be more happy if the sky is blue. 

September 12, 2012

The country of most half-made buildings

Whenever I visit UAE I am always amazed. This little country sitting on the sand is amazing, and we at Peikko also have our little problems - like unwanted visitors at our Ras Al Khaimah factory - see below.

 Another issue is the amount of half-finished construction in the country. During the boom times huge amount of buildings were started, and sadly huge amount of building scelatons are laying around with hardly any work done for the last 4 years. One example is the this site in Ajman, which between Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah were Peikko has its UAE factory. I would not like to work for the company trying to manage and decide what to do with these half-finishes building frames !!!!

September 6, 2012

3 precasters, 3 perspectives

In the last weeks I have been happy to meet several customers – construction companies, design companies and precasters – in multiple countries. After summer it feels like “customer euphoria”:  I have really got a boost of motivation while being able to learn from the business of our customers. Here some thoughts from 3 precasters, companies that make concrete columns, beams and walls in their factories, to be later assembled at the building site.  And I was happy to visit the factory floor of each or them.
The first company had decided to build a new factory in a new country. It was very interesting to hear about how they are developing and changing the habits of making precast elements in that particular country – with new insulation materials, with new surface materials etc. The drive to develop the company by expanding geographical area and by bringing new technologies to customers – it impressed me a lot.
The second company had already invested in new machinery some years back, but now had decided to invest on processes. The LEAN philosophy was evident on the factory floor – there had been serious cleaning on-going and obsolete machinery, tooling and suppliers could not be found on the factory floor. New vendor-managed inventories had been taken into use and all equipment had special, marked places. I have never ever seen a cleaner precast factory!
The third factory I visited had invested in bringing new design methodology.  They had selected a new structural design company with roots from another country to work they detailing in a new manner – and only after that purchased several new machinery.  The company had decided to sell not only what the customer typically requests, but components with increased quality & functionality.
What made me extremely proud was that all these three companies had selected Peikko as their main supplier of connections  - see some used products in the pictures – after the visits I was really impressed not only on the customers, but also on my own local team members who had served the customers so well.
I wish I could use the teachings of these customers in our own Peikko business. When have you last time learned from your customers?