The week that was March 9-13
Singapore, weekend 14-15th March 2015
Monday 9; Singapore, Hong Kong, Guilin– Travelling
Being on the road is part of our job, sometimes it is a few hours, even a few minutes, sometimes, like today, it can be a full day before you reach your destination. And while the actual distance may allow you to reach your destination within a few hours if you had access to a private jet or helicopter, the reality is that we depend on public and commercial transport and flights and with that their available time schedules. As it turns out my destination has only one flight a day from Hong Kong so everything is built around that. An early departure from Singapore, transit in Hong Kong, the flight to Guilin and then another good hour drive to Yangshuo. Having gotten up at 6am I finally arrived at destination 12 hours later. Too late to do any meaningful work. The client gallantly invited us to dinner where we reunited with the rest of the team and caught up on the latest in regards to our project and the individual gossip. As a lay in bed I think about the drive into Yangshuo which remains impressive with all its famous mountain sights made famous on the back of Chinese 20 Yuan dollar note.
Tuesday 10 Yangshuo, China – “Heated” discussions
While we are slowly moving into spring temperatures are still low for this time of the year (below 10 degree Celcius) and our “meeting” room on site does not have any heating, so its left to the little stoves with burning coals to heat us up. We are all wrapped in several layers of winter clothing with some scattered coal stoves around the table to keep us a bit warm, but more then once we find ourselves continue the discussion grouped around the stoves. It is really kind of adventurous and I am sure that when we reach completion of the project and meet in nicely and comfortably warmed up meeting rooms we will look back at this early spartanesque project time with pleasure and stories to tell. Even the local flock of chickens and roosters keep us company in the background with the roosters seemingly unware of the time, sounding their wakeup call throughout the day and right through our presentations…
Wednesday 11 Yangshuo, China – Productive meetings
Nothing beats face to face meetings between consultants and our meetings here are no different. As we can see the building starts coming out of the ground with the structure of the basement levels completed and the building about to go into its first above ground levels. It is therefore critical that all design issues affecting the structural building construction are resolved with clear direction to the site contractor team. Critical in regards to lighting at this stage is the confirmation of the lighting points and control schedules which in turn determines cabling and conduit routes. The reticulation of power to be embedded in the concrete is therefore critical. Because of the distance between the various consultants (Beijing, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Singapore) the communication had been going back and forth with final confirmation. We achieved that today in our meetings allowing us to issue the final directives to the contractor; a satisfying but expected outcome from a team that seems to work well together. Amazingly this project does not have a project manager, but surprisingly it is very well handled by the owners themselves…at least so far. We are now reaching crunch time and a dedicated professional project manager maybe something to think about.
Thursday 12 Guilin, Hong Kong Singapore – Urine powered lighting
Today is the long way home, the same as we did on Monday but in reverse. As always while travelling I read up on some magazine and newspapers and find an article about urine powered lighting. It of course catches my attention. Said to have originated in Nigeria on an idea of students and further developed with support of aid agency Oxfam, a prototype toilet is now being tested on the campus at the University of the West of England in Bristol that converts urine into electrical power. It is said that about 1 litre of urine could provide 6 hours of power, but exactly how much was not clear from the article. From my understanding the system seperates the urine in nitrogen , water and hydrogen. Purified hydrogen gas is then used for the generator to produce electricity. I personally support initiatives that use our waste products to generate daily commodities like electricity. Surely in combination with low energy consuming LED light sources this could be a winner! Something to watch?
Friday 13, Singapore – Dimming warranty
By far the most interesting statement of the week goes to a lighting manufacturer who came to visit us today and said they provide dimming warranties with their downlights. While he initially mentioned it in passing, I stopped him in his tracks to get a clear explanation of what exactly he meant with his “dimming warranty. Dimming problems are one of our key issues time and again and seemingly not one project is realised without an LED dimming problem somewhere, so obviously I sat straight up when he mentioned this. Yes, they are so confident in their engineered LED downlights (it appears they have their downlights installed in the latest Airbus A380!) that they are happy to put their money where their mouth is and come out and fix any problem that may occur with dimming their down lights, regardless what dimming brand or protocol! Ok, the fittings are not the cheapest around, but in comparison with the reputable brands, certainly quite competitive. The down lights look good, compact, professional wit extremely narrow binning tolerances (less than 1 McA they claim). I have an immediate project that I will check this out as this is one of the key issues that we fight on a nearly daily basis. I asked him if he was sure he was going to give this dimming warranty unconditionally warning him of the Asian contractor and installation qualities, but he maintained his stand. Ok then, let’s go and proof the pudding!
Have a great weekend!
The week that was…