Operations Management Tools In State Engineering Corporation Construction Essay

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The construction industry is a very competitive high-risk business.It is not unfair to say that recently the construction sector economy of Sri Lanka has faced a severe and unprecedented downfall.Reasons for this are of course diverse.The world was undeniably heading towards a recession and Sri Lankan economy was on a slippery road from the past decade or so starting from extra-ordinary expenditures for the war efforts,loss of awareness to exploit the open economy, general sense of hopelessness in an alarming atmosphere of growing corruption,petty politics and misguided economic policies and misadventures.

As the professionals in industry large number of employees in all levels of the construction sector from the architecture office,contractor's firms,valuers and quantity surveyors officers all have been laid off and continue to erode the work force in the construction sector.Clients have begun to scratch the bottom of their pockets and have postponed paying for the services already done.This has been the general background of the construction industry in Sri Lanka.

The State Engineering Corporation(SEC) actually was not that unfortunate to undergo all of the above issues mentioned.The state backup was always provided when ever there was a crisis.Most importantly all most all of the projects offered during the recession period was from public sector.As soon as the war ended there was a huge opportunity specially in the Northen province. The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) was mainly responsible for implementation of the major project proposals,funded by the IMF,World Bank and ADB.The government institutions coming under different ministries has offered large amount of projects varying from medium to large scale.But to be the Premier Engineering Enterprise in Sri Lanka the SEC should look for more opportunities and need to get a competitive advantage as it always cannot depend on the government backup.

I am confident that the innovative management practices proposed will certainly enhance the performance of the SEC and thereby setting leading example for the construction industry in Sri Lanka.

State Engineering Corporation of Sri Lanka in Brief

State Engineering Corporation of Sri Lanka is a State sponsored corporation established under the State Industrial Corporation Act. No 49 of 1957, on 1st January 1962 by the Ceylon Government Gazette, and functions directly under the Ministry of Housing and Construction. It has been consistently ranked as one of the top Engineering Construction Organizations in Sri Lanka.

The State Engineering Corporation(SEC) was established to fulfill a most challenging tasks of undertaking the design and construction of a number of massive industrial complexes which were a major component of the development program of the country at that time.In fulfillment of this role, the corporation successfully completed the largest and most impressive array of projects, a single organization has ever been responsible for in modern Sri Lanka .These include more than forty factories such as steel, tyre, cement, paper, textile, plywood, hardware, ceramic etc., complete with infrastructure services such as sewerage, water supply, electricity, roads, drainage and air conditioning. These projects commissioned and now functioning are monuments to the achievements of the SEC.

Subsequently, the development plans of the government also necessitated the construction of a large number of multi-storeyed buildings such as secretariats, banks, hospitals, schools, housing projects etc., spread throughout the island. The corporation has been responsible for the design and construction of the majority of these projects.The harnessing of the river valleys for agricultural and hydro-electric development was another important aspect of the government's development program.The State Engineering Corporation has been a major partner in the construction of dams, hydro-electric projects, channels etc., notably the Polgolla Diversion Project, Ukuwela Power House, Kalawewa, Dambulu-Oya, Kirindi-Oya Spillway and Radial Gates etc., which comprised of Phase I of the Mahaweli Scheme, and the Lunugamvehera Scheme.

During the last decade, much emphasis was placed by the state on the construction of housing, the corporation was largely involved in the design and construction of several major government housing schemes and a large number of smaller housing projects in Colombo and suburbs.In the recent past, SEC has diversified its activities and had under taken Technical & Project Management of several large projects in the country. Also it has acted as local consultant to foreign practices too.

Our Vision

To be the Premier Engineering Enterprise in Sri Lanka

Our Mission

To achieve excellence in design , construction , manufacturing , fabrication and project management services in providing innovative and integrated solution that exceed the client expectations, with the participation of a competent and motivated workforce within a prosperous enterprise and thereby contribute to the National development.

The main objectives are as follows:

Planning, investigation, design and construction of industrial projects in the public sector.

Training of Engineers, Architects and other technical staff necessary for carrying-out the planning, investigation, design and construction of industrial and engineering projects in the public sector.

Functioning as consultants to State Corporations and Govt. Departments with regard to planning, investigation, design and construction of industrial and engineering projects.

Carrying out research with a view to improving existing construction materials and techniques, and methods.

The manufacture and marketing of precast concrete, pre-stressed concrete and other similar products.

With the approval of the Minister, the carrying out of  the planning, investigation, design and construction of Industrial and Engineering Projects in the Private Sector.

To promote, participate in, undertake any projects or ventures relating to or conducive to the above objects inclusive in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, and for such purpose if necessary to participate in the formation of a Company, or to purchase shares in any company.

The functioning as Agents of or for any Company or Corporation  or persons carrying on the business of manufacture of equipment or machinery of any type or any parts thereof or any tools used for technical purposes.

As the premier Engineering Organization in Sri Lanka, State Engineering Corporation is engaged in the following disciplines of Engineering.

Engineering Design



Project Management

Information Management

The principal business activities of the Corporation are handled by four main groups, each headed by a Deputy General Manager (DGM), who reports directly to the General Manager.The four main groups are.

Building and Civil Engineering Construction Group

Building and Civil Engineering Consultancy Group

Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Group

Construction Component Group

Each group is geared to undertake projects falling within their spheres or to work together with any or all other groups to provide a complete design and build engineering package.These groups are assisted by service departments, which handle Computer Services, Personnel, Administration, Finance, Legal, Supplies & Security Services.

The State Engineering Corporation today is the only local engineering organization in Sri Lanka, which offers the widest variety of Architectural and Engineering services under one roof, with unmatched experience and capability. The organization chart of State Engineering Corporation highlighting the key personnel is attached on next page.

Organization Chart - State Engineering Corporation of Sri Lanka

Building & Civil Engineering Construction Group

The Civil & Building Construction Group carries out all types of heavy and light civil construction work and building construction work for the state and the private sector.Every construction project undertaken by this group comes under the preview of an experienced chartered engineer who functions as the manager(construction),who reports to the DGM (construction).Currently there are five construction managers covering the projects in southern,western,central,northern and eastern provinces in Sri Lanka.There are all large and medium size construction work sites headed by chartered engineers, while small work sites are manned by graduate engineers.The works undertaken by this group include industrial complexes & industrial estates,housing schemes,irrigation & hydro-power schemes,sports complexes, multi-storeyed buildings for offices,shops, hospitals, schools,roads and bridges,water treatment plants & distribution schemes,sewage & waste water treatment plants & disposal schemes.

Building & Civil Engineering Consultancy Group

 The Consultancy Group headed by the Deputy General Manager (Consultancy) employs fully qualified and experienced staff of Architects, Civil, Structural, Mechanical & Electrical Engineers and Quantity Surveyors. This group is equipped with modern computer assisted design and drafting facilities and geared to offer complete consultancy services in the following fields.

Industrial - Factories, Warehouses, Assembly & Production lines, Community Theaters,Religious Buildings, Police Stations, Museums, Pharmaceutical Factories

Educational - Primary /Nursery /other Schools, University Complexes, Training Colleges, Physical Education Complexes 

Residential & Sports - Luxury, Medium and Low Cost Housing Schemes, Hostels, Staff Quarters, Stadiums

Recreational & Health - Sports Centers, Indoor and Outdoor Stadia, Swimming Pools, Hospitals, Community Halls, Libraries

Commercial & Office - Banks, Super markets, Secretariat Buildings, Office Buildings, Shopping Centers 

Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Group

The Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Services Group headed by the Deputy General Manager (Mechanical & Electrical) exploit unique resources and capabilities in the design and development of products and systems while simultaneously providing the advantage of experience in the manufacture and installation of industrial plants, steel structures, pre fabricated buildings etc. This Group operates two fully equipped workshops, for steel fabrications and machining, and for heavy construction plant maintenance. It also operates A welder Training School with a training course for high grade welders, complete with non destructive testing facilities Training School for Plant Mechanics, Fitters, Boiler Makers etc. under the supervision of qualified staff.

This group is also the guardian of wide variety of heavy construction equipment for Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering activities.Skills have been developed over a broad spectrum of activities.

Mechanical installation of plant and machinery

Industrial Electrical installation (power and switch gear)

Design and fabrication of heavy welded steel structures to international codes.

Design and fabrication of pressure vessels,storage tanks,heat exchangers and process systems

Design and construction of materials handling systems and components

Design and construction of pile foundation and substructure for multi-storeyed buildings, jetties, bridges etc.

Construction Component Group

The Construction Components Group headed by a Deputy General Manager (Construction Components) operates three large pre-cast concrete factories, one of which is equipped with a large panel component factory for pre-fabricated housing. It also operates brick and block making factories and two large modern carpentry shops The pre-cast and pre-stressing techniques used by the Corporation are the most advanced in Sri Lanka and compares favorably with international standards. 

The precast concrete components manufactured by S.E.C. fall into the following categories : Bridge Beams Concrete Building Components - Beams, Columns, Column Pockets, stair cases Floor lab units, roof frames, purling etc. Standard Building Frames up to three stories of different spans Domestic water tanks (wire con), septic tanks Electrical & Telegraph Poles Kerb Stones and Paving Slabs Concrete Drainage Pipes Wall & Floor Panels. Other building materials manufactured by this group includes high strength cement sand blocks of various sizes, high strength standard engineering bricks and Dolomite lime.

This group also has facilities for drying and pressure impregnated treatment of timber for use in structural components in buildings. It also manufactures doors windows, door and window frames, pantry cupboards, household furniture etc.

Current Management Practices of State Engineering Corporation of Sri Lanka

1.SWOT Analysis:

It is important to identify the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable in achieving organizational objectives of an organization.Therefore SWOT analysis strategic planning method is used to identify the strengths,weaknesses,opportunities and threats involved in the business activities of SEC.

Strength: The availability of multi-disciplinary group of professionals employed by the state is the highest strength of the State Engineering Corporation of Sri Lanka. At present the divisional offices are located at every strategic place covering the entire island.Specially with the end of the war new divisional offices were established in mannar and vavuniya to handle the new construction projects in those areas.Also the department officers could be deployed very quickly for the assistance of any government organization.The department is provided with some minimum funding and as a result professional advices with some financial assistance to government organizations in building space problems could be extended at disaster situations.

Weakness: Rigid rules and regulations have affected the delivery process of work programs and Information and Communication Technology will be used to overcome this situation.

Opportunities: Government ministry or organization can obtain the services of the SEC using consolidated fund for the construction programs.The responsibility of building construction programs can bemaintained throughout its lifetime since we are a government construction organization.Most of the time we work with inhouse permanent staff so that deployment of staff to work under extremely high security and confidential areas is possible.

Threats : The SEC is required to follow Financial Regulations, Treasury Circulars,Inland Revenue guidelines and various other procedures in procurement, recruitment, management responsibility which are time consuming,whereas the private sector is not bound by any regulations. As a result government organizations prefer to use private sector in implementing construction projects.

2. Performance Management

Managing people for performance is always important to achieve organizational objectives.Each division has their own objectives and Top Management will ensure that the quality objectives including those needed to meet requirements for projects are established at relevant function and levels within the organization.The quality objectives shall be SMART. i.e.specific,measurable,achievable,realistic and timeliness.

3. Resource Management

The State Engineering Corporation of Sri Lanka has gained ISO 9001:2000 certification for all its service divisions.Each division will determine and provide the resources needed to implement and maintain quality management system and continually improve its effectiveness.This would also enhance customer satisfaction by accurately identifying customer requirements.

4.Competency Training and Awareness

The SEC will determine the necessary competency for personel performing work efficiency conformity to project requirements.By enhancing training facilities to develop skills of all construction trades would benefit to meet the national skills standards.Currently SEC has training facilities for steel fabrications and machining, and for heavy construction plant maintenance. It also operates A welder Training School with a training course for high grade welders, complete with non destructive testing facilities Training School for Plant Mechanics, Fitters, Boiler Makers etc. under the supervision of qualified staff.

5.Internal Communication

Top Management will ensure that appropriate communication processes are established with the organization.The communication takes place regarding the effectiveness of the quality management system.Both Oral and written communication will be used in order to convey the message clearly to others.

Innovative Management Practices for a Better Managed Organization

Construction projects represent a unique set of activities that must take place to produce a unique product. The success of a project is judged by meeting the criteria of cost, time, safety, resource allocation, and quality.The purpose of innovative management is to achieve goals and objectives through the planned costs of resources that meet the project's quality, cost, time, scope and other requirements.The following innovative management practices would be applicable for a better managed organization.

Creating Partnerships

Partnering is perhaps one of the most innovative developments in delivering a project efficiently and reducing construction disputes.It provides a sound basis for a ''win-win'' climate and teamwork.This competency is achieved by initiating and creating opportunities to work with others across the organization to maximize individual and organizational effectiveness and working effectively across organizational boundaries to accomplish a shared objective.It requires developing networks and alliances across the different departments in the organization to build authority and support for ideas.Improved understanding between different people in different departments could ease the root causes of poor project performance and ineffective communication.It could result in substantial performance improvements in terms of time, cost, and quality as a whole to future projects.Partnering is designed to minimize job costs and schedule overruns which is very important in today's construction business.The partnering process attempts to establish good working relationships between project stake holders. This would achieve through a mutually developed partnering process.

Partnering derives many benefits to the client, consultants, project managers, main contractor, subcontractors,and on-site employees. Although partnering may not resolve all the problems encountered in the construction process,it creates an effective structure to reduce conflicts and thereby improve communication and reduce legal problems.Indeed partnering requires commitment at all levels and each project stake holder can accumulate benefits in partnering.

2..Creating a Learning Environment

Usually people tend to regard what is familiar to them as normal and often take for granted that different cultures exist, and perhaps may consider others as abnormal since they are so much used to the existing culture within their environment.It is important to get people focused on adaptive change to think in new ways and and encourage them to learn new values and attitudes to meet the rapidly changing environment.By doing so it would engage not only young people but also people over 40 years of age in identifying and solving problems,change and improve.Obviously this would increase organization capacity to grow and achieve its purpose.

Increasing competition, continuing changes in the market environment, rapid changes in technology, globalization; all these have fashioned for an extremely volatile environment. Customers expect the maximum for every cent they spent, highest quality, and lowest price together with other benefits. All these factors have planted additional pressure on companies in the market today. Therefore, to become order winners, the companies should be more flexible and adaptive to unpredictable external changes.

It is important to make changes in all subsystems of the organization to promote continuous learning.This can be achieved by shifting to a team based structure empowering employees and sharing information.In learning organization although team leadership is important traditional boss is practically eliminated.people in the teams should be given the skills,information,tools,motivation and authority to make decisions and respond creatively to new challanges or opportunities that arise.Traditional management which tries to limit employee should be eliminated and employees should be given an opportunity to employee participation groups as well as decision makin authority,training and information so that people can perform their jobs without close supervision.

SEC should upgrade their IT system in order to enhance sharing information within and outside the organization.Most of the employeesshould be given an email address and the management should send important and valuable information in the industrial context and also important announcements to everybody so that everyone is kept updated on the current aspects of the company. In a way, this has contributed to the culture, since employees tend to use the same set of words while day-to-day work and everyone talks about the same current events.

3.Driving Innovation and Creativity.

Driving innovation requires to foster a climate that encourages creativity and innovation. This is a very important competency that need to practice and could observe in most of the leading private firms but hardly could see in public sector.People who are effective at driving innovation allow others to challenge and disagree.They take prudent risks to accomplish goals and assume responsibility in the face of uncertainty or challenge.Also they champion new, untested ideas and build support for those ideas among stakeholders.Finally they celebrate successes and worthy attempts at innovation and learn from failures.Effective innovation managers build and maintain open channels of communication for the sharing of ideas and knowledge throughout their organizations.We should encourage and recognize them when they suggest innovations and improvements.Take calculated risks to achieve important objectives and take prompt actions to implement a promising ideas some of the innovative ideas supported in an creative environment. Creates and reinforces a culture of being proactive and taking initiative to improve existing processes and procedures.

4.Developing Top Talent

This is to consistently attract,select,develop,and retain high performers. With this competency managers raise the performance bar for his or her work unit or team so that it consists of top performers and provides people with the opportunity to develop new skills, carry out challenging assignments, and accept new responsibilities.This competency require managers to hold people accountable for their performance.They should swiftly address the performance problems.Some often thinking that what they consider important is the actually important while considering others as abnormal situations.By having an open lines of communication and feed back,it would enable employees to discuss problems and to find innovative solutions to them.Providing coaching and assistance is also essential to improve team and individual results.Identifying the talented people in different departments and make maximum use of them would definitely beneficial to the organization in achieving their objectives.Also Provides people with the opportunity to develop new skills and accept new responsibilities

5.Managing People for Performance

In a cultural system, though the members share common values and meanings, the existence of subcultures is also a salient feature. In the same manner, within SEC also this is visible. Some divisions places more important value to technical aspects while some may value different management techniques such as 5s and break through thinking more than technical aspects and some may consider financial aspects as more important, often thinking that what they consider important is the actually important while considering others as abnormal situations.

Managing people in different sub cultures for performance is important and it is achieved by setting goals which are SMART.i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timeliness. And conducts periodic performance meetings with direct reports to review progress against goals and ensure that goals are relevant and realistic.Also it is vital to provide balanced, specific feedback on a regular basis.This includes checking on the progress and quality of the work and providing specific feedback on a regular basis so others understand what they have done well and how they can improve in the future.It means addressing performance problems by gathering information and setting goals for improvement in a fair and consistent manner. Addresses performance problems in a timely and fair manner by clearly defining where expectations are not being met. Develops a sense of commitment in others to meet challenging, yet realistic, performance targets.


Construction Industry is a competitive high-risk business faces many challenges, stemming from a variety of sources.The innovative management practices would definitely benefitial if the employees were given the opportunity to put them in to practice.Such an identification of practices could well formulate effective strategies for minimizing construction conflicts and in taking the SEC in to a new horizon.