Casey Study –Airentronic Maintenance
Project Manager of Airetronic Maintenance and Sales (Pty) Ltd Tony Moodley discusses the process as a subcontractor in multiple turnkey projects building hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Airetronic served as part of teams hand-picked to build and equip hospitals during the first wave of the national lockdown in South Africa. The company was subcontracted to install temperature control systems in the hospitals. The first hospital they worked on was Clairwood Hospital in Durban.
Airetronic Maintenance and Sales meets with the rest of the team after being chosen as a subcontractor to play a role in the construction of hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic. The main contractor created their own team from scratch which included Airetronic. The subcontractor was involved at the design stage contributing their expertise, mechanical engineers, knowledge of suppliers, experience in the industry and viable solutions. Moodley reflects that the team was able to come together and work effectively to meet deadlines.
The approach taken by Airetronic in all the hospital installations, which began with the Clairwood Hospital in Durban, was one that exemplified a solution based-mindset. The installation was done using hybrid type systems. In terms of equipment, handling units used were trucks. LG or Daikin variable refrigerant volume condensers were used- depending on availability. Although 100 per cent fresh air was used, there was a separate control system installed. This was to ensure that the temperature in the hospital remains controlled despite external weather conditions. This involved contacting LG Korea at some stage to ensure all the software updates were up to date.
The objectives of the project for Airetronic was to ensure that deadlines were met and that the temperature control systems were efficiently installed. The subcontractors also prioritised deadlines and served as a cohesive member of the team.
Challenges and Solutions:
Moodley remarks that the main challenge which the team involved with the project faced was time. The strict curfew during Level 5 of the Covid-19 pandemic national lockdown meant that there was a challenge to transport equipment in the designated times.
Another challenge was sourcing equipment and access to materials to the site when some businesses were closed or reluctant to exit isolation for fear of contracting the virus. Trusted suppliers and vendors took the plunge to avail themselves and their offering to the project, this was motivated by the need and professional relationships formed before the project. The efficient workflow of the team meant that they were able to complete projects which would normally take one year in the space of three months.
The maintenance of social distancing while on the ground was also a challenge for the hospital installation project- particularly because of the loud machinery. At some stage cameras were installed onsite to ensure that progress was easily observed without stakeholders having to be physically where construction was happening.
“Hats off to our staff, they worked flat out. So much so at some stage we had to stop for a day so they would not burn out,” remarked Moodley.
The final challenge identified was obtaining permits for the relevant stakeholders to be able to deliver the material needed for the project, interprovincially. Moodley recalls having a renewed appreciation for the materials and ecosystem which comes together during such a project. Through the challenges faced, his takeaway was the way so many different elements come together for one specific goal- something often underestimated before the onset of the pandemic.