The experienced project manager is anxious not to pit the different roles against each other, however. “Here at Mongstad we need every single function to work as it should. Logistics/warehousing, transport and prefab are all crucial to sustaining a smooth operation. Yet if the foreman is not up to it, it doesn’t matter how well the other functions are working.”
Beerenberg has for many years been heavily involved at Mongstad, and the project has been praised internally for being very well run in terms of HSE, quality and efficiency.
“The foremen have to make their crews deliver. A good foreman gets everyone on board, he helps prepare equipment and materials, and he is in the field getting stuck in. It’s essential that the team have all the materials and equipment they need at all times. If not, we are wasting time,” says Rune Erdal.
The foreman also has to record the work that is being done, and there is some paperwork involved. “We want foremen with good IT skills so that they can get that part of the job – and it is an important part of it – done as quickly as possible. Then they will able to get back out into the field to support and contribute to their team. This makes it more likely that the job is done correctly the first time round and to a high standard.”
In the past the caricature of a foreman was of someone ranting and raving at their underlings and
always doing as they pleased. A right a***h***, in other words. Myth or fact, nowadays it is impossible for foremen to act like that.
“As a foreman, you have to have your crew on your side. If you don’t, you’ve lost. The age of the tyrant is over. You have to be on good terms with your colleagues. You have to be a kind of carer in many ways. At the same time you have to be clear and speak up when required. Foremen are increasingly being given additional duties. This means the role has become more complex than it used to be,” says Erdal.
Increasing activity levels
In 2019 activity at Mongstad will be stepped up even further. It means that several new foremen will join Beerenberg at the plant. Things will get particularly intensive during the big maintenance shutdown in September.
“We are focusing especially on scaffolding. That is because there is still room for considerable improvement in this discipline compared with insulation and surface treatment and because much of the work during the shutdown will involve scaffolding.”
Beerenberg organises foreman seminars and issues written guidance, and its employees also attend seminars initiated by clients. Day-to-day support is probably the single most important factor, however.
“We need to enable our foremen to do a good job in terms of planning, risk assessment, surveying and not least leading their crews in working efficiently, to a high standard and with a spotless health and safety record,” concludes project manager Rune Erdal.