|Getting along is crucial
|Highly integrated teams are building the Peixe Angical
hydroelectric plant project in Tocantins, Brazil
|written by ◦ Cláudio Lovato Filho
photos by ◦ Eduardo Moody
When companies with vastly different backgrounds and cultures team up to work on the same project, they face a complex challenge. They must all be open to upholding their principles and viewpoints while understanding and accepting what their partners have to offer. It is also key for people to feel motivated to seek integration in all programs and on every day-to-day procedure at the jobsite. On the Peixe Angical hydroelectric plant construction project in the Brazilian state of Tocantins, the synergy among the companies that form the Peixe Joint-Venture Contractor (CCP) is one of the project’s hallmarks. Their previous experience helps. Most of the people on the Peixe project’s management team also worked together to build the Deputado Luiz Eduardo Magalhães – Lajeado, in the same state.
Like Lajeado, construction of the Peixe hydroelectric plant on the Tocantins River is the responsibility of Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez, the joint venture’s lead contractor. “Everybody likes each other, and some people are good friends. We’re like a family,” says Contract Director Ricardo Muzzi Guimarães, from Andrade Gutierrez. He was also on the team that built the Lajeado power station. “Our past experience of working together makes a big difference. For example, Isaías (Isaías Amâncio de Souza, from Odebrecht, Responsible for Civil Construction) and I have been working on the same projects since 1998.” According to Ricardo, another factor that has helped integrate the teams is the mix of veterans and newcomers. “The transmission of knowledge brings people together,” he says.
Located in the Peixe municipality, 350 km from the state capital, Palmas, the hydroelectric plant project resulted from an investment by Eletricidade de Portugal – EDP (59%), Furnas Centrais Elétricas (40%) and the Rede Group (1%), who formed the Enerpeixe consortium. Ground was broken in April 2002. However, the work came to a halt in October of that same year due to financial problems. It only resumed a year later, in October 2003. Today, 55% of the civil construction has been completed and over 4,200 people are working at the jobsite.
“For Odebrecht, Peixe is an opportunity to continue the work we are doing in Tocantins, where we have already helped build the Cana Brava and Lajeado hydroelectric plants,” observes Sérgio Roberto Macedo, the company’s Contract Director for the project. “Above all, it is an opportunity to establish closer ties with the client EDP and strengthen our relationship with Furnas, which is one of our oldest clients.”
The project includes a dam standing 39 meters high and 5,775 meters long. The hydroelectric plant will go online in May 2006, when the first of its three turbines (each with a 150-MW capacity) begins generating electricity. The other two turbines will start operating on July 10 and September 30, 2006.
These are challenging deadlines for a project of this magnitude. To meet them, the integration and synergy of the two joint-venture partners must go beyond their partnership. A good understanding with the designer, Themag, has been crucial to ensuring the excellent performance achieved as the work goes forward. “Our interaction is fantastic. We have an open channel of communication, around the clock. Everyone knows we share the same goals, and this is reflected in our day-to-day work,” says Isaías Amâncio de Souza. Down the line, another partner will also be joining this high-quality relationship environment: Voith Siemens-Bardella, the electromechanical equipment supplier.
Isaías has been with Odebrecht for 32 years and is one of the company’s most experienced dam builders. He has taken part in the construction of 12 hydroelectric projects in Brazil and other countries. Despite his long track record, Isaías is still impressed with the positive environment at the Peixe project. “Here, all areas are fully integrated. Everybody wants to play an active role in this venture.”
Enerpeixe, the client for this project, is reaping the fruits of this harmonious relationship and playing an active role. “We have a proactive partnership with the joint-venture contractor,” underscores Nelson Caproni Júnior, Enerpeixe’s Construction Supervisor, a dam builder with 28 years’ experience, including 26 at Furnas. “We’re working on a tight schedule, so it is critical to foresee and plan for the challenges that lie ahead. We can only do that when everyone involved is fully committed to our overarching objective, which is to generate good-quality energy within a given timeframe. Today, less than a year after work on this project resumed, our goals are being met. For example, construction of the spillway is already ahead of schedule.”
Luís César Moreira, Responsible for Production at CCP, says the joint-venture contractor has successfully integrated its members’ cultures. “As a result, people really do share the same objectives. Because of that, we are achieving high performance on this project, which demonstrates that everyone is focused on the client’ satisfaction.”
A member of Andrade Gutierrez, Luís César points out that the teams’ close working relationship is strongly reflected at the work fronts. “We have managed to make our system of mobilizing people and equipment even more effective.”
The high degree of integration between areas and programs, and the frequent need for team members to work in several areas at once, makes it all the more important for everyone to be aware of how important their responsibilities are to the project’s success. Fábio de Castro, from Odebrecht, is the officer responsible for Engineering. He observes that, at Peixe, people participate in the everyday operations of other programs as well as their own. This kind of managerial decisionmaking is fundamental on a project as complex and urgent as Peixe. “The project’s planning is completely in sync with production, for example. Team members in all areas are committed to doing everything we’ve agreed, down to the last detail. To get the job done right, we also have to know what our coworkers are doing.”
A case in point is the Integrated Management System (SGI), a program that depends on sharing knowledge and getting everyone involved to be truly effective. The management team uses the SGI to carry out programs in the areas of Health, Workplace Safety, Environment and Quality. Currently being introduced at Peixe under the leadership of engineer Marino Mastrodonato, the SGI is a tool that enables the project to achieve excellence in those areas.
“Through everything they do, each and every worker ensures that we achieve our objectives in the areas of health, safety, environmental preservation and quality,” says Marino. “The SGI is being implemented by people for people. The focus is on the Individual. From the management team to construction workers, everyone is responsible on this project.” He stresses that their aim is to groom professionals to work on this project and future jobs. “We are trying to show people how important it is to be committed to the company and themselves,” he observes. Marino is in constant touch with the people responsible for Health, Safety, Environment and Quality at Andrade Gutierrez and Odebrecht and can rely on their support.
Reinaldo Freitas, 35, a civil engineer born in the northeastern state of Recife, joined Odebrecht 12 years ago through the Young Partners Program. He has been working on Peixe’s Production Program since November 2003, and says it is an essential learning experience. “You have to set your ego aside when you’re working in a joint venture. But at the same time, you have to take a firm stand when you express your ideas and make suggestions. I think this balance can be achieved by always seeking the right thing. The Odebrecht Entrepreneurial Technology gives us the basis for doing just that.” Reinaldo is taking part in the second year of Construtora Norberto Odebrecht’s Program for Developing Entrepreneurs (PDE). “This exercise in integration and teamwork at Peixe has taught me valuable lessons. I realize that I am improving my ability to influence others and be influenced by them.”
Reinaldo may learn even more during construction of the São Salvador hydroelectric plant in Tocantins. The project is scheduled to begin in early 2005 and the owner, Tractebel, has contracted a joint venture of Odebrecht (leader), Andrade Gutierrez and Voith-Siemens to build it, with Intertechne as the designer.