Archive for October, 2009

Where Do Xerox Machines Go When They Die?

October 31st, 2009 Comments off

In this article I want to tell you about a recycling facility I operated in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area. This particular facility was deigned to recover precious metals from electronic scrap material. I worked for a consulting engineering firm, the same one as in last months article, and was assigned to the plant as the general manager. When I got involved, the construction was nearly complete and some systems were being commissioned. The consulting firm had a working relationship with the owners who did not have enough money to operate comfortably so we ended up with a financial stake since the bills were not paid. The concept the owners had was to get the equipment running, fine tune the process then sell the package of equipment to other potential investors. For each package sold the owners would collect royalties from the scrap sales, especially the precious metals. They were trying to sell the equipment package around the world and we did get some interest but I never new of anyone who bought a package.

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Was This Project a Success or Not?

October 31st, 2009 No comments

In this article I want to tell you about a project I managed that had the potential to be successful except for one detail the owners overlooked. The project was to build a medium density fiberboard (MDF) plant. The background of the owners of the plant was all financial. They had a plan to get into the environmental friendly business of which this particular MDF plant was part of. The plan for the plant was to make MDF board from scrap lumber. If you think of building a house, there all manner of small waste pieces of 2 x 4’s that go to landfill or some other use. This is the scrap we were looking for. This meant the plant had to be near a large population area. The owners had no money, but with their financial background, knew how to work the venture capital market.

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Do You Always Under Estimate Your Projects?

October 31st, 2009 No comments


I got a request the other day looking for someone to do a workshop on estimating. Some engineers were interested in what projects really cost and how are these costs developed. It sounded like they were doing the estimating and were always wrong. If you do not understand what goes into an estimate and the process involved you will always end up with a poor estimate. In this article I want to give them, and you, the detail that goes into an total installed cost (TIC) estimate for a complex project (multi-disciplined project). This is an estimate that covers the on site field work as well as the engineering and owners costs.

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