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Abaarso Project by Engineers Without Borders Report

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2020

The project will be mainly handled by two companies, namely, Engineers Without Borders- Masdar Institute and the ARC Initiative. The project is known as a Abaarso Project, and it will be carried out in Abaarso School of Science and Technology in Somaliland. The Abaarso project will be executed by both the organizations even though they do not have a lot of practical experience in this area. The main task to be performed for the project is the installation of a wind turbine to generate an estimated 20 kilowatts of electricity for the school. In addition, solar water heaters will be installed to help the institution reduce its overreliance on inefficient water heaters, which consume a lot of energy. Therefore, the project will focus on upgrading the whole electric grid system to stabilize electricity supply in the institution.

The main mission of Engineers without Borders-MI is to get involved in community development programs by establishing valuable partnerships. The firm’s main goal is to use its engineering and technical competencies to design and carry out sustainable projects, which are appropriate for end users’ needs. In addition, the company focuses on developing high quality projects that do not cost a lot of money to maintain, in order to ensure they serve intended users’ needs for a long period of time. It is to increase its perspectives on how it can utilize the skills of its professionals to help them attain good results in different tasks they perform. However, there are some challenges which the organization needs to deal with, such as, distribution of work load, knowledge development, poor communication, and an ineffective organizational structure. All these challenges need to be resolved to help the firm to register good outcomes in all its current and future professional undertakings.

The ARC Initiative is a non profit entity which was established by students and alumni of the Masdar Institute. It focuses on increasing capacity building, community empowerment and initiation of projects which uplift the welfare of people living in different societies. The organization has adopted various strategies that guide its operations to make it more responsive to the needs of its stakeholders. As a result, it relies on the expertise of its multidisciplinary teams to deal with various challenges it faces, while performing its operations. It has highly qualified professionals who are well prepared to deal with various challenges they are likely to encounter while working on different projects in diverse locations.

However, just like EWB-MI, the organization faces different challenges which include lack of clear leadership structures, lack of formal guidelines and large distances which separate its teams. As time goes by, the organization intends to address these issues to help the company attain good results from its long term strategies.

The project has faced some challenges which have made it difficult for various teams working onsite to execute their objectives effectively. As a result, both EWB-MI and ARC Initiative are doing all they can to improve the project to ensure it achieve good outcomes as planned. The first trip was held between March and April. During this period, all the team members assessed the condition of the turbine to find out if it was operational, mapped distributional lines and looked for an appropriate location for the solar water heaters. The budget that was allocated for this task was estimated to be 5,000 dollars. The money was supposed to be spent on hiring a crane and conducting repairs on the wind turbine. The project relied on various tools, such as GPS, to ensure a proper performance of the tasks which were being performed conformed to specifications and other natural factors that existed in that environment.

The first trip was conducted to allow all the teams to familiarize themselves with various factors they were likely to experience on site. As a result, in the first trip, the teams focused on performing routine maintenance on the wind turbine to ensure all its components were in a good condition. In addition, the teams assessed the wiring and distribution system using GPS coordinates to come up with an appropriate design that was appropriate for the turbine’s functions.

The teams also focused on assessing appropriate devices which could be used to streamline the power consumption loads to ensure they conformed to the wiring systems which had been established. The work plan on the first visit also focused on how the solar water heaters were going to work. Consequently, the design of an appropriate structure that would be able accommodate them was conceptualized. The team looked at the ways of coming up with an elaborate piping system to ensure the solar water heaters had been properly connected to the current power distribution system.

During the second trip which had been planned to take place by the end of May to early June, all the teams will focus on assessing the condition of the wind turbine to find out if it has been operating properly. In addition, the teams will also assess the condition of batteries to find out how they are used and if they are well taken care of by both students and teachers. In the first trip, students and teachers were shown how to charge batteries to make them more durable to minimize unnecessary maintenance expenditures. The existing distribution system will also be replaced with a new one to enhance the manner in which various functions that depend on electricity are performed in the institution. Lastly, improvements in solar water heaters and piping design were carried out to boost the performance of the new power system after its installation.

Problems Identified

Some of the main problems mentioned were presented by technical, organizational and other challenges which slowed down the work process. The disassembly of the wind turbine created some challenges for the team which affected the manner in which the project was executed. All procedures from the pre-crane to the post crane steps proved to be very difficult for all the teams involved. As a result, they found it difficult to stick to the routines which had been set, and this issue hindered them from getting good outcomes. In addition, the team found out that the generator’s blades needed to be modified to make them fit on the new turbine.

As a result, plans which had been set earlier had to be altered to enable all the teams to address this challenge. The team lacked appropriate equipment to make the necessary modifications on the blade. Therefore, this slowed down the project and made it difficult to stick to the project’s schedule.

Other challenges faced by the team were experienced at the site close to the wind turbine control room. The team was unable to find a suitable location that was easily accessible to execute its duties. As a result, team members were not able to protect themselves from scorching sunshine and wind at the site. In addition, the team found it difficult to develop an effective layout for the control room due to its unsuitable location and the heavy weight of batteries to be used.

The combined weight of 20 batteries was about1000 kilograms, which required the team to construct strong shelves which were able to support them for a long duration. In addition, the length of the wire which connected the wind turbine with the control room was an estimated 75 meters. Additional designs had to be conducted to ensure the cable will be laid underground in future. Consequently, this will guarantee the safety of people who perform various activities near the control room or the wind turbine.

The distribution system also needed an effective wiring system, and the team experienced some challenges related to the size of the cables used for wiring. As a result, the wiring that had been previously done was not able to support the load of the whole power voltage which the cables were supposed to carry. Moreover, the quality of the wiring which had been done initially was poor and exposed different people within that environment to various forms of danger. In addition, the wiring circuits were not appropriately connected, which made the project team to subject to a lot of changes on the original design which consumed a lot of time. The grounding of outlets was also done poorly. and this made it difficult for them to attain the optimum power production target of 240VAC. Therefore, this issue made it difficult for the team to execute its functions effectively.

The diesel generators were in a state of disrepair which made it difficult for the team to rely on them to power their energy needs. They were not utilized at full capacity due to various problems and as a result, they failed to meet the needs of users in the institution effectively. One of the generators was found to be inefficient because it consumed a lot of fuel but the amount of power output obtained from it was very low.

The other two generators were less effective and did not provide enough power to the distribution system maximum capacity of which was set at 240 VAC. Therefore, this required the institution to have uninterrupted supply systems to protect important electronics from getting damaged by unexpected variations in quantities of power supplied. As a result, this problem forced the institution to replace some of its electronics and other important appliances frequently, and as a result, this step has increased its expenditures.

There were other wiring issues which made it difficult for all professionals involved in the project to perform their duties effectively. As a result, team members had to use a lot of time to trace wiring circuits which was a labor intensive undertaking. Previously, additional outlets and lighting systems were connected to the wiring structure. However, a proper assessment on how they were going to affect the overall power load was never undertaken.

Therefore, all the professionals onsite liaised with students from the institution to locate all circuits to ensure the work process did not lag behind the set time schedules. Team members from EWB-MI were more knowledgeable on the technical aspects of wiring and they performed a wide range of tasks related to this area. Lastly, the team felt that an overhead distribution system would not last long due to high maintenance costs resulted from a heavy presence of baboons near the site.

There were also other organizational problems which made it difficult for the project to go on smoothly. The high turnover in student membership affected the plans put in place for the project. Moreover, the project was also affected by poor communication between all the participants, and this made it difficult for them to share knowledge, thereby having hindered the smooth flow of ideas. Funding problems made it hard for all the sides to get adequate resources to perform various tasks that were related to the project.

More importantly, logistical challenges affected the manner in which the project was carried out, and this caused a lot of delays. The project’s leaders were unable to find reliable contractors in the country who had the right equipment and technical expertise needed to accomplish the first phase. As a result, this compelled senior leaders in charge of the project to look for other alternatives that caused some minor delays.

Analytical Approaches

The whole team will utilize a clear organizational structure which will stipulate what each person involved in the project is supposed to do. In addition, proper procedures will be used to address communication problems, strengthen performance and encourage all the teams involved to share knowledge to achieve good results. In addition, specific participants from ARC and EWB-MI will be used to develop an organizational handbook which will guide them to ensure they understand targets their responsibilities and obligations. They will also be expected to develop a general architecture to be used to develop two websites, which will make it easy for both the organizations to improve the quality of their operations.

The handbook will help all the project participants to understand various project management methods which they can use to address various issues they encounter in their workstations. More importantly, this will equip all the members with the skills required to enable them to achieve goals set within specific time limits.

The main issues that have to be addressed in organizational policy include mission, vision, codes of conduct, rights and responsibilities and partnership policies. On the other hand, the project management handbook will address the project management cycle, analysis methods, budgeting and the allocation of resources for various tasks related to the project. More importantly, the handbook will also deal with other issues, such as, project selection criteria, documentation protocols, fundraising procedures and key performance measures to be used.

All these processes will be vital to the successful execution of the Abaarso project. As a result, all the teams involved will make different types of sacrifices which will enable the project to be accomplished within the set budget. In addition, future phases of this project will be able to use appropriate tools to ensure standards set in the beginning are actualized.

The other issue that needs to be taken seriously is the general architecture of the website. The web design format that will be used needs to encourage effective communication between different participants in the project, open interactions and knowledge transfer between members of both organizations. As a result, this will make the website’s layout more appropriate for various project functions that will be carried out by both the organizations in Abaarso. Various features will also be included to enable all the team members to interact easily to share their insights regarding the project. In addition, valuable documents will be digitized and saved as electronic files to enable proper access to different types of information needed from remote locations. This approach will help both the companies to reduce the time taken to make important decisions and boost performance.

The website will have an elaborate layout which will enable users quickly to explore and locate various sections they are interested in. It will also have a section that introduces all the members of the two organizations with brief profiles that describe each one together with their specific responsibilities and job designations. Detailed documents that have important data on various projects which both the firms intend to perform will also be made more accessible to senior team leaders. Moreover, important plans, site evaluations, budgets and photographs will be accessible to specific team members. However, they will be required to use their handles and passwords to access and obtain such documents to avoid potential data security breaches.

In addition, members will also be able to access news items on different events which are related to the core functions of the two organizations. This will enable them to have new perspectives beneficial for their long term intellectual growth. The website will also include a donation section which will enable donors interested in contributing money and other material resources to get in touch with senior leaders from both the organizations.

The tasks have been divided into eight main categories, and their projected dates of completion have also been indicated. The breakdown of the main tasks and their expected dates of completion are as follows:

  • Clarification of EWB-MI’s vision, mission, objectives and organizational structure and identification of problems through data collection (27/3 /2014).
  • Clarification of ARC’s vision, mission, objectives and organizational structure and identification of problems through data collection (27/3 /2014).
  • Clarification of challenges that are related to the Abaarso project and its timelines (27/3 /2014).
  • Identification of methodologies to be used to address various challenges that all the participants in the project are likely to face (13/ 4/ 2014).
  • Development of the EWB-MI project handbook (24/ 4/ 2014).
  • Development of the ARC project handbook (24/ 4/ 2014).
  • Development of general architecture to be used as a basis for the website development process (24/ 4/ 2014).
  • Execution and completion of the second phase of the Abaarso project using the proposed project management tools and guidelines (yet to be determined).

Recommendations and Conclusions

The whole project team needs to be well prepared to deal with the challenges associated with accommodation, food and logistics. In future, all the project participants need to evaluate sites where they will be required to work to find out if they have all the amenities required to make their stays more comfortable.

The second trip needs to include other professors from Masdar Institute to share their technical expertise and skills. This will enable EWB members to solve various problems which they experienced during the first trip to improve their performance.

The staff and students of Abaarso Institute need to be trained on how to take care of batteries to make them functional for a long duration. This will reduce expenses the institution is likely to incur in future to replace batteries which do not function properly.

In addition, the wind power turbine needs to have a device that measures battery discharge to ensure batteries are given time to recover during periods when low quantities of power are consumed. This will address problems that result from poor battery performance in the long run.

Another factor that has to be given more attention is the wind turbine reassembly processes and maintenance. Therefore, the institution needs to be encouraged to develop stronger working relationships with Gollis Company, which is based in Hargeisa town. This will allow the school to hire torque wrenches from the company to be used to improve the performance of the wind turbine and hire a proper stand that can be used to repair the power turbine.

The modification of blades can also be done in Hargeisa to ensure members’ second trip will be more fruitful than the first one. However, other issues that relate to compatibility will have to be addressed to ensure redesigned blades conform to the turbines’ specifications. In addition, project planners will have to address other cost related issues to ensure modified blades to be used are not too expensive.

The management of Abaarso Institute can be encouraged to get blades from various shops in Hargeisa to avoid high shipping costs that are likely to be incurred due to the importation of turbine blades from China. They can be encouraged to modify the blades to make them more suitable for functions that will be performed by the wind turbine in the long run.

The electronics need to be protected from harmful effects of nature such as excessive wind, rain and sunshine. This will help to protect the batteries from rust and grime to make them more durable in the long run. As a result, the institution will be able to save on high costs it is likely to incur from replacing all the batteries.

All the project participants need to be well-trained to ensure they are capable of performing different tasks assigned to them effectively. This will enable them to deal more effectively with different risks and challenges they are likely to be exposed to. As a result, they will be able to achieve good results in their duties.

The project will also identify future needs that are likely to affect the manner in which key functions are executed. As a result, this will help the team set more realistic goals that can be attained within specific timelines to ensure they attain good results.

Formal project management methods need to be used for future phases of the project to ensure all the participants achieve the set goals. All the members should increase their knowledge on how to use various project management tools to enable them to attain successful outcomes from various activities they are going to undertake.

Lastly, in future, a clear organizational structure will be needed to guide all of them to perform their specific duties. Therefore, this approach will enable future projects to benefit from faster decision making processes.

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