Investigating the effectiveness of production practices at Umpheme Development (Pty) Ltd in KwaZulu-Natal.
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Despite being in existence for almost two decades now, Umpheme Development (Pty) Limited is marred by its own unique challenges. Among them is the fact that the organisational records indicate a high number of completed milestones at the various projects, but not claimed from the respective clients. As a result, the company’s cash flow reserves are decreasing and there is an unhealthy increase in the working capital employed to the various projects. This exposes the company to the risk of inability to fund both current and future projects, should this trend continue unabated. In this view, the main aim of this study was to establish the challenges associated with the production practices of Umpheme as a construction company, to assess the factors affecting production processes and the performance of Umpheme, as well as to suggest measures to arrest the problems faced by Umpheme. The qualitative approach was employed, where 14 respondents participated in interviews. The findings of the study indicated that the major challenges faced by the organisation include incompetent subcontractors, high speed in the production of the houses, milestone payment of subcontractors upon the respective supervisors’ approvals and not the DoHS inspectors D6 certificates. In most cases, these are the same houses that do not get claimed and then remain as cash tied up in working capital. The participants also alluded to poor communication between and among the relevant stakeholders, which affects the flow of the work. Another problem which they identified was that some houses are build and then the beneficiaries cannot be located, then the houses remain idle. Again, this con tributes to funds being increasingly tied up in working capital. The use of the manual quality management system by Umpheme demonstrates a serious lag in embracing the technological advancements in this era of the fourth industrial revolution where techno logy has taken the centre stage. As a way to try and rescue the situation at Umpheme, the participants indicated that it is important for senior managers of Umpheme to attend the initial technical meetings of projects, in order to appreciate the initial problems, rather than relying on the project staff who could be telling them what they want them to hear. Regarding the issue of the missing beneficiaries, the participants suggested the verification of beneficiary availability before building the house slab. The payment of subcontractors upon the issue of the DoHS D6 Certificate was also recommended. They also suggested the recognition and reward of the well performing project team, as well as team building sessions for the project team. Essentially, it w as reiterated that clearly defined communication channels can go a long way in improving production activities. It is also important to invest in the development and training of site supervisors and the builders, team building sessions, to ensure the growth of employees within Umpheme. It was also suggested that Umpheme must embrace the current technological advancements by investing in the electronic quality management.