Engineering and Project Teamwork

The cause is bigger than the individual and the product is more than the sum of the parts

I have had the privilege to be part of a crack engineering team that gelled and matured over a several year period and then continued to get better and better with time and with each challenge. As is natural, each team member revealed particular strengths. The individual strengths tended to be diverse and cumulatively greatly broadened the capability. When inspired by leadership, towards a common cause that is deemed bigger than the individual, the individual strengths dovetail, not only filling the gaps but with strengthened bonds produce a powerful force. This is not a case for promoting specialization, quite the contrary. Individual strengths and leanings happen naturally. Indeed, individuals that are trained and inspired to be well rounded and complete don’t lose their strengths and leanings but achieve greater versatility and productivity and through a broader understanding of all functions are able to enhance the performance of others by their support.

Construction at Victor Project in the harsh Canadian environment
Construction at Victor Project in the harsh Canadian environment

Recently I had the privilege of witnessing such exemplary teamwork in action at the Victor Diamond Mining project, in Northern Ontario, Canada. I was there for Dos Santos International, starting-up and commissioning our three DSI Snake Sandwich High-Angle Conveyors. At the morning launch meetings as at the evening recap, the enthusiasm and sense of purpose was contagious. Clearly the cause was larger than the individual and this sense was shared by all team members from management to labor of the participating companies; the owner, the EPCM, the installation contractor and the various suppliers. Assignments, both planned and unexpected were embraced with enthusiasm and performed with pride and purpose. It’s no wonder that the Victor project is an example of success, coming in ahead of schedule and under budget.

Twin DSI Snakes at the Victor Mine
Twin DSI Snakes at the Victor Mine

The accomplishments, product of the teamwork, are the more impressive when the size, location and schedule of the Victor Project are considered. The following stats are taken from “E&MJ Dec. 2005” and “Canadian Business Dec. 2005”:

  • Project cost, (US Dollars) $ 982 million
  • Project life is 17 years
  • Productive mine life is 12 years, based on only one of 16 pipes (grading 22.3 carats/100 t), 6 million carats. Exploration continues on others in order to extend the mine life
  • Mine will produce annual revenue of (US Dollars) $ 117 million
  • The Victor kimberlite has a surface area of 15 hectors
  • Mine is located in James Bay Lowlands of northern Ontario, 90 km west of the coastal community of Attawapiskat
  • Mine is accessible only by air, and supplied by ice roads during 2 to 2½ months in the winter
  • Project schedule:
    • Environmental permits were approved in late October, 2005
    • Construction began in early 2006
    • Mine production began in early 2008, nearly a full year ahead of schedule
  • Project manpower grew to more than 800 during construction and settled to 380 for the productive mine life

I was privileged and honored to be a part of (if only as a supplier and observer) this very successful and exemplary project and team.

Joseph A. Dos Santos, PE

2 thoughts on “Engineering and Project Teamwork”

  1. Mr. Krishnamurthy,

    Thank you for your comments. I would love to know if you have had similar or differing experiences in your work and organization.

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