The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute’s (CARIRI’s) Industrial Materials – Civil Unit held their first session for the year on Tuesday 12th April, 2016 and was aptly named “Quality in Construction”.  The session was held at the Centre for Enterprise Development in Freeport and was attended by a wide cross section of persons who actively work in the Construction sector. 

The Minister of Works and Transport, the Honourable Fitzgerald Hinds delivered the feature address at the session.  The Honourable Minister stated his enthusiasm for accepting CARIRI’s invitation to the seminar since he thought that this discussion was very important to the nation and he commended CARIRI for taking the initiative to commence it.  He stated that in adversity, we become strong and can find the opportunities for growth. 

He continued by saying that the government has plans in place to improve the infrastructure of the country by building more interchanges, bridges and overpasses among other things but they also recognized that there needed to be a system in place to ensure that quality is present from the start.  He stressed that institutions like CARIRI needed to play a role in ensuring that quality is adhered to.   He reiterated that quality needs to be given more attention and that his Ministry will be keeping an eye on the issue of quality in projects moving forward.

Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr Liaquat Ali Shah also spoke about the need to move the quality discussion forward collectively.  He spoke about making quality a priority and ensuring that innovative solutions become a necessary component in the current market.  He noted that when creativity is implemented, then companies can become more cost effective and efficient. 

Guest speaker, Mr Geoffrey Abdulah, Director of Acuitas spoke about the need to improve the Engineering Profession Act and that insurance also needed to play a part in quality. 

CARIRI’s staff members then went into valuable presentations and demonstrations that clearly spoke about the need to have quality present at all times from the start.  The presentations were well received with many of the attendees indicating their appreciation of the efforts of the CARIRI team.

Achieving quality standards is one of the most important issues in the
construction industry and the management of quality is an important factor in determining the competitive edge of any business, but more so, for construction companies.  Always a point of consternation, it is vital that companies in this sector recognize and understand the importance of a proper quality system since it begins with selection, sampling and storage of materials. 

After being in this sector for a number of years and working with an assortment of companies, the Civil Engineering Unit of CARIRI has seen the need to further educate companies on the importance of quality in construction from the beginning of the project to the completion of the final structure.  This remains one of the most important ways in which CARIRI is seeking to enhance industrial capability and competitiveness in the construction sector. 

As a certified and accredited testing facility, it is vital that CARIRI take the lead in bringing these key quality issues to the forefront.  With over 30 years of experience, the Civil Engineering Unit is the most advanced ISO-certified civil/construction engineering testing laboratory in the Caribbean. CARIRI’s team of experienced professionals has provided testing and consultancy services to government ministries locally and within the region and to the construction, energy and light manufacturing sectors, among others.

q1

L-R: Mikey Joseph, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association, Liaquat Ali Shah, Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Minister of Works and Transport, the Honorable Fitzgerald Hinds, Geoffrey Abdulah, Director of Acuitas Caribbean

q2

The Honorable Minister receiving a token of appreciation from CARIRI

q3

 

The Honourable Minister taking a look at one of CARIRI’s inventions

Date: Friday 22nd January 2016

Venue: CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development (CED), Innovation Avenue, Freeport

The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute’s (CARIRI’s) Caribbean Food Safety Centre (CFSC) launched their enhanced Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Compliance Programme on Friday 22nd January 2016 at their Centre for Enterprise Development, Innovation Avenue Freeport. The launch was well attended by over 100 persons from the Food and Beverage Sector of Trinidad and Tobago. Senator the Honourable Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries gave the featured address.

CARIRI’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah welcomed key stakeholders of the Food and Beverage industry and extended special thanks to the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA), Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce and Couva Pt. Lisas Chamber of Commerce for partnering with CARIRI on this launch.

h2

Side-shot of attendees at CARIRI’s HACCP Launch

In his remarks, Mr. Shah stated that relevant to diversification would be manufacturing, export, value added activities and even local raw materials. He believes that innovation, which he defined as “creativity being implemented” lies at the very core of all efforts.

Within his speech he explained, “Exporters are aware that requirements such as HACCP are pivotal to accessing international markets, locally, cognizance has to be taken of the tourism thrust and last but not least, the health and wellness of our population and the consequences, far reaching consequences of food safety. In this context if I may be somewhat provocative we need to consider the whole area of exported foods. Is there a reciprocity for food imports i.e. HACCP compliance by the relevant foreign manufacturers from whom we import?”

To exploit the point he gave this example, “local tourists suffer food safety illness, who would be blamed even if it was as a consequence of a foreign imported food? It is the manufacturers of this country who would get the shaft. We need to address the quality of what we are importing into the country.” He closed by emphasizing CARIRI’s willingness to address other complimentary areas within its mandate and to work with all public and private agencies in a national effort which he firmly believes, that with adequate and meaningful coordination and commitment there can be much achievements.

In his address, Minister Rambharat explained that whilst food production is important, he has an overwhelming concern about the patterns of food consumption, health, wellness and food safety in particular. The Minister spoke of the unfair trade that exists in relation to food in this country where our local producers, in whom he has a lot of confidence, has unfair competition from imported foods. He also drew attention to food products that are often not properly labeled, imported under the guise of being something that it is not, issues with packaging and what is said and not said on the labels and a wide range of issues that make the competition faced by local manufacturers and producers unfair.

The Minister also went into detail of two experiences he encountered with HACCP with a rudimentary smoke fish operation on the coast and the coconut vending around the savannah. Both cases he believed exemplified the need for food safety to become an obligation in the country, especially the standards of preparation and packaging.

According to the Minister perhaps the most controversial of course, is the well populated and popular food vending on the savannah itself which he believes attracts a lot of traffic jams every night. He went on to say, “We have partially resolved the issue of food safety and vending around the savannah by working with the vendors. But across this country, it’s a problem.”

He continued by saying, “The government has a farm to table policy in agriculture which aims to eliminate the middle men and the several hands through which food and fish pass through, escalating price and comprising quality and interfering with reliability along the way.  The average fruit or vegetable in this country changes hands about five times before it reaches you, the end user.”

The programme also featured presentations from Mrs. Margaret Taylor, Programme Leader, CARIRI’s Biotechnology department on their role and functions in aiding companies with Good Management Practices (GMP) and closed off with a HACCP presentation from Mrs. Sharon Peart-Rose, Food Technologist, CARIRI.  Sharon described HACCP as a food safety management system which focuses on prevention strategies required to eliminate or reduce the impact of known hazards that occur at specific points in the food production process. She emphasized that HACCP must be supported by pre-requisite programs which are imperative to a successful system. She highlighted the seven principles of HACCP and the preliminary steps which should be taken such as having the right team and having flow diagrams.

Sharon ended by talking about the human requirements for HACCP, the challenges of HACCP implementation which were offset by the exponential benefits HACCP being a cost-effective system which can integrate into prior quality systems with the aim of reducing loss and waste throughout the food production process.

After the programme, the Honourable Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries toured the Centre for Enterprise Development alongside Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO, CARIRI and Mr. Wayne Inniss, Deputy Chairman, NAMDEVCO where he saw CARIRI’s Technology Bays in operations, specifically, Garlic, Soy, Mushroom (currently unavailable), Cassava, Chocolate Goat Milk and Cosmetic bays. 

h1

The Honourable Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries views CARIRI’s Oyster Mushroom cropping house

h3

 

CARIRI’s CEO Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah (center) explaining the value added products of CARIRI’s technology bays to Mr. Wayne Inniss, Deputy Chairman, NAMDEVCO (left) and The Honourable Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (right)

On December 21st, 2015, the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs renewed their commitment to formalize and promote collaboration between the agencies via the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

Held at CARIRI's Centre for Enterprise Development (CED) in Freeport, the signing of the MOU symbolizes the expressed intent of the institutions to expand and deepen collaboration in the area of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), with particular focus on capacity building in the areas of Patent Searching/Mining, Technology Transfer, Licensing and the establishment of a Technology Transfer Office at the CED. The MOU is a direct outcome of informal collaboration between the agencies on various initiatives which have been on-going since 2013 and sets the stage for continuation and acceleration of these activities going forward.

Among the initiatives which have been the focus of CARIRI-IPO collaboration are technical and advisory assistance provided by the IPO in formulation of an Intellectual Property Policy for CARIRI, the provision of training for select CARIRI staff members in the area of Patent Mining, the provision of advisory support to CARIRI's Business Hatchery Programme and the conduct by the IPO, in partnership with CARIRI, of a free IP Clinic which is held on the first Thursday of each month at the CED and is open to interested members of the public. It is expected that these activities would continue and expand in 2016. 

In his address to invitees, the Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah, emphasized the crucial role of IP in the Institute's thrust to build capacity in the area of Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) as a central plank of its strategy to foster business expansion and new business creation, with the ultimate objective of contributing more substantively to the pursuit of economic diversification. In this regard, he made reference to IP as being "the common thread that runs through the entire Research, Development and Innovation spectrum”.    He further stated that “we live in a country in which awareness of IP is such that few recognize that they are creators of IP and even fewer the value of what they have created".  Mr Shah felt assured that the partnership between CARIRI and the IPO could go a long way in closing this gap.

The keynote address was given by the Honourable Stuart Young, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs.  Minister Young reiterated Mr. Shah’s sentiments in stating that “local innovators may be underestimating the value of their own creation”.  He further stated that in this new knowledge-based economic dispensation, it was the actual creation, and not so much the raw material that really mattered.  In drawing reference to the significant, potential businesses opportunities available from the exploitation of expired patents and those not filed locally, Minister Young indicated that he was heartened to see the work that the IPO is doing and the valuable contribution it is making towards the promotion of a knowledge economy.  He noted that the volume of demand for IP education signals that we will soon get to the critical mass needed in terms of knowledge workers necessary to support this knowledge economy. 

The MOU was signed by Mr. Liaquat Ali Shah of CARIRI and Ms. Lydia Jacobs, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Legal Affairs Division, and witnessed by Mr. Regan Asgarali, Controller (Ag) at the IPO. 

image006

From L – R: Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO of CARIRI; Minister Stuart Young, Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs; Ms Lydia Jacobs, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Legal Affairs Division; Mr Regan Asgarali, Controller at the IPO

 image007

Signing of the MOU- From L – R: Mr Regan Asgarali, Controller at the IPO; Ms Lydia Jacobs, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Legal Affairs Division; Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, CEO of CARIRI

In November 2015, The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) hosted an ICT Sustainability Forum at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre. This event was the culmination of a three year project between both entities which focused on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with the overall objective of improving business performance and competitiveness in the Food and Beverage and Plastics, Printing and Packaging sectors.

As the executing agency, CARIRI had the mission of sensitising over 350 companies; this was the first objective of the project. CARIRI went into the field and found companies that were interested in ICT or those that just wanted to find out more information about technology that could benefit their business.

The second step of the project saw the 350 companies being given an opportunity to have their business diagnosed. This meant that the CARIRI project team went into the individual businesses and did a thorough investigation of their ICT needs and developed a plan on the way forward. A total of 80 diagnostics were concluded.

The final stage of the project was the implementation stage. The proposed systems and software suggested in the previous stage were implemented in the companies. Some of the solutions that were proposed as implementations ranged from point of sale systems to websites to inventory management systems, depending on the nature of the business.

At the ICT Sustainability Forum, Mr Tomas Bermudez, the IDB Country Representative spoke on the tremendous success that has been borne out of the project in the specific sectors and the IDB’s commitment to continuing the ICT implementations is the new sectors.

Although the Minister of Planing and Development, the Honourable Camille Robinson Regis was unable to attend due to last minute commitments, Dr Rickhie Permanand was able to bring greetings and deliver a rousing feature address on her behalf. Dr Permanand spoke about competitiveness and Trinidad and Tobago’s own ranking in the global index, he noted that ICT created a bridge to overcome significant gaps and as a way to improve the country’s ranking.

Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI was able to further expound on ICT but delved into how being innovative can actually thrust you forward into a new way of thinking that can lead to empowerment for you and your business. He further explained that the programme’s purpose was to create a positive intervention with SMES to connect to the dots in order to uplift entrepreneurial capacity and increase competitiveness. He further stated that ICT must always be user friendly and CARIRI has strived to be innovative for such demands by creating easy workable approaches to software and hardware operations.

The highlight of the morning’s proceedings was the panel discussion hosted by Vashtie Dookiesingh, Multilateral Investment Fund Specialist at the IDB. This session was entitled ‘Beneficiaries Speak’, and the persons on the panel actually went through the three stages of this project and spoke about their experiences and their interaction with the CARIRI team. They all agreed that CARIRI aimed to understand their business rather than just providing ‘consultations’; they were happy with the results and stated that that they would definitely recommend this project to their partners. Also in high praise of CARIRI, Ms Dookiesingh said that CARIRI was adaptable to the consistent changes that took place working with different businesses and congratulated CARIRI for a steady governance and management system.

CARIRI team members were also able to showcase a few of the software that were developed in-house as a result of their experiences on the various projects. Specifically, CARIRI has successfully developed an application known as the CARIRI Box that is geared towards the health sector. This mobile application allows medical practitioners to access their patient databases on the go. This is just one of the many innovations that CARIRI is working on.

From the feedback received over the last few days, the programme was much needed and it was well accepted by the participants who were looking forward to the next session to be held by CARIRI and the IDB.