Founded in the city of Rosario, Argentina, 60 years ago, it then expanded to the city of Córdoba, opening an office in 1968. The company is responsible for assembling very important structures in all kinds of events. Some recent works were the construction of a huge stage for the performance of Diego Torres (Villa Carlos Paz, Córdoba), carnivals organized by the government of the province of Córdoba, part of the stadium built for the tennis matches of Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro; the construction of a whole stadium for presentations of Andi Roddick, also with Juan Martin del Potro; as well as the stands for public for the TC2000 street circuit in the city of Santa Fe, among others.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing civil engineer and Chairman, Gustavo Rinaldi, who, along with Pablo Peralta (Safety and Industrial Hygiene Technician), and Aldo Moretti (head of the commercial department), answered some questions related to safety and other characteristic features of Ribron’s activity.
Chatting before starting with the questions, a comment from Rinaldi gave us an indea of how the company faces each new job: “We know that with each assembled structure we have a responsibility and the need to protect our professional image, so we have to work well, providing the service that the customer requires. Other than being part of a business, we also need to give a good impression so that customers will come back to us for new jobs.”
ZioGiorgio: What can you tell me about the technical part of the company’s job?
Gustavo Rinaldi: The company has a technical office where I work as a civil engineer with a seniro architect, a student about to get his degree as an architect, an advanced engineering student, and a Safety and Health Technician (Pablo Peralta).
Then there are the foremen; the officers specialized in assembly, and workers with lower levels of specialization, among which some with over 20 years’ experience in the company.
ZioGiorgio: How have aspects related to safety evolved?
Gustavo Rinaldi: Serious companies have always worked safely. We have always worked with an emphasis on safety; we have never had an accident. However, there are companies that do not have safety as one of their priorities, and some do not even have professionals on their staff. They just saw a business opportunity, bought some materials and started to build structures, but do not support their work with calculations and safety.
Current legislation, which was delayed for some time, is now advanced, and include requirements such as those regarding health and safety, the presentation of calculations for certain structures, and more, which must be met.
ZioGiorgio: How do you check the implementation of safety standards?
Gustavo Rinaldi: The company has internal safety procedures. Road structures, for example, have their own building regulations, but it is not the same with entertainment. There are no specific regulations for shows that point out how structures should be. But since building regulations do exist, they should also apply for shows too.
ZioGiorgio: Is it more expensive to work safely?
Gustavo Rinaldi: Safety has a cost. The company needs to train staff, taking them from their usual work; you also need to send people who are just starting to work, with more experienced workers so they can learn the jobs; all that involves costs. Buying items of personal protective equipment and technology renovation, the storage of the goods (at the beginning, company employees carried materials on their shoulders, that no longer happens because we use lifting systems), all that comes at a cost, but there is also a cost involved for not working safely: accidents. Some companies have closed down because of lawsuits and other legal issues arising for claims incurred.
ZioGiorgio: Are employees reluctant to receive safety training?
Gustavo Rinaldi: People with more years in the company, those who worked at a time when safety procedures were not implemented are more reluctant to adopt safe working practices and the use of personal protective equipment. Younger people are more open. People who received safety standards at their first job accept these procedures easier, better and in a more natural way.
However, there are always people, such as those, for example, who don’t want to use headsets/helmets during summer, and so we need to keep checking compliance of use of personal protective equipment.
ZioGiorgio: How have materials evolved during Ribron’s history?
Gustavo Rinaldi: When the company was founded, the only system of temporary tubular structure that existed, at least in Argentina, was the Acrow type (pipes and nodes) that was used for several years. Then multidirectional quick coupling systems began to appear, including the most famous – Layher. As a strategic decision, we decided to build our own multidirectional system. Other companies opted to buy Layher systems, becoming dependent on that system, maybe because it cost less to import those products instead of developing their own, due to the exchange rate at that time. As we already had many types of materials that could be convert to the new technology, we decided to create our own system, and I think we were right, not only from an economic point of view, but mainly because we can improve our system to suit special demands required for certain facilities.
ZioGiorgio: I see, then, that you develop your own systems …
Gustavo Rinaldi: We developed the system that I mentioned before named multidirectional quick coupling. It is a system with struts and eight directions flanges, coupling horizontal and diagonal elements with a wedge system. Furthermore, we designed a motorization and control system based on six independent motors connected to a control console to move the aluminum roof that we purchased from a Buenos Aires company that develops aluminum structures.
ZioGiorgio: Do you receive special requirements for stage structures?
Gustavo Rinaldi: In entertainment there’s a reality we call “Layher-dependant”. As Layher is a very good system, used all over the world, people in charge of projects shows designs thinking in Layher standard measures. In our case, ans because we do not having the same dimensions, what we do is adapt to the Layher standards. We have differences of some centimeters but we are within the requirements that allow us to access all kinds of events such as the stage set for the Diego Torres Show in Villa Carlos Paz, Córdoba.
Our system allows us to access jobs where the dimensions of Layher systems cannot, because of the workspaces. In some cases we have made special items in time to meet jobs.
ZioGiorgio: Is the company certified with regards to its work?
Gustavo Rinaldi: We are currently in the process of obtaining certification wih regards to quality standards, environmental standards and health and safety. This is something that sets us apart from other companies that do not have these certifications.
ZioGiorgio: Can companies from Argentina set up stages like those we see for foreign productions?
Gustavo Rinaldi: Structures do not really have secrets. Basically, we are talking about tubes that resist loads. If we do not consider mega shows like “The Wall” (Roger Waters) or 360 (U2), we can certainly set up structures such as those used on international figure shows, seamlessly.
Aldo Moretti told us that logistics to carry out a job is a very important element. In this regard, Gustavo Rinaldi commented a vivid experience during the realization of one of the important jobs done by Ribron.
“There is a lot of work behind the finished product that the public sees. From the moment you get the contract for a show preparation begins to decide which warehouse will supply the materials, where they will be stored, how to assemble and dismantle, how items are placed on trucks, how many trucks are needed for transport, timing. In addition, we must be prepared to solve problems that may arise: items that may deteriorate; a truck that has a problem on the road, how to move the load arriving. These are all serious issues.
For example, last year Pablo (Peralta) was responsible for building grandstands for 20,000 people for the realization of the TC 2000 race in the city of Santa Fe, on a street circuit, where the work was done in the middle of the street with regular traffic. He also had to build a pedestrian bridge 60 meters long mounted over one of the major avenues. He had to coordinate the arrival of the trucks, the unloading and placement of materials. Some stands crossed streets and for that reason we had to assemble them at the last minute and at night.”
Almost at the end of the interview, and while they showed me some of the warehouses of the company, Rinaldi gave us an idea of of the cornerstones of the history of the company: “You can own a fleet of trucks of the best brand, but if they are not used efficiently the company is likely to produce losses. Moreover, it is also possible to own a fleet of trucks of a brand not as important as another one, but if used efficiently, the company will profit.”
On behalf of ZioGiorgio, I would like to thank the company staff for being available, especially the attention provided by the Health and Safety Technician, Pablo Peralta in arranging the interview, as well as Gustavo Rinaldi (and Aldo Moretti) for their kindness in answering my questions, and for adding important elements making their answers more interesting.
Fabio D. Garcia
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