Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cheap Labor is Not So Cheap

I contracted with some guys in the boatyard here in Malaysia to remove the antifouling paint.  The daily rate for a worker is about $45. That may sound cheap but when the skills that we normally take for granted are not accompanying that labor, inefficiencies result.  

I can sand with 20 grit (very course) sandpaper on a grinding disc and stop at just about any layer of paint that I want.  An unskilled Malaysian will oversand and destroy the bottom of the boat with gouges when using 20 grit sandpaper so I have to give them 80 grit.  The sander with finer sandpaper takes 4-5 times longer and also uses up that much more sandpaper.  Our Malaysian worker was able to sand one and a half square meters per day.  At that rate, it would take 60 days to remove the antifouling paint at a cost of around $2700 plus sandpaper plus I would have to add my time to supervise.  Almost the same price as I was quoted in Australia for removal via abrasive blasting.

If you're doing anything more complicated than ditch digging, cheap labor may not be the way to go.

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