Over the past two years, supply chain disruptions, revised budgets, and labor shortages have made it difficult for construction managers to maintain desired productivity levels in the construction industry.
In today’s challenging construction environment, companies need to find ways to improve construction productivity to lift the entire industry and help your company deliver higher quality work to project owners.
That’s why it’s important to continually review productivity at your job site so that you can spot areas of concern. Consider the most important red flags to be aware of during your review.
Focus on These 7 Aspects of Construction Productivity
There are many ways you can look at productivity at the job site. Let’s review some of the most important focus areas so that you can identify gaps and then take steps to close these gaps.
1. Concerning trends in your labor, material, and/or equipment analysis. This report typically outlines labor productivity, material accuracies, and equipment usage. The analysis
should identify any issues, significant changes, and/or risks that are present at the job site. Plus, the report typically includes information on upcoming requirements for labor, in-house tools, and equipment.
Dive into the information contained in this report. Is there an uptick in negative factors that could be hurting construction productivity? Take note of any unfavorable trends that you see and then work toward implementing a plan of action to resolve these issues. This will help you optimize the use of labor, tools, and equipment at the job site to increase productivity.
2. Poor selection of lifting equipment. If you are seeing a downturn in productivity, look for whether you have the wrong equipment to lift and move materials. Material handling is a key component of job site efficiency. The proper selection of equipment to be used to move and lift materials around the job site can increase productivity, as well as support project profitability and construction site safety.
The challenge is that there is a wide variety of lifting equipment used in construction. Circle back to the person or team who is responsible for selecting equipment such as cranes, forklifts, and aerial work platforms. Make sure they are selecting the right equipment for the job.
3. Inefficiencies with personnel hoists. Personnel hoists, which are often referred to as temporary elevators or buck hoists, are common pieces of equipment used to transport workers in a multi-story building. Your company likely rents these from a vendor to secure them to the side of the building.
Make sure your project teams understand how to work with vendors to select the appropriate number of hoists for the job site and to strategically place the hoists at the appropriate location. This is important because these factors can significantly affect the productivity of a work crew.
Look for evidence that captures inefficiencies with personnel hoists. You can also send a survey to your personnel to ask whether they have the appropriate number of hoists in the right location for the work to be done, then use the survey feedback to pursue changes.
4. Decline in productivity rates. One of the most telling signs that you have gaps in productivity is a decline in your productivity rates. For example, you should regularly monitor work hours per unit, which is calculated by taking the number of crew work hours expended per day and dividing it by their production rate (daily output).
If you see noticeable declines in the output of your construction workers, then take steps to review what could be causing a decline. Do you not have enough people? Too many people? Not enough training for your people? Take a deep dive into your productivity rates to find out what could be happening.
5. Decline in equipment productivity. Perhaps your people are not the problem. It could be your equipment. It’s important to focus on site-work equipment when performing a productivity analysis because of the repetitive nature of the work and the high cost of the equipment.
Similar to using formulas to determine the productivity of your people, you can use formulas to calculate the productivity of a piece of equipment. Take a look at what has changed from when the equipment was most productive to determine what could be causing a decline in productivity. It could be minor that a part needs to be replaced or more significant that a piece of equipment has aged out and needs to be replaced.
6. Overtime is causing a decline in productivity. Consider two common scenarios where you would push for work crews to work overtime:
- The project has fallen behind schedule and now your company needs to ramp up the work hours without increasing the size of the crew to try to catch up.
- Or, the project is approaching the finish line and your company is being incentivized to complete the project earlier than scheduled.
It’s common to rely on crews working overtime in these scenarios, but your company needs to be careful when choosing this approach. Productivity is often significantly less because workers are trying to push past their physical and mental capabilities. Essentially, you are paying a premium for the least efficient hours of the workweek.
If you increase overtime hours trying to satisfy project demands, be sure to stay on top of productivity levels. If you see that construction productivity has declined at a significant rate, then the benefit of pushing for overtime hours may not be worth the cost.
7. Site management needs to grow. Sometimes, you will experience a productivity decline because there are gaps in site management. Improved communication, management, site logistics, and other productivity measures can all help improve the productivity of your workforce at the job site.
Take time to gather feedback from workers about the job site. Also, look for communication issues that could exist between management, workers, vendors, the trades, and other parties. Then, take steps to address issues that rise to the surface. Focus on creating a tightly-integrated job site so that productivity can flourish.
Find Support Increasing Construction Productivity
We have identified some common red flags associated with construction productivity so that you stay vigilant when managing the job site and realize productivity growth.
Take the time to identify whether any of these issues exist at your job site, then take the appropriate steps to address any areas of concern that you observe. You will bring more value to the projects that you manage by helping your company overcome today’s construction challenges.
– We encourage you to learn more about prominent issues in construction management such as how to improve construction productivity at the job site.
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