Construction Field Labor Productivity Improvement – Plan the Work Well

This is the sixth post regarding productivity in engineering and construction projects.  To review an index and links to the entire series, please visit Subject Series  page in this blog.  This post discusses planning the work and the related impact on construction field labor productivity.

Any discussion of construction field labor (worker) productivity must, of necessity, eventually involve the idea of planning the work.  Virtually every major project employs the expertise of several planners and schedulers to work the Primavera® scheduling program or some other comparable software.  Great effort is placed on getting just the right schedule assembled and in place – with the right number of activities and leveled manpower, etc.  However, all too often the schedule has been constructed in a near vacuum with little or no input or review from those who have to make it work in the field. [Read more…]

Managing Risk Of Delay – Earned Value Management (Part 5)

This post is the fifth in a series of discussions regarding various aspects of time management.  More specifically, we have titled the series MANAGING RISK OF DELAY, since we focus heavily on the managerial aspects of program / project management.  This post addresses some ideas regarding preparation and maintenance of time management related to overall bulk progress.  Some might refer to this as Earned Value Management.

The challenge associated with managing all (critical and non-critical path) work is common to virtually all Lump Sum Turn Key (LSTK), Engineer Procure Construct (EPC) and other similarly executed projects.  In addition to the normal issues associated with bulk progress, actions or inactions by the owner can add considerable complexity to this challenge.  Owner/Employer delays can be masked among the myriad of activities that are the responsibility of other (than the Owner/Employer) stakeholders.  Even when detected or disclosed, these variances to plan are often dismissed as simply consuming available float.  Hence, the Owner/Employer (or other stakeholder) may rationalize these variations as having no impact.  Of course, the reality is that these sorts of departures may (or may not) add risk or disruption to the project execution.  Further, they may delay forecasted completion.  The managerial challenge becomes detection, assessment and quantification (should it be appropriate to compensate the contractor for the impacts). [Read more…]

Construction Field Labor Productivity Improvement Productivity Evaluation

The proper evaluation of worker productivity is one very important measure in the determination of project status.  To have a complete picture of the status of any project there must be some sort of measure of the productivity of the work force.  Certainly, one would be interested in the physical progress, the amount of money expended, the amount committed, absenteeism and turnover rates, safety incident rate, supervision to worker ratio, craft distribution, worker density, manpower history, etc. to properly evaluate the status of a project.  But one key factor in evaluation of status is worker productivity.  There must be some consistent measure of the productivity of the workers on a project in order to frame the complete picture of project status.

Generally, productivity evaluation is focused on the construction craft workers.  However, no less important is the productivity of the office design and engineering staff.  Having said that, this article is focused on the field construction staff and evaluation of productivity in the field. [Read more…]

Productivity and Leadership

This post discusses the some leadership concepts and the relationship to field labor (or home office labor) productivity.

Recently, my friend and colleague, Dick Troell authored an excellent post regarding field labor productivity.  Dick’s discussion drips with ideas that show his experience and understanding of the men and women that perform construction in the field.

First, I wish to clarify my background and experience.  I have many years of experience in the field and on projects throughout the world.  However, I have never welded a diameter inch of pipe, placed a cubic centimeter of concrete, erected an ounce of steel, and so forth.  I am not a product of the trades; rather, from the managerial ranks.

There is a leadership component of the managerial challenge.  Leadership can have several positive influences on the labor component of the job.  In exhibiting this leadership, my experience suggests several beneficial effects result. [Read more…]

Construction Field Labor Productivity Improvement Take Away the Excuses

Over the years, much has been written about craft worker productivity.  The Construction Industry Institute (CII) has done several extensive research projects on productivity.  The issue was raised in a formal manner by the old Business Roundtable (BRT) back in the late sixties.  They developed a series of publications that addressed the problem of rapidly rising construction costs facing owner companies.  These articles were broadly covered by the now familiar banner of “More Construction for the Money”®.

Working in the construction industry for many years has given some great insights into craft worker productivity.  I always ask myself the question, “What would I need to have in order to be more productive and have a better perspective about my work, if I were in this same situation?”  Every situation is different, though there are many similarities.  The truth is, there is not one single solution to every productivity issue that one might encounter in the field.  But let’s start with one very straight-forward approach that has proven to yield consistently good results. [Read more…]