WORKER PRODUCTIVITY – Watch How the People Work

This is the eight posting regarding labor productivity and disruption.  This contribution provides some practical suggestions for the manager in the field.  The Subject Series can be viewed here.

Isn’t it always the obvious that gets us in trouble?  It doesn’t seem to make much difference what area of life you talk about, the aspects that are obvious are most often those that we assume will take care of themselves and we skip over as we develop our plans.  Considering the area of worker productivity, everyone knows how the work gets done.  Right?  Well, it is quite obvious.  You just pick up the material and put it in place.  After all, how can there be anything different about doing the work?  Get the material to the job site, hire craft workers, provide drawings and the project will miraculously get built.


When thinking about various construction sites, even in the US, several differences in the manner in which the exact same work is accomplished in various locations are revealed.  In order to properly plan and organize construction activities, the way people work in the specific location under consideration must be understood and incorporated.  For example, is it better for productivity for each pipefitter welder to have an assigned stand-alone welding machine?  Or possibly, the welder should use a welding machine located in an eight-pack of welders.  That question could be strictly a planning matter, or it could be related to the site location and area practice.  If one approach is better than the other for the project, area practice may need to be addressed and modified in some way for improved productivity to be realized. [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

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…]