In this article, I discuss another 10 simple steps we can implement on our projects that will further improve productivity.
Another 10 tips to improving productivity
- Fatigue management – construction is hard work, yet management often expects their workers to work long hours. Frequently projects are under pressure to be completed by the agreed contractual dates so projects work extended hours. But often these extra hours are counterproductive – especially when workers have to work long days, day-after-day. People aren’t machines and they need a rest. I found that after 9 hours the production of our crews rapidly fell off. Working 9.5 hours and our production was probably the same as 9.25 hours. 10 hours was like 9.5 hours. Work 12 hours every day and by the end of the week, the production in a day is probably only equivalent to 8 hours of work. Of course, on top of the lower productivity we are paying penalty or overtime rates – not only are we paying more but we are getting less! If you have to work extended hours make sure it’s only key people and that it doesn’t become a daily occurrence. A more economical alternative may be to employ more people and even introduce a second shift.
- Adverse weather – rain and extreme temperatures all play havoc with productivity. Projects need to take poor weather into account. This might require working shorter shifts, scheduling tasks to happen when they are least likely to be impacted by the poor weather, taking more frequent rest breaks, ensuring that workers can take their rest breaks sheltered from the impacts of the weather and supplying workers with suitable protective gear. In the heat of summer, it may help to start work earlier in the morning. Extra costs to mitigate the effects of the poor weather may well be offset by improved productivity. Sometimes in extreme weather, it may pay to shut the project down and send the team home until more favourable weather returns. The little bit of production achieved during these bad weather events is seldom worth the cost, risks, personal aggravation and effort of working through the bad weather.
- Not working the full shift – I’m sure we’ve all experienced workers arriving at their designated work areas 5 or 10 minutes after the start of their shift. Then, 5 minutes before the tea break workers start leaving the work area and head back to the canteen or rest area. After the tea break, everyone is slow to head back to work again. This is repeated at the lunch break. At the end of the shift remarkably everyone is cleaned up and queued-up to leave the project exactly on time. All in all, workers could be working 30 minutes less every day than they should. But often the 5 minutes stretches to 10 minutes and the 30 minutes creeps to 60 minutes. In an 8 hour day that means for every 10 workers you need to employ another worker to make up the lost time. But if your team isn’t productive for the full duration of their shift it also means that the equipment isn’t productive.
- Unbalanced teams – all too often we see construction crews standing around waiting for access to their work area. They’re waiting for the previous trade to complete their work. Carpenters are waiting for scaffolders, iron workers are waiting for carpenters, concreters are waiting for reinforcing to be fixed. Even on some earthworks projects we see trucks stacked up waiting to be loaded, or excavators standing idle waiting for trucks.
- Poorly planned construction project sites – When last did you take a long hard look at how work was happening on your project? How long does it take for workers to walk to the toilets or to fetch materials and equipment from the stores? Can equipment and vehicles move easily around the project? Poorly planned roads, storage areas, project facilities and offices can quickly add minutes to every activity.
- Congested work areas – too many workers and too much equipment in a small area cause delays. Workers have to stand down due to safety issues while machines and other workers complete their tasks. The correct scheduling of activities is important to avoid congestion. In some cases, it can be helpful to work for some crews on a second shift to reduce congestion.
- High absenteeism – .....Continue Reading.....
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