Is your crew 100% productive? Is all the equipment on your project 100% productive? Now many project managers and supervisors will answer that of course their crew and equipment are productive. But how productive?
Consider this, if your crew works 10 hours a day and they’re paid 10 hours, but in this time they have a 30 minute lunch break and two 15 minute tea breaks, then straight off they are only working 9 hours. Now the breaks are pre-set and may have nothing to do with the project manager or supervisor. But let’s consider more. Are workers at their work stations at the start of the shift? Almost definitely not! There’s tools and materials to collect, prestart meetings, time for a chat, then a walk to the job site. At least 15 minutes is lost – and that’s on a good project, because it’s often more like 20 to 30 minutes. What about each side of the rest breaks? Inevitably workers start drifting to the toilets and eating areas 5 minutes before the start of the rest break. Then, afterwards they straggle back to the work site, taking 5 to 10 minutes to start work again. At least 30 minutes has been lost over the 3 rest and meal breaks!. Then the end of the shift. On many projects workers are all washed up and queued at the project gates at the end of the shift. To do this they’ve left their work station 15 minutes earlier so they could walk to the store, return tools and clean up. A 10 hour shift has been reduced to 8 hours and they haven’t even started to work!
How productive is your construction crew?
But what happens while they’re working? Inevitably there’re interruptions. A chat with other workers, toilet visits, waiting for cranes, stepping aside so that others can do work, equipment breakdowns, walking back to the store to get other materials, waiting for instructions from the supervisor, and more. Then when one task is finished they have to move to another task, fetch new materials and equipment for that task and familiarise themselves with the new task. Before you know it the work day is 7 hours. But, this’s probably a good day. I regularly factored in 70% productivity in a work day when I priced projects.
So imagine if your workers takes 10 minutes to return from their rest breaks instead of the 5 minutes I allowed above. Suddenly they’ve lost another 15 minutes. 15 minutes on 7 hours is a loss of 3.5%. Now most construction companies only price 10 to 15% profit on their projects. So losing 3.5% of production every day would reduce a 10% profit on labour to only 6.5% – which is a 35% reduction in profit. Now nobody would be happy with that.
To continue with the discussion, we have a crew that’s physically working on the job site for 7 hours – are they actually producing what they should, working at maximum production? Now I’ve worked in several different countries and it amazes me how production varies between countries. But production also varies between projects, supervisors and work crews.
In this instance, let’s say the estimator assumed a carpenter could erect 1 square metre of concrete forms per hour. In 7 hours that’s 7 square metres. But if your crew is only completing 6 square metres in the day then they’re producing only 86% of what the price allowed. In other words, for every square metre of formwork it’s costing the company 15% more than they’re being paid to erect the formwork. In fact, if your company has a 10% profit margin for the item, then they’re losing money!
Of course it works the other way as well. If your crew is erecting 8 square metre of forms versus the 7 allowed, then your crew is making an additional 14% profit. If the company has a 10% profit margin on the item, suddenly your crew is making the 10% plus an additional 14%, which is a huge increase in profits.
In future articles we look at what impacts productivity, and equipment productivity.
Read How to improve construction productivity
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Copyright 2016 - The attached articles cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without the consent of the author.
The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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