Boost Profits by Improving Productivity – It Can Be Done
Improving the productivity of your work crews is always beneficial. Productivity improvement can shorten schedules and cut project costs, resulting in more profitable jobs and a healthier company.
Simply urging crews to “work harder” or “work faster” is no solution to this problem. Not only is such a demand too vague to be useful, it also doesn’t help workers to pinpoint the inefficiencies that are keeping them from achieving their potential.
Clemson University’s Department of Construction Science and Management recently analyzed published studies on construction productivity and found the average construction craft worker was only 40 percent productive – in other words, crew members were performing actual work related to their assigned tasks only 40 percent of the time. The rest of their time was spent on nonproductive activities such as administrative delays (waiting for materials, equipment or instructions), inefficient work methods, work restrictions, or personal time.
Sophisticated cost control systems and computer software programs can help address this somewhat, but they don’t always give a true view of performance, and their expense can offset much of the savings that are achieved. So what can you do to improve crew productivity?
Begin by establishing a program to monitor work processes, analyze results and make improvements. Assign this to your most experienced supervisors, and let your crews know the purpose is not simply to look for mistakes or wasted time, but to develop smarter and more efficient ways of doing things. In particular, be alert for opportunities to:
Reduce administrative delays.
Make sure the right type and number of tools, equipment and materials are available when needed. Take time for weekly planning and reassign workers when delays occur.
Correct inefficient work methods.
Analyze regular activities and make improvements as needed. Focus on standardizing as many processes as possible, prefabricating components whenever practical, and re-evaluating the way work is sequenced and how tools and equipment are used.
Reassign equipment, crews and supervisors.
Move equipment and improve the composition of crews whenever necessary. Determine the effectiveness of project managers and site supervisors by comparing their crews’ actual productivity to estimated productivity, and reassign jobs for maximum performance.
Limit work restrictions.
Devote more resources to weekly job and personnel planning. Preplan as many activities as possible, and provide on-the-job training and jobsite safety programs.
Cut down on personal time.
Make sure supervisors are present at key times during the day, and monitor and assess worker activity on a regular basis.
By measuring and analyzing productivity regularly and repeatedly you can identify trends in time for corrective actions to be effective – well before the job is completed, while there is still time to make a difference.