I sense we're all feeling the pinch of manpower shortage in the construction industry. We're expected to accomplish more with less! Consequently, a build up of frustration along with long day's and schedule slips seem to be the norm. How can we produce more work with less manpower?
With technology moving and changing the construction industry in a very rapid pace right now, it's hard to tell which direction we're going. This means now more than ever we need to learn how to bridge the generation gap between the hardworking Generation X and the tech smart Millennials (the ones we taught to go to school and get a good job so they don't have to work construction). Construction is becoming much more than swinging a hammer and working from the neck down. It's about finding the most user friendly user interface programs out there to help us work smarter not harder. What we need is the perfect combo of experience and hard work that Generation X can supply with technological skills that Millennials own. Combining these two will make the construction industry a well oiled machine.
So I'm calling on all Generation X field hands to learn from what Millennials can teach you, which is: Collaboration, communication and a desire to change the world.
There are so many apps and platforms that can help you succeed, all you have to do is start exploring! The internet is like having the smartest person in the world at your fingertips, so don't waste it. Once you've figured it out you will know your worth! If you can take your knowledge and experience and learn to keep pace with technology you will be able to set your own rate, you will be priceless!
It's no secret why the quick clamp modular forms are the most common in commercial construction today. Even though there are many factors when determining forming systems for a job, the one thing we can all learn from the quick clamp system is elimination of steps. It's taking a 16'x8' form and being able to create a 24' x 12' form within minutes, vs the alternative which would require a row of scaffold, five sheets of plywood with 90 extra ties, 90 extra Johnny's or cams, 16 extra 2x4's and four guys if you wanted to handset the extra section of wall. Or with conventional gang systems you would have separate gangs built up just for that section, or bolt up the extra whalers, stiff backs and plywood. The whole point of the clamp system that we can all learn from is simplicity! The less steps or less pieces needed to complete a job, the easier it will be to complete.
We have all walked by, watched the progress or been part of construction projects and noticed the hard work and extreme elements construction crews have been through to produce something amazing. Unfortunately, more often than not, we notice the paycheck more than the building itself. If only we could take a step back and actually see what we are building, who we are building it for and the pleasure or purpose it will bring to those who will be using the structure. In all actuality, we should be thinking "That is us, we built that!". And the sense of pride the owner has when he occupys the building, we should be enjoying that as well. We are building more than a paycheck, we are building the hospitals that will care for patients, schools that will teach our kids and the office building's that will house aspiring start up's that will continue to help build the community.
Often times you will end up with some fairly "green" crew members. Even if we put them through some training and have them follow a couple guys around for a while, mistakes are going to be made. And, even though we may not like to admit it, some of our most seasoned employees make mistakes from time to time. Well, don't be so quick to start yelling, flailing your arms around and acting like they just cost you the job. Keep in mind, some of these mistakes are made because of how hard they are being pushed. Mistakes can be a great opportunity to educate! Try explaining what went wrong and showing the appropriate solution for the result you need. First and foremost, this is going to earn their respect. Who wants to be yelled at and humiliated in front of their co-workers? Talk, they will listen. When someone listens, they learn. This is going to lessen the chance of repeating that mistake.
If we stop always reacting to mistakes negatively, they may have the ability to become positive learning opportunities.
As your walking around the job site tomorrow, take a minute to watch your crews working. Analyze the task being performed and ask yourself what part of the process is just wasted steps. Before you ask your crews to start a task, break it down step by step and simplify the process. Go through the different forming scenarios and count how many steps it will take to complete. Look at your forming techniques, try for multiple uses that can save future steps as well. The example above is of two different types of footing forms. The top three were pre-built panelized forms. They may take longer to build than the bottom three, but they are easy to set, easy to strip and can be used multiple times and in different applications. The bottom three are horizontal whalers that are built in place. They are typically stripped apart stacking the 2x4's and plywood separately and moved to the next area to start all over. This works well for a one time use or in cut up sections. There are many ways to form something, you just have to evaluate the situation and decide what is most economical.
Another way to remove wasted steps is having a plan with all the dimension, materials and form totals. This will save time by not having multiple employees waiting around trying to figure out how many panels need to be built, how many cripples to cut or trying to find the dimension for all the pieces. As leaders and/or managers we need to simplify the task taking away as many wasted steps as possible. Thus, making the crews more efficient.
Even if you eliminate one un-necessary step it will save your crews time and save your company money.
We need to change the outsider's perception of construction workers. Like everyone else, we are professionals representing a business.
Start by making sure your site is litter free. I have yet to be on a site that didn't have a trash bin readily available. There is no reason for the disposable cups and containers to be on the ground.
Keep materials stacked and organized. Not only does this look good by passers by, but it's a highly efficient work habit.
Keep barricades, fencing, and signage properly placed and maintained in good condition. Your signs are your representation, make sure you represent well. This includes flaggers and security, or anyone having interface with public. They should be attentive and courteous. Keep in mind, anyone walking by could be a potential client.
In short, we're not just "construction workers", we are business PROFESSIONALS.
Great construction leaders are like chess players.
Doing the same thing day in, day out can become so mundane. Just because it's work, doesn't mean it has to be dull. The energy a pat on the back or some encouragement can bring is amazing. I can't say it enough, PRAISE is your best friend! Also, get a bit personal, ask how family is doing, what are the weekend or Holiday plans. Starting a short casual conversation breaks up the monotony of the day. Keep it fresh... Don't keep doing the same thing over and over. It's important to have an end of shift huttle including everyone to discuss what went good and what needs improvement. Is there is a better, more efficient way? Have the crew brain storm. Give them mental responsibility as well as physical responsibility.
When deciding on anchor bolt setting and supports there's a lot to consider. One important factor is the support for the templates. The key to accuracy and efficiency is planning ahead. Below are some things to consider when deciding how to support anchor bolt settings:
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