I have a lot of carpenter's asking me how much time and men do they have to complete a certain task. So in this week's blog post we want to look at starting simple to figure how many men and how many hours for a certain task. Take an activity like spot footings, in the picture below there are twelve spot footings highlighted that we are going to use as an example today.
First, find the estimated/budgeted Man Hours for spot footings. (460man-hours)
Next, schedule duration for this activity, in this example there is 7 working days to complete the spot footing activity.
Now, take man-hours and divide by days - 460/7= 65
So you have 65 man-hours a day for a seven day duration to complete the footings.
Then you want to determine your crew size based of your daily man-hours
First take the daily hours 65 and divide by the crew size you would like to have, let's try 10 men. 65/10=6.5 if you have ten guys to stay in budget you could only work on spot footings for 6.5 hours a day, if you have 10 men for 8 hours a day for 7 days.- your total man-hours would be 560 (100 hours over budget)
Let's try a crew size of 8.
65/8.1= 8 so you could have a crew of 8 for eight hours a day for seven days- your total man-hours would be 448 (12 hours under budget).
There are many factors that come into play when determining crew size and it's easy to get over-whelmed. You have to break apart each task, understand the job flow, sequencing and schedule. But if you start with one task and work all the way through it then move to the next task and so forth, you start to create the data needed for an average crew. Maybe you only need 8 on spot footings but 10 on walls and four on columns, after you know your crew size you can double back to the schedule and see if the sequencing works out where you can get away with a crew size of 14 because of all the trade work or down time in-between activities or on pour days. The more you practice the easier it becomes.
The important part is that you learn and understand hours/cost on every activity you are part of, and it's never to late to start. In the case that you are not shown the budget or hours by your Foreman or Supervisor click here for a MH/Unit form that you can start tracking yourself. You want to become great at what you do, so empower yourself to learn, grow and excel above those who don't want to share the information.
After all the effort you put into the planning and sequencing, you put the plan into action and somehow the execution falls apart because something was out of sequence. Time, money and manpower was wasted because of a break in the link. If you’re a new foreman don’t overlook or dismiss it calling it, saying “that’s construction”, if you want to learn and grow get to the root of a problem by asking “WHY”.
For example, let's say you had a concrete pour that went ok, ask yourself:
Why was it just ok?
It took longer to pour out, then expected.
Why did it take longer than expected?
Because the finishers got behind; it took them a while to get the concrete placed.
Why were the finishers getting behind?
They concrete was stiff on the last half.
Because the trucks were starting to back up and the concrete was getting old.
Because we were still working on the slab prep (rebar placement, recess areas etc..) in the morning, while the pour was going on, which caused the finishers to wait on us at times.
Why were you still working on slab prep?
Because the area was not turned over until 3:00pm the night before.
Why was the area turned over late?
Because the dirt contractor was behind schedule.
Why were they behind schedule?
because he did not show up on Tuesday.
Why did they not show up, did someone forget to call them?
No, they were scheduled but decided another job was more important.
So after they were a no show what decisions were made as far as schedule and the pour date?
We had to make the pour, so we waited for them to show up the next day and went back to normal, just trying to get it done.
By asking “WHY” you can see that the pour production was subpar.
Because the finishers were not able to get the slab placed quickly with fresh concrete they had to work twice as hard to lay it down, because the carpenter crews were still placing rebar and fine grading the gravel, because the area was not turned over to them as scheduled because the dirt contractor did not finish on time because they were not on-site on the day they were supposed to begin the prep. So you can see one missed step cause a chain reaction of events to which caused the un-productive slab pour. If we focus on the problem at the first or second why we will never get to the route cause and will learn only half of our mistake. The problem is decisions not being made right then, whether it's changing sequence of flow (maybe focusing on one area, a certain section so that one half was completely ready for the finishers when they show up, instead of nothing being ready and work needing to be done in all areas).
Once a schedule disruption happens, an action item needs to be implemented.
It's like concrete trucks stacking during a big slab pour, you're trying to hurry and pump old, dry concrete before time expires. However, this will cause a chain reaction with stacked trucks behind the one currently being placed, whereas if you remove one of the old trucks from the lineup the next truck will be fresher with more time to place out and so forth down the line.
Flow is what we are trying to achieve to be productive. Every time there's a delay, well this disrupts the flow. So asking why allows us to find and get to the root of the problem. Why is a powerful word if asked continually it will only help you learn and grow.
Everyone wants a safe job, they also want to bring value to what they’re doing, in short they want to be productive.
So why wouldn’t all jobs be set up for safe productivity?
The two factors that would play part for having an unsafe and an unproductive job; cost and too much time. We hear it all the time “We don’t have time” “We don’t have money for that”.
So let’s start with money.
What is the cost of an extra ladder, barricades, trench box?
And what’s the cost of an accident, injury or even fatality?
How about time.
How long does it take?
Most of these can be done within a couple minutes, where we lose time is not planning for it so everyone thinks safety takes a lot of time for example, everyone goes up to the third floor after their morning meeting yet none of them take a retractable for a certain task that needs to be done. So once they all reach the third floor and realize they need a retractable they call on the radio and ask someone to bring it up, so now we have a whole crew broke down waiting for a retractable.
Another example let’s say your decking a slab and you get right up to the only access off the deck, if you would have planned ahead, you could have had someone put up a secondary access while you were decking and when you came to the point of needing the ladder moved so you could continue on it would have been done, instead you get right up to the ladder call on the radio and wait for someone to put up a secondary access so you can continue work. This happens all the time, I know, I know, but we are staying busy while they were working on moving the ladders, the problem is you were busy, but you were not productive. If you continued decking without waiting on access you would have been decked out today, instead you will finish tomorrow. But, you helped get the edge form guys caught up while you were waiting, now they are waiting on you to finish decking.
If you have a safe job more than likely you will have a productive job, one with clean work areas, proper access, lighting, tools and equipment.
How many questions a day do you answer?
A Foreman’s responsibility is to answer questions, however, you could be answering more than needed. If you are doing nothing but answering questions all day long, either you’re a Foreman who needs to know all the answers therefore everyone comes to him for everything. Or you’re the nice guy, you know the one who does everything for everyone with a smile.
So how do you know if you are getting asked too many questions a day?
Tomorrow take note of every question you are asked, yes by the end of the day your list might be 10 pages long, it might be only half a page, but it’s data you need to see.
Next as you go through each question you were asked check it with a #1 (this is something you need to be asked), #2 (if someone else could answer it) and #3 (if the person asking the question could’ve resolved himself).
Let’s use some examples of a #1, #2 and #3 question below.
Q: Can we move a temperature PT Cable 1’ to the north- it interferes with an embed?
A number one is worth your time, it deals with a change to the contract documents and has a significant impact on the job, production and design.
Q: I need someone to help me with placing the form oil in the containment bin?
A number two could be avoided by the person asking the question to ask a fellow worker instead.
Q: Do we have saw blades?
A number one could be answered by himself if he knows the location of the tool trailer, gang box or wherever the saw blades are stored.
If you are continuously answering the #2 & #3 look at the overall planning and communication being done.
A number two can be avoided with planning; pre planning deliveries, order list, etc.
If your open to teamwork and set the expectation that we are all here to help when needed, then this one shouldn’t be a problem. But, if you’re over controlling then you will always be answering a number two question.
A number three can be avoided with a simple morning huddle meeting. Walking everyone through the site logistics, material, equipment and tools where they are stored and the procedure to note when something is low or needed. If everyone knows the storage locations and protocol for ordering this will save you a #3 question.
If you can limit yourself to number one questions only you’re managing and leading your team well. We can all improve and this is might seem small but time management is critical for your growth, you don’t want to get overwhelmed and you want to manage your time as efficiently as possible. Everyone wants to help, but, if you’re spending most of your day tracking down tools or materials leaving you with less time to focus on what you should be focusing on which is to run a safe and productive job.
Do you know how much it costs you to to build a wall, pour a slab, or install embeds? Unfortunately, not many field hands do. In construction, it’s normal to hear supervisors say "we'll get it when we get it" and when asked how we're doing, the answer seems to be "if we're losing money, I'll let you know". Don't you want to see how you're doing to avoid budget over run? Many times, you may hear from people who track budgets closely, "Show me some numbers and i will beat them." This gives those individuals a goal; something that makes them grow. If you want to grow, than learn what it costs to construct. Start understanding budgets and the numbers. Are you a $3.46 unit cost on handset walls? Do you pour slabs for 0.60 SF, or is it 1.05 a SF?
How to get started:
How this process can help:
Let’s start simple! Try tracking yourself for a week. Ask yourself, " how much did I produce today?", now times that by your pay. What was your unit cost? How about your crews? Take the high average and times that by how many hours you worked today, then divide by how many pieces. Look at the numbers!
Let's see how good you are! Fill out the form above everyday for a week, add some progress photos and see if you're selected as the Constructorator "Budget Beater" winner will recive a Constructorator shirt and package of stickers.
To learn more click the link below for a digital book about budgets!
Why are pre-pour checklists so important? Like anything else, the more planning the better the results right, so why wouldn’t you invest in a solid verification and checking procedure to ensure your next concrete placement is right. If you currently don’t have a pre/post pour checklist then you have to ask yourself how much money is wasted because improper lighting, wrong mix design, slump, spacing, manpower etc. the list can go on and on.
If you have a process for your pre-pour checklist and if it looks something like this
1. Fill out after the pour is already complete
2. Fill it out 5 minutes before the pour
3. Left blank
4. Don’t have/use one.
Then you need to re-evaluate what a good pre-pour checklist can accomplish.
It’s not the signing or the input or even the pre-pour sheet itself that makes a pour card effective. What makes a pour card effective is the process you develop when you go through the checklist. You've seen the best superintendents out there, they are constantly looking and asking when’s this going to be done, we need to set this up… or what about that? They have a pre-built checklist in their head and know all the steps needed for the pre or post pour.
A proper pre-pour process will take you through all the steps and the: Who, What, When, Where, How”.
Who: has verified, inspected, checked, and figured: yardage, elevations, sleeves, anchor-bolts, embeds, reinforcing, elevations, mix design etc.
What: is being placed, size of pour, manpower needed (footing, wall, column, SS, SOG, S.O.M.D)
When: is the pour happening (Date, Time, truck spacing)?
Where: (Placement location, pump truck setup, truck route, wash out bin)
How: is it being placed (pump, screeds, equipment, lighting, safety, etc.)?
The pre/post pour cards are a simple check and verifications. When a thorough examination and paying special attention to detail as well as going through all the steps to checkoff is done, not only will this save you time, money and re-work, but help you plan and execute a successful pour.
Here is an example of a finisher pre-pour card example, like we talked about you just have to create that process to capture and ensure all areas that need checked and verified for a pour have been completed to ensure a successful pour out. If you would like a custom pour card form or need help getting one set up email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't know how many times I have caught myself out of sequence and kicked myself in the butt because I knew if I had thought through the process I would of caught it. Knowing the right sequence in construction will save you time, energy and re-work, but you have to know what to look for and plan it.
First what's the main task: Pour Footings. But when you start looking through the details and notice anchor bolts with 16-bolt pattern and 1-1/2" plate top and bottom along with added rebar stirrups throughout. Knowing this will change your install sequence to work with the reinforcing.
Ask yourself what steps are needed to pour footings?
Now that you have a simple outline of the steps needed to complete the task break it down.
What needs to happen for the excavation?
What needs to happen for the Formwork?
1. Excavation Complete.
2. Layout formwork.
What needs to happen for the Rebar?
1. Formwork and grades established.
2. Anchor bolt-working slab poured.
3. Anchor bolts installed.
What needs to happen for the Anchor Bolts?
1. Working slab poured.
3. Support installed for templates.
4. Reinforcing around bolts.
So your sequencing should be:
1. Layout the hole, get the dirt contractors to X-out the footing.
2. Layout the footing for carpenters.
3. Carpenters form footing and establish grade.
4. Working slabs for anchor bolts poured.
5. Anchor bolts installed with bottom template only.
6. Reinforcing installed.
7. Anchor bolts top template installed.
8. Final check, inspection.
9. Pour Footings.
It does not have to be difficult; it can be as simple as you make it. However, it takes planning and coordination in order to be successful. So take the time and put the effort in, then enjoy the payoff of creating a nice workflow for your crew.
I know you would agree that simplicity is the key to productivity. If you could track man-hours simply then you would track them on every task. If scheduling were simple you would keep it updated and current and if measuring tasks were simple every task would be measured. More times than not we overload ourselves with schedules and measuring tools to the point of being unproductive using them. So take a deep breath and simplify it however you can. Find the right app or make a schedule of your own, but if it’s too time consuming or has too many steps, it’s not worth it. Remember… SIMPLIFY! There are plenty of great apps out there to help you with these tasks, take FieldLens for instance, they can make all of these items simple to track, input and distribute. But if you or your companies are not willing or interested in going this route, just start somewhere. It can be a simple as tracking your man-hours on one task or scheduling one activity or timing pick times for an activity. The point is you have to find what works for you, and it has to be simple so that you will continue using.
Steps to simplify
1. Create a template and eliminate building the same sheet over and over
2. Break big items down into actionable task; don’t take on too much focus on what's really important and measure/track those items.
3. Streamline the process let others help out so you don’t have to spend time coming up with tracking tools.
4. Have a to-do list of at the most three items at a time, to-do list that are a page long, are nothing but a wish list that ends up forgotten. Focus on three items at a time.
5. Find a great app test it out and if it's simple to use then it will save you time and money and will be well worth the cost.
One way we can become more efficient with our daily planning and goal setting is having a work area that's ready! Why would having a work area ready make you more efficient? Think about it, if you have an area that's clean and clear of un-used materials, strategically placed access to get you up and down quickly. As well as not having to wait on anyone to finish up their work so you can get started. This allows you to focus on the task at hand and not worry about clearing a path first. You can set your daily goals without worrying about changing the plan only one hour later because the work area was not ready. It's like the "hurry up and wait" scenario, where you start off working, have to wait, then told by your boss to hurry up and get it done all because the prerequisite work had not been completed or it takes you an hour to get material to and from due to poor access or clutter around your workstation.
Ensuring your work area is ready everyday is nothing more than creating a daily routine of checks.
These three simple checks will ensure your work area is ready.
If everything checks out, then the last thing to verify is everyone that is scheduled to be in the area tomorrow will be there, and make sure the right amount of workers for the given space and task is sufficient. Creating a daily process checking these three items will help start your day off right.
Typically when you hear the words "SCC" (self consolidating concrete) you think cost, leaks and formwork pressure. To only be used in areas with too much congestion so there is no way around it, slab to beam walls or simply as a last resort. I feel SCC is one of the greatest resources out there for concrete construction! Yes, cost and form pressures are concerns, but you have to look at the possible benefits; time savings, manpower and astethetics. All of which can save you time and money.
Why I love SCC?
What do you think about pouring core walls with heavy congested steel at 3:00 PM on a Friday? Typically you're thinking, "WOW we're going to be here all night!"
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