How important is organization on your job site? Have you ever thought about what it costs to be unorganized? Most all of us could use some improvement in this area. More jobs than not are in some serious need of organization. However, it doesn't stop there. Not only should a job be clean and organized, but efficient as well. I mean, what good is it to hurry and strip footings and place them in nice neat stacks where a crane or forklift can't get to them until after the backfill is complete. Sometimes it's a simple as stacking the material on one side or the other of a footing that can make all the difference.
Take a look at the pictures below, If this was your job what would you change? Are there any you feel you wouldn't change?
Just some things to look for:
Do work areas look ready
Are there too many or not enough people working in the work areas
This is a broad subject, it could be anything from logistics of the job to paperwork on your desk. Each area of organization could be costing your job money, if it takes you an extra 5 minutes to find the drawings you need then another 5 extra minutes to find paperwork for one of your crew members. That time can add up and is completely preventable! It might sound like much to worry about, but think about the whole jobs wasted time. If your logistics aren't planned out and organized we start talking about real money wasted. The construction industry as a whole wastes millions in double handling materials.
How well organized are your crews with tools and materials? It might be time to re-think the job logistics.
Hopefully you are noticing a reoccurring theme with a lot of the Constructorator blog posts, we can’t stress enough the importance of the planning portion of your job. As a supervisor it’s your responsibility to plan for all activities your crew will be performing and your crew is responsible for executing the plan.
I am not trying to sound like a broken record, but it’s the most important part that gets overlook the most often. The continuous planning is the first task to be neglected when we are feeling pressure either from schedule challenges or overrunning budgets. We feel the need to “jump in and help” or we just get caught up in moving from one fire to the next.
The first step always is to create the plan - schedule, manpower, materials, logistics. That part takes some serious effort, but if you slack off on your planning you will pay the price later. After you plan the work it's time to execute and maintain the plan. The continuous planning and plan maintenance are often not given the attention needed. We all know that in construction with so many moving parts and prerequisite work that needs to be completed before the next trade can start, we need to be flexible. This means we need contingency in our planning, nothing will ever go exactly as planned we need to be ready for a breakdown in the plan and react to it accordingly. You should always be adjusting the plan, don't let the hard work of creating the plan go to waste when a hiccup occurs.
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.
Successor: thing that succeeds another
Predecessor: a thing that has been followed or replaced by another.
So, every project schedule has a successor and a predecessor. The goal is to have every activity in sync with the next, avoiding any gaps. Think of it like dominos lined up in a figure 8. The whole goal is to start one domino knocking the next continuously until they are all down. However, if there is one domino that misses or comes up short, it will disrupt the flow. They did not all go down in sync, therefore, no “domino effect”. Now it might be ok if it just happened once, but what if it took ten attempts to knock them all down. Well anyone that has ever set up dominos would set them up right the next time to make sure they all go down in one shot. Superintendents and foreman are the ones who set up the task and activities to start and finish on time. If you’re well planned out and organized, you will have all your dominos lined up and ready to go.
Here are some examples of how this can be achieved.
Planning and thinking through every process can help you mitigate any potential delay’s, cut out unnecessary steps and set you and your crew up to succeed.
Everything doesn’t go as planned 100% of the time, but if you have a good plan and follow through you will be miles ahead of those who don’t.
A couple of weeks ago, Constructorator's blog post was on sequence. I thought I would give my two cents on the matter, because it really hit home and it's something I continually preach. Proper sequencing is crucial to every phase and task you and your crew perform. I am also a firm believer in open communication between everyone involved in the task at hand. I really push for input from my crew and any other subcontractors affected when planning sequence.
My current job is supervising two of the four concrete core walls, 83 feet in height. We used a gang form on a rollback system to pour six lifts of an H shaped wall and a rectangle stair core wall. Sequence was the first thing on my mind when pre-planning this job.
I started with the overall sequence by asking these questions:
• Which wall went first?
• How would this affect the ironworkers?
• How many crane picks were we on each wall?
These were a few of the variables that went into the overall sequence plan to create flow. If we didn't plan our sequence and just went at it, we would never meet our tight schedule and budget. The crane time was our biggest obstacle; we had one crane to feed four walls, twenty-five guys, and the ironworkers. If we were out of sequence, we could halt production by needing to jump panels and fly rebar on all four walls at the same time. All of the key players sat down together to come up with a plan that would keep everyone in the proper sequence.
Now that we had our overall plan, we didn't stop planning there; next, we looked at all of the steps we needed to take to pour our walls. Would we gain anything by doing one step before the other? My foreman and I walked through everything together to come up with a plan. We then communicated our plan and opened a discussion with the crew for their input during evening huddles. You would be surprised how processes will improve, if you allow the workers doing the actual work, have a say in their procedures. They might see something that you haven't thought about that could save valuable time.
You should always look to improve process. No matter how good your crew is at a job, there is always room for improvement. Pre-planning sequence should be your first step in helping improve your crew’s productivity.
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