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.
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 email@example.com
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.
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