Productivity is simply the measurement of the effectiveness of effort. The rate of productivity is measured as total output per unit of input. In construction, an example of output would be something like square footage of flooring installed or cubic yards or earth excavated with the input typically being measured in man-hours.
Maximizing productivity on a jobsite means working efficiently to control costs and stay on schedule. Projects that are completed under budget and ahead of schedule usually result in higher profit margins which are why construction firms are always looking to improve productivity.
1. Planning & Scheduling
After you’ve been awarded a contract and before you receive the notice to proceed, it’s time to get to work mapping out your construction plan. This involves defining the work tasks and determining a sequence for those tasks to be completed. Work tasks can be broken down further into individual tasks or activities. Once the tasks have been mapped out, determine what resources will be needed such as labor, tools, equipment and materials.
Once the master plan is finalized, the construction schedule can be created. Scheduling involves assigning estimated start and completion dates for the various work tasks. Remember to take into account the time required to finish each task based on the resources available to allocate to their completion.
In order to maintain your construction schedule, it’s important to work with your suppliers and subcontractors and share your construction timeline. This will ensure that your materials are delivered on time and that your subcontractors show up when they are needed. Make sure your own workforce and equipment needed for the project aren’t tied up on another jobsite. You can’t maintain your project schedule if don’t have the necessary resources to complete your tasks on time.
Reviewing completed projects that are similar in size and scope is a great way to better plan and schedule an upcoming project. Determining what worked and what didn’t can help identify areas where productivity can be improved on future projects.
Good communication is key to the successful completion of all construction projects. Establish clear lines of communication among all major stakeholders on a project. Determine how often, and by what means, information regarding the progress of the project needs to be communicated.
Communicate with workers in the field and subcontractors to identify the root causes of lost productivity and identify areas where it can be improved. This will allow you to navigate around issues and resolve delays. Good communication can improve teamwork, lead to better project collaboration and increase jobsite productivity.
An experienced and knowledgeable site supervisor or superintendent is important to keeping a project on schedule and overseeing the day-to-day operations at a jobsite. The site supervisor can assist the project manager with planning and scheduling. They are responsible for monitoring the progress of construction work while keeping track of material and labor costs to ensure the project gets completed to specifications on time and within budget.
A good site supervisor wears many hats, from being the main point of contact for communication between all stakeholders to overseeing subcontractor performance to enforcing strict adherence to safety procedures. The site supervisor should be able to effortlessly motivate employees and subcontractors to maintain a high level of productivity through the duration of the project. Two of the best skills a supervisor can bring to the table is the ability to identify potential problems and devise a plan to avoid or mitigate them to avoid delays in construction.
A safe construction site is a productive one. Accidents can result in lost man-hours from workers missing time due to injuries. Injury accidents and worker fatalities result in work stoppages so accident investigations can be conducted. Construction accidents can also hurt worker morale which will negatively impact productivity.
Have a written, site-specific safety plan and share it with everyone on the jobsite and emphasize the expectation that everyone is to adhere to all safety requirements. Provide all workers with proper safety equipment and PPE and make sure all workers make it home safe each and every day.
You always want to perform quality work. Shoddy craftsmanship can lead to costly rework that will blow your budget and lead to delays. Remember the old adage “Measure twice, cut once.” Encouraging workers to rush through tasks just to increase productivity is a losing gambit. Workers who take pride in their work and do things right the first time tend to be more productive.
Ever since the recovery from the Great Recession, construction companies have struggled to fill skilled positions. During the downturn, more than 2 million construction workers were either laid off, retired early or left to pursue jobs in other industries. As companies continue to bring in new workers, proper training is needed more now than ever.
You want your employees to know how to do the work correctly and safely while at the same time being able to meet your expectations on quality and efficiency. If workers are struggling to complete scheduled tasks on time, it could be an issue where additional training is required. Firms that make the commitment to properly train their employees to follow best practices and invest in their success tend to be rewarded with increased productivity on the jobsite.
We’ve already talked about the importance of project scheduling. This goes for the heavy equipment and tools, too. Make sure the equipment needed from your fleet will be available and delivered to the jobsite before construction begins.
A machine in need of repairs or maintenance won’t be as productive as one operating at peak performance. Be sure to take care of any upcoming scheduled maintenance ahead of time to avoid lost productivity from it being taken out of service. If your current fleet won’t meet your needs, or if those resources are allocated elsewhere, be sure to schedule any rental equipment well in advance to avoid delays.
Technology can improve jobsite productivity in a number of ways from planning and scheduling to communication to record keeping. There are a growing number of available software and mobile applications geared toward the construction industry. Telematics and GPS technology help you monitor equipment productivity. Mobile time clock apps allow workers to easily clock in and out each day.
Drones can be used to monitor safety and document construction progress. 4D Building Information Modeling combines the 3D model with time to allow the project schedule to be depicted visually. Project management software allows you to easily document and share daily reports, RFIs, schedules, submittals and daily costs and production rates and allows you to access and share real-time information with all stakeholders on the project. The trick to using technology to improve productivity is to identify an area of improvement and then research the best solution to meet your needs and is easy to use.
9. Jobsite Layout
The layout of your jobsite can be a major factor in worker productivity levels. If jobsite layout is an afterthought or done poorly, you are facilitating poor productivity. You don’t want workers wasting time tracking down tools or traipsing all over the jobsite to get additional materials and supplies throughout the day.
Using the existing site plan as your guide, start laying out your jobsite in a way that makes the most sense logistically. Carefully consider where to set up areas for parking, material and equipment storage, toilet facilities, staging, jobsite trailers and tool cribs.
In addition to improving productivity, a well laid out jobsite also lends itself to a safer work environment. It’s easier to keep an eye on workers and monitor for safety hazards if you know workers are confined to specific work areas on the jobsite.