The Four Anchors to Improved Productivity
By Bill Goodman
Maintaining a high level of productivity on the job site is one of the most important activities for any project manager, superintendent or foreman. When production rates drop on a construction site, money is lost and often cannot be recovered. On the other hand, when production rates are monitored closely and improved upon constantly, profits are earned, and a company will gain a competitive edge or advantage over the competition. How can a construction site’s productivity be enhanced? One way is by utilizing four basic anchors of productivity.
Getting productivity from your subcontractors and your own work force breaks down into four key areas: materials, tools and equipment, information and goals. How well you execute all four of these areas will determine the overall productivity of your work force. The systems you set up in your company to guarantee that these four areas are managed effectively will lead to the success of your business.
Defining the four anchors –
- Materials. These are priority number one, but luckily, materials are also relatively easy to manage and set up systems for. If the workers do not have materials, they cannot install anything. Making sure all materials are on the construction site and that they are getting to the work areas for the workers to install in an efficient manner are what should be focused on. Other factors for managing this efficiently include ensuring that the correct quantities of materials are on hand and the protection and securing of them from theft and damage. Have the proper means for protecting and securing materials in place prior to their delivery.
- Tools and Equipment. This is a simple enough concept–no tools equal no production. This is not a place any construction professionals want to find themselves at! Therefore, ascertain that the crews will have all the right tools they need and that the tools are easily accessible. Do a quick analysis to see if the higher cost of the tool will offset the savings in labor. Also ensure that the tools are being protected and secured when not in use. Perform daily inspections checking for proper operation, damage and/or missing parts. Replace defective tools immediately and remove from the job site. Also have a plan to have back up tools on hand in the event of a key tool breaking down.
- Information. If people have materials and tools, then the only thing they need to get started with installation is the information about what, where and how they will be doing the installation. This is the area where pre-planning is critical. You will never be able to achieve 100 percent efficiency in this area, which is why you need to be constantly working on improving what information you have and how you communicate it to the workers. Often times the general contractor can cause inefficiency due to lack of information; however, make sure you do your part by being productive and confirming that everyone has all current information and/or data.
- Goals. If your workers have the proper materials, tools and information, you might wonder what’s left. Adding in goals can improve production by 10 percent or more on a consistent basis, so this anchor should not be overlooked. Do not underestimate the power of setting goals for the job site on a daily and weekly basis. One method of reinforcing this is to establish a communication board (a dry erase marker board) located in the job trailer or in a weather protected display on the job site. The daily or weekly goals should be listed on the dry erase board and updated constantly. If the goals for the week were out-performed, try offering small rewards for exceeding the goals or expectation. Small rewards for the work site could include a catered lunch, movie tickets or gift cards to a nice restaurant.
Good jobsite productivity really is that simple. There is no reason to make it more complicated. Every project management process in your company and every activity that you do every day should be able to be categorized into one of these four anchors. If they aren’t, you need to ask yourself whether they are really necessary. Remember that good productivity means a competitive edge over the competition, better work, profitability and a satisfied client that will want your company for their next project.
William Goodman, Senior Project Manager for Triune, is a highly accomplished, multi-talented project manager with over 30 years of construction experience. He encompasses excellent skills in preparing schedules and managing job costs, budgeting, contract negotiation, design-build and pre-construction services.
The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.