How to improve productivity at your construction site in 3 simple ways
Working at a construction site is not easy by itself. You have to work with different people, you deal with various weather conditions, you manage your deliveries and subcontractors. What is more, you struggle through hundreds if not thousands of construction site related issues on regular basis. As a site manager or supervisor you need to report to your superiors and to your customers as well. Getting all the job done within one shift seems like a crazy idea, but you focus hard to get your job done. There are three simple steps that can help you in achieving better productivity at your construction site.
Make sure your workforce starts, takes breaks and finishes their shift on time
I know, it’s quite obvious and we all know it that we should be punctual. When it come to productivity on site, you should take every minute into consideration. Why is it so crucial? Every minute, multiplied by every day on your site multiplied by the amount of labour will equal quite a significant number. Doesn’t matter if your workforce is directly employed or comes via different job agencies or subcontractors, it’s up to site management to lead and direct them. If their contract mentions working hours from 7am till 5pm, you should be strict about it. It’s quite common that construction operatives leave their dry rooms a few minutes after the shifts starts and that they are already back in their changing room even 15 minutes before their break starts or before their shift ends. Have you ever estimated how much time is wasted due to this fact?
Let’s check this example.
You have 10 men on site that start their shift at 7:05 instead of at 7:00. 5 minutes multiplied by 10 men gives us 50 minutes already. That’s 1 manhour of your estimated progress and your estimated commercial result. Basically that money is lost. When you add another 5 minutes for earlier breaks and earlier end of shift, we come up to over 3 mahours lost on your site in a single day. What happens when your construction projects lasts half a year? On average you work 21 days per month, so when you do the math = 3h x 21 days x 6 months = 378 manhours. 378 manhours can be lost and wasted on your site. If you multiply this figure by the cost of the manhour, let’s say 20 GBP it brings us to over 7600 GBP. Not a bad bonus if it ends up in your pocket.
Of course this number doubles or triples when you have 20 or 30 men respectively.
How can you resolve this issues?
Of course there are sites that require very long access and logistic routes. Sometimes when working in a tunnel or on large industrial site that spreads across hundreds of yards you have to spend this time to get into your proper working area. However, if you start early enough, you can save time in such instances as well.
It’s not just that simple to tell your men to start on time as some of them probably won’t listen to you straight away. Try to explain to them how important it is for you and for the project. You labour should be an integral part of your project success. They put their hands on the job and they should be paid properly for this job. However, they should also treat their tasks seriously – meaning they should behave professionally.
Checking the exact starting and finishing time may be considered and viewed as a militant action and definitely it won’t be appreciated by your workforce. But if you do this in not so aggressive way, your men can follow your request to work on a new habit.
Provide regular toolbox talks and training to increase safety
Safety should be your top priority in such a risky environment like construction site. It’s not always sufficient just to compile your method statement and risk assessment and explain it to your workforce. Even when they seem to understand it while you read it to them, for sure some of them will forget it once they walk out of the induction room. That’s why you should carry out regular toolbox talks and make sure your workforce is trained in various safety aspects. Construction managers often turn a blind eye when it comes to safety due to the unnecessary costs in their view. But what about all these costs spent on correcting and rectifying safety issues? Hopefully, you won’t get involved in any RIDDOR accident. But even with near misses and minor incidents you loose valuable time and money. When your labourers don’t follow your safety procedures they get into risk of being pulled off from site by the project health and safety manager. You will have to meet with your customer, maybe even with the investor, discuss the issue and if you’re lucky you end up re-inducting the same person. Worst case, that person is removed from the project and you need to find a replacement. That’s again a lot of expensive manhours wasted. If you do get involved in more serious accidents not only you may lose a good worker who won’t be willing to work for you anymore, but also you risk a potential claim or even a lawsuit. In the last case the bill may reach way over your estimated project results. Is it really worth the risk of devoting a few minutes once a week for the sake of savings?
Use your smartphone to improve productivity at your construction site
Nowadays everyone owns a smartphone. Besides having basic texting and calling features it can be a powerful tool for improving productivity at your construction site as well. This subtopic deserves a separate blog entry as the use of smartphones in construction has become very wide. Of course not all sites allow use of mobile phones due to safety issues, however, most of them offer special induction for risk assessment when using mobile phones on sites. Make sure that you comply with mobile phone use policy at your specific job site.
For now, let us mention some basic possibilities that will help you to improve productivity at your construction site.
Take photos of observations and work progress
It’s much more convenient to carry a single multifunctional device instead of having a few different pieces of equipment for different purposes. Unless you’re a professional photographer it’s much more practical to take photos of works progress, work obstructions, observations with your mobile phone. Photo resolution is great if the lighting conditions are decent. Transfer of photos to email or to a daily reports is still quite convenient. Faster transfer of information means faster communication and this can turn to faster decision making.
Keep logs of your observations, progress and issues
Even though a picture is worth more than thousand words sometimes pictures need additional explanation or background story to be fully understood. Add context to your pictures by giving them right description. If there is a delay caused by other contractors or due to unplanned events caused by the customer, make sure you record these events and add a picture if it can give more information to your note.
Create field daily reports from your construction site project
Instead of struggling with text editors or note taking apps you can use a dedicated app which helps construction professionals in creating field reports in an easy way.
For the above mentioned features try iNeoSyte – Mobile App for Construction Reports in order to keep site logs along with photographic evidence and generate professional PDF reports straight from your smartphone. You can do all these during your site walk and share your observations before you come back to your site office. This way your customer or your project team members can be involved in crucial matters almost immediately. This may also lead to quicker resolutions of issues and improvement in productivity.
I hope that the three simple steps presented in this article will help some of you in your work. If you think that everything here was very simple and obvious than that’s also fine, sometimes we need to be reminded about basics of our trade.
What are your best tips for improving productivity at construction sites?