Time is a terrible resource to waste. This is one of the most valuable resources in a project. Every delivery that you are supposed to make is time-bound. Therefore, without proper time management, a project can head towards a disaster!!!
The construction industry has for many years tried to learn from other industries, hoping to minimize waste and maximize productivity.
Construction industry have, among others, learned from the vehicle production experience with lean concept – fx. the Toyota model.
But I personally perceive it as productivity in the construction industry has not grown significantly – at least not in relation to the extent of resources and effort exerted.
As I see it, it is important to use different factors such as lean build production as MT Højgaard fx. have practiced for many years. For my part, I have worked with this principle since 2001 where I started at MT Højgaard.
But any construction production will always experience the minimization of productivity or even stop in the production if the following conditions are not carried out:
- A requirement is of course that the project documents (drawings etc.) are completed before publication.
- All structural conflicts must be handled in the design before the project documents are released for production.
- When planning work on a construction site, the areas must be divided into sections- This will give a “domino effect” / chain reaction in production, which contributes to an optimized productivity for all involved parties.
- Trim the construction work – who is where and when, and most importent – is it according to the timeschedule?
- There must, at trim meetings, be considered future work X number of weeks ahead of time – and the focus must be on whether the project material (drawings ect.) is ok for actual production.
- Agreements must always be respected.
- Direct communication – inform the relevant parties/persons and do not waste others time with unnecessary information if he or she is not involved.
- Trust in each other is the most important factors, if the above should even be possible.
And yes, it sounds simple!
However, one must keep in mind that by building constructions/buildings we are always challenged by certain conditions such as:
- New Project
- New position and thereby new infrastructure
- New Client
- New advisors (Ing + Ark and others)
- New contractors / Suppliers
- New internal colleagues
And so on……
But note! – when we compare ourselves with car production and learn from their Lean principles, the conversion of carproduction will not experience as many new transitions when switching to a new car type.
Maybe the car type/project is new, but:
- It`s the same position (production area) and the same infrastructure
- The same “developer”
- The same advisor
- In many cases also the same suppliers
- And mostly your colleagues are also the same.
But this shall not sound as an excuse for the construction industry.
For we must continue trying to be even better in what we do!
My “time scheduling” history
I have in my time at various construction sites repeatedly experienced scheduling does not have the highest priority. Compliation of a timeschedule and follow-up on this is in many cases a task as many staff- / project managers bring the latest educated to perform – and in a large part of those cases also new graduates with no practical background (e.g. a craftsmann background). This shall in no way be percieved as I criticize recent graduates – we all have each our different strengths, as have recent graduates!! But I think that it may be a fault of the people who delegate the complex task of carrying out a timeschedule when these leaders bring staff with limited experience to perform complicated schedules and conducts follow-up.
Furthermore in many cases, the primary focus is on targeting project material challenges (drawings), the economy associated hereby, the “extra time” it requires to carry out additional work etc. This shall not be understood “that there shall not be focus on these issues” – this MUST be included and controlled with a firm hand. However, it is equally important to focus on the work that lies in execution timeschedules – in creating the optimal flow and daily / weekly follow-up on the jobs going on. But most importantly – to look ahead and focus on the challenges in the future for the processes, so these can be handled by which all parties are able to react – in time!! And with this I think right from the project conditions, client decisions and not least about the craftsmen – do they have the proper resources to handle any extra challenges.
There is time and money to save in creating a proper work flow – and this can lead to savings for all parties involved.
In my years working on different projects in Denmark and abroad I have always been involved in time management. Actually all the way back to the years working as a carpenter, where it off course was important to be able to calculate and at the same time do the job in the time estimated by myself.
In my education I learned how to develop and process time in the program Microsoft Project. I worked with this program from my start at MT Højgaard in 2001until mid. of 2012.
From 2011 on the project Moesgård Museum. A project with building a 15.000 m2 museum in corporation with Lindpro.
By the Building Contractor (Moesgård Museum and Client Advisor DK2) MT Højgaard was furthermore assigned to manage construction management for the entire project, including time scheduling. Project start was January 2011 (should have been Dec. 2010 – but contract was a little bit delayed and therefor signed January 2011) and the project should be finished Sep. 2013.
Trying to make a long story a little bit shorter I can tell that MT Højgaard and Lindpro from start got some problems with loss of time – partly due to failures in the project (drawings etc.) and therefore delays in concrete work. All in all, this resulted in mid/the end of 2012 a delay of 4 1/2 month (including the one month later start of the project). In this period on my daily/weekly observations, it was obvious that the production had the “bottleneck” problem. The work flow was gone and enterprises was literally working “on top of each other” or worse – in opposite directions.
And of course this led to much frustration for all involved and therefore a lot of focus away from the challenges ahead.
In MT Højgård, as mentioned earlier, I have always worked with the “TRIM” system – a weekly meeting where all enterprises foreman meet with MT Højgård building-/project managers – to coordinate the sitework going on “this week” and 4 weeks forward. But never the less – when the setup with partly unfinished project material, problems with concrete work and a time scheduling working with only two processes (activity and duration) – it is very difficult to get the perfect flow!!
In the end of 2012 I contacted the IT Department in MT Højgaard trying to find out the possibilities in working with time management with three processes – (activity, duration and position). I was told to try Vico Schedule Planner.
By learning this new programme, a LOT of dialogue with setting up the new flow in corporation with all enterprises, “the new” areabased time schedule was the result.
And the project with building Moesgård Museum was delivered as agreed in the contract the. 6. September 2013, and most important, to the Building Contractors satisfaction (Moesgård Museum and Client Advisor DK2).
Building up the system
First of all you need to analyze the building and find out how you want to handle the construction from the first sod in the ground until the last brush stroke on a skirting board.
For a lot of years I have experienced that project managers do have the opinion “that we are the Main Contractor – therefor we are going to tell the subcontractors”:
- what to do
- when to do it
- and in which order/work process”
My opinion? – well thats deffenitily the wrong way to do it!
If you chose to be the “master” and ignore the sub-contractors opinion / knowledge, well then you are ignoring the professionals from the different branches. It´s the sub-contractors who have the accurate knowledge about their job – therefore I will suggest you to be the professional in gathering this knowledge, wisely… in coorperation where all involved will be heard and you are the “judge” who put it together in one big time-schedule. And of course it´s not just that easy, because the puzzle will not just be sampled the first time – it will take time, it will take coorperation and it will take patience and a lot of dialogue.
A few areas to focus on:
- Focus on building ‘complexity’ (deepest shaft, hard-to-reach areas, complex constructions, building structure (deep courtyards or similar.), technical “routings”, building highest point – “one can reach’ (hereby I think for examble how long can the crane reach?), constructions order (carcass / steel structures, etc. ) and much more.
- Focus on workflow conflicts – are there activities which “intersect”
- Manning – an activity supplied more resources or perhaps the opposite, to achieve the right flow and avoid working conflicts?
- Teamwork – teamwork and even more teamwork…. A Danish PhD thesis shows that by ex. 1 hour of sport per week can lead to efficiency increase by 10% and short-term sick leave is minimized by 56% – but essentially in such efforts (as in many other initiatives) the company management must support such initiatives.
Click on the pictures:
- Communication – directly!
This document I have performed trying to optimize communication with/ between building managers and sub-contractors.
I have made this in relation to reporting workflow (work done) and especially follow-up on the agreed tasks at the weekly “TRIM”-meetings.
Some of my and my colleagues’ successes
Examples of construction projects where we have benefited directly from area-based planning, trim build production and not least – optimized team-work and communication:
15.000 square meter museum
4,5 months delaid in the middel of the building period.
The delay were obtained and the building delivered as agreed in the contract.
22.000 square meters of office and 24.500 square meters of underground parking.
A project MT Højgaard took over from the contractor Phil og søn who had gone bankrupt.
The carcass was almost done.
Despite a very limited construction time of 17 months and 8000 project revisions in this period.
Click on the picture:
The building was delivered on time!
NAU – Nytt Aalborg Universitetssygehus:
170.000 square meter carcass
The Project planned in coorporation with MT Højgaard concrete colleagues/foremenn
The carcass will be completed six months ahead of time.
Click on the picture: