Boosting On-the-Job Productivity and Profits

Because construction is a labor intensive industry, low productivity rates can result in substantially diminished profits. While some construction productivity variables can’t be controlled, others can be managed by implementing certain strategies.

Focus on Planning and Communication

Wasted labor hours and lost equipment time drain productivity and profits. Contractors can minimize the effects of these factors by focusing on planning both before and during a project. Initial plans should incorporate the budget for the project, along with anticipated production rates, materials, and number of workers. Once work begins, it will be important to minimize the hours that crews are left waiting for materials and equipment to do their work. Plans for a project may need to be revised when supply bottlenecks and other issues arise that threaten to reduce productivity.

Regular communication between supervisors and workers regarding the work that must be accomplished on a project can help reduce down time. Crews should be aware at the start of every day what their goals are and what steps they need to take to achieve those goals.

Review and Measure After Each Project

Going over just completed projects with foremen and project managers provides an opportunity to identify what worked well and what did not. An in-depth review of a project can provide information that can serve as a blueprint for future projects. If a project came in on time and within budget, the factors that contributed to the successful result can be discussed. For projects that lost money, it’s critical to identify the source of the problems. Review the estimate to determine if it was too low and look to see if labor or material costs spun out of control. Getting a handle on what went wrong will suggest steps that can be taken to prevent similar problems on future projects.

More effective use of labor and faster completion of projects can lead to lower costs and greater profitability. Time spent on project planning and communication, coupled with review and measurement of results upon completion, will be time well spent.