Technically, work efficiency in a construction environment is determined by the amount of work tasks or packages completed in a working day by a single construction worker, or rather the total work package that was completed by a contractor or a construction team within an allotted time in the project schedule.
Efficient site workers work very hard to complete their work packages right on time. Ideally, this means that the project organization gets more of their project work completed with the same hourly labour payment rate.
If the site workers are bored with their project work or if they are not properly motivated to complete the relevant work packages, the total efficiency of the site workers on that site could be decreased to a considerable amount. This typically means that important milestones and deadlines could be missed.
Typically, it is a nightmare to end up your construction project behind the project schedule and over budget.
Root Causes of problems relating to work efficiency
1). Poor project planning
An effective planning process for the construction means that all aspect of the construction project is considered including labour, materials, equipment, safety, environmental factors and so on. While the lack of the aforementioned factors on-site could hamper construction work efficiency materials and equipment inadequacy is a root cause of problems associated with work efficiency.
2). Lack of specialized equipment or tools to improve work efficiency
The lack of specialized equipment needed for a specific work package can also affect work efficiency. For instance, rather than using a concreting bucket attached to a crane to transfer newly produced concrete to the particular location of use, it could be more practical to use a truck-pumped concrete supplier to produce steady quantity concrete at the right volume and pour rate. This is an example of improved work efficiency for the work package of concrete casting for that project. Apart from mechanized tools, some tools such as construction software, drones, BIM-enabled tools can also be used to automate and mechanize any part of the project. Lack of which may create problems caused by poor work efficiency like delayed work and bad quality.
3). The need for training
Another great source of problems related to work efficiency is the lack of skill among site workers or the need for training. While most site workers could be experienced and skilled on-site, however, if a sizeable amount of the workforce is young and inexperienced, the overall work efficiency will be affected especially in cases where work packages are interdependent and internally dependent on each other.
Besides, the experienced workforce could be adept at using new sophisticated tools like BIM-automated tools to make work more efficient. The total skills and knowledge gap in the entire construction environment can affect the total work efficiency.
4). Demoralized workers
There is no other natural killer of work efficiency on-site like demoralized workers. While this could lead to all sorts of risky factors on-site, the most related effects of this problem include delayed work, poor collaboration skills, safety hazards, theft on-site, breaking of construction site rules and so on.
5). Not establishing performance baselines
While experience and training is a critical factor of construction work efficiency, if the site workers are not motivated to see why they need to get their different work packages done on time and within a stipulated quality, then your work efficiency could below.
Solutions to Improving the Work efficiency in your project
Why the ideal construction work efficiency and root causes have been analyzed, it is best to look at the methods in which the work efficiency can be improved in your infrastructural projects.
1). Improve on your method of planning
A lot of errors involving construction efficiency are typically done in the planning phase of the project. If you have not been able to properly estimate the material schedule for each area of the work such as concrete, steelworks, woodwork and the other materials in which you need in your project, and then midway into the project you then notice that you need double the amount estimated if you have to stay on schedule, then you are certainly going to have a big problem.
Typically, you should completely commit all the time required before the beginning of the project, to plan out the workforce, supervisors, information, processes, equipment and materials that would be needed before the work is started. This is the best way to prevent project work delays and an increased cost.
2). Get a good software for the management of your infrastructure project
With a lot of Infrastructure construction management tools being offered by a lot of companies and vendors promising to enhance the potential of your project to end successfully and profitably, there are numerous construction software to choose from. Typically, not all of these software will deliver as promised. Or even if they are as effective as advertised, these construction tools won’t manage your projects automatically. Therefore with the best construction management software and an effective construction management skill across all management levels of the project, you have a high chance of increasing the general work efficiency of your construction projects.
Technically, a part of an effective project management technique is being able to apply the Infrastructural project management software to organize your site and clear up all paperwork from your desk. This allows you to concentrate on the actual construction work.
While streamlining your construction processes this management software can handle your bid management, process your invoicing and billing, management all contractors and sub-contractors, manage and control project management, reporting of incidents, performing risk analysis, inputting construction leads and lags, processing timesheets, job scheduling and myriads of other project organizing activities.
The best outstanding tools and solutions in this category are PlanGrid Connect, Autodesk BIM 360, eSub Construction software, RedTeam Cloud Construction Software, Kahuna Project Management and Collaboration Software, Building Connected as well as PlanGrid Construction Productivity Software.
Typically apart from general software solutions, there are also a bunch of apps such as Aconex, BuilderStorm, BuilderTREND, CoConstruct, e-Builder, Fieldwire, Newforma, PlanGrid, and Procore. These highly effective construction applications with product features too numerous to mention, effectively help you in streamlining and managing your construction processes to a level that cannot be achieved without them.
With the introduction of the cloud services as a central location of storage, it is now pretty much easier to communicate all members of the workforce of an infrastructural project regardless of the size of the workforce.
3). Commence the application of Building Information Modeling (BIM) to your projects.
While a decent amount of projectized companies have started implementing this amazing innovative tool, a sizeable amount of construction-based companies are yet to appreciate the efficacy of BIM as a general solution for infrastructure construction.
While BIM is beyond modeling software, it also effectively helps you manage your construction project daily. For instance, the tool can be employed to find out the number of workers that could access a building structure each day. With this information, you can calculate every other variable that is related to that information.
4). Listening to your workers
While it may seem unimportant, the general welfare of the site worker is a core determinant of their work efficiency. While everything may not be right in the personal lives of the site workers, you should make their work environment conducive for them to increase their daily work efficiency.
Also, you should listen to your workers in the area of demoralization and fatigue, as this is a root cause of most construction work efficiency problems. Site personnel with issues of morale, health problems, extreme fatigue, employment/contract disputes and financial compensation should be attended to with immediate effect to mitigate further dissipation of problems to other areas of the construction project.
5). Invest in the training of all cadres of construction personnel.
Training is essential to boosting your work efficiency, most especially for the supervisors of large infrastructural projects who require sound management expertise as well as skills to ensure that projects are supervised and managed smoothly.
Also, the lower cadre of site personnel such as foremen and actual construction site labourers should be trained on their work processes. This could be on the fastest possible time to do their tasks why increasing speed, maintaining quality and cost.
For any infrastructural construction project environment that treats their construction site personnel this way and help them get familiar to critical skills, they will see be able to see the instantaneous benefits in their projects.
Apart from training on manual methods of construction works, the site personnel can also be trained on the use of heavy machinery and tools more effectively to accomplish specific project tasks. For example, an excavator driver or a crane operator can be trained on the most optimal way to manoeuvre their machines to transfer materials or get work completed sooner and be able to move on to the next work package of the construction phase.
6). Improving on your on-site communication
It has been overly emphasized that communication is one of the bedrocks of a successful project. While this may be debatable, it is the quality of the information passed that is the actual determinant of the potential success of the project.
While about 90% of the task of the Project Manager is spent on communication, the quality of the communication as well as the level of implementation is variable factors that will determine the potential success of the project. While communication has been simplified in recent times, it is an expansive topic of discussion in construction and has several tools for a streamlined and effective communication with BIM the leading tool.
7). Establish performance baselines and get your site personnel to respect these measurements.
Measurement of the performance of your construction work crew is typically a great tool for motivation for the construction workers. This is most effective if there are rewards attached to performances which exceed established baselines and benchmarks.
Clear and achievable performance yardsticks should be set with the attachment of a tangible financial bonus for each achieved performance objective.
Moreover, this can also contribute to helping the team communicate more effectively which will generally lead to increased work efficiency. There are various performance metrics which you can set to help boost the morale of your workforce.
8). Adopting a new technology to increase work efficiency.
Why the construction management software and BIM can effectively help organize and manage projects, however, due to the vastness of a typical infrastructural project, you could be looking to deploy innovative technologies to automate some areas of the construction problems as well.
Most of these automation tools allow teams to gather and manage project information while collaborating live on drawings, markups, submittals, risk management, pictures from drone shots, request for proposal and contract administration.
Other areas that can be automated by these tools are numerous techniques of improving productivity, minimizing the number of trips to specific places, time wastages, allowing teams to accurately complete their takeoffs digitally rather than surveying physically as well as other techniques for electronically tracking tasks and issues.
In terms of automation, one of the most innovative tools for automated construction is the drone which is used to access inaccessible materials, delivers materials to places where the crane might not be able to get to. Furthermore, it can also be used to convey personnel tools and equipment to site personnel and so on.
While the above-mentioned root causes and solutions to work efficiency are generic, it is important to state that each project is unique and has specific sets of work efficiency attributes.
Improving the total work efficiency in a construction site is about the general site workforce as well as project support office working smarter and not necessarily harder.
While the work efficiency of the entire workforce of a project could be integrative and consists of a large combination of essential factors, it is always vital to access a specific project environment to determine the critical factors that can affect the general work efficiency of all site workers.