Job Site Waste: How to Control the Chaos

March 1, 2019 Karli Langner

To the casual observer, most construction sites look like a busy, noisy, muddy mess, with mountains of materials and machinery (some in full operation; some seemingly abandoned), buzzed occasionally by swarms of hard-hatted workers. Looking at the same site, an industry pro is more likely to see a well-oiled operation demonstrating the smooth interworking of labor, technology and productivity.

The reality is somewhere in between.

According to conventional wisdom, more than half the time on a construction site is wasted on unproductive and unnecessary activities. It’s not that anyone is overlooking jobsite waste on purpose, of course. It’s the scale and complexity of the construction process itself that helps disguise the sources of waste. When you’re in the thick of things, waste is able to hide in plain sight.

To simplify the hunt for waste in your operation, focus on examining your processes to search for signs of each of these eight types of waste:

  • Defects. Chances are, you see this one a lot. Doing it wrong – and then doing it again to repair or replace. Completed work that gets damaged during later work. Installing materials incorrectly or installing incorrect materials. Rework is a red flag for waste.
  • Unnecessary actions. Inefficiency hides in activity. Double-entering information, double-handling materials, built-in but unneeded requirements for notes, reports, signatures and documentation. Extra activities mean wasted time and effort.
  • Overproduction. Sourcing or producing more materials than needed (usually as a hedge against shortages or poor quality) wastes money, takes up excess space, and increases risks of damage, theft and obsolescence.
  • Excess inventory. Similarly, keeping more tools, parts, equipment, materials and work-in-progress components on hand than are actually needed to support project progression wastes valuable space and undermines safety.
  • Nonessential transportation. Moving workers, materials and equipment unnecessarily around the construction site, from job to job and back again, or from a central facility to temporary holding areas wastes time, energy, effort, and labor. Transportation costs are difficult to eliminate totally, but can be minimized.
  • Inefficient movement. How much time do workers spend hunting or retrieving needed tools, searching for reports and paperwork, or traveling around the job site? Streamlining storage locations and site layout can improve motion efficiency.
  • Waiting. Not all waiting looks like sloth. But delays caused by late deliveries, unfinished work-in-progress, missing construction drawings, or other necessary data or documentation waste time and sap productivity.
  • Underutilization. One of the worst wastes of all is squandering the skills, talents and experience of your personnel. Recognizing and valuing their opinions and input can help eliminate wasteful practices at the same time you boost productivity and job satisfaction.

Bear in mind that simply observing current processes is not enough to create or motivate change. In the construction sector, it takes real-time data and specialized experience to minimize waste and maximize resources. Once you know what’s what, then you’ve got something to build on.

With solutions from Command Alkon, construction projects come in on time and within budget with virtually no waste. Processes run smoothly, costs are optimized, and products are of the highest quality. Contact Command Alkon today.

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