Is Your Jobsite a Wasteland? Check Out These 3.5 Ways to Reduce Waste and Costs

July 25, 2018 Karli Langner

No, I’m not talking about piles of leftover debris or even the kind of “trashy” look that’s common on construction sites. While neatness is nice, especially on a highly visible site, the waste I’m referring to is all those insidious, sometimes hidden, wastes that may not look messy but can make a real mess of budget forecasts and construction schedules.

Jobsite waste – and the losses it creates – is a serious problem throughout the HBM industry. In fact, according to a 2016 McKinsey study, “Large projects across asset classes typically take 20 percent longer to finish than scheduled and are up to 80 percent over budget.”

Most budget overruns are not the result of leftovers or throwaways. Most are a result of squandering 1) time, 2) motion, and/or 3) accuracy. Eliminating waste is an ongoing challenge, but these best practices can help you recognize – and correct – this resource-draining scourge:

1) TIME. Wasting time is probably the most common and costly jobsite activity, especially since it’s virtually always unintentional and unobtrusive. What’s the best way to spot it? Recognize that all wait time is wasted time. Any person, place or thing that sits idle or is not ready when needed is generating waste.

When workers wait on instructions or tools or equipment or approval or inspection, their time is being wasted. When tools, parts or equipment are unavailable or inoperable, time is being wasted. When one process or procedure is stalled waiting for another to be completed, valuable time is being wasted.

Wasted time typically results from inadequate planning, communication or resource allocation, so invest in these timesaving preventive measures instead:

  • Begin with informed planning that includes all pertinent people. Early integration and transparent information sharing improve efficiency at every operational stage.
  • Forecast construction schedules, budgets and requirements so that you can realistically anticipate tools, materials and labor.
  • Create and communicate contingency plans so that the entire crew stays up to date and in sync.
  • Use technology to communicate.  Radios, mobile phones, tablets and other digital tools speed communication and improve clarity.

2) MOTION. Going back to the truck to grab another tool, hunting down a colleague for collaboration, moving critical materials or machinery from its current location to where it’s needed, dispatching and transporting workers, even unloading deliveries and distributing parts are all costly operations that reduce productivity. Any unnecessary or unplanned movement of people, equipment, tools or materials wastes valuable time and energy.

To minimize wasted motion, use efficient workplace procedures and productivity-enhancing devices:

  • Plan ahead to place and prepare critical equipment for use at the point of operation.
  • Corral required tools, parts, kits and equipment in well-stocked, well-organized, well-maintained work carts.
  • Equip workers with tool belts, trays, bins and pouches for easy accessibility.
  • Use rail-lock aerial accessories (tool bins, pipe racks, cradles, panel carriers, etc.) when working on scissor lifts, boom lifts or other platforms for safe, secure, fast access.
  • Use communications technology to locate misplaced or misappropriated resources.
  • Designate a worker to make deliveries and tools runs as needed.

3) ACCURACY. Precision in quality control, inventory management, and maintenance and replacement programs is vital for preventing wasted materials and labor. Symptoms of sloppy jobsite practices include tasks that can’t be done due to damaged, defective or missing materials; rework due to poor quality or specification mismatches; “shrink” due to lost or stolen tools or inventory; breakage due to careless handling or improper use; and mistakes in ordering, stocking, storing, handling and accounting for materials.

Verifying resources and quality takes attention and vigilance. These common-sense practices can bring valuable order and discipline to your jobsite:

  • Make sure all workers have a clear project understanding, including the latest drawings, specifications and contingency plans.
  • Lock up tools and equipment at days’ end and when not in use.
  • Remove and replace damaged tools or materials immediately.
  • Designate a specific person to order, inspect, label and monitor materials, especially near job’s end, to avoid leftover inventory.

Are time and resources going to waste on your jobsite? Command Alkon helps make fast work of unnecessary jobsite losses. For information on CONNEX Jobsite, click here.

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