Reducing Construction Inefficiency

Reducing Construction Inefficiency

Your construction company has been in business for years. It is growing steadily, attracting talented workers, landing profitable projects, and, basically, putting your competitors to shame. Then something goes wrong. Not all at once, perhaps, but you begin to notice that things no longer feel right. Your profit margin is shrinking and your best workers are developing poor attitudes. Projects are no longer going smoothly, and it feels like you have to work harder than ever to get the same amount of work done. What is the problem?

The answer could be inefficiency, and it takes many forms. Fortunately, it’s also a problem with a solution—whether your leadership team or unaddressed sources of lean waste are to blame.

Start by Evaluating Your Team

In order to retain your status as a world-class contractor, you must build an exceptionally productive crew. Doing so requires creating a culture in which everyone—from the executives to the foremen and the construction workers—are dedicated to operational effectiveness and vigilantly prevent inefficiencies.

Training is a necessary investment—in both soft (or “people”) skills as well as the technical—especially when it comes to leadership positions. Strong teams require strong leaders, so you’ll need to evaluate your own management style as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the other key players in your construction company. Retrain as necessary.

Look for Sources of Waste

Waste often starts out as a minor issue. However, left unchecked, it can become a major problem. Make sure your foremen, superintendents, project managers and other leaders know how to spot the types of waste common in construction.

  • Transportation waste due to moving things more often or further than necessary. Every time you move materials or equipment, you use resources and increase the risk of damage losses.
  • Inventory waste due to excessive material purchases. When you buy too many materials, you spend more than necessary. You also spend more storing it, handling it and returning it.
  • Motion waste due to people moving around more than necessary. Time is money, and covering distance—such as from a work area to a break area or restroom that is unnecessarily far away—creates waste.
  • Waiting waste due to crew needing to wait for tools, equipment or information.
  • Overproduction waste due to one crew working faster than the others (which generally leads to waiting waste).
  • Defect waste due to shoddy craftsmanship or materials. Repairing defects will cost you more in time, labor and materials.

If your leadership team knows how to identify inefficiencies, they can then look for the root causes and eliminate them.