Chapter Corner

Dr. Perry Daneshgari and Dr. Heather Moore

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The Paradox of Managing Large Jobs

Winds of Change: Industrialization of Construction

The current symptoms of skilled labor shortage, faster-paced jobs, lower margins, and pressure from global competition are only signals of the times to come. It is not going to let up, and construction is never going to go back to what it was. So, the question is how to cope with it.

Work Breakdown Structure From the Field

Construction jobsites are often unpredictable and impacted by daily changes. In order to reduce the impact of the
daily changes, an electrician needs to see the work ahead of them. This is the power of a comprehensive Work
Breakdown Structure (WBS). A WBS is a method to identify the necessary tasks that are needed to complete a specific job. The identification of tasks needs to be done by an electrician who is physically doing and leading the work (General Foreman or Foreman). To create a WBS, you bring the whole project team together to discuss and break down the project into small, manageable tasks. By writing down the individual tasks you will start to identify unanswered questions and potential risks. Once complete, the WBS can serve multiple functions. You can use it to accurately monitor job progress, real-world completion levels, and overall productivity to reduce the job risks and
predict and prevent upcoming obstacles.

Green is Good, Green With Prefab is Better

As an increasing number of owners and jurisdictions adopt or specify local, state, or international codes or standards in support of green building options, strategies to cost effectively conform become increasingly vital for your organization. From the standpoint of a building’s or facility’s total life-cycle cost and impact, sustainable, green, or living building design and construction can prove to be a viable option for lower total cost of ownership.

How to Integrate Apprentices Successfully

The beauty of every young newcomer to any kind of trade or work is that he or she will not be bringing a
lot “baggage” with them on “what the right way of doing something” is. This, in itself, can violate the structure
and stability of a company’s processes. On the other hand, there is a lot of learning and training to be
done, and if the teaching and guidance is not done correctly it can reduce the productivity of the whole
team. Costly delays can occur by one newcomer not knowing the processes or lacking the necessary
skills to do the job.

Planning For a Safe Working Environment

Last year, we presented two separate articles on the topic of safety and the correlation between safety
and productivity (“A Safe Job Site Is a Productive Job Site” [2016 May/June Insights] and “Predict &
Prevent” [2016 Sept/Oct Insights]). We have already presented the data that shows “why” this connection is important to an electrical contractor, and we have already presented the information that explains “what” needs to be done in order to gather relevant information from the field. In this article, we will dive deeper into “how” to use critical business processes to alleviate the risk of safety-related issues before they occur. Not unlike quality and customer care, the safety of any job site starts with the board of directors. If the executives, manager, and supervisors think safety first, then the job sites will be safer.

Robots: The Next Wave!

Innovation; it can’t be avoided. It hits almost every industry at the most opportune time; and when it does, it can disrupt the way we do work in such a way that it can bring even large corporations to their knees. Innovators will always seek out weaknesses and leverage new ideas in their efforts to meet customers high demands or expand the market by finding ways to serve previously underserved segments. Like automobiles were to the horse and buggy and like MP3’s are to the music industry, history shows us that advanced technology has been the inevitable disruptor in every industry. Just as we saw the advent of industrial robots revolutionize automobile and other manufacturing plants, we are beginning to see the early stages of this same innovation in construction.

Winds of Change and the Event Horizon

The “Winds of Change” is a discussion surrounding Agile Construction®, and specifically leadership of an Agile business. Agile is a business model that is capable of adaptation to meet changing needs, both in the short term and in the long term. Short-term Agility surrounds the needs to recognize and meet the needs of customers and vendors at the project, division, and overall business levels, while still maximizing the available profit opportunity. This requires effectiveness and efficiency throughout the business system. Longterm Agility comes from leadership. Leadership must recognize and respond to changes in the business environment. These changes are detected by knowing what to watch for in the “wind.” Rapid detection and early action based on these “Winds of Change” is effective leadership and the only way to ensure Winds the long-term success of any business.

Predict & Prevent

The Great Idea Swap

Over one hundred attendees from twenty-two companies were represented at MCA’s annual symposium (Fig 1). Attendees included owners, general contractors, subcontractors, and distributors. Contractors in attendance varied from electrical to mechanical, and included all stakeholders from executive management to foremen. They all collaborated on topics on increasing productivity and profitability within the construction industry.

Teaching the Newcomers How to Manage Time

According to the online Cambridge dictionary, the ol’ cliché “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks” is said to mean that it is very difficult to teach someone new skills or to change someone’s habits or character. With over 20 years of research in the field, MCA Inc. finds this definition to be true in just about every industry, and it especially holds true in construction.

A Safe Job Site Is a Productive Job Site

A safe job site is a productive job site. Any injury on the job site not only eliminates the injured worker’s output, but it also affects other workers performance while they attend to the injured worker and the aftermath of the injury. Safety is not only an economical but also an emotional issue on any job site.

What It Takes to Be a Project Manager

Say your boss, the owner, or CEO of the electrical firm you work for came to you with some exciting news. He offers you a 500,000 hour job to manage. Of course your boss was excited. The job he just handed over to you will bring in approximately $65 million over the next 4 years. You on the other hand, although excited, are shaking in your boots just thinking about it. In the past twenty or so years of working for this firm or the three firms before it, the largest job you ever managed was 200,000 hours, and you almost lost your shirt on that project. That job was well on its way to becoming one of those “killer jobs;” the kind that everyone in the industry talks about for years. Now you’re about to look down the throat of a beast that can either make you or sink the company you work so hard for, and take everyone down with it.

Becoming an Expert in Multiple Markets

So you’ve cut your teeth and made a name for yourself by carving out your own special niche in your local market. You’re now known as the go-to contractor for your specialty and it’s taken years for you to achieve that stature. You’ve watched the market fall and weathered the storm. Now you’ve been paying attention to the market around you, and while it’s coming back, you have a feeling the market is shifting and not coming back in areas that have been strongholds for you in the past. You’re suspicious that other markets are taking off, but you’re not sure they are worth pursuing. You would like to expand into other markets, but that means expanding outside of your niche market and venturing into uncharted waters. All the while still feeling a little jaded from your last experience, which ended up costing you six figures off your bottom line, and you’re still not sure what went wrong.

Optimize Jobsite Material to Improve Productivity & Cut Costs

The old and famous saying in the industry, “I’d rather look at them than look for them” could not be more wrong now, than at any time in the history of the industry. The last few years in the construction industry have been proven to be challenging to say the least. Gone are construction’s glory days of win the job, pay the field guys, and collect the money with amazing profits.

Impact of Prefabrication on Industrial Construction Work

When it comes to prefabrication (prefab) for electrical construction work, there are three types of attitude and answers that can be heard from the electricians:

1. We can only prefab for standard items, and a maximum of 3-5 percent of the job can be prefabbed.

2. Prefab is only for commercial and residential work and won’t work for industrial.

3. Prefab takes our work away.

The reality is much different than that.

Industrialization of the Construction Industry

The quality of life for every American relies on the products of the U.S. construction industry. The construction industry accounts for between 4 to 7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually in the United States over the past 10 years and employs 5 to 9 million workers or 3 to 6 percent of the total U.S. workforce. But such a key industry is under constant pressure to improve productivity, reduce cost, and minimize waste in the operation. While the productivity in the manufacturing industry has improved by 400 percent over the last century, the construction industry’s productivity has, in the best case, stayed flat or turned negative.

Building Information Modeling

Industrialization of the construction industry is happening everywhere. Building information modeling (BIM), simulation, computer-aided design, and many other product and process modeling technologies are becoming daily requirements in the construction industry. Managing complex and fast-paced jobs and prefabrication have increased higher demands on modeling. BIM has revolutionized the industry as a solution for product modeling, allowing for better integration between the parts and pieces that come together for building. However, the new wave of technology will focus more on process and information modeling beyond the building components and toward the builders and their work requirements. To stay competitive plus take advantage of the cost savings afforded by use of this technology, they need to be able to build a strategy to use BIM, product lifecycle management (PLM), and three-dimensional(3-D) experience within a virtual construction environment. The product models require input from engineers and designers to lay out the building. The new process models must include the input of the worker to be effective.

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