Identify the Factors Affecting Production

Norb Slowikowski / February 2016

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, external factors take a toll on production. We need to arm ourselves with the ability to “see around corners” and control the things we can. More than anything, this concept is about preparation. If we are prepared for the roadblocks that affect everyday production, we can mitigate the negative consequences.
    
Other than direct control of the work force, there are six other factors that have a substantial bearing on job costs. While going over these factors, keep in mind that each example is laden with potential excuses for why production is not being met. The good foreman eliminates the possibility for excuses, for both his crew and himself. Once we create an awareness of the roadblocks ahead of time, we can eliminate excuses. With that in mind, let’s review the areas in which production is often affected.

Production Obstructions
Material distribution. When materials are delivered to a job, every effort should be made to locate them in a strategic place near the work area. If the crew has to go from one floor to another to get the materials they need, they will lose a tremendous amount of time. When material is delivered to the site, make sure you check for the right amount and type. Communicate all back orders to your project manager.
    
Material amount. The job cost and production are directly related to the amount of material on the job. Constant checking of materials to anticipate shortages is important. If the crew doesn’t have the right type or quantity of material with which to do the work, they can be standing around on your time waiting for delivery. Also, remember that if you have too much material on a project, the labor cost of bringing it back to the warehouse can be high. This is especially true with large board and drywall materials. Overstocking is as critical as understocking. The right amount of material is directly related to lost time and trucking costs.
    
Quality of workmanship. Keep your crew quality conscious with continuous self-inspection. Do the work right the first time. Repeated callbacks and punch list items can be eliminated with a good, quality job. Be sure to check the work of your crew several times a day. If they’re doing quality work, provide positive reinforcement. If they’re not, intervene and provide coaching to get them back on the right track. Observe for a few minutes to make sure they can perform according to the standards.
    
Tools and equipment. Be sure your crews have the proper tools and equipment to do the job. Keep a watchful eye for those who are not using the tools properly. Get involved and explain that it’s important to use the tools properly to achieve quality results. Keep your equipment in good repair, and properly stack your gang boxes. Pay attention to your company’s procedures for maintaining an accurate inventory of your tools and equipment.
    
Safety. Constant communication and follow-up on safety procedures and rules will eliminate lost time, prevent accidents and lower insurance rates. Remember that insurance is a big percentage of the labor cost on every job. Lower your costs by being safety conscious. Make sure your crew knows that safety is not an option. Remember: You want your people to go home the way they showed up. Inform your crew to contact you when they observe an unsafe condition or practice.
    
Housekeeping. Be sure your crew has the proper equipment for maintaining proper housekeeping on the job site. Clear, clean, unobstructed work areas are important to increased productivity and safety. Make necessary arrangements with the customer for trash removal. Remember that maintaining good housekeeping standards will eliminate accidents.

Setting Production Goals
A relatively small job of short duration does not require a complicated production schedule. On a one- or two-man job, it should be relatively easy for the foreman to communicate what he expects from his crew and then follow up to see that the work is done on time in a quality way.
    
On large jobs, the main consideration for the foreman is to manage his labor budget. He must set realistic production goals with them along with a deadline for his crew. The foreman must communicate that reaching production goals is essential for meeting the overall schedule for the job. He must let his crew know that by achieving the goals, they become key players in the construction process. The goals help create ownership for each crew member’s contribution to the success of the job.

Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.