Last week’s blog was centered on preconstruction planning. Everyone’s experiences and definitions may be different so I will share with you what this means at Northern Concrete Construction. It all begins before we even get a job. What is our sweet spot? Can we perform the project within the timeframe required? Do we have the capabilities to perform the work to specifications? As the person in our company responsible for business development and acquiring work for our organization, I need to work hand in hand with our human resource and production department to thoroughly understand the answers to those questions. Sometimes the best job is the one that you don’t bid due to the answers to the above questions. Knowing the amount of work booked, our headcount, and capabilities are all taken into consideration before saying yes to a request for proposal. No amount of preconstruction planning can help if you don’t have the manpower to perform the work.
Once we are offered a project, I get together with our production scheduler to make sure that we can perform the work within the schedule. Many times the schedule at the time of the bid can change during the bid process so it’s important to check for any changes.
Last week, there was a question presented to me from the blog. The question was “Do you feel concrete preconstruction can further develop to improve job-site safety, speed construction, improve quality and reduce waste? Or, have we reached the practice limits?” It’s such a great question that it is the focus of this blog. When I talk to people in our industry, I explain our system of estimating and the time we put into our planning. At times I will hear “your overhead must be high” or I may hear “customers don’t pay for planning so isn’t it considered waste”?
Customers don’t pay for planning but they also don’t pay for the price of not planning. Not planning can include a delay in schedule due to lack of manpower, a surprise OSHA visit and not be in compliance, not ordering the correct job site materials causing schedule issues, etc…
How can preconstruction planning develop job-site-safety?
- Our safety director is involved in all of our projects. He will address the safety concerns of any site – fall protection, make sure the excavator is stepping back the excavation, checking for power lines to make sure there are no hazards for our placement equipment, do we need safety railings, etc… This takes place prior to crews mobilizing to the site.
How can preconstruction help in speed of construction, improve quality, and reduce waste?
- I mentioned this last week but it’s such an important part of our system that I need to mention it again. We utilize cad technicians. You may wonder what cad technicians do. A cad technician works hand in hand with our project supervisor during preconstruction planning and then with the foreman once the project begins.
*They begin the submittal process
*Cad techs thoroughly review the plans and project specifications and develop our internal construction drawings. Different architects and structural engineers may call out details on plans differently so we have the cad techs recreate the drawings in our terms so that it’s always consistent.
*During the above process, many questions will arise that need to be addressed so that the concrete or anchor bolts are placed at the right elevation, in the correct spot on the foundation, etc… At times there will not be enough detail on the plans or there may be a conflict with the architectural, structural, steel or precast decking plans. This is where the planning creates speed. We get most of these items addressed before boots hit the ground or if they aren’t addressed at that time, someone is working on them. I have shared some customer testimonials on this process at the end of the blog.
*Cad techs create job binders that include project contacts, directions to job site, local hospitals, material list, job targets, project plans, our drawings of the projects, submittals, and a detailed scope of project. We also communicate with the other trades to make sure we know where any block outs need to be formed in our pours.
*Once the project begins, our foreman contacts the cad tech daily for prepour plans. Simply, they will let the cad tech know what they plan on pouring tomorrow and the cad tech will put in a will call for concrete with our dispatch personnel. At all times we will have a master plan that is color coded – what’s poured today, previous pours, and what’s left to pour.
These steps improve speed and minimize waste. No ordering two extra yards to be safe. No 911 RFI’s taking up valuable time from the superintendents. The foreman does not need to take measurements and fumble with a concrete calculator to order concrete.
- Another big part of our system to reduce waste and gain project speed is the use of Total Station. When we create our construction plans, we incorporate the points that the Total Station Operator will need to do his/her job. The points will be for the exact location for any point on the site once a bench mark is established. Many structures that we form and pour have many corners on the building, interior pads, and anchor bolt settings. The TSO will find these points for our footing crew, our wall forming crew, and finally to pre-check before the concrete is poured.
It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to gain project speed, to work in a safe manner, and to get it right the first time. Here are a few comments from customers:
“I’m extremely satisfied with the follow-up in the office and the field. And, you can tell that the field is communicating with the office, and that doesn’t happen all the time.”
“You’re very good with communication from start to finish versus just parts of the process. There is solid communication on pre-planning, so everything is worked out ahead of time prior to the job starting. Things are clarified.”
“Total Station is a nice feature. That way we know everything is straight and square, correct, and it alleviates a problem possibly down the road.”
“I don’t have to babysit your guys. The workmanship is outstanding. Communication lines are always open and, once again, they’re outstanding. It makes my job so much easier.”
Why do we use CAD TECHS and TOTAL STATION?