BSRIA shows how to make gains in ME productivity

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					BSRIA shows how to make
gains in M&E productivity
                                                                                                          Case history
Site productivity 2002 - a guide to uptake of improvements
                                                                                                          Ref. no:  229
Researcher – BSRIA
                                                                                                          Date:     April 2003
Supported by – DTI’s Partners In Innovation programme and a steering group
                                                                                                          Theme(s): Lean construction
representing 27 construction companies

BSRIA researchers argue that key
                                                        Productive time
building services elements could be
installed in less than 10% of
                                                        Time lost within worker’s
conventionally accepted timeframes.                     control
But the industry needs to improve
pre-construction and construction                       Time lost to inefficient
processes, make more use of                             methods
innovative products and design                          Time lost to poor
incentives to root out delays. A                        management
2002 study of mechanical and
electrical (M&E) installation in four                   Time lost to changes in
                                                        scope of work
British projects shows a clear
correlation between productivity and                                                0    10    20    30    40    50      60    70   80   90   100
uptake of 63 recommendations
published in a 1997 study of M&E                    Hawkins says that there have been some                 Where the time goes on a British M&E site
                                                    step changes made by switched-on
site productivity.
                                                    contractors interviewed for the 2002 study
BSRIA’s Head of Process and Productivity,           (see next page). But he believes the overall
                                                                                                          LESSONS LEARNED:
Glenn Hawkins, speaks from nine years               rate of M&E site productivity is unchanged for
experience in monitoring the productivity of        those who have not taken up BSRIA’s                   s The workforce knows what’s going
M&E gangs. “Site labour is typically 20-25%         recommendations.                                        on; the answers can be found with
of the value of all construction, and M&E is at                                                             tactful communication
                                                    FOUR WAYS TO IMPROVE
the top end unless there’s a lot of pre-
assembly,” he says. “The industry key               Do what you do better                                 s Low productivity is usually
performance indicators (KPIs) are a                                                                         associated with poor quality
                                                    1. Monitor processes and eliminate delays
commercial, macro view. We work at the              discovered.                                           s Directly employed operatives are
micro level and I can see there is plenty of        2. Increase the rate of building by                     often more productive than self-
scope to lift productivity and profitability, but   collaborating with others and aiming to be              employed ‘contractors’
contractors need to invest in monitoring and        right first time.
redesigning processes.”                                                                                   s Projects that have a strong
                                                    Change what you do                                      Respect for People ethos are likely
ALARMING STATISTICS                                 3. Innovate to improve the design of the                to have higher than average
Feedback from 1997 research (see next               products.                                               productivity.
page) showed the typical British M&E installer      4. Pre-assemble as much as possible off site
was unproductive 40% of the available time.         to improve quality and minimise exposure to
The biggest hit on productivity was 20% lost        the low-productivity-prone construction site.
by workers simply not being where they were         BARRIERS TO IMPROVEMENT
expected to be; researchers observed they
were late, left early, were in the wrong place,     Contractors who have not analysed their               HOW TO CONTACT US:
took long breaks and went walkabout. “The           processes do not yet understand the critical
astonishing thing is that the four projects we      success factors.                                      Rethinking Construction
reported on in 1997 were considered to be                                                                 108-110 Judd Street
                                                    Regional/project budgets cannot support the
on time and budget and operatives were                                                                    London
                                                    work needed to understand and boost
earning performance bonuses,” Hawkins                                                                     WC1H 9PX
                                                    The cost of improving is mistakenly perceived         Tel: 020 7837 5702
The next biggest time waster (15%) was poor         to outweigh the benefits.                             Fax: 020 7813 3060
management - inept planning that put people
and resources in the wrong place at the             Main contractors who purchase M&E                     Email:
wrong time. Surprisingly low yet still              packages on cost criteria alone have no     
significant were inefficient methods and late       apparent incentive to collaborate with                Website:
changes.                                            subcontractors to improve their productivity.
The Rethinking Construction Strategy model – applied to this innovation

5 Drivers                                   6 Processes                                        10 Targets for improvement

Leadership                                    Product                 Production of            Client satisfaction – product      Profitability
                                              development             components
Focus on the customer                                                                          Client satisfaction – service      Productivity
                                              Partnering the          Respect for
Product Team Integration                      supply chain            people                   Defects                            Safety

Quality driven agenda                                                                          Cost predictability                Cost
                                              Project                 Sustainability
Commitment to people                                                                           Time predictability                Time

                                                                                                                 Next steps:
THE CHALLENGE                                           arrangement, temporary works and
                                                        installation.                                            What you could do to apply these
BSRIA set out to investigate the perception
that there is significant inefficiency in M&E site      The 2002 study – Site productivity, a
processes in UK construction, to quantify               guide to the uptake of improvements                      s Apply BSRIA’s recommendations
scope for improvement and to show how it                                                                           for pre-construction and
should change.                                          BSRIA probed four British projects looking for             construction phases in TN 14/97
                                                        evidence that the industry was taking up its               and TN 13/2002, both available at
THE SOLUTION                                            recommendations and also to test whether         
The 1997 study – Improving M&E site                     productivity was improving. They found:
productivity                                                                                                     s Use the Respect for People
                                                        1.     The more recommendations a project                  Toolkits, available from Rethinking
This study compared productivity of gangs                      adopts, the higher its productivity.                Construction. Apply to be a
installing like-for-like M&E services in seven          2.     Teams who design for higher productivity            Respect for People demonstration
projects – four British and three in Sweden,                   by using innovative components and                  project.
Germany and the USA. Workers on the                            exploiting off-site assembly achieve a                Tel: 020 7837 5702
Swedish project had the highest proportion of                  step change in site productivity.
productive time (85%), closely followed by the          3.     Key success factors are multi-disciplinary        s Ask Camargue about the Learning
Americans. The four British projects were                      working, off-site assembly and innovative           by Doing course: An introduction
grouped around 60% (see diagram on                             components and tools.                               to lean construction,
previous page).                                                                                                      Tel: 01242 577277
                                                        4.     More ‘enlightened’, strategic project
The Swedes also demonstrated the highest                       management at the start achieves the              s Seek BSRIA’s independent advice
task productivity (output per unit of                          best results.                                       on how to improve your
productive time). So they were the most                 5.     Innovation and off-site assembly are not            productivity both on and off the
efficient during their productive time, and they               being fully exploited.                              construction site.
had the highest proportion of productive time.          6.     Major improvements in planning, co-
This combination was called the ‘observed                      ordination and control are needed.
best practice’. The average overall
                                                        7.     Innovative working, products, and
productivity of the four British projects was
                                                               information and communication
only 37% of the observed best practice.
                                                               technologies need to become more
In comparison with the best performing site,                   widespread.
the British sites had:
s    managers and foremen engaged in more               BSRIA also developed Empower, a database
     administration and less active installation        tool, which enables a trained user to set best
     work                                               practice productivity targets, collect and
                                                        analyse data, and make convincing reports.
s    ill-conceived storage and handling
     strategies                                         HOW PROBLEMS WERE
s    poor levels of housekeeping                        ADDRESSED
s    very little post-qualification training of         BSRIA’s experience is that once people are
     operatives                                         informed they are more likely to ‘buy-in’ to
                                                        the initiative. It is much easier to gain the co-        For further information:
s    two to three times the time lost by
                                                        operation of the whole construction team in
     workers being late, leaving early and
                                                        collecting data if the researcher tells them             Glenn Hawkins
     so on
                                                        what is happening and why.                               Head of Process and
s    installation tasks that required more site                                                                  Productivity Department
     visits                                             WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
s    more site cutting, drilling and assembly           BSRIA is offering a consultancy service to
     work.                                              help constructors identify delays and design             Tel: 01344 426511
                                                        process changes.
BSRIA made 63 recommendations to
address project planning, construction                  Advances in mobile computing mean
philosophy, project organisation, contract              Empower could be developed into a DIY tool
strategy, services design, procurement                  to run on portable digital assistants (PDAs).
strategy, work-area control, work