E Light Safety, Training and Leadership Blog
We often talk about delays in construction. I have found that the discussions concerning delays are frequently really discussions about disruptions. Understanding the difference between these two terms may be of help in identifying impacts to a project and may help you and your project manager receive compensation for impacts to your project cause by others.
A delay is an event or series of events that take place on a project which causes the critical path schedule items to not be performed according to the agreed upon schedule. The important things to understand here are: 1. The critical path items
2. Not completing the critical path on schedule.
The critical path is something that is typically misunderstood, so lets start there. Definition of critical path: Longest sequence of activities in a project plan which must be completed on time for the project to complete on the final due date. Another way of stating this is, the Critical Path is the sequence of tasks which define the shortest completion period for the project.
Only a delay to a Critical Path task delays the project. One must keep in mind that in all large construction projects there are multiple paths or sequences of tasks that may be happening simultaneously. In other words. not every task to be performed on the project is dependent on another task competing first. Some times things can be done at the same time. In order to define the critical path, you have to schedule out all the activities on the project and you have to determine which tasks are dependent on other tasks and schedule everything out according to that logic. Once that is done, you need to identify the last task that must be completed on the project and then trace back along all the tasks that are in the line or path leading up to that task. That line of tasks is the critical path of the project. If you use a program such as Project or Primavera to schedule out your tasks, the program will identify your critical path and you can print it out for fast reference. Even better, the General Contractor on most projects can provide you with a print out of the Critical Path for the project, if you ask for it. Which you should, because then we can analyze that critical path for ourselves.
Understanding the critical path is crucial because we can only ask for compensation for a delay if something happens, beyond our control, that causes a delay to a task in the critical path. The second reason this is so crucial is that, in most contracts, the only compensation you can get for a delay is additional time added to the schedule. In other words, most contracts prohibit compensation of money for delays.
Now lets talk about disruptions. In most conversations about "delays" I find that the parties are actually talking about disruptions. The definition of a disruption is any event that takes place on a project which prevents any task from being completed on time AND/OR prevents the task from being completed with the efficiency which was reasonably expected at the time the bid and budget for the project was established. Please notice two very important distinctions here from the definition of a delay: 1. This applies to everything that is done on the project, not just the critical path items
2. This also applies to completing tasks with the planned efficiency and not limited to just not completing them on time.
A third and very important distinction is that, contractually, you are not limited to just schedule extensions for compensation for disruptions. You can reasonably ask for monetary compensation for disruptions.
I will use an example of a disruption. We provide a bid for the electrical construction of a high rise building. We establish a budget in the bid for the installation of the equipment in the electrical rooms on each floor. When we developed the budget we had reasonably planned to make the installation of each electrical rooms equipment while the crews were working on each floor installing the branch circuitry components. The framer on the project completed framing on each floor during construction for everything except the electrical rooms because they were behind schedule. After they caught up, they returned and completed the framing of the electrical rooms. The project completed on time and each stage of the critical path of the project completed on time. By definition, there was no delay on the project due to how the framer completed their work. However; due to how they completed their work. we could not perform our work the way we had reasonably planned the work. We had to return with crews to floors that had been completed for everything else so that we could complete the electrical rooms. This caused us to do work out of sequence, it causes our supervision to be supervising crews on more floors than we had planned and it causes us to not be able to complete the work as efficiently as we had planned due to all of these things. In other words, our work was completed on time, but it cost us more money to complete it than we had reasonably planned for in our bid.
This example and things like it happen quite often on construction projects. When it does happen, we sometimes ignore it in the "interest of being a good partner", or we attempt to submit a change order for delay at the end of the project because we have determined that we are going over budget in certain areas. Neither approach is in the best interest of the company.
This example is a clear representation of three impacts that are recognized in the industry
1. Dilution of Supervision
2. Multiple Mobilizations
3. Out of sequence Work
The industry recognizes that these impacts create inefficiencies and therefor additional costs. If we are not the cause of the inefficiencies, then we are not responsible for the costs of the inefficiencies. We can rightfully request to be compensated for these costs and we should do so.
Successfully receiving compensation for these types of disruptions requires us to do the following: 1. Understand your project schedule and your project plan and track it daily so that you know if you are on schedule and able to follow your plan.
2. Utilize your daily report in iAuditor and identify every item that caused a disruption to your work. Your project manager will receive these and then will be able to determine if a disruption change order is appropriate. They will also have the documentation to back up that change order.
3. Talk about disruptions that you are experiencing in coordination meetings and use a rapid observation report in iAuditor to make a quick note of that and send it to your project manager.
We have made the process of documenting these things very convenient for you by making it possible for you to use your smart phone and iAuditor to quickly identify and document this information and transmit it to your PM.
Please remember we have also provided you with an iAuditor template titled Change Order Cause and Impact Analysis that you can also use to report disruptions. This template has pull down menus so that you can list a disruption and then it will ask you questions that you can answer with a click of a button that will provide your PM all of the information that they need to not only produce a good change order but it will also calculate the percentage of inefficiency for them based on the standard industry tables.
Thank you and please feel free to call me with any questions concerning disruptions, delays or using iAuditor.
Ted "Smitty": Smith
As a supervisor, or foremen, you are the crew leader on a construction job site. It’s up to you to plan, organize, and direct work in a safe, and timely, manner. All supervisors will experience conflict at some point, as well as safety violations, workplace injuries and there will be things that happen on the site that prevent you from doing your work for the day or part of the day. All of these things can lead to claims and other liabilities later on. It is important for you as a supervisor to protect yourself, your reputation and to also protect the company. By keeping a daily record of all activities, you can protect yourself and the company from arbitration and/or litigation.
What is a Daily Log?
The daily log is a book, or software program, into which a supervisor records the day’s activities. Record keeping helps ensure project organization, as well as keeps tabs on day-to-day employee happenings. The daily log is essential because it keeps a consistent record, which could be useful if you’re ever sued, and need to prove that your workers performed a safety inspection, did work to the best of their ability, made quality installations, or could not work due to site conditions or other impacts or conflict was handled immediately and efficiently.
Daily log sections include:
Times of incidents
Problems and delays
What is an Incident Report?
E Light has attempted to make this process as efficient as possible by using a program called iAuditor in conjunction with your tablets and smart phones. The company has multiple templates pre made for your use. There is a daily supervisors report which has boxes and questions that can answer quickly as you go and there is also a place to insert pictures. .We also have a Rapid Observation Report which allows you to document something specific. It is important that each supervisor complete a daily supervisors report each day and email it to the project engineer, the project superintendent and project manager. These reports are a great tool for the PM to use to know what is happening in the site. These reports are also to be stored on the construction drive under the project file for future use. Be sure to email yourself a copy as well for your personal records.
Daily Logs Ensure Effective Jobsite Supervision
Jobsites are typically limited to the manpower needed. The job site supervisor is typically all on his own. He needs to protect himself by keeping a daily log. This ensures that a record is kept of all conflicts, incidents, as well as records of day-to-day activities and impacts that prevented work. If a supervisor can prove that he’s consistently kept a detailed daily log, it should hold up in court, as well as with customers and business owners.
Ted "Smitty' Smith
E Light has made steady growth over the past few years and this is a great thing. It has provided great opportunities for advancement and new employment. It has also lead to some growth pains, which are to be expected. I was reading though my trade magazines this Sunday and I came across an article that I found very helpful and I wanted to share it with all of you.
A3 Problem Solving Overview and Refresher
Excepts from: Flinchbaugh, Jamie (2012-02-16). A3 Problem Solving: Applying Lean Thinking (Kindle Locations 272-275).
Definition of Lean Thinking The lean methodology - the practice of focusing on the processes that create the value while eliminating those that create waste - has been mostly about tools for many years. As broad knowledge of lean begins to mature, more people realize that being lean is also about applying lean thinking, principles, and behaviors - the core drivers behind A3 - at an individual, team, and organizational level to create a lean thinking culture. “Creating visible thinking is what is unique about the A3 process.” When extending the lean process to thinking, what does waste-free reporting and problem solving look like? To begin the process of thinking leaner, take a multi-page report and condense it to A3 - the international standard for a paper size approximately the same as 11”x17” paper. As you moved from the problem to the recommendation, rather than just the data. As a result of revealing the thought process, two things happen. First, when your thinking process is transparent, you can reach agreement faster. Many arguments and disagreements about recommended actions are in actually disagreements about assumptions made about either the current reality and target condition. if we can’t make our assumptions visible, then they can’t be discussed. Second, making the thinking visible enables coaching. You can’t coach outcomes. If someone just showed you that they’ve failed to achieve the outcome, you don’t know why unless you can see their thought process.
The four quadrants of A3 problem solving provide a standardized problem solving process to promote common thinking :
Building Blocks for Developing A3 Thinking
There is no single “right” format, but in general an A3 report flows from a problem statement or gap description, to current reality analysis, description of the target condition, and finally the plan and measurements to evaluate progress and validity. The format itself isn’t important—it won’t magically turn you into a lean thinker any more than picking up a paintbrush or a sax will magically turn you into another Rembrandt or John Coltrane. It is going through the work of developing an A3 report for your situation that starts you on the path to becoming a lean thinker. It is essential to begin with the problem statement, because it is a critical element on the path to lean thinking. There are few things more fundamental—and frequently done poorly—than the problem statement. How you structure the problem statement determines your focus. Make sure your problem statement is actually about the current observable condition, not about a perceived solution, cause or what you want. Before you jump to reactive solutions, it is essential to deeply understand the current reality. This is not a sit-down exercise, it is an activity. Go observe what is actually happening. You want the as-is, not the supposed-to-be or the my-belief-is version of reality. Before you start throwing Band-Aids at the problem, you should first develop a clear target condition—the goal of where you want to be. This is not the result you would achieve, this is how you will change the work in order to get the result. You don’t want to just uncover solutions to problems, you want to design the work to create a new and better reality. Bad systems beat good people, and your job is to change the system.
QUADRANT I: Problem Statement There is great value in developing a standard problem-solving format. Everybody can follow along by following the thinking. Once common A3 thinking is established, it can serve as a powerful business tool that can be applied across all business processes and functions. First, let’s define the problem. Capturing the resolution to a complex problem or a 20-page report on one A3 sheet of paper may seem like a daunting task. Once standardized, it will, in fact, make all points of problem solving within an organization more efficient. How do we get there? “The problem statement has a huge impact on the trajectory we take.” If you get point A wrong, the problem, then all assumptions made to get to the solution may also be incorrect and, so too, the solution.
Problem Statement Development Consider the difference in impact from two very similar problem statements: Joe is a jerk, or how do I develop a working relationship with Joe? The first problem statement is all about the other person. Let’s reword the problem statement: “How can I develop a working relationship with Joe?” The conditions are very much the same but the problem statement is different. While one whole set of solutions rested entirely in Joe’s body a whole new set of possibilities includes us and other people. The second problem statement includes the problem owner, giving that person infinitely more power to solve this problem.
Here’s another example: We don’t have enough manpower or, we don’t have enough production from our manpower. The first problem statement only leads you to add more manpower. The second helps focus on how you might be wasting the efforts of your current manpower.
Pitfalls to Avoid Consider the impact on the problem statement if you send two people off on different trajectories of just five degrees. You will get far apart pretty quickly. The problem statement establishes our trajectory. If two people depart from the same location on a trip, and only five degrees separates their trajectory, they will be in drastically different places in a matter of hours. ”We underestimate how powerful the problem statement can be, and that is pitfall number one.”
The second pitfall is getting locked into the problem statement as though it is written on a stone tablet. You must be willing to adjust your problem statements. This doesn’t mean your original problem statement was wrong. Writing a problem statement is an iterative process—problem statements are changed because you learn stuff through the process of examining the problem. In my experience coaching executives on lean thinking, you have to modify a problem statement at least 50 percent of the time.
The third pitfall in problem statements is jumping the gun on too many assumptions before the problem statement is created. You insert unexamined causes and solutions into the problem statement, closing yourself off to many possibilities. The earlier example of “we don’t have enough manpower” is an example of putting the solution in the problem statement. There is only one solution to that problem—get more manpower. It immediately closes you off to many possibilities.
QUADRANT II: Current Reality It is important to directly observe the problem before you can fix it. The objective is not about going to see but about going to understand. A process tour can be enjoyable but it is not about industrial tourism. It is necessary to not just see but actually study and understand the problem. There is a big difference.
QUADRANT III: Developing a Target Condition Once a team has developed a clear problem statement and understanding of the current condition, they also must develop a tangible vision of the target. Quite frankly, it is easier to skip this step than to spend time on it. What makes it easy? Our first flawed assumption is that the target condition is simply the absence of the problem, or the inverse of the current condition. This is not a useful assumption. The second reason that we skip over such an important step is that we assume this is the same thing as developing the action plan.
The target condition should describe what you would see, feel or experience. The target condition is what “good” looks like. “The coaching question to use with yourself or others is exactly that: What would ‘good’ look like?”
Quadrant IV: The Action Plan. Now the team needs to take everything they have learned in the process and develop an action plan that will reach the target condition. Two things are critical:
The plan is clear and has objectives, deadlines and champions
The plan has a clear metric so the team and champions can determine if it is working.
Flinchbaugh, Jamie (2012-02-16). A3 Problem Solving: Applying Lean Thinking (Kindle Locations 272-275). . Kindle Edition.
An idiot is one that never learns from his mistakes. A smart man learns from his mistakes and a wise man learns from other peoples mistakes.
"The Fifth Avenue Association was ever vigilant in keeping roadways and sidewalks clear; and the association went further than the rules laid down by the borough president’s office in maintaining standards of decorum. The association regarded the sacks of cement, gravel heaps, and mounds of brick as nuisances, and they requested builders and contractors to store as much material as possible on the site itself. Like so many miracles, the miracle of construction that was the Empire State Building did not take place for all to see. It took place on the first floor and downstairs in the basement, where the builders did just what the Firth Avenue Association wanted. All the building materials, except structural steel and the facing for the first five floors, were received and unloaded within the building and hoisted to the workers within the building. Nothing sat outside in piles to created eyesores, nothing was hoisted outside except the structural steel and stone facing for the lower five floors. Traffic was not blocked, and the ever-constant hazard of falling materials was minimized.
Truck entrances on Thirty-third and Thirty-fourth Streets led to twenty-five-foot-wide driveways extending around the first floor. Drivers only had to drive through a gate to the appointed docking area, unload, and drive off. Eken said that they “ran trucks the way they run trains in and out Grand Central. If a truck missed its place in the line on Tuesday, it had to wait until Wednesday to get back in”. The building materials were all hoisted within the building in four shafts that would later accommodate passenger elevators. In the early stages, the hoists traveled at 80 feet a minute, but they were soon replaced by mine skips that zipped along at 1,300 feet a minute.
Almost all the work was performed during the normal workday. About all that took place after hours was the removal of construction debris. If the debris was heavy, it was taken down by hoists; if light, it was sent down metal chutes (wood chutes would not have been strong enough to withstand the weight and velocity of even light debris). The debris went into a hopper on the first floor; it was transferred to trucks and out it went.
Just as Paul Starrett had told the corporation that all equipment would be new, it was also novel. An industrial railway system was used to distribute the material at the site --- a first for an office-building construction job. It was not as if there were four-by-eight locomotives up there. The railway cars were handcars with not motive power other than human push power; but they rolled along at a merry clip, and each car was the equivalent of eight wheelbarrows. Narrow-gauge tracks that were designed to reach every work site were laid on the floors of every floor of the building and the hoists, with twenty-four double-side-rocker dump cars and twenty-four platform cars serving the building. Sheet iron, metal parts, bales of wire, coils of cable, sand and cinders and lumber and pipe would arrive; each would be unloaded in a special corner of the first floor, loaded onto a car; and sent shooting to the floor where it was needed. Mortar could be delivered at the rate of twenty-one cubic feet per trip in cars, compared with seven cubic feet per trip in barrows. It saved labor by decreasing the number of handlers, hoists, and hoist men, and it saved time and that meant money.
At the ordinary construction site, materials such as bricks were dumped in a pile in a cordoned –off area of the street, then delivered to the workers by wheelbarrow, and admittedly backbreaking, labor-intensive, and not terribly efficient method. Starrett did something different. The building required and enormous quantity of bricks – about 10 million and the bricklayers had to keep pace with the stone setters who worked on a schedule of one story a day. The contractors constructed two brick hoppers, each with a capacity of twenty thousand bricks, in the first basement. They built chutes leading into the hoppers near the entrances on the main floor. Trucks only had to back up to the chutes, tip their bed, dump their bricks through the chute into the basement hopper; and move out. These hoppers, with inclined bottoms, allowed the bricks to slide through gates and drop into the dump cars. The cars were then taken “up hoist,” and the bricks were deposited alongside the bricklayers, without having been handled from the time they came into the building until they were picked up and placed in the wall.
Cement was delivered in bags, unloaded, and was likewise dumped into a floor opening to a basement hopper; which fed a large mixer. A rather ingenious method of handling the bags that minimized back strain and hand injuries was devised by the superintendent and fashioned by the house blacksmith. It was a pair on tongs that was round on the end to prevent tearing the bags.
All the limestone from the sixth floor up was delivered in an equally brilliant fashion (the limestone for the first five stories was raised by stiff-leg derricks that operated from the sixth-floor setback). A truck drove into the building’s loading area with the crated stone keyed for the appropriate section of the building. The stone was made in such dimensions that it could be handled on ordinary material hoists within the building, so electric hoists, which were like small cranes that operated from an overhead monorail, lifted the stone from the truck, swung the stone along the monorail, and deposited it on the platform car. The stone would be trundled by platform car to the perimeter of the floor where it was to be installed, and from there it was dropped by cable into its place in the wall between the steel jambs pieces already set. Two hoists handled all the stone for the building, not only eliminated a large number of hoisting derricks and engines, but since the hoisting was inside the building, doing away with a grave source of danger to the public.
An unexpected perquisite came with the site. The Waldorf’s architect, Henry J. Hardenbergh, had taken advantage of the right to extend the basement to the curb line when he designed the hotel. Starrett, seeing the opportunity to add to his work space, made sure these vaults were shorted up during demolition. He then installed storage and supply rooms in the vaults for subcontractors during construction, freeing that much more space in the interior of the building.
The masonry wall consisted of an eight-inch backing of brick faced with either limestone or aluminum spandrels. The bricklayers put on the walls with a precision of operation that allowed for the least possible wasted motion. Suspended on a covered scaffold, they picked up bricks from the piles that their helpers placed in easy reach, set them in place, spread the mortar; turned, and put in the next brick in a model of time-and-motions studies.
When the framework was about six stories, high the lower floors became scenes of increasingly complex activity, with movement everywhere. The work was fully synchronized, all done in unison. While the skin was being set outside, plumbers and electricians started to install the building’s veins, arteries, nerves and alimentary systems – the ganglia- that fleshed in the skeleton. When the window framers were in place and glass had been installed, plastering and woodwork and painting could begin. All the finishing trades followed in such a rapidly moving but orderly parade, said Shreve that the plasterer might appear in the lower floors even before the roof was made tight."
Let;s strive every day to find better ways to plan our work and to find safer and more efficient ways to perform our work.
Ted " Smitty" Smith
Director of Renewable Energy
E Light Electric Services, Inc