3 Practices You Can Employ For Managing Both People And Equipment

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The construction industry is one that involves a lot of investment and risks. As such, it requires thoughtful management of its most important assets. What are these assets?

First, your people, or workforce. Regardless of how big or small your operations are, this is arguably your number one asset because, without it, your construction business cannot function. According to the Australian Parliament House, the construction industry alone employs over 1.15 million people and accounts for 9 percent of all jobs in Australia. Therefore, it makes sense to have a systematic approach for managing the people that work for you.

Second, your equipment. Comprising your machinery and vehicles and every other gadget that is used for all construction activities.

To help manage these two most important assets, there are several different practices that can help. In the continuation of this article, we will talk about some universal management methods that can be applied to both people and equipment.

 

1. Regular performance measurement

Measuring the performance of your construction company’s people and equipment is a key requirement for identifying and correcting shortfalls, weaknesses, and loopholes that may exist in your organisational processes and procedures. It is a continuous assessment and improvement process that helps to guarantee business success and sustainability.

For people
Because productive employees are essential for a company’s survival, several techniques have been created over the years to gauge what a workforce is actually doing. Typically, this is done through periodic performance appraisals, for example, the 360-degree feedback method to check things like quality of work, personal habits, attitude to others, productivity etc.

For equipment
Equipment productivity is used to refer to the actual time when a machine is performing productive work. The more efficiently a machine is deployed to complete specific tasks, the higher productivity levels will be.

Construction equipment owners that can monitor and reduce non-productive hours can avoid wasted resources (especially fuel), excessive wear, and related unexpected costs that cause budget overruns. Besides that, another angle to watch for is slightly damaged but still functional equipment. In such cases, the asset may still be functional, just harder to operate. It would take much longer to perform the same task and it would also negatively impact productivity.

Improving the productivity rate of construction equipment can be achieved through a combination of practices such as leveraging machine data, using only skilled/trained operators, monitoring operating records etc.

Lastly, since equipment performance is tied to equipment health, it might not be a bad idea to install a few condition monitoring sensors that will get you a real-time insight into the health of your assets.

 

2. Ensuring good operating conditions

Although construction work is generally regarded as hazardous, your organisation can reduce some of the inherent risks and minimise their effects on your people and equipment. An effective way of mitigating dangers on construction sites is to proactively create an overall healthy working environment for both people and equipment.

For people
Frequent safety audits with a focus on thorough hazard identification can help to limit some common causes of fatalities and injuries such as falls, electrocution, being struck by objects and machines, and getting caught between objects.

Another factor that cannot be overemphasised is inadequate or improper training and supervision of workers while at work. It is also important that you have measures in place to control how long your people are working per shift. Fatigue can cause accidents. For example, when workers fall asleep while operating machinery.

Lapses in any of these areas can significantly increase the dangers your workers face on site.

For equipment
Providing healthy operating conditions for equipment is a two-fold endeavour. First, the immediate surroundings where the asset is located should be clean, free of leaks and excessive moisture that could damage the asset, and clear of obstacles.

Second, the equipment itself should receive the necessary maintenance when due. Remember that a poorly maintained machine that is pushed over its limits can easily become faulty and then pose a risk for its operator, as well as anyone nearby.

In addition, keeping your equipment in optimal working condition through adequate preventive maintenance is a win for all parties. It improves the useful life of your assets and reduces your long-term equipment maintenance costs.

That said, an important part of keeping equipment healthy is accountability on the part of the machine operators and proper maintenance record-keeping.

 

3. Adopting lean management practices

There are several ways that adopting lean management techniques can help your organisation to optimise performance while eliminating waste on your construction projects.

For people
Lean methods can help to reduce construction “defects” where tasks are not done correctly the first time, resulting in rework and a waste of time and materials. Another scenario that lean management seeks to eliminate is “waiting” where for instance, workers are ready for an assignment but the required materials and tools needed for the job are unavailable or they are waiting around for a previous job to be completed before they can proceed.

Lean practices like continuous flow (or lean flow), continuous improvement, and better planning and scheduling will help to reduce these wasteful situations.

For equipment
Again, lean management can help to reduce waste in the form of equipment that is “waiting”. This commonly happens when heavy vehicles and machinery are left to idle and waste diesel. Another example is waste of transport when materials and equipment are moved from place to place unnecessarily or before they are needed.

 

In conclusion

Although the above discussion does not cover every practice out there for managing both people and equipment in construction companies, we hope that you have gotten some key ideas to help you improve on your internal processes where required.

 

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy to use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organise, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.

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