A Tale of Two Jobs – Case Studies of Agile Construction® Usage
“Every construction project is different and you can’t compare one to another” – but are they? While every project is somehow unique in terms of contractual obligations and requirements, project characteristics, material requests, and sometimes equipment needs, they might not be as much when it comes to the management of the actual electrical work as it appears at first glance. How work is laid out and planned, and how a project is supported during and after the construction phase can make a huge difference for the success of a project.
We examined two comparable size construction projects performed by two different mid-size electrical contractors in the Midwest (see project descriptions in Table 1) regarding their commonalities as well as the differences from both an operational and financial performance perspective. In particular, we investigated the impact of the depth of pre-construction planning and the degree of implementation and usage of Agile Construction® Principles and Tools, such as Job Productivity Assurance and Control (JPAC®), Short Interval Scheduling (SIS®), job reviews, and continuous improvement strategies.
|Figure 2: Labor Productivity Trend - Project 2|
COVID-19 – Impacts on U.S. Construction Market and Electrical Contractors Reactions
|Figure 3: Pre- and Post-COVID Outbreak Market Developments|
|Figure 4: Risk Management System|
A critical immediate action in response to a disaster event like this pandemic is to quickly assess and quantify the risks, as well as the impacts on construction work along the three dimensions: Effort, Work, and Time. Contractors using Short Interval Scheduling (SIS®) and Job Productivity Assurance and Control (JPAC®) were able to categorize and quantify the impacts on scheduled work, additional effort, and labor productivity in a matter of few days. National data on over 290 active construction projects and roughly 13.2 million man-hours reveal the following impacts (Data from March to September 2020):
- Effort: Absenteeism more than doubled, 49% of scheduled work is not completed, 52% of reported impacted hours due to COVID
- Work: 30-60 minutes per day per labor to comply with CDC and company-specific guidelines
- Time: Significant delays, schedule compression, leading to higher peak manpower loading
These impacts also affected productivity. Figure 5 displays the aggregate productivity trend of jobs tracking COVID-19 impacts between February 2020 and September 2020. Industry-wide measurements show that after an initial loss of productivity immediately following the COVID outbreak, on-site labor productivity has increased by approx. 7% until September 2020. These overall trends appear reasonable given the changes in the way contractors have adapted their operations in both the office and on the job sites.
- 92% have changed work procedures to increase social distancing
- 39% have asked project owners to adjust work/delivery schedules
- 34% adjusted employee salaries furloughed or laid-off employees
- 8% have adopted more automation to enhance social distancing
Further, many contractors believe some changes to their business are here permanently, such as:
- Adjustments to safety procedures and work processes
- More remote meetings/use of collaboration tools
- Force Majeure Clause to avoid liability for extraordinary events and circumstances
- Increased attention to site/office sanitation
MCA, Inc. was established as a research company in 1990. For more than 20 years, MCA, Inc. has been involved with ELECTRI International, providing innovative research and expertise to the construction industry, and financial investment to the Foundation. Dr. Perry Daneshgari and Dr. Heather Moore were interviewed on the interaction of research and financial investment by ELECTRI.
Read the full interview on “Research and Investment can go Hand-In-Hand”!
- Industrialization of Construction®: Signal or Noise? Threat or Promise?
The three-phase research project is currently underway. This research project investigated how Industrialization will continue to unfold in the construction industry and provided ELECTRI and its members a means of getting and staying ahead. The first phase of the research, completed this summer, focused on understanding the current state of the industry and providing a means for contractors to evaluate themselves in terms of how industrialized their company is and assess the gap between their current state and the industry. During the 2nd phase of the research, MCA, Inc. developed a guidebook for contractors to use to move the needle forward in their company, working with three electrical contractors to test the applications, collect their results, learning, and feedback. The 3rd and final phase of the research is currently underway, as MCA, Inc. develops a full framework for the future of Industrialization of Construction® across the industry, including collaboration among associations and standards-setting regulatory bodies.
- Estimating with
and Pricing of Prefabrication
This ELECTRI research project was targeted to identify electrical contractors’ current prefab usage as well as the practices in pricing with prefab, and to help electrical contractors move forward and to accelerate the industry-wide usage of prefabrication by developing a practical calculator tool to quantify the aggregate labor savings potential and composite rate (crew mix) impacts from Externalizing Work®, including Prefabrication and Vendor Services, and a method for “pricing” their estimates with prefabrication.
In addition to completing two ELECTRI research projects, we have put a special focus on MCA’s publications. Over the past five months, we have published 7 brand-new articles in EC&M Magazine and Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) on Industrialization of Construction®, Externalizing Work®, Prefabrication, and Modular Construction, Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), and Jobsite Intelligence Gathering. We are proud to share the latest experience, insights, and trends on these topics to help you and the industry advance and progress. Progress and change might be even more important and needed than ever, particularly during or because of these difficult and uncertain times.
Visit www.mca.net/resources/publications/ to view and read all of our latest articles and publications (and more)!
- Recently published articles
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS™) Deep Dive
- Additions on Project Planning & Project Management
- More Details on Externalizing Work®
- Agile Construction Tools® updates and new features
- Updated Safety Study for the Construction Industry
MCA Symposium 2020 Highlights
Agile Classes Highlights and Upcoming Events
Hundreds of contractors have already participated in our Agile Construction® Events in 2020. While most of our offerings have been virtual, breakout sessions, active involvement of participants, and discussions among contractors are still a focal point in all training and educational classes. Information about the latest ways on how to deal with the increasing time crunch on job sites, how to ensure you get paid for your change orders, as well as how to continuously improve your communication with the General Contractor are just a few of the long list of discussed topics. Our next upcoming events are:
- October 30, 2020 - How to Adopt and Survive the Industrialization of Construction®
- November 5, 2020 - Agile Construction® Foundation: Short Interval Scheduling SIS®
- November 19, 2020 - Agile Construction® 101 – Online Workshop
- December 1, 2020 - Planning With Purpose (Work Breakdown Structure)
Link to future Workshops and Seminars