Problem Solving – Are you repeating mistakes?
29 January 2019
Productivity problems experienced within construction has resulted in the plant hire industry having to step in and plug the gap in an attempt to resolve these problems. It is estimated productivity and errors are costing the construction industry approx. £21bn per annum. PAL Hire is a problem solving expert and can resolve any problem faced on any construction site across the UK.
Culture, Loyalty, and Mistakes
The major problem engulfing the construction industry is embedded within its culture – loyalty. Construction companies are loyal to their subcontractors and suppliers irrespective of any mistakes made during the project.
Mistakes are made during a project, it’s inevitable, the stats don’t lie:
- Approx. £10m worth of invoices were sent to construction companies between 2012 and 2016 under the HSE’s Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme.
- The IHS Markit/CIPS Index August 2017 survey of 170 construction companies saw an astonishingly low number of companies, nine (9), say they have never experienced a delay in a construction project.
What is equally as astonishing is even through delays and health and safety faults, some construction companies remain content on using the same suppliers time and time again, almost as if they’re accepting the delays and see no way of them being overcome.
If you set yourself up for failure, you’re accepting late fees and missed milestones reducing the profitability of a contract.
An idea would be to switch supplier for one product, maybe two, and utilise the excellence of PAL Hire to begin supplying your plant and equipment. PAL Hire can you offer you the following products, with the following benefits of becoming a PAL Hire Account Holder.
Lack of Labour and Limited Skillset
The second problem, which PAL Hire can also resolve, is a lack of readily-available labour. This problem has been evolved from a similar stem to the previous problem, culture. Working with the same people leads to the potential of a limited skillset and reduces the possibility of connecting with firms capable of providing suitable manpower for the job.
At PAL Hire, we can provide experienced labourers with or without tools. Many of the subcontractors in our supplier base fall under the category of owner-operator. The changing face of the UK labour market due to Brexit could result in the rise of self-employed owner-operators that complete one-off jobs on-site to help with workflow.
This also allows a Project Manager more flexibility as employed labourers can be redirected to a different part of the job, ensuring a simultaneous advancement of the entire project. We have previously written about the benefits of owner-operates, which can be read here.
Problem solving does not begin on-site, it begins in the office before a project commences. A large number of projects that stall or do not meet pre-established milestones and KPIs are the result of companies not utilising or following a framework.
Frameworks, a set structure that all must follow, are needed in every construction project. It is a case of establishing this within a company’s ethos to ensure it is followed on every site; a report created by McKinsey & Company, which can be seen here, states productivity in the construction industry has declined since the 1990s, take 20% longer to finish, and are up to 80% over budget.
A simple framework detailing the milestones, the minimum quality standards for materials, assigns roles and responsibilities on key parties, and provides information relating to contingency plans in case of major disruption to the project is all that is needed in the beginning:
- Milestones – construction projects must be broken down into smaller projects. If we break a big problem down to small, manageable problems, we’re more than likely to get the task completed quicker than if we keep looking at the bigger picture. Establish the smaller projects and set a deadline for when they need to be completed.
- Materials – ensure they comply with legal regulations and are within budget. Alongside your procurement team and designers, ensure materials meet the original specifications.
- Responsibilities – all personnel at every level must have some type of responsibility assigned to their role. This ensures there is a process of accountability to have tasks delivered on time.
- Contingency Plans – if a deadline cannot be met, there must be a plan in place that can be actioned at least a few weeks before the deadline to ensure the delay is minimised as much as possible.
- Previous Problems – if there is a searchable system for where problems can be recorded, as well as providing details of how they’ve been resolved, this will save a considerable amount of time, if they happen to occur again.
If a delay is caused, it takes longer and costs more to fix the issue. If we get it right first time, we save both time and money. This mindset led to the creation of the Get it Right Initiative (GIRI).
Get it Right Initiative
GIRI is an organisation that tackles avoidable errors within the construction industry. Its aim is to significantly reduce errors and their associated consequences, in the hope to engrave a new way of thinking in the UK construction industry. The initiative has several members including Morgan Sindall and HS2.
Four initiatives were devised by GIRI in an attempt to reduce errors in the sector:
- Skills development programme to combat errors.
- Campaigns to change attitudes about errors.
- Improve management processes and systems.
- Improve construction technology and techniques.
The success of GIRI will be felt in the next few years, but any real change within the construction industry could take at least a generation to filter through.
Problem solving and learning from past mistakes are a must if the construction industry is to recover from a perceived lack of productivity. As the number of construction projects increase, the changing landscape of the UK will have a major impact on timescales and budgets of current and future projects. By speaking to PAL Hire, Project Managers and construction companies will be making the first step to recover from mistakes possibly made in the past. Now is the time for change, now is the time to use PAL Hire as your supplier of choice.