Have you ever driven through a construction zone only to see what seems like all the workers just standing around — or perhaps even more puzzling, one or two guys working while the rest stand around, appearing to supervise? They’re not all just taking a break. They may be waiting for tools or equipment, planning the next stage of the project, or moving other crew members into position. By the time a construction worker’s eight-hour shift has ended, he or she may have less than half the day actually handling his or her tools in a productive manner. The rest of the shift may have eaten up by wait times, crew and equipment movement, breaks, and planning.
Advanced work packaging is a planning technique that helps eliminate downtime from project schedules and makes your staff more productive. It’s often used in construction projects to keep completion timelines on schedule and budgets under control. It’s a collaborative, construction-driven approach to project planning that brings construction crews and their leaders into the project at the planning stages, so they can plan a workflow that optimizes their time and cuts the cost and delays associated with constant waiting for tools, people, equipment, and supplies.
Plan Work Packages Around the Path of Construction
A work package is the smallest unit of work that a project can be broken down into, and it consists of a series of related tasks that converge to create one component of a completed project. It is the smallest unit of work in a work breakdown structure. Each team on a project typically has its own work package, and when these packages are completed and the components are put together, the project is complete.
Traditionally, work packages are planned around engineering, or design, or the needs of the client, or one of a number of countless factors that can drive work planning. Advanced work packaging is an advanced work planning technique that organizes work packages around the Path of Construction, or the optimum sequence in which a facility or structure can be constructed.
Because it’s construction-driven, advanced work packaging loops in the expertise of construction leaders from the first stage of the work packaging and project planning process, so that factors like supply chain disruptions, the time needed for crew and equipment moving, breaks, planning, and other sources of often-unanticipated wait time can be anticipated and eliminated from the workflow. This means that projects are cheaper to complete, with fewer wages paid to workers whose hands are tied while they wait for equipment, supplies, or other necessaries, and it means that projects are completed faster since workers spend more of their time actually working productively and less standing around waiting for the dump trucks to arrive.
Improve Safety at the Job Site
Advanced work packaging isn’t just a means of streamlining workflows, saving time, and cutting costs. It’s also a means by which you can make the job site safer and eliminate physical risks to people, equipment, and supplies. Think about it — much of what makes construction dangerous boils down to the unpredictable nature of working on a job site. Unplanned work is at the root of many accidents, either because workers didn’t know to expect a specific activity and therefore weren’t looking out for the heavy machinery and equipment that was in fact in use, or because supervisors are spending too much time in the trailer planning around unforeseen obstacles and not enough time out in the field, supervising the work.
The unforeseen obstacles and circumstances that so often precipitate construction accidents may be unpredicted, but they aren’t unpredictable. Advanced work packaging techniques and data analysis can help you see these things coming, and take steps to protect your employees before an accident occurs. By keeping the worksite predictable with advanced planning tools, you could literally save lives.
If you’re still using standard work packaging techniques to plan your construction projects, you’re living in the past. Newer, advanced work packaging techniques can help you streamline processes, cut costs, and even enhance job site safety, all while bringing more projects in on time and under budget. And isn’t that what every construction leader — not to mention their clients and crews — wants?
Engineer and worker watching blueprint on construction site -DepositPhotos