2020 just doesn’t seem to have found its feet yet! Just as many of you were getting back into the swing of things after the Christmas break, it looks like everyday life, as we knew it, is about to be put on hold for the foreseeable future.
For a year that had so much promise with planned events that included Dubai 2020, the Euros and the Fleadh in Mullingar, 2020 has instead stagnated into a Doomsday state due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is having a huge effect on our lives by putting our health at risk but also by putting massive a strain on our economy.
If only we had more time…
So far, the government has announced restrictions on non-essential travel and work. The majority of construction sites are still in operation as construction has not yet been deemed to be non-essential. However, this situation could change very soon. The demographics of a construction site reach far and wide and it is only a matter of time before the workforce becomes unable to attend due to international and national travel restrictions or their own independent evaluation of the dangers that COVID-19 presents.
However, during this slowdown, there is opportunity in this chaos. How many times have we said
if only we had more time
as we race to complete construction projects that are not properly organised, not fully coordinated and not sufficiently detailed?
GagaMuller Group have so far defied the slow down. We identified a huge opportunity for construction projects to take advantage of. Any project that does find itself slowing down on site should be capitalising on the opportunity by getting their management resources to go full steam ahead! We have an abundance of time now. If there is one benefit to self-isolation in the modern age, it is that entire teams can work collaboratively to iron out issues that would otherwise present themselves on site.
Our team at PlanLoader have been inundated by businesses seeking to implement an application that can help them to manage their activities and tasks online, now that the Daily Stand-ups, Office Whiteboards and Last Planner Sticky Notes are not suitable.
The PlanLoader Team have a passion for positive change and this is abundantly clear when the founders, Paddy & Thomas, speak at events and conferences. PlanLoader is an Irish software start-up that has created an application to enable people to effectively manage their teams and schedules through data-driven, real-time progress reports that leverages the power of digital technology in the industry.
Everyone thought Google were crazy on 02 March when they told over 8,000 employees in Dublin to ‘work from home’ or WFH… another acronym!
At GagaMuller Group, we work with a number of multi-nationals and some of biggest technology giants in the world so we’ve been seeing the changes in work practices first-hand for a number of weeks as businesses send staff home in order to continue their work.
Our team at PlanLoader have been taking us through the struggles that they are helping business to overcome.
For construction projects, COVID-19 is having a major impact on the construction program. Site Workers cannot simply ‘work from home’. They need to be at work in order to apply their trade. Unfortunately, these Site Workers are often provided with inadequate construction document, drawings and sequences. This is the opportunity that GagaMuller Group and PlanLoader are seeking to take advantage of. Now is the time to organise and coordinate our approach to project delivery.
Our team at PlanLoader have prepared this visual to explain the simple but innovative approach that GagaMuller Group apply to construction projects. This Coordination Schedule pulls together a number of different teams from a typical construction project including BIM, Design, Document Control, Planning, Commercial and Construction in order to introduce a fluid approach when liaising with the various stakeholders. This simple visual is typical non-existent on the majority of construction projects. Our tried and tested process of Technical Submittal Approval, Model Production, Model Coordination, Model Freeze, Drawing Production, Drawing Approval then Construction is what all projects should be applying. This is our ‘secret sauce’… don’t tell anyone!
To implement this approach takes a lot of upfront planning and a lot of time. In fact, the only activity relating to actual construction on site is the final activity in that systematic chain of events so it really does demonstrate how much effort needs to be put into organising and coordinating. Many people won’t be able to apply this logic even after seeing it but for the ones that do have a ‘light bulb moment’ after seeing this process, it will change how you approach construction going forward.
Timmy Falvey is one of our Project Managers for Data Centres and he has applied this logic to projects a number of times. As he explained,
Many, if not all sites, are being pushed on program. Any opportunities to tighten the schedule that get identified are immediately snapped up by the Construction Team. The Construction part is only the tip of the iceberg. We utilise a Last Planner approach to work back from Install Dates, allowing for Lead Times and Approval Processes, all the way back to Technical Submittals. This is the only way to manage such a large volume of information in such a short space of time. It allows for clashes and issues to be resolved in a structured manner resulting in documents and drawings that are prepared according to the build sequence and trusted on site
Too many construction projects are operating at risk. The Design activities are not being scheduled realistically and are out of sync with the Construction activities. Installation activities are taking place unapproved Technical Submittals, unapproved Drawings and in some cases, no Drawings whatsoever due to the pressures and constraints on site. This is common on far too many construction projects and is the fundamental reason for why we perform so badly as an industry.
COVID-19 presents an opportunity to take a pause and put the required effort into the preparation of the construction information that is all too often sub-standard. The vast majority of this work can be done while ‘working from home’. ‘Working from Home’ does not mean having to work on your own. Prioritise setting up collaborative meetings with your colleagues and start working through all of the information that is required to deliver the project. This will have an enormous and demonstrable impact on the project. Our clients have reported less RFIs, less Design Changes, less delays during the Approval Process and less Status B and Status C Drawings.
Construction Programme certainty will come as a result of this work and further benefits will come through the reduction in abortive work on site. We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to quantify the savings that we have generated for our client by comparing our savings against another like-for-like project that we were not involved in. The savings that we generated were calculated to be 13x the cost of their investment in GagaMuller Group. We work with our clients on a quarterly basis to evaluate our work, the savings that result and demonstrate the return on investment that we generate. It is important to showcase the efficiencies that can be achieved when applying the above principles.
In a similar way to when we were younger and we hadn’t done our homework, an unexpected ‘Snow Day’ would allow us to catch up and make up for lost time.
Use the time wisely!
Spending the time to get the information correct during this potential pause caused by COVID-19 could result in Project Teams being able to claw back valuable weeks from the Critical Path.
Project Teams need to take advantage of this slow down and prepare for the accelerated delivery that will be expected when we restart!
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