According to Harvard Business School, idle employees cost businesses more than 100 billion dollars annually. This means that employees are paid for work they have yet to do. In the construction world, idle time can increase the cost of construction and cause delays.
According to this report, when workers know they have more time to complete a particular task, they intentionally slow down their input. Despite their slow input, their performance does not improve. This phenomenon is known as the deadtime effect. So what is idle time, and how can it be minimized?
One way to minimize idle time is to use https://www.alicetechnologies.com/resource-management. This is an intelligent construction resource platform that uses optioneering to optimize resources such as labor, equipment, and material. It was created to help construction companies reduce idle time, recover lost projects, and increase construction efficiency. Other
What is idle Time?
Idle time is a phenomenon caused when a machine or employee rests or remains idle when they should be working. An example of idle time is when trucks line up to be loaded with earthwork. During this time, the trucks might cause a snarl-up, resulting in them waiting more than 1 hour to be loaded.
During this time, the construction company incurs costs. For example, the truck driver will still be paid for work not yet done. Similarly, the construction company will incur the cost of fuel despite no earthwork being loaded.
Normal and abnormal idle time
In the construction world, there are two main types of idle time. The first is normal idle time. Normal idle time is necessary to ensure safety and good health. For example, a construction project can delay until a risk assessment report is generated. Another example is when workers need time to transition from one task to another or when machinery has scheduled maintenance.
The second type of idle time is abnormal idle time. Abnormal idle time is lost time that could have been saved had the supervisors used technology and other suitable methods. An example is when time is lost due to poor supervision by management. Other examples of abnormal idle time include industrial strikes and time lost due to machine breakdowns.
Common Causes Of Idle Time In Construction
There are several causes of idle time in construction. One of them is the lack of enough labor. A lack of qualified labor can slow down construction, especially if labor plays an important role. An example is a shortage of crane operators and structural engineers. A construction project will slow down if no crane operator is on site.
Another cause of idle time is when machines are being serviced. If equipment is not serviced on time, it might break down, resulting in lost time.
Some construction projects are affected by the theft of materials and equipment. Lost material will cause idle time because construction workers wait for new materials to be ordered. Managers should use guard dogs, tracking devices, and fences to protect a construction site.
Lastly, idle time can also be caused by industrial action and lawsuits. An example is when an environmental body, an NGO, or a lobby group sues the construction company.
How To Minimize Idle Time In Construction
Some ways to minimize idle time are the following.
The best way to optimize workflows is to adopt modern technology. Technology can create a realistic, balanced schedule. The schedule created will also factor in downtimes caused when equipment breaks.
Another way to optimize workflows is to have clear operating procedures. It must be easy for the contractor to get feedback from the subcontractor and vice versa. The project manager should ensure a systematic operating procedure to which all stakeholders must adhere. This streamlines communications and makes the construction project predictable.
Digitize How Information Is Stored And Shared
A lack of communication among different stakeholders can cause construction idle time. This is especially so when dealing with a megaproject that involves hundreds of workers. A good example of this is when the project owner makes a change order.
When a change order is made, the order must be circulated to all specialty contractors. In most cases, the contractors have to discuss the effects of the change order before construction can resume. If this process is automated, it becomes faster, creating idle time.
When construction companies use digital platforms to store and share data, change orders are automatically sent out to all relevant stakeholders. The stakeholders can virtually discuss the impact of the change orders, saving time.
Have A Preventative Maintenance Plan
A preventative maintenance plan is created to deal with abnormal idle time caused by equipment breakdowns. This plan uses historical data to identify when breakdowns happened and develop a plan for maintaining the equipment. Maintenance work can be done weekly, monthly, or yearly.
Another strategy for dealing with abnormal idle time is to use quality input materials such as premium fuel and oil. Low-quality input materials may reduce the lifespan of equipment resulting in idle time.
Use GPS Technology
GPS is important in preventing abnormal idle time caused by lost equipment. Contractors can install GPS trackers in trucks to track their movement and protect them from misuse. This technology can monitor how trucks are driven, where they are in real time, and how much fuel has been consumed.
Deal With Regulatory Requirements First
Before a construction project begins, contractors must ensure that they have all the required permits and licenses. Subcontractors must have specialty contractor licenses before they work on a project. Other permits include a building permit, a sanitary permit, and a mechanical and electrical permit.
It is also important for construction companies to conduct an environmental impact assessment study. The study protects the project from idle time caused by litigation.
Hire Qualified Personnel
Lastly, you can reduce idle time by hiring skilled workers. Unskilled workers might be affordable, but they spend too much time learning. Also, if a mistake is made, time is lost in rectifying the error.
In conclusion, contractors should use various strategies to minimize idle time. One of these is to use a resource management platform that optimizes the use of resources such as equipment and labor. In addition, idle time can be minimized if contractors hire skilled labor and ensure that equipment is maintained on time.