In construction, repetitive projects include tunnels, bridges, highways, railways, housing developments, high-rise commercial buildings, and the likes. These projects necessitate construction crews and teams to repeat similar works in various areas of the project, proceeding from one location to the next. All this repetitive work depends on the steady schedule of your project plan so that whatever happens, your project progresses at a regular pace. This is one of your primary responsibilities as a project manager—maintaining the project rhythm.
Focusing on your project schedule enables you to break down your project plan into smaller jobs so you can maximise your crew’s work continuity and minimise work interruptions. By doing so, you improve the all-in-all productivity of your teams by:
- Reducing idle time or downtime during their constant moving on site
- Optimise benefits from feedback and learning curve effects
Creating a practical schedule for repetitive construction projects
How do you actually create a practical repetitive scheduling that would be your project’s heartbeat? There are a lot of available planning and scheduling models out there but where do you start? Here is a simple guide to get you started with.
- Break down your construction plan into smaller jobs
- Identify repetitive and non-repetitive activities
- Recognise flexibility in marking repetitive activities having similar durations
- Identify scheduling restraints involved in each activity and provide practicalities in complying with them (work continuity among crews, availability of crews, constraints in job logic)
Considering these four points would allow you to be able to calculate:
- The scheduled start of your project
- Your predicted finish dates for each activity (in each repetitive unit)
- The project duration in total
- Anticipated interruption days
How do you incorporate all this new information into your project? The key is having a live and centralised programme where you can connect all your data and project workflows. As you break down your general programme into smaller chunks, you can input all these smaller activities and create a logical workflow for them within the same environment. By having all these jobs on there, you can pinpoint which ones are repetitive and non-repetitive and then you can assign them to your crew accordingly. Everyone in the team can access the same information as everyone else and can follow the progress of tasks and jobs preceding or following theirs. On an individual level, your site crew (and your entire construction team for that matter) can see all the task updates and can take ownership of their jobs. And if they do incur delays, they can update the next crew, avoiding unnecessary downtime for the other groups. This gives all your crews the flexibility to finish other jobs on their task list. So for any restraints, costly problems can be avoided such as unnecessary crew members showing up on site, idle time and downtime resulting from untimely updates, etc.
Into the cloud, away from the pen and paper
This modern working model is a huge contrast to what we are currently used to in our traditional construction culture. The current project scheduling we have is bound for delays and cost overruns. We are still stuck working with master schedules in paper document forms and our weekly and daily programmes and schedules in MS Project. Schedule updates are done through text, WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, etc. Reports are submitted as Excel spreadsheets through email or manual handling. A lot of information gaps are also lost in unrecorded phone calls.
Learn more: How to place planning at the centre of your projects to protect your margins and deliver faster
It is impossible to have repetitive scheduling and a steady project heartbeat when all your project data is scattered all around manual documents, different software and multiple apps. If you cannot keep track of everything happening on site, you will never have that steady pulse for your construction project. It is imperative that you move all your project data and your team communication to the cloud.
To illustrate the benefit of this, look at how Raul Hernandez of Grupo Provivienda connected his construction crew around a live, centralised programme and immediately shortened their usual building time of 310 days to 60 days.
The thing that changed was connecting the teams through a live programme that helped us avoid downtime between activities. If your programme is not updated frequently, problems on site get worse because they have not been communicated to the right person quickly,” says Raul.
Plan ahead but roll out weekly
Plan your project ahead but break your programme into smaller chunks through weekly or 3-6 week lookaheads. This allows you the flexibility in aligning your teams and defining the next milestones. Connecting these short weekly schedules to your master schedule allow activities to be scheduled wherein downtime or idle times are minimised or even entirely eliminated. Scheduling repetitive work also ensures work continuity from one activity to the next. Connecting all this to your live, central plan leads to updates and feedback that maximise productivity for each individual crew and minimise unnecessary movements of crew members once work has started.
This planning style gives you, as project manager, the idea of which activities to prioritise and how to schedule activities accordingly and effectively based on the most updated schedule. You get to synchronise your team and optimise productivity based on optimum crew size and a natural, logical rhythm.
Check your own pulse
If you are looking into optimising your planning and integrating repetitive work scheduling in your own project, you have to focus on how you can minimise the duration of your project and maximise work continuity of your crew. You should know how to get all your project data into one source so you can generate the best and most practical schedule for repetitive and non-repetitive construction work.
Check your project pulse and learn how you can keep yours steady, and start delivering your projects faster and without costly downtime. Download our free ebook today and discover new useful capabilities written specifically for construction planners and project managers to advance their existing planning and scheduling practices.