Reducing Labor Waste with Short Interval Scheduling

Unfortunately, more times than not, construction crews show up for work and they encounter problems that prevent them from efficiently doing their job. It could be errors on drawings, not having the material or tools, construction equipment issues, etc.

This is the classic situation that results in the age-old problem of “workers without work or work without workers.” This nonproductive time leads to schedule delays, cost overruns and unhappy customers. The good news is by improving your planning and scheduling methods, costly waste in the example above can be greatly reduced or eliminated entirely. Learn how short interval scheduling can reduce waste and improve performance.

What is waste and what is going on?

Toyota, within its Toyota Production System (TPS), categorizes waste into 7 forms: transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over-processing, over-production and defects. Waste is typically a result of the lack of a proven, standard process that will produce the desired results. Variation leads to waste, and the more variation, the more waste.

When construction crews consistently are not getting what they need when they need it, there is either no process in place or the process is out of control. Implementing an effective short interval scheduling process can go a long way to reduce or eliminate waste.

What is short interval scheduling?

Short interval scheduling is a process that addresses the dynamic nature of executing work in the field, continually evaluating dependencies and other constraints to keep work flowing smoothly. It requires detailed planning to ensure the crews have what they need when they need it, and sets forth safety, quality, productivity, cost and completion expectations before the work begins.

Short interval scheduling is comprised of six key steps:

  1. Break the work down into a manageable scope of work or a Work Package, with a reasonable duration that aligns and supports the established milestones, per the project master schedule.
  2. Identify and list the tasks required to the next level of granularity.
  3. Based on experience, determine the logical sequencing of the tasks and what tasks can be executed concurrently.
  4. Assign the mix and number of craft persons to each task.
  5. Compare the plan to the master schedule and the estimate.
  6. Make adjustments as required.

Short interval scheduling works to decrease waste and improve efficiency and schedule predictability. It creates the opportunity for collaboration between the people that are responsible for performing the work as opposed to a scheduling technician dictating requirements without knowing or taking into account the context of the current situation.

Plan the work, work the plan

With strong leadership, training, and the right tools/technology, an effective short interval scheduling process can be implemented quickly and relatively painlessly. If, as discussed earlier, waste is the result of variation, to reduce or eliminate the waste the focus should be on implementing a logical, proven process and making it standard throughout the organization.

We would suggest that the primary objective of any company should be the systematic elimination of waste. With construction firms that self-perform their work, labor can be 40% - 80% of their overall cost and have the most variability.

Short interval scheduling is a process, that if implemented effectively, can lead to dramatic safety, quality, productivity and schedule reliability improvements. These improvements will go right to your bottom line, facilitating growth and differentiating your company from your competition. Plus, you’ll become a magnet for talent and more easily retain your top people. In addition to all that.. There ain't nothin’ quite like the execution of a perfect plan.”

Ready to dive in with short interval scheduling? Download our short interval scheduling template to quickly get started.

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