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A Day in the Life of Politics on Site

This week, we consider the roles and tactics that play out on a daily basis down on site.

Our aim will be to try and focus our readers attention to some real world scenarios that occur on sites across the industry and help us broaden our mindsets to where, not only technological advancements, but also correct processes in the industry that can assist us, especially in todays world.

Hypothetically speaking (of course) – A Subcontractor Lead called Sam is wandering site.

Sam attended a Daily Activity Briefing this morning, and was informed of all the work interfaces and areas available to his team. The General Contractor's Site Manager, Alan, specifically did not assign any works to Area A today as he is aware of an outstanding RFI and Design Change.

Sam walks down on site after lunch, aware his team finished early, and is looking for a new work front. Sam spots Area A. On the drawings, Sam sees that he needs to install 12 meter of ductwork and decides to get his team straight in their as it looks empty. “Bingo” says Sam, as he eyes the prize so seldom on site these days with no noise or barriers for his install – “First in best dressed” he brags.

There is no site control in here yet as the Site Manager, Alan, had not scheduled any works, but Sam says “Hey measure off the wall face there, it should be close enough”.

What Sam either doesn’t see or chooses not to see is that the drawing is under review. This is because, in the background there is a design change to re-route this duct work.

Playing the game

This is not uncommon on a construction site to a point that in some cases these scenarios are even sought out by eagle eyed managers like Sam.

The reason is simple -

For those of you unfamiliar with construction sites and the layers of tactics and games that occur – there is very clever people similar to Sam who will then get asked to remove it and re-install it again and thus get paid for it, twice. Double bubble.

It's close enough

Sam heads back up to the canteen for his 5th sausage roll of the day. Meanwhile Rodgie who enjoys a bit of mischief, naturally commands the lead for install of the ductwork, tells the lads he doesn’t have his tape measure, “Sure we will just eye it in, be grand”.

Swings & Roundabouts

In this instance, Sam gets lucky. Alan is unaware of the works. The following day the design change is in and he instructs the other teams in to fit out the services and ceiling.

The Electrical Contractor, Tommy (The lads call him hatchet), can’t seem to route his brackets to the drawing. Hatchet calls Sam and informs him that his ductwork is out by over 100mm from what is in the latest drawing. Sam trundles down to site. Unfazed that there has been a revised drawing, Sam pulls out a breakfast roll voucher for the local canteen and tells Hatchet to sort it on the fly and he will remember it again in the future – “swings and roundabouts” he says.

Sam, Hatchet and even Rodgie and his team now know they are free hand sketching this room layout.

Opportunity in Chaos

Tony, the Fit Out Lead wants in on the action. Tells Alan the opes are wrong and they need instruction, “Must be the old BIM Model, waste of time that thing” shouts Hatchet. Alan knowing he needs to get on with it, and believing the propaganda about BIM being a waste of time, signs an instruction and thus starts another silo’d headache down the line for the QS at a later unconnected stage so far away that any evidence or narrative to the issue has long gone.

BIM is a Waste

In the BIM corner, you basically have a load of resources working long hours to design a virtual model of what needs to be built on site. Completely oblivious to the fact that all their weeks in coordination have been undone within a matter of minutes thanks to Hatchet, Sam & Rodgie.

To add insult to injury at the end of the project, Sam instructs his BIM team to simply make a few changes to the model, in line with his scribbled red pen measurements on a tea stained old torn floor plan drawing. His lucky dip of where he decided to measure some as-builts. He instructs them to then simply change the status on all drawings to AB and to “send them out the door”.

Paycheck please.

Geo-Spatial Digitally focused project Management

This is why planning sessions, good control and visuals on site are so important for work interfaces and management on the ground. If you are investing in BIM and digital workflows, then you need to make sure it is not all wasted on the coal face. We are only as strong as our weakest link in the chain.

Having a digitally focused Site Manager, we can help develop smart user interfaces such as heat maps and coloured floor plans for the entire site team to follow. You would be amazed how simple visuals can drastically improve project delivery and quality on site.

Connecting all the dots so that the different teams in the process (Surveying, BIM, Design Management & Commercial Change orders etc) have full visibility of status and blockers broken into geo-spatial reference on a site layout, or floor plan.

The correct planning, good site interface management and a good laser scanning process (read our article on laser scanning) can make all the ingredients to a well rounded project delivery with less margin for error or reworks.

Building a process that is linked to your construction schedule and geo-spatial logistics plan on site ensures that there is an independent mediator on site to ensure install is to the best quality possible.

This will lead to a larger reduction in disputes as the point clouds are combined with a report from the BIM team and the Design team to give full root cause analysis on issue.

The data allows you to learn for future projects, reduces administration hours on resolving disputes, reduces claims from site instructions and reduces rework.

How you can improve

Like most of our articles we try to help you broaden your mind on your digital journey, below are some tips to identifying real valuable gains within your business:

  • Planning works and daily briefing meetings are important to control the sites.

  • Full knowledge, oversight and management of all trade crews workspaces and work fronts daily, with clear visuals on potential conflicts and pinch points.

  • Establish a database connection between design, BIM and information release with the site team.

  • Daily monitor trades installation, especially the risk of “Install opportunities” for rework at the cost of Contractor.

  • Implemented uniform control on site in each room and validating install of trades walls, services and equipment.

  • Ability to use data to inform site team and supervisors of work front availability. Removal of doubt and confusion leading to less opportunity for trades to claim unjust requests.

  • Full control and decision making on whether trades can work in requested areas daily by monitoring information release to ensure no outstanding design, BIM or approval issues from Office team.

  • Digitally tagged each room to identify works to go on a daily basis for all trade supervisors and management at their fingertips.

  • Calculation of weekly PPC on site coordinating all trades data entry and monitoring close out of tasks.

From the above you start to see how complex and strategic it can become working on a construction site. One must have their wits about them. We would go as far as saying a good Site Manager would not be out of place on the steps of congress!


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