Construction Industry JHA Process Ineffective?

Construction Industry

Construction safety is a risk you can manage. The JHA (job safety analysis) program was needed to identify and mitigate or eliminate workplace hazards by stimulating employee buy-in to safety. A recent JHA process study by the CPWR (Center for Construction Research and Training) submits:

  • Complacency
  • Ineffective communication from management
  • Isolation of upper management from jobs
  • Lack of input and buy-in from workers

…make the JHA process ineffective.

Thirty JHA documents were examined and 23 interviews with the safety professionals from representative construction industry businesses were conducted. 

The study revealed most companies’ safety documentations have no:

  • Information for contacting JHA
  • References for control recommendations
  • Risk assessment matrix
  • Visual representations

And despite the fact that paper documentation fails to be effective, most small-company safety professionals use paper input anyway. CPWR suggested rotating JHA leaders to empower employees. They also recommended improving JHA content and including visual aids to make safety information easier to understand.

We Need to Adjust Construction Industry Safety Mindsets

We spent time each morning completing the JHA and having people sign it. Nothing ever came from it. -Construction superintendent

Safety professional Tricia Kagerer says it’s time to reframe risk. Kagerer says by moving from the JHA model to one that includes Daily Planning Conversations (DPC), construction industry leaders will have the chance to “reframe” how we view risk by using leadership communication to improve preplanning and prevent incidents. Every day.

The JHA process is filled with good intentions. When utilized in conjunction with the Foundation for Safety Leadership (FSL) program and DPC, leaders are learning construction workers prefer focusing on safety protection through technology rather than prevention awareness. And safety professionals find real value in their work.

Technologies to promote safety include:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Drones
  • GPS electronics
  • Machine learning
  • Natural language processing
  • Onsite security cameras
  • Safety software
  • Wearables

Adopting construction technology is a challenge for many companies. They are concerned about difficulty of use. And will it be utilized or become an investment that didn’t pan out?

Our business permit data is sorted before it’s sent to you. We make sure it’s easy to use. You can seek support any time, so make the call today and let’s discuss ways you can use our technology.

Call 800.925.6085 (international/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor.

Your Construction Company Business Plan

Construction Company Business Plan

It was during a camping trip that two groups learned standard operating procedures differences can be considerable. For example, building a campfire:

  • One group had a process. They stacked kindling log-cabin and teepee style then carefully inserted moss and other materials in their firestarting structure.
  • The other group tossed a bunch of twigs together and lit a match.

Both groups got campfires. But the campers that built a solid foundation spent more time planning and less time doing damage control. The toss-the-twigs group got their fire going sooner but had a harder time keeping it going.

Construction Business Plan Basics

Most new companies develop a business plan immediately, but some just toss their twigs in a pile and light a match. Business coach and author George Hadley offers suggestions for what should be in your construction company business plan.

The fundamentals include:

  • Overall company mission, vision/values – Why are you in this business? What do you hope to accomplish? How can you maximize time, energy, and money for the best possible return/outcome?
  • Processes for:
    • Business development
    • Business-building
    • Equipment/inventory management
    • Financial management
    • Problem-solving
  • Staff assignments/responsibilities – Surround yourself with the best talent possible. They’re worth the investment. List the positions that would most benefit your company; they may include:
    • Estimating
    • Finance
    • Marketing
    • Operations
    • Sales
  • Training program – What makes a bookkeeper valuable? The skills and qualities may not be the same as required for an effective foreman. For 20 minutes every week, hold training sessions that reinforce the top 5 qualities that your team members need to grow your company. Incentivize your professionals at every training session.
  • Who’s who and their strengths/weaknesses – Once you’ve listed the team members and their roles/responsibilities, evaluate the list. You may have several people in the wrong roles.

Construction Monitor & Business Development Tools

Are you developing a construction company business plan? If yes, you’re building a business. Your plan includes business development, and it forms your company’s foundation. What you do with landed jobs determines future growth.

That’s what we do: We give you the tools; information you need to build your business. What you do with those tools makes all the difference. To learn more about marketing plans for your construction company, contact Construction Monitor.

Apartment Construction Demands High; Pitfalls Deep

Apartment Construction Demands High; Pitfalls Deep

When people realized they could work anywhere, the stampede from downtown offices was epic. And not only did “anywhere” mean nearby city suburbs, for many it meant anywhere warm. Anywhere fun. Anywhere their kids could get a great education. Anywhere. Apartment construction went beyond lucrative to high-demand, especially in the South.

Strategies To Stay Ahead of Apartment Construction Challenges

…Our company’s multifamily volume quadrupled between 2019-2021.
Ripley Bickerstaff, Hoar Construction

Fueled by demographic shifts from the North to the South, the multifamily housing market is on fire. But the supply chain unraveled and material prices left town. “If builders don’t have processes in place to navigate recent price hikes and supply chain challenges,” says Ripley Bickerstaff of Hoar Construction, “a project can sink as black turns to red on the balance sheet.”

He shared some of his company’s strategies to stay on top of volatile apartment construction situations:

Verify what you ordered and its shipment in person. Bickerstaff’s company sent teams to warehouses for in-person verifications. It made a difference. Ensuring the hardware, etc. works as planned means corrections can be made real-time. It’s no longer enough to order, wait too long for components, and assume they work.

Buy appliances, components, and materials as early as possible. General contractors need to work with the design team before the drawings. They need to understand what’s available, what isn’t, and affordable options for expensive parts and materials. Consider alternative materials and look to domestic, North American products.

Hoarding is no longer a bad word. If you can secure materials at lower prices, warehousing them saves money. It’s difficult, but if you can predict shortages, buy what you don’t need for later. Bickerstaff said they stocked up on toilet accessories and flex ducts, which are currently in short supply.

Lock-in skilled labor. Get subcontractors to commit the best people they have as much or more than a year before construction begins.

Hoping for the best but planning for the worst is good business. We believe planning to grow and increase profits is even better. To learn ways to maximize your construction business potential, contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Contractors Running Out of Gas?

Construction Contractors

Construction contractors aren’t more exhausted than usual, but they may be tired of dealing with high diesel prices. “Absorbing it and just being less profitable” seems to be the only option we have, says Shrock Premier Custom Construction Founder Joseph Shrock. But there are some ways to deal with it.

What Construction Contractors Can Do

Keep your clients on top of timely and credible information about diesel and other material costs. Notify them immediately of supply chain snafus that may impact turnaround time or expenses. And investigate if contract changes would be beneficial to you both.

Associated General Contractors of America Chief Economist Ken Simonson says, “Nobody welcomes a higher bill, but the alternative of having a contractor go out of business because of impossible costs or timing is likely to be worse….”

It’s difficult to predict price increases. But construction contractors and project owners need to adjust their bidding processes to reflect more realistic expectations. In today’s climate, the likelihood of increases in material prices is high. Another idea is to add an if-I-pay-you-pay surcharge in contracts.

Shrock says historically, material and fuel prices increased about five percent/year. But over the last two years, they’ve increased 30%+. His clients have covered only 15%-20% of the price increases, so his company is absorbing 10%-15%. “We can’t raise our prices…because we would price ourselves out of the competition,” says Shrock.

Business Survival in a Tough Economy: Implement Business Development

You know the basics: Up your inventory management skills; keep your credit scores clean; reinforce teambuilding with employees.

One business site advised maximizing current customer relationships and wooing competitors’ customers. And also increase marketing rather than cut back. This is where Construction Monitor can be of help. We have the information you need to:

  • Consider competitors’ customers
  • Create business alliances
  • Create mass mailings and/or other marketing programs
  • Develop new customers

And make money. It costs nothing to learn more. It could be very costly not to. Call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Business Employees and Wearables

construction wearables

A recent study on wearables and construction business safety reported, “The construction industry has long been regarded as one of the most dangerous industries worldwide. It employs approximately 7% of the global workforce but contributes to 30-40% of total fatalities.”

There are plenty of websites explaining how wearables can increase construction safety but it will be years before we can say it’s been proven. There’s no data – yet – to support predictions, including the forecast that owners/operators of construction companies are ready to buy into wearable technology. However, employees may balk.

Construction Business Hazards & Wearables: Big Brother?

Wearable technologies require high adherence and commitment from the user.
National Library of Medicine

The first concern of construction business employees is invasion of privacy. “Is Big Brother watching us?” They wanted to know if the wearables monitored standing still too long, recorded conversations, or videotaped construction activity.

Physical overexertion causes 35% of all work-related injuries. Strains, sprains, and muscle/tendon tears from improper lifting, posture, and movement are ergonomic injuries that wearables train employees to avoid.

One wearable technology can identify high-risk movements in real-time and trigger an alert. The user must then self-correct. It does not “secretly” monitor anything else.

What it does do is create a competition between the wearable and the user. It sets safety goals and then challenges its wearer to meet those goals. It uses real-time feedback and gamification to further engage users.

For project managers, the information is valuable: One user had higher risk movements than most. Upon investigation, the supervisor learned the individual had knee difficulties and the wearable triggered a warning when bending to retrieve items from the parts bin. A workstation redesign solved the problem and the removed potential for future injury.

Another valuable benefit is wearables give voice to employee concerns. A manager is alerted to a risk activity. Upon investigation, the employee – who would never have complained – explained how he had been cutting corners to get a job completed within a certain amount of time.

Users find that wearables influence the way they do things at home as well. They tackle home improvement tasks differently because they now know strategies to work safer.

Construction Monitor strives to be a valued source of safety information in addition to being the top source for construction business development in the United States. If you have marketing questions, let us know. We’ll have answers and possible solutions. Call 435-586-1205 or contact Construction Monitor.

4 Ways Maintenance Can Increase Construction Business Performance

Construction Business Performance

Many car owners have a hard time keeping up with changing the oil every 3,000 miles or before such-and-such date; whichever occurs first. (Once upon a time, vehicles cost much less than payloaders.) Routine maintenance prolongs the life of expensive construction business equipment. It reduces downtime. And yes, it’s difficult to remember to schedule, much less track machinery use and maintenance.

Construction Business Asset Tracking Reduces Downtime

Depending on the type of machine and type of failure, the average cost of a breakdown can vary. Regardless of the actual dollar value, it’s always a blow.

Construction companies often share or lease equipment to avoid repair and maintenance expenses. Heavy-duty machinery is quite a liability. Construction business equipment is also an asset that can increase your net worth and provide great tax shelters.

Asset tracking software platforms can be used to trigger alerts about construction equipment. It’s a proactive way to manage:

  1. Accidents – Breakdowns of certain types of equipment can pose accident risks. Maintenance software can prevent breakdowns and reduce accidents.
  2. Breakdowns/repairs – Preventive maintenance costs most construction companies between $4,000-$6,000/year. But that’s minimal when you figure a repair on a Manitowoc 10000 crane is about $36,000. If your software can prevent just one breakdown and repair, you’ve covered the cost of the software and maintenance.
  3. Unnecessary repurchases – You can’t find your tape measure, so you buy another one. You’ve got 3 tape measures “somewhere” in the house. Now consider construction equipment like ladders. You’ve got five ladders “somewhere,” but can’t find them so you buy another one for $600. Equipment tracking tells you what’s where.
  4. Unused machinery – Unused equipment at jobsites is an unnecessary expense if you rent. If you pay $6,500/month plus additional costs for delivery/service, taxes, and inspection renting a Komatsu PC238USLC-11 mini excavator that sits idle for months, you’ll see how getting a loan to buy and maintain your own saves money.

Like regular maintenance, technology tools are driving the construction industry and business owners to greater profits and improved safety. Construction Monitor is your technology tool that can also increase profits.

To learn more about our customized for-your-demographics data, call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor.
Construction Monitor blogs are for informational use only. We do not endorse any software platforms (except ours).

Saving Time and Money With Construction Software

construction software

Too many of us think construction software costs money (it does) but it doesn’t make money or even save money (untrue). Remember, time is money, whether it’s your time, project workers’ or your office staffs’. Everyone’s time is valuable and (almost) everyone’s time has a price.

Construction Software Can Reduce Miscommunications

The one seriously underrated area construction software can improve is communication. The majority of our mistakes and expensive, time-wasting errors leading to do-overs involve miscommunication in construction. (Miscommunication includes failure to respond; 78% of your emails to project teams aren’t read until it’s “too late.”)

SMS and texting radically improve read-and-respond times. And much of this could be resolved with construction software that sends real-time updates and alerts.

Admin Manual Entry: High Margin of Error

Many of us feared automation would cut jobs. We quickly learned that boring, repetitious manual entry and spreadsheet maintenance could be reduced and/or eliminated with construction software. And our administrative personnel would be free to concentrate on more profitable areas, like workflow management, marketing and program development.

However, operating several software systems for different areas of construction project management is yet another problem. It often calls for data entry duplication – again increasing the margin of error – and can divide office staff into software specialists in one area while being untrained in another, or worse: an entire team with varying levels of software competency.

Explore Software Solutions

You’ve heard of “seamless integration.” That means there are ways to retain the information your older software system(s) contain while upgrading to more efficient construction software solutions. We encourage you to explore the possibilities for your company to save time and money. Stay abreast of the ongoing evolution in construction management software.

Construction Monitor can’t claim to be the construction software expert. There are many great companies offering solid business management solutions that work for any size construction company. That’s why we share what we’ve learned about construction automation without favoring one company over another.

However, there is one company’s construction-industry software we feel is the best for saving money and making money. Just ask us. Call 800.925.6085 (International/435.586.1205) or contact Construction Monitor.

Current Events Impacting Industrial Development

industrial development

March 2022 marked two years since the WHO (World Health Organization) declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Emotional and economic recovery has been slow. Supply chain issues continue to impact commercial and residential construction costs and timeframes. Even though real estate investors see industrial development as favorable (the need for space is higher than space available), those in the trenches say the lack of parts and raw materials is negatively impacting construction projects.

The Philadelphia Inquirer says the Ukraine war will do more in our country than raise oil prices. “Nothing influences people’s thinking about future inflation than what they are currently paying at the pump,” said Chief Economist Mark Zandi. As inflation perceptions escalate, the Federal Reserve will likely respond by raising interest rates more aggressively than predicted.

Industrial Development Between a Rock and a Hard Place?

The lack of industrial development materials prolongs the problem of not-enough industrial real estate development. The costs of construction materials like steel and concrete have rocketed upward while competition to win Federal construction project bids is heating up like …well, rocket fuel.

Meanwhile, giants like Amazon, with seemingly unlimited purchasing power and resources for building their own storage spaces, are adding fuel to the fire by stockpiling.

March 2022 lead-time estimates:

  • Dock levelers – 35-42 weeks
  • Dock seals – 30-40 weeks
  • Electrical switch gears – 50-50 weeks
  • Main electrical panels – 26-35 weeks
  • Overhead doors – 20-22 weeks

Construction Costs, Materials Issues

We’ll see continued efforts to update ports and speed-up customs and import inspection times. But supply chain issues aren’t completely international. North American-produced lumber and steel costs may be higher through 4Q2022. Pop-up storage may alleviate equipment and materials space problems.

Changes in design and materials substitutions keep some industrial development projects alive but other projects are being delayed or canceled. Meanwhile, when it comes to construction materials and prices, prepare for a new normal.

Speaking of normal: Data management and using information sources are now the way our industry operates and thrives. Find out why we think building permit information is an information source that pays for itself.

Call 435-586-1205 or contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Industry Supply Chain Priorities: Amazon Focuses on Shipping

Construction Industry Supply

It’s sad when a company has to back off expansion plans because of an economic slump. Amazon, after acquiring enough acreage to form a small country, is now slowing down construction on planned fulfillment centers.

Before you say, “Aww…poor Jeff,” here’s the scoop. E-commerce customer purchasing is increasing so rapidly that Amazon has chosen to focus on another facet of its supply chain plan: fast, dependable product delivery.

Warehousing and storage solutions are significant to Amazon’s ability to provide superior customer service. Amazon increased fulfillment center developments by 30% in 2021. But fast delivery is the growth driver in e-commerce. Shipping speed must be commensurate with customer expectations. They already experience fast product research, selection, one-click purchasing, and checkout. Delivery and customer satisfaction are the last links in the supply chain.

You can’t make ice as fast as Amazon can deliver a couch. And it’s not overly dramatic to say that everyone is amazed at Amazon’s next-day delivery capability. More vehicles and drivers will minimize Amazon’s dependency on USPS and UPS shipping.

Meanwhile, prime competitors Walmart and Target are planning their own fulfillment centers and increasing automated supply chain logistics. They also want to enhance the quality and speed of delivery to customers.

Supply Chain KPIs for Construction Industry

Services and supplies account for 80% of a construction project’s expenses. That means almost every component in a project is driven by supply chain management.

Key performance indicators are one way we measure the success of construction projects. In addition to the basic KPIs, consider tracking:

  • Buyout process
  • Employees
    • # Reviews
    • # Training completions
    • Turnover #
  • Performance
    • % lost time
    • Amount of waste
    • Average revenue per day/hour
  • Quality Control
    • # Defects
    • # Reworks
    • # Site inspections
  • Safety
    • # Accidents per supplier
    • # Incidents
    • # Meetings
  • Subcontractors

Traditional KPIs for construction projects are usually determined by:

  • Competitors’ KPIs
  • Financial measurements
  • Historical numbers

Construction Monitor offers traditional building permit analyses for construction business-building. Our data analytics include:

Learn how our numbers can improve your business. Contact Construction Monitor.

Warehouse Operations Management for ‘Just-In-Case’ Building Materials

Building Materials

Materials prices have risen about 50% within the last year. This has led to even more competitive project bidding. The wins are going to contractors that can guarantee materials will be available when needed.

When the supply shortages became a crisis, some contractors resorted to hoarding, ghost orders, and pop-up warehouses. Warehouse operations are becoming as much a part of the construction industry as hammers and nails.

Ghost orders occur when contractors without projects request bids from several suppliers for materials. This can cause materials shortages for “real” construction projects. Brian Sudduth, president of Miller Construction Company, Florida, said suppliers are pushing back and “asking for project-specific information” to avoid ghost order pile-ups. Some suppliers in the roofing materials industry simply won’t quote a price until you actually place an order.

Lead times are basically a crapshoot. In February 2022, one building professional was surprised to discover bar joists delivery “has pushed into 2023.” What was weeks is now months. Lead-time estimates are:

  • Aluminum windows/curtain walls – 6-12 months
  • Metal decking – 8-10 months
  • Metal studs/cold-formed metal framing – 2-4 months
  • Precast concrete wall panels – 6-10 months
  • Roofing/roof insulation – 8-10 months
  • Steel bar joists – 8-10 months
  • Structural steel – 6-8 months

To compound the growing problems of finding materials and suppliers, contractors are having difficulty finding warehouse space. Many resort to building their own temporary storage on project jobsites.

Warehouse operations software provides a fulfillment strategy for construction companies and contractors. Ask your contractor management software provider if a warehouse platform can be integrated to save time and confusion through best-practice management:

  • Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure:
    • Accuracy
    • Cost per delivery/mileage
    • Damages
    • Delays
    • Deliveries
  •  Loop clients into project supply/materials order fulfillment, and storage/delivery turnaround time
  • Offer inventory/materials management
  • Set up processes for crowdsourced deliveries
    • Bar codes to identify items
    • Package/labeling into bins/parcels
    • Pick-up staging

Technology in construction business management isn’t a trend. It’s the fuel that empowers the future of construction. If you have questions about what our software deliverables can do for your business development, contact Construction Monitor.