According to the Construction Industry Institute (CII), field rework adds 10 per cent to construction-phase costs on major projects.
In an effort to keep projects on time and on budget, the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA) created a free project rework reduction tool that tracks a project’s potential rework pitfalls and provides solutions.
Rework has been on COAA’s radar for almost 20 years, with a targeted subcommittee initiating research on how to reduce rework in 1998.
Through surveys and consulting the CII’s database, COAA determined that the main causes of project rework are engineering and reviews (such as late design and poor document control), construction planning and scheduling (e.g., late owner input, unrealistic schedules), leadership and communications (e.g., poor communication, lack of safety), material and equipment supply issues (such as untimely deliveries or non-compliance with specification), and human resource capability (e.g., insufficient skill levels, excessive overtime).
A 2001 survey determined that engineering and reviews make up 30 per cent of all project rework, construction planning and scheduling make up 26 per cent, leadership and communications make up 18 per cent, and both material and equipment supply issues and human resource capability make up 13 per cent.
In partnership with the CII, the COAA came up with the interactive Project Rework Reduction Tool (PRRT).
PRRT users respond to 30 to 90 questions arranged in five project-phase questionnaires, with phases that go from the “end of the design basis memorandum” phase to the “construction complete” phase.
The output generated is a coloured tile chart or a radar chart that easily identifies problem areas for that particular project. Applications for the PRRT include project team reviews, team and client reports, benchmarking and project audits.
Not only that, the PRRT provides solutions for overcoming these potential problems based on the extensive experience of hundreds of resource documents and templates provided by the COAA and the CII.
Glen Warren, adviser to COAA’s rework subcommittee, finds that one of the most common causes of project rework is scope and design change.
“There you are, working on a project, and you’re installing something to what you think is the latest design and drawing—and then the drawing changes.”
He notes that process engineers are always trying to improve their designs “because there’s no such thing as a perfect design. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have the steps in place to stop scope creep or design changes.”
As part of a CII research team, Warren questioned many vendors throughout North America.
“We asked if they were given clear instructions as to the expectations that the project had in regards to what vendor data they were to provide, if they were given clear instructions as to the format of how they were to provide their data, and if they were given clear instructions as to the timing of when they were to provide specific vendor data back to the project.
“What shocked us was that during the procurement cycle…when vendors were contacted in the RFQ stage [request for quotations], over 50 per cent of the procurement documents didn’t even mention vendor data. They might have only been given schedules as to when the actual equipment was needed to be on site.”
Warren can understand why project rework “might fall to the bottom of the list of things they can do to improve their project.”
Time to market is a harsh reality of the construction industry, which leads to fast tracking.
“Ideally,” Warren says, “you should have a good lag between engineering being complete and production starting. That gives a chance for procurement to get all the materials to the site and gives construction a chance to plan their work before they actually start it and to do it in an organized, planned sequence.
“Once you have fast-tracking, you have construction almost building off the drawings that are coming off the engineer’s table.” Without crucial lag time, rework will only mount.
Companies might not be able to spend years perfectly engineering million-dollar construction projects, but with the help of the PRRT, they can reduce costly rework.
JWN's Build Better content is provided as part of our partnership in the Alberta Projects Improvement Network with COAA, GO Productivity and Supply Chain Management Association Alberta.