In construction, productivity is everything. Learn what it is, why it's so important, and how to best measure it.
Table of Contents
1. What is production tracking?
In construction, "production tracking" refers to calculating the work completed on a project in a given day. Production tracking also includes using these daily metrics to evaluate the success of a project at intervals and benchmarks, as well as at the end of a project.
Production tracking looks at time and money as two major efficiency metrics. These metrics are tracked by looking at:
Production tracking looks at daily productivity to calculate the overall financial and time efficiency of a project.
2. Why is production tracking important?
If you're in construction, you know the stats. In 2017 McKinsey Global Institute released a report saying that in construction:
These numbers have put a lot of pressure on the construction industry for several years now. This has led to some significant improvements as more companies are adopting digital technology to improve production and processes.
But the construction industry still has a long way to go if it's going to catch up with other industries. So the construction companies that are early adopters—those willing to try new technology that specializes in increasing and monitoring productivity—will continue to be sought after for their reliability and efficiency.
The benefits of production tracking
Production tracking is a major metric in assessing your businesses' overall health—which includes your financial return. Paying attention to production provides benefits in nearly every area of your business, too.
Reducing business spend
Because production tracking typically monitors equipment usage, materials installed, and work hours, effective production tracking inevitably leads to more efficient spending. This means better resource allocation and management. Knowing which cost codes are over budget, which equipment rentals have been idle on jobsites, and other daily updates help you make smart decisions in real time.
For example, keeping an eye on things like what equipment is being rented and how much it's actually being used means you can make better decisions in the future. It can even mean you may be able to negotiate pricing if unforeseen issues, like inclement weather, force you to extend a rental.
Better estimates for future projects
With accurate data on production costs, you can easily calculate estimates for future projects—and apply any learnings across the entire company. The more you monitor the minutiae (like extended rental fees, how much material is used, the number of weather delays), the more you're able to plan appropriately. This means you save money by providing better estimates, but also by cutting costs in areas that could easily be overlooked, if not for quality production tracking and detailed jobsite updates.
Better historical production data to inform decisions and improve productivity
Insights into production tracking are invaluable. Unfortunately, they usually require manual calculations, which can take a significant amount of time when you're looking at multiple cost codes or even multiple projects. By the time you get around to calculating these numbers, it's too late to make the needed changes.
That's why digital insights are so valuable. Raken's production insights calculate production tracking across all cost codes, in real time. This means you can act faster with constantly updated insights—saving you both time and money.
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3. Common problems with tracking productivity
If you are involved in the business side of construction, then you have some idea of your jobsite's productivity. But chances are you don't know exactly what productivity looks like on a day-to-day basis. Why is this?
Inefficient field communication
Those in the field rarely have the time or right tools to document what happens on the jobsite. Documentation and reporting can take precious time and resources away from what needs to get done. The result? Minimal information—oftentimes put into a computer hours after it's happened, right when the details are starting to get a bit fuzzy.
Back and forth communication between the field and office can easily become just another repetitive chore—one that never really seems to be as fruitful as you'd like for the amount of time and effort it takes.
Lower visibility across jobsites
Working on multiple jobsites means paperwork will pile up, and there is a backlog of unprocessed information. By the time you know there's an issue in productivity, losses have already happened.
This is because processing paperwork takes time. And that's if there's no lost paperwork, or a need to double check a number because of a lack of legibility.
Collecting, scanning, filing, inputting data—by the time all these things happen, new production numbers are already happening. With multiple jobsites, there's a chance you only get half the information you need within days of it happening.
Calculating productivity takes time
Once all your paperwork is processed, you still need to calculate productivity. Pulling data from multiple sources, inputting it into a formula, and repeating this process across multiple cost codes takes time. With manual calculations, there's also the opportunity for numbers to be entered incorrectly.
It's inefficient if you don't have these numbers in real time, especially if you need to repeat this process on a daily basis or take a closer look at additional metrics to determine project benchmarks.
At the end of the day, calculating productivity on a daily basis by hand just isn't practical.
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4. How to make your production tracking more efficient
Now we know that paperwork and processing can cause delays in production tracking—as well as inaccurate information.
Data tracked on paper in the field can easily become illegible, as it is exposed to the weather and elements on a construction site. Once data written with pen and paper is being manually added to a computer, there's always room for error. This means that the information you're basing your productivity metrics on can often contain inaccurate data.
So is there a way to get timely and accurate data from the field? And is it enough data to calculate productivity throughout the different phases of a construction project?
Improving production data with construction technology
Thankfully, productivity can be easily tracked using the right technology.
Construction technology that's designed for those in the field makes it easy for supers and others on the jobsite to quickly input data as it's happening. This means no more lost papers, no illegible numbers, no scanning, and no extra emailing or driving back and forth.
Instead, it means data collected straight from the source, and more accurate numbers to base your productivity off.
The right construction technology will save time for those in the field and in the office, and provides an invaluable level of real-time project visibility.
John W. Danforth
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5. Improve your production tracking with Raken
Construction technology is becoming increasingly more common. Many construction companies are trying new software with varying success—but some technology solutions can take months and months to fully integrate within a company. Even once it's integrated to the office, it can still be difficult for those in the field to use, so getting real-time data won't be happening.
Raken is specifically designed to be used in the field, which means most onsite workers can easily begin using it the day they receive access. This means data is now easy to capture straight from the jobsite, which leads to a direct increase in data collected—as well as more accurate information.
All this data is delivered directly to those working in the office, too. Raken's desktop feature provides powerful production tracking insights, so you can know at a glance exactly where each project stands, and how every cost code contributes to overall productivity.