No matter the scale, construction projects are always tight in terms of timelines and budget. The very nature of this traditional industry, which is highly competitive and often runs on thin profit margins, imposes that projects are planned and negotiated with strict costs and deadlines. However, these constraints often come under pressure due to unexpected factors such as bad weather or sudden demands by the project owner, general contractor, or subcontractor. The result is usually delayed, which can have severe logistical, financial, and otherwise implications for construction firms.
One of the main reasons for construction site delays is maintenance-related problems such as machinery breakdowns or equipment malfunctions. These unwanted and unfortunate issues can mean that existing maintenance systems are defective and, thus, hindering productivity. Even safety-related issues on construction sites can be due to equipment or machinery (such as personal protective equipment or scaffolding) that is not working as expected. All too often, the cause is a reactive or poor maintenance system.
Below, we will provide insight into how adopting maintenance procedures early on the operations phase can help to enhance workflow in managing construction projects.
How Construction Workflows and Maintenance Are Connected
Construction project workflows are essential for two main reasons: money and time. An unorganized workflow will result in timeline delays and, consequently, cutting of profit margins. Construction projects get delayed for both foreseeable and unexpected reasons, which is why workflow is critical in the industry. Four of the typical reasons why construction projects get behind schedule, and the ways in which they affect maintenance systems, include the following:
Budgetary issues are the usual delay in construction projects. For instance, the project owner may delay on agreed milestone payments, or total costs may run over the budget on the contractor side. Maintenance will surely suffer if viewed as a negotiable externality when a project is under financial pressure.
Unsatisfactory management can lead to a poorly-scoped project and inadequate oversight, resulting in timeline setbacks and cost implications due to inefficient construction management and a higher chance of unfavorable incidents. Where the management is poor, the maintenance processes will inevitably be flawed.
Skilled workers shortage in construction can result in delays. Maintenance will be considered “not a priority” and will be delayed when a crew is needed for other manual or skilled labor on a construction site.
It is no surprise that bad weather can stop construction operations and can cause damage in extreme weather conditions, such as severe flooding or storms. Maintenance will undoubtedly be put on hold as a result of this.
Another reason why a workflow of a project could be disrupted is because of machinery or equipment failure. Asset failure on heavy machinery can be costly since temporary stoppages will unavoidably occur. Generally, the malfunction or breakdown of equipment or machinery is directly proportional to the quality of a construction firm’s maintenance program.
What is Construction Maintenance?
A construction project maintenance refers to all processes, such as tests, inspections, and procedures, conducted to prevent the failure of construction assets like equipment or machinery in the future. The main focus is on potential root causes that may trigger assets to malfunction. The other focus is to ensure that underlying issues can be dealt with before they turn into serious, costly problems.
A good distinction of this type of maintenance is that it depends on systemic factors that may lead to machinery or equipment failure, rather than solely on the assets themselves. Because of this, maintenance is only done when necessary and based on collected data.
Regular maintenance, most commonly known as routine maintenance, is vital in keeping a construction project flowing smoothly and on time. Generally, a construction project comprises different materials, using various tools, equipment, or machinery as part of the operation and execution. No matter the versatility and strength, these construction materials and tools are all susceptible to natural decay or deterioration due to decay and exposure to external factors. Hence, these inventory items’ lifespan and maintenance procedures must be considered early in the designing phase.
Knowing this, various construction items require regular maintenance and are expected to be checked for upkeeping- some of which should be attended daily, weekly, monthly, while some at regular intervals. A construction scheduling software, such as Pro Crew Schedule, can help you organize these routines and delegate them to the crew responsible for ensuring no possible causes of delays that could arise for your construction project.
Unlike popular belief, routine maintenance should not only be done post-construction- this should be practiced even during the execution phase. This is because even before the closeout phase takes over, some of the parts of the project are already finished and need to be attended to resist early decay that could lead to severe damage or non-functionality, even before the whole project comes to its conclusion.
Construction Items that Needed to be Attended Daily
a. Cleaning painted floors and walls, not only by brushes but also by swabbing daily or regularly as required. Non-cleaning would allow dust and dirt to be accumulated, causing early deterioration.
b. Water closets must be cleaned by brushes and once a week by acid or other commercially available cleaning chemicals to ensure cleanliness, primarily when workers use them. This can also prevent clog in the sanitary pipes and unnecessary smells from unused bathroom fixtures.
c. Glass panes of windows and doors, if without protective cover or sticker, are to be appropriately cleaned weekly with the help of liquid cleaners available commercially. Ensure to use an appropriate cleaning solution and dust cloth to avoid scratches and discoloration, which can be considered a punch list item in the future.
Construction Items that Needed to be Attended Weekly
a. The completed areas (floors, units, or rooms) should be cleaned weekly as otherwise rubbish and dust can accumulate in these areas. If possible, you can also lock these completed spaces to ensure that no one can access them and eliminate the chances of them getting unclean before the official closeout.
b. The doors and windows may give a strange sound of hinges indicating that oiling or greasing is required. The installed hinges should be oiled once every week.
c. The vent installations need to be cleaned and oiled once a week.
d. If electric pumps and motors are installed, make sure that they get checked weekly and their current performance is noted in the logbook. The tube-wells, if there are any, shall be checked regularly with their yield measured and entered in logbook.
e. Heavy electrical installations like switch gears, transformers, etc., need to be examined by a certified engineer and checked for their performance. For of oil-based transformer, the level of oil must be checked.
Construction Items that Needed to be Attended Periodically
a. Leaks may be observed in wastewater pipes, soil pipes, and rainwater pipes, especially in portions in the building where water runs horizontally. This may be due to early leakage through the joints. The leaking pipes should be closed immediately, and the damaged joint opened and cleaned. In the case of C.I. pipes, the joint should be repaired with lead caulking; for asbestos pipes, the joint shall be cemented.
b. The water supply lines are to be checked regularly. If any leakage is observed, the portion shall be taken out and cleaned by diluted commercial acid, brushed, and finally washed by clean water to complete the rectification.
c. Cleaning water reservoirs such as tanks, both overhead and on the ground, is essential for hygienic reasons. These should be regularly cleaned at intervals of at least once in three months.
All of the maintenance examples listed above will help guarantee an uninterrupted, smooth workflow on your construction operations. Furthermore, construction firms do well to focus their maintenance schedules on heavy equipment, mainly as it is the most expensive construction equipment on a site, whether in value, repairs, or replacement.
Benefits of Construction Maintenance to Workflow
There are many benefits to having a maintenance program in project management for construction. These advantages should include the following:
1. Better Finances
Smart and preventive maintenance means less wear and tear on materials, equipment, and machinery, meaning that essential resources can last longer, be used in the best condition, and help sustain an efficient workflow on a site. These aspects equate to less pressure on budgets that are usually already tight.
2. Project Viability
Some project management scenarios are too complex and can be considered a potential curveball on a construction project. That is why every factor that can help a project’s workflow is critical, including maintenance that saves money and time.
3. Better Team Communication
A leading cause of workflow disruptions on a construction project, including preventable safety events, is miscommunication. A well-planned maintenance routine demands open communication between line management and workers on a site because the emphasis is on seeking out root cause issues and transparency. There is no room for lack of communication for secrecy in a construction maintenance regime.
Clearly, every possible effort needs to be made to preserve and improve the construction inventory management system to eliminate unplanned (and very expensive) downtime due to malfunctioning or damaged resources. Intelligent construction maintenance that thinks ahead is no doubt the best solution.
A maintenance system and an updated construction inventory list are proven ways of ensuring that minor problems don’t become big, dangerous ones that can delay construction projects.