Schulich study aims to revitalize construction in North America

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Despite being on the cutting edge of technology, North American construction productivity has slipped in recent years.

A University of Calgary study from Sculich's School of Engineering is aiming to reverse the downward trend of recent years.

The study identifies the "top ten targets for construction productivity improvement" and presents of a "productivity toolbox" for Alberta construction companies to try.

The toolbox has two components: an information booth on the job site monitoring work targets, expectations and other site-specific help, and a "construction productivity improvement officer."

"Using a graduate student in the role of the productivity officer for two 10-week periods on actual construction projects, we saw an eight per cent increase in tool time and a 29 per cent increase in productivity," said developer of the new system, Janaka Ruwanpura, on the Daily Commercial News website.

PCL is one company currently trying out the productivity toolbox.





I commend the efforts to 'revitalize' construction. More appropriate, however, may be the term 'transform' the industry, which has been lagging other sectors, as indicated by productivity measures from various sources for some time now. In my opinion, based on over three decades experience on capital projects,it requires top executives of both owners and constructors to consistently support efforts to overcome inertia and improve on past performance. Projects, by definition, are transitory, and in practice, are treated with a degree of exceptionalism. Lessons learned are often shelved, yet outcomes become part of estimating databases - and cost and schedule estimates become the performance standards for the next project. I believe the attention to day-to-day performance of the work process, as described in the Schulich study, will pay dividends. Constant attention to optimizing construction performance works, from contract strategy through engineering and execution.