Who Cares about Subs' Productivity Rates in Construction Schedules?


I ran across a question recently on a LinkedIn discussion group for construction planning.  The question was, “Besides the subs, who really cares about their productivity rates?”


Wow.  That has to be a hard question for an Owner to hear because everyone knows if the subs don’t produce, there will be claims and increased risk that the job will be late.


A core component of Vico Office is flowline theory which states that the goal of superior construction planning is to have locations free and clear of disruptions so that subs can work through the area at their maximum productivity rate.  So what that means, in essence, is that EVERYONE cares about the subs’ productivity rates: the GCs who are orchestrating the flow of trades on the jobsite and the Owner who is always looks for building efficiency to shorten the schedule and reduce costs.


Last month, I attended the "Construction Tech 2011" event in the Kimmel Center at New York University.  The theme of the event was "Subcontractors to Owners - Transparency in Action” and it was sponsored by the Greater New York Construction User Council and the Subcontractor Trade Association, along with CURT, NYC BIM, the National Subcontractors Alliance, BIMplex, the Associated Specialty Contractors, and the buildingSMARTalliance.  I wanted to hop on LinkedIn and answer the question with a photo of the event along with the caption “THIS is who cares about subs’ productivity rates!” 


nyc subcontractor productivity rates


Caption: Owners, GCs, Subs – everyone cares about subs’ productivity rates!


I was part of a panel presentation at the event entitled “Validations in BIM: Design Intent to Means and Methods to 5D Contracting.”  Obviously, with the event in New York City, many in the Vico Community couldn’t attend, so I would like to share the discussion here and hear what you have to say.


The first question we received was: What is one of the misnomers or myths surrounding BIM that you run into often with Owners, Subs, GCs, and Designers?


Of course, this is the myth that any Building Information Model will do.  The truth is, a design intent model is just one type of model.  GCs need to include means and methods data in their models so that they can do clash detection, scheduling, and estimating.  And Subs need to model to a much, much higher level of detail for fabrication.  


So what we wanted to stress for Owners is that just because you see a 3D model on a computer screen does not mean it is made for construction.  How do you get that means and methods data into Subs and GC's models?  It's important to be able to harness the available intellectual property in each firm and capture that data in the models.  This knowledge (think: productivity, unit rates, consumption) can be stored in a database so that it is readily accessible for all projects.


What is Vico doing to help make this type of data more accessible for GCs?   Even if you don't have complete data, a "means and methods" data set is possible.  Vico can supplement your information with our 5D Data Pack that includes both the building elements for your models and the tasks to install those pieces represented in average productivity rates.


We also have a model checking service – what we call our Quality Assurance and Refinement service.  For a flat fee of $2,000 we interrogate your BIM model to see if it is up to snuff for use in construction.  We inspect eleven different aspects of the model and grade it accordingly.  A grade higher than 70% means that it will work for downstream construction activities.  And anything under a 70% needs correcting – and we can give you a price for that.  The basic premise is that in under two weeks, we can help the design team, the GC, the subs, and the Owner determine if their BIM models are at the level of detail necessary for coordination, scheduling, and estimating.


Second hot topic: How does BIM change the way contracting is done?


Contrary to question from the LinkedIn Group, Subs and GCs should work together during the buyout, sharing models and sharing productivity rates.  From these conversations, GCs can build out the 4D schedule and 5D estimate. But more importantly, GCs and Subs need to work together on-site to try and achieve these rates.


Again, this is another key tenet of Vico Software – the schedule doesn’t end in Preconstruction – it goes out to the field and is amended every week with real-time data inputs.  Because we measure quantities by location multiplied by productivity rates to get our calculated durations, we can quickly see how our field actual productivity rates are impacting the schedule.


control chart for real time productivity reporting

Caption: As the Superintendent walks the site each week, s/he can mark the percent complete for each location and quickly see any areas that need to be addressed.


With a quick meeting in the trailer, the Superintendent can work with the Subs to correct the problem and get the schedule back on track.  This on-site production control is a very important piece of the pie for Owners – this real-time data means better input for progress reviews and informed decision making.


The third item we discussed was: What are some of the BIM deliverables that Owners can expect from Subs and GCs?


The goal of the conference (and the goal of 5D BIM) is to make the construction process more transparent to the Owner.  The construction deliverables that mean the most to Owners are:

- Cost-loaded schedules

- Manpower charts

- Gantt chart

- Cash flow forecasts

- A Resource-based cost report

- Resource forecasts for each subcontractor for the upcoming month

- Percentage of production complete compared to the plan

- Answering what-if scenarios in terms of impact to the schedule and budget


All of these reports are available in Vico Office, along with any others you would like to design.  Because Vico Office is a database and our solutions span constructability, scheduling, and estimating, we produce comprehensive construction management reports.  Learn more about the Reporting Engine in our webinar about the topic or hop on over to our video training tutorials on the subject.


This conference couldn’t have come at a better time as a counter point to the LinkedIn discussion.  In fact, everyone cares about the Subs’ productivity rates because they contribute so highly to the overall schedule and budget.


Do you or don’t you care about Subs’ productivity rates?  Post your comments to this blog article.

Tags: subs productivity rate, calculating durations, production control, construction schedule, flowline scheduling