Calculating an optimal construction schedule within acceptable risk parameters is only half the battle for today's Planners. Now the Superintendents must execute the baseline schedule on-site and manage the real-world disruptions that inevitably occur. So just as Schedulers and Planners learned the optimization tips and tricks in the Schedule Planner training series, now the Superintendents will learn how to enter actuals from the jobsite, forecast the trends, and correct any issues on-site before they cascade into delays for the project.
In this Level One for Production Control, we'll demonstrate how the Superintendent uses the Control Chart to record percent put in place during the daily or weekly site walks. This near-real-time information is calculated into the look-ahead forecast. Now the Superintendent can compare the baseline schedule to the current conditions and apply corrective action before a disruption can occur. These corrections are called Control Actions and are key to keeping the project on-time and on-budget.
We've developed these video tutorials to walk you through the major pieces of functionality in easy bite-sized chunks. Refer back to these videos as often as you like. We'll continue to update the materials as new releases of Vico Office are issued.
After watching these video tutorials on the major features of Production Controller, please navigate to the FAQs to learn even more. We also have a complete recorded webinar on the back-and-forth between the baseline schedule and the actuals that will help you see the "big picture." And when you're ready, please feel free to advance to the next level. You can also request to receive the entire video collection by completing the form on the Vico Office Training Videos page.
Vico Office Production Controller Level 1
Step One: A Primer for Production Control
Superintendents just get Production Control because they do it every day. They probably don't say they use a "Control Chart" or make "Control Actions," but the behavior is instinctual: they know when and where a Sub is working too fast or falling behind. Now with Production Controller, they have calculations to back up their gut.
For some firms, there is a complete disconnect between the schedule which was prepared for the bid and the schedule that is used on-site. This training series assumes that your firm has decided to make the switch from traditional CPM to location-based scheduling and believes that the baseline schedule is true, optimal, and do-able given the risk parameters for the project.
This video introduces the principles of production control and the importance of recording actuals, forecasting current production rates to spot potential problems, and coming up with good solutions to avert those problems. If the Superintendent's job was one-third fire-fighting, one-third conflict resolution, and one-third logistics expert, we hope we can transform that into one-third building scientist, one-third investigative reporter, one-third hero.
Many people might think that location-based scheduling is a new concept, but it was actually used on the Empire State Building. But instead of BIM models and Vico Office, the teams used pencil and paper and a rigorious site walk schedule to mark crew locations and percent complete three times a day. We are positive you'll enjoy the examples shown from the actual project logs.
Step Two: Understanding the Principles of Production Control
There are four sources of information for a Superintendent to deal with:
1.) The Baseline Schedule - the optimal plan based on production rates collected during a pull scheduling workshop or historic data;
2.) The Current Schedule - any new variables s/he has to account for such as a last-minute design change or new data coming from the subs;
3.) The Progress Data - the real-time work being completed on the project (actual productivity compared to planned productivity)
4.) The Forecast - a two week look-ahead incorporating the planned compared to the actual.
The entire aim is to be proactive instead of reactive when dealing with problems that arrive on the jobsite. After all, wouldn't you prefer to alleviate a problem before it ever occurs, rather than firefighting the problem when it erupts? It's all about finding solutions, not throwing manpower at the problem and hoping for the best.
Step Three: Working in Control Mode and Tracking Activity Progress
If you have been studying along with the training videos, you'll recall that the Schedule Planner videos utilized the Plan Mode. Here in Production Controller, we'll switch over to the Control Mode. This allows us the same optimization tools as Schedule Planner in order to rectify problems on-site, but we won't know there's a problem on-site unless we start tracking actuals.
Many Superintendents already do this step - they walk the site with Project Managers to see what work is completed and which work is still in progress. This doesn't change with Vico Office. The new piece of functionality to learn is the Control Chart. And this is intuitive as soon as you see it. It's simply the locations on the left-hand-side, the tasks along the bottom, and a built-in calendar. Here you can mark the start and end dates for work completed (or incomplete) per location. And since the system already knows the baseline productivity data (from pull scheduling workshops or bids), it calculates whether we're behind or ahead of schedule.
Step Four: Using Flowline View for the Construction Forecast
After the data is entered from the step above, we can compare the baseline schedule to the progress schedule.
By accessing the View Settings and Options in the flowline view, we can see our baseline schedule, compared to actuals, compared to forecast. We can see these three stages at once because we have recorded any production deviations in our Control Chart and the system has calculated the trends on future production using this data.
But back to the flowline view. The actual progress is represented as a dotted line and it is very easy to spot where it deviates from the baseline. The forecast is represented as a dashed line. The system also displays Warning Alarms where problems are laying in wait ready to sabotage the project if no corrective action is taken.
Step Five: Using Control Actions to Resolve Production Alarms
Now that we see an approaching problem, we can get to work to solve it. The most common solution is to increase the crew size, but some creative solutions can include changing the shift length for the original crew, changing the location breakdown structure to make the task size more manageable, splitting the task to get two crews working in tandem, change the dependencies, or even force continuity. (So if you haven't seen these concepts before, head back now to Schedule Planner Level 5.)
Our goal is to mitigate the impact from any production deviations without increasing project risk, increasing the schedule, or increasing the budget; so it is important to understand all the corrective actions you can take.
Step Six: Using 4D Manager to Explain the Problem to the Subs
If your Subs aren't used to reading a flowline forecast, it might be easier to show them how the schedule will be impacted with a video.
This segment illustrates how you can create specialized videos per trade. You don't need to have directing skills like Alfred Hitchcock either - just tell the system which part of the schedule you'd like to see, how you'd like it color-coded, and voila - your own movie illustrating the problem.
Visually, the teams in the trailer can see what would happen if no actions were taken…what would happen if additional crews were added or removed. So very easily, you can solve problems before they ever occur.
Now that you've seen the basics of production control and some of the fixes you can make to real-life hiccups on-site, let's advance to Level Two Production Controller Training. We will learn how to collect and record data for crew actuals, percent put in place, and quantities.
You can also request to receive the entire video collection by completing the form on the Vico Office Training Videos page. And remember, you can always jump over to the Vico Office Client tutorial videos, the Scheduler Planner videos, or the Cost Planner videos at any time.
And for more information and links to additional resources, please navigate to the bottom of our Vico scheduling solutions page. This page contains links to insightful blog articles, additional concept and theory videos, webinars, and whitepapers.