Jobsite set-up and construction activities in the field have changed significantly as a result of COVID-19. With projects underway across the country, our construction think tank is continuously evaluating and implementing the most efficient ways to manage safe jobsites. In turn, all Skyline jobsites are utilizing these best practices and standard implementation methods consistently. This eliminates delays created by cumbersome protocols, streamlines subcontractor’s ability to access jobsites and perform work, and ultimately results in time and money saved for clients.
Below we uncover a few of the top COVID-19 challenges faced on construction jobsites industry-wide, along with a variety of creative and innovative solutions to overcome these obstacles using LEAN principals.
Bottlenecks created by manual check-in processes
The construction industry has traditionally lagged behind other industries in its implementation of technology, especially when it involves tradespeople in the field. Manual, hand-entry processes will slow the process and are now seen as unhygienic as a result of shared pencils, pens, paper and supplies.
Collaborate over technology
Construction has always been a collaborative process, but the use of technology can streamline communication, eliminate waste and create wonderful efficiencies on and off the jobsite. Here are some recommended ways to use technology to stay safe and collaborative, while not over-complicating the process.
- Use a digital sign-in
Host your daily health check questionnaire online using apps, online forms, or a fillable PDF to seamlessly gain access to jobsites. This also eliminates the need for communal paper and pens. Check out Meridian personal management, a new seamless entry option that takes temperatures and assesses important info before entering a space.
- Digitally reviewing plans and schedules
Gone are the days of 5 or 6 people huddling around a set of construction plans. Now tradespeople can use Procore or any other cloud based project management software to review all construction documentation in one place in real time.
- Virtual jobwalks
Use OpenSpace, Holobuilder, Matterport or any other video and image based software to document daily jobsite progress. This limits exposure on-site and also encourages coordination between all parties.
Maintaining social distancing in elevators causes major delays
This is arguably the toughest hurdle to maneuver while adhering to social distancing. In high rise buildings with limited freight elevators, getting crews and materials on-site has taken some general contractors upwards of two hours depending on the size of the project and the number of other projects running concurrently in the building. The average freight elevator wait time should be minimal subcontractors will begin charging for in-efficiency.
- Staggered work shifts
This involves trades beginning and ending work at varying intervals to limit bottlenecks at check-in which can include completing a daily health questionnaire, temperature readings (not required but often requested by clients) and elevator wait times.
- Additional elevator use
When possible, work with building management to obtain access to tenant elevator use during pre-scheduled non-peak business hour time frames.
- Stairway access
Work with the building to obtain staircase access as an additional method for building entry and exit. Workers will often opt to take the stairs over elevators if offered.
- Dividing barriers within the elevator
As a creative solution for narrow elevators, try installing a divider curtain within the elevators as illustrated below. This allows the elevator capacity to double while creating safe separation.
A level of enforcement of elevator rules is necessary for all visitors. Work with the building management team to hire additional security as needed.
Sequencing trades to comply with social distancing guidelines
It is no longer realistic to schedule multiple trades working in small spaces concurrently, or to cram 8-10 tradespeople in one conference room to work at once. With social distancing requirements, scheduling of trades and logistics plans for the jobsites need to be reviewed in great detail and adjusted to keep all parties safe and in compliance.
Modify your logistics plan
Similar to staggering start time shifts by trade, it’s important to modify logistics plans to avoid crossover of trades and overcrowding in small areas. Divide each floor into quadrants and sequence work within those quadrants, creating “micro schedules” for each. Creating micro schedules also sets expectations and deadlines to optimize productivity. This strategy is important for jobs over 20,000 sq. ft. where a larger amount of workers are on-site. Large jobsites will designate floor marking of safe zones for lunches and breaks, a path of travel throughout the jobsite, and 6ft markers to maintain proper distance.
Staying creative and nimble is the best way to navigate these uncertain times. We have seen some great ideas in these past few weeks including Plexi-glass cutouts to protect each party during check in to scan temperatures quickly and safely. Hanging signage from the ceiling when no walls exist and demarking designated lunch areas on the ground before finishes go in to direct workers onsite. Our goal is to maintain productivity as best as possible amidst these added protocols, thinking outside of the box to mitigate the risk of additional cost to our clients and sharing our lessons learned with the industry to pool collective solutions within our community.