When it comes to construction projects the old saying ‘time is money’ holds true, and every moment truly counts towards the success and efficiency of a project. No matter the size of a construction project, the effectiveness of its outcome will heavily rely on the use of plant machinery, from cranes to excavators, each piece of machinery is responsible for unique tasks to ensure maximum efficiency. But in ensuring a project is as efficient as it can be it’s essential for construction project managers and construction professionals to be competent in maximising the utilisation of plant machinery, this isn’t anymore the case then with hired-in machinery, with the cost increasing per day the equipment is being used, maximising its utilisation will both increase efficiency and decrease costs for construction companies.
As mentioned equipment utilisation is a crucial aspect of any construction project; referring to the efficiency and productivity with which equipment and machinery are used to complete tasks; the better the utilisation the more effective and efficient a project will be, hence crucial for completing projects on time, to the proper budget and with optimal resource allocation. Key metrics such as downtime, utilisation rate, and idle time (equipment available but not being used), are all significant factors to ensure they are at their optimum in order to maximise the efficiency of a project. In the remainder of this blog we will explore the strategies construction companies can use to optimise plant machinery utilisation and increase the success of construction projects.
Before starting any construction project and deciding what type of equipment to hire, conducting a thorough needs assessment of the proposed project is essential, from identifying the specific requirement and challenges in a project, construction managers can make informed and justified decisions about the types and quantities of equipment needed, it is also possible to identify when equipment is needed, by identifying a drawing out a project timeline, the equipment can arrive only when it is needed, minimising idle time and potential downtime.
Areas including the project type (e.g. high rise project vs landscaping venture), timelines as mentioned above, workload and tasks, worksite conditions and capacity ok workers available, are all key considerations to take into account, as touched on previously by having a solid understanding of each of these components, a project will be off the best start, and construction managers can ensure they are maximising utilisation rate and minimising idle time and down time in a project.
Each piece of equipment involved in a project has its own unique responsibilities and tasks it can undertake, from cranes, bulldozers, cement mixers, and excavators, it is essential for construction professionals and project managers alike to make informed decisions when choosing what type of machinery is required, as this not only ensures that tasks are completed effectively but ensures maximum utilisation, minimising unnecessary expenses along the way.
Similar to the previous stage this starts with having a firm understanding of the project requirements, analysing the specific tasks, workload, site conditional, and safety considerations to determine the machinery required. The next stage involves matching machinery to task complexity, no project is the same, and varying tasks may be more or less complex than the other, whether excavators for heavy digging or concrete mixers for precise concrete preparation, matching tasks to machinery is undoubtedly the most crucial element to get right in order to maximise utilisation and project efficiency. Other areas to factor in include flexibility for a project to change and the need for machinery chosen to be adaptable to varying requirements, as well as capacity and features, from load capacity, reach, horsepower, and more.
Whilst there are many strategies that rely on the tasks done by the construction company itself, an unreliable supplier of plant machinery can threaten a project’s efficiency more than anything else combined. Hence partnering with reliable hire companies can be a real game changer, from diverse and well-maintained machinery to the benefit of flexibility and scalability a reliable hire company offers. Areas to keep an eye on include reputation and experience, inventory levels, and service and support, ensuring the hiring company chosen meets your criteria across these components and ensures your construction project will be in the safest and most reliable hands.
With the many proactive measures available, including those mentioned above, the personnel operating the machinery are ultimately the backbone of efficient and safe project execution, and the success and efficiency of a project comes down to the skill level and competency of the individuals involved. With the nature of some machinery e.g. high-rise cranes; and the damage they could cause if operated incorrectly; adequate operator training has become a legal requirement, however it goes beyond this and becomes a complete necessity for increased productivity, safety and as mentioned overall project success.
The importance of comprehensive operator training should not be looked on lightly, equipped with the knowledge and skills to operate complex machinery, operators can effectively handle machinery, in turn minimising risks to human safety and equipment damage, decreasing downtime of machinery.
Whilst the strategies mentioned above are extremely effective in managing a projects efficiency and success, ultimately sometimes human error, machine error or an unexpected event may threaten a projects success and the machines utilisation, increasing costs for the project and decreasing the overall success through project delays. This is where plant insurance comes in, with hired-in machinery, downtime can not just increase the time of the project but also significantly increase costs. Plant insurance helps with the costs of new machinery during times of downtime, and equipping projects with new machinery in a timely manner.