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Laying the Foundation for Profitable Projects and Eliminating Waste: Facilities + Equipment

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Business Advice

Laying the Foundation for Profitable Projects and Eliminating Waste 

A project’s success depends a lot on the support that is provided before, during, and after its production. Consider how important this element of support is in places such as hospitals or airports, where the quality and efficiency of the work being produced directly affects people’s lives. For example, consider would happen if surgeons were forced to use dull unsterilized instruments because there were no assistants, nurses or even cleaning staff to support day-to-day operations? 

The Office and Yard Set-up

The number one thing to keep in mind in setting up any area of your business is flow. In other words: what happens first, what happens last, and what happens in-between? Some of the consequences of working in a poorly organized area that was not set up to flow efficiently are lost or misplaced tools & items, poor inventory control, people taking too much time to get from A-B, and higher rates of accidents and injuries. 

A lack of administrative or supply support for activities on the job site will not only disrupt production flow, it will cost your company huge sums of money. Waiting at the building supply with a crew full of workers makes absolutely no business sense if a simple process can be implemented to divert billable time spent on non-billable activities directly towards production on site.  

Imagine starting a project at 6:30AM and realizing on site that you were missing string. The cost of this problem would be a trip to the Home Depot while the crew was unproductive, plus the cost of what could have been produced in that time (lost opportunity cost). It is a good idea to stock critical path supplies in bulk like string to support productivity on the job site. It is also crucial to set inventory levels with minimums and maximums along with a solid ordering process that will minimize visits to the home depot, especially during peak traffic times. 

The Three Phases of Work

 1The Project Start-up Phase  

What paperwork, information, and direction is required before the job starts to support efficient and profitable production later? The office is where the project preparations really start. Do the crews have access to a physical or online document library where they can easily get admin support and project information? Is there a designated spot in the office to hand in paperwork? Does each employee have a mail-box where they can transfer information between the office and the field in a way that works with everyone’s schedules? Are portable washrooms ordered for the project in advance so crews stay on site? Are the lawn signs accessible and ready to be put on the trucks? 

 2. Daily Pre-Production Phase?  

 What tasks must be completed shortly before the start of project production to allow non-stop un-interrupted work on the job site?  

  • Quick cut saw filter changes
  • Mixing and topping up fuel
  • Cleaning dirt out of the trucks
  • Vehicle Circle checks
  • 10 Hp and over Equipment checks
  • Greasing machines
  • Re-supply of the supervisors binder with daily Forms
  • Material orders
  • Tailgate meetings
  • And the list goes on…

These tasks must be completed before the production phase of the project. If these items are done during the production phase, your estimates will be inaccurate because these tasks are in support of production and not directly part of production itself. Most importantly, if these activities are not completed before the start of work, safety on the job site as well as lost time and production can be gravely affected. 

3. Daily Post-Production Phase

What tasks must be completed at the end of the day to ensure all loose ends are tied up, the site is safe and secure, key information is passed along, and everything is ready for the next day? 

  • Clean-up site
  • Inspect the site for safety hazards
  • Load materials returning to site
  • Travel to Yard or shop
  • Load trucks for following day
  • Lock-out tag out broken equipment
  • Submit Paperwork
  • Order Materials

The office and the yard must be set up to facilitate the process that occurs before, during, and after the production phase of the project in order for maximum efficiency on site. Consider if you were shooting for a 10 percent profit and your season was a 150 days long you would only start to make a profit on day 135. Every extra trip to the home depot could cost you your ability to achieve your planned 10% profit, plus there is way more paperwork for your office to process if you buy string 10 times instead of just once. 

Investing in Loading Ramps, Racking and labeling systems is the key to allowing old and new employees to operate at maximum efficiency with little or no discussion. Complete LMN’s Lean Systems online courses to learn more about how to maximize efficiency levels throughout your company.     

The Equipment must also be set up to allow for optimal production with the least amount of people and the least amount of potential injury to valuable workers. A numbering and labeling system is perfect to keep all tools and equipment together and keep those who use the equipment accountable for its care and storage. 

Taking the time to take good care of your tools and equipment is a very wise investment. Tools and equipment are far cheaper than the lower production levels created by using poor or unreliable equipment. Consider the cost of a quality cordless drill or even two. An unproductive employee in two days can cost the same amount as the investment into those tools. Buying a hundred # 2 drill bits is cheaper than two hours of time trying to remove stripped screws that did not go in. 

If you want to achieve your profit goal for the year, you need to ensure each project is set up to flow smoothly, and this depends on matching the best people + best supporting processes + the best tools and equipment, consistently and efficiently.    

Landscape Management Network offers members a suite of tools and systems designed to eliminate waste and streamline operations for profit.  For more information, go to www.landscapemanagementnetwork.com.

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