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How to measure and analyse productivity on a construction site?

WDBE 2021 Aiforsite - measure productivity in real-time

Is it possible to measure productivity on the site? There is a huge improvement potential in the construction industry. According to different research studies, only 20-30% of work time at the construction site adds value. Aiforsite offers a solution for increasing the efficiency of work and measuring productivity, especially in the phase of interior work.

If we think about the individual worker on the construction site, the worker has constantly to deal with various challenges. We can call them also preconditions that must be in order for commencing any next work at the particular area of the site. For example:

  • Do I have the right tools for the task?
  • Do I have the right materials in the right place?
  • Do I have the right work instructions for my task?
  • Are the other related people ready for the task?
  • Are the working conditions proper for my task?
  • Is my workplace safe for my task?
  • Is the previous job completed for me to do my task?

The architecture of Aiforsite’s solution

We help site managers get a real-time situational snapshot of what is going on on the site and what they could do in order to remove obstacles. In terms of the technological solution to this problem, I would like to give you an overview of how Aiforsite is addressing this challenge.

First, various data sources installed at the construction site provide us with real-time and relevant data for conducting the measurement and analysis of productivity. For example, in the positioning system, each resource has a positioning tag, and we can identify them in real-time.

The real-time wireless sensors monitor the site conditions like temperature, humidity etc. We also can access the material flow data from logistics operator systems. We can plug into scheduling software used by our customers to understand what all the tasks and levels of progress now are. Finally, we utilize other tools for the site observations.

You need data to understand what is really happening on the site. Getting situational awareness to validate the actual state of the site is part of our solution. We use 360 camera video recordings, drone modelling with up to one-centimetre accuracy, and site cameras that capture site footage, and store video and still images for further use.

All this means that through our web-based application we can capture the data sources, get situational awareness, and conduct productivity analysis.

How can you measure productivity at the site with Aiforsite?

Based on all this data we have developed several ways to measure the level of productivity. The first is called Presence Index (PI), which is an uninterrupted, minimum 10 min time spent by the worker at each work location divided by the total time spent at the site. We get this data from the positioning system’s tags attached to the workers’ helmets.

Productivity indicators on construction site
Measuring productivity on site

It is quite interesting that recent research studies show that in the convenient schedules a low PI is enough to get the job done. It tells us the schedule has a lot of buffer time and this measurement reveals the value-adding part of the actual work.

The second measurement is a calculation of the percentage of actual lead time compared to the scheduled one. The attached example is from our current project, and you can see a potential for improvement.

The case study: takt production in office renovation

Let me tell an example of how we help our client to improve productivity on the site. It is an office renovation project in downtown Helsinki. The building comprises two parts of seven and nine floors and was originally built in 1938. The site is run as takt production and scheduled for completion in 2022.

I would like to show you key areas in terms of People, Process and Technology and what are the benefits that can be obtained.

Key learnings from the perspective of people

The first thing we have learned in this project is that productivity needs to be led. Technology alone is insufficient.
It is very important to have the project and site management willing to change the status quo.

We have introduced a new role as part of the site management team. The Productivity Engineer focuses on measuring, analysing, and improving productivity as well as supporting the site manager to make better decisions in terms of the site’s progress.

Data privacy is another important aspect. We take it very seriously and protect collected data in line with legislation and valid regulations. Early and open communication of the data collection means is the key to gaining people’s understanding and acceptance of using new digital tools on the site.

Finally, it is very important to engage all related stakeholders through comprehensive training.

The process perspective: what does a Productivity Engineer do?

The site in question is run on a one-day takt schedule. We collect the data, and our Productivity Engineer provides analysis and reports the observations to the site management on weekly basis. The Productivity Engineer participates in daily and weekly site meetings.

The technology perspective: what devices does Aiforsite use?

Data collection for situational awareness is processed through the site cameras and 360 camera recordings. We have about 10 indoor cameras on different floors and a few cameras outside, and the 360 camera shooting is done once a week.

We also deploy the positioning system on the site. Workers are wearing tags on their helmets. The tags are not used to monitor individuals but to track the progress of scheduled works. It is neither appropriate nor even possible, as no personal data is recorded on the tags. Our system tracks and processes tags’ location data based only on the serial number, which is associated with a job title of the trade, for example, plumber.

The case study site uses Takt.ing as a scheduling software and our Productivity Engineer has access to it. Carinafour’s CALS is used for material flow management.

Conclusions: benefits of Aiforsite’s approach for the site

The learnings from this project show the following benefits of Aiforsite’s solution:

  • Faster reaction time to revealed deviations
  • Improved flow of time or materials
  • Reduced amount of waste work
  • Better communications and decision-making
  • Better site progress visibility to the developer and owner
  • Complete visual documentation of the site
  • Ability to improve productivity based on data
  • Continuous learning from data

This article is a text version of Pyry Virrantaus’s, the COO of Aiforsite, talk about real-time productivity analysis for construction at the third WDBE 2021 Community Session in May 2021.

Here is a 15 min clip recording presented on AEC Business website.

If you are interested in watching a full 1,5 h discussion with the participation of professor Olli Seppänen from Aalto University, Congrid, Fira, Visilean and Aiforsite, please visit the WDBE 2021 – World of Digital Built Environment website.

Want to talk to our experts? Book a private consultation and let’s discuss your projects and needs in more detail.

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