Heger’s primary tool is tracking performance through the development of detailed work “breakdown structures” for subcontractors. The team focuses on the most predictable aspects of the job and breaks tasks into short intervals to help stay on top of issues. If performance begins to slip, the team can quickly investigate and work toward solutions.

Although it is a team approach, Heger says crafts workers can be left to themselves to improve their productivity. “Crafts workers know how to do their jobs better than anyone. I try to set them up for success rather than try to avoid failure.”

Just as with safety, top-down pressure, rather than bottom-up initiatives, may be needed to force change, says Paul Goodrum, associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Kentucky and a member of RT 252. “In the end, it will take some leadership from government agencies to push this forward,” he says. “We’ll begin to see good breakthroughs on productivity once we get some reliable measures on it. I don’t think [the challenge] is as difficult as people think.”

Activities Defined
DIRECT WRENCH TIME Physical effort directed toward an activity or physically assisting in it.
PREP WORK Activities related to receiving assignments and determining what’s needed for tasks.
TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT Activities associated with obtaining, transporting and adjusting tools or equipment to prepare for tasks.
MATERIALS TRAVEL TIME Walking or riding empty-handed or without tools, materials or information.
WAITING TIME Includes periods of idleness, even if attentive to ongoing work by others.
PERSONAL TIME Includes any Idleness during normal work hours.