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Are craft workers spending enough time on task? Is there enough wrench time?

Or is a lot of the work week being wasted?

Puzzling over drawings. Looking for missing tools.

Or because no one knows how to work that new pump. So entire crews stand around waiting.

Forty years ago, during a time of high construction inflation, ENR made a long, detailed investigation of lagging craft worker productivity. The magazine pointed its finger at cushy union agreements and work rules and the contractor managers that agreed to them. What you ended up with was featherbedding. Restrictions on labor-saving devices. Coffee breaks that went into overtime.

Nationally, unions are weaker now.

The conversation on productivity has changed somewhat. The discussion is framed as a problem to be solved with business process management, through precise measurement and baselines and benchmarks.

Workers are also asked their opinions. A study published two years ago by the American Society of Civil Engineers reported that workers said the biggest losses in work time involved tools, materials, engineering drawing management and equipment.

Is that how you see it?

And should there be more wrench time?

Let me know. We’re planning a major feature on the subject of craft worker productivity.

Tell me what you think.

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