Extend the Busy Season Using Better Construction Equipment Planning
Lost productivity due to weather can impact project profitability!
By Brad Taylor
Bad weather can cause setbacks in construction plans. Many parts of the country underwent extended periods of rainy weather last spring that delayed construction project start times and slowed progress. For instance, parts of Michigan lost more than 20 workdays due to wet weather this past spring.
Lost productivity due to weather can impact project profitability. Contractors experienced days of lost productivity that potentially positioned them to incur unplanned labor and equipment costs, and contractual penalties if those days cannot be made up during construction’s busy season.
Many contractors constructing new buildings in cold winter states have been racing to complete the shell of the buildings during this year’s remaining good weather so process work can be done inside later. They are also looking for ways to extend their busy season to work during the colder weather to make up for time lost due to spring rain.
Here are steps in equipment planning that contractors can take to remain productive after the peak-weather month of October.
Contractors can turn to deploying propane heaters in buildings to enable work during cold weather and help to stay on tight timelines. Typically, heaters are only rented when the weather becomes too cold and are not planned in project bids, so they result in an unplanned cost. Last spring’s construction delays are expected to generate heavier than usual demand for propane heaters later in the year. Contractors should not delay in preplanning activities to determine what parts of their structures will need to be heated and arrange for equipment rental of heaters to ensure sourcing is available when required.
Contractors can use ground heaters to extend the digging season. They also help cure concrete faster in the colder weather. Demand for this equipment typically grows significantly once outdoor temperatures go down, so taking early steps to budget and reserve this equipment can help ensure availability.
The true cost of heaters can’t be understood without factoring in the cost of propane or natural gas fuel. Contractors need to determine what needs to be heated and what’s its stage of construction. Buildings that are not sealed off burn more fuel than a sealed structure. Contractors need to get started on fuel planning and sourcing before the busy heating season.
Pumping heat into a building brings moisture into the structure and moisture extends worksite timelines. Dehumidifiers remove water vapor from the air and surrounding structural materials. For example, the next step after mudding drywall is painting, which needs the drywall dry. Employing dehumidifiers can shrink project timelines to get painting done faster.
Equipment needs evolve with each change in seasons. For example, once companies are past the peak of summer daylight, light tower use typically increases to extend the workday. Digital fleet management tools can help manage equipment utilization, identifying opportunities to shift underutilized equipment among teams and shifts. Boosting light tower use can satisfy jobsite needs without adding more rental equipment, saving money.
Fleet management tools can also track service issues. These tools can help contractors determine the root cause of service issues — such as equipment, training, environment or some other facto — so the problem can be addressed to achieve more uptime.
EXTENDING CONSTRUCTION’S BUSY SEASON
Most construction projects operate on tight timelines. Smart planning — identifying equipment needs before they’re needed — can help contractors make up for time lost due to poor spring weather. Construction firms are a resilient, resourceful group. Careful planning can help extend the busy season and enable contractors to accomplish what they need to in the timeframe allowed.
Written by Brad Taylor United Rentals
Brad Taylor is a District Sales Manager at United Rentals, servicing contractors in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio working on new building construction. Taylor has been at United Rentals for more than nine years.
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