A new standard developed by an ASTM International subcommittee is expected to facilitate better measurement of construction productivity at the task, project, and industry levels.
The new standard, ASTM E2691, Practice for Job Productivity Measurement (JPM), was developed by Subcommittee E06.81 on Building Economics, part of ASTM International Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings. The standard can apply to various types of construction projects, Perry Daneshgari, MCA Inc. president and a subcommittee member, told CPC/BIM.
"Productivity cannot be improved to be at par with the rest of the nation unless it is correctly measured, and the measurement then needs to be acted upon for improvement," Daneshgari said.
The technique described in ASTM E2691 measures work performed compared to construction put-in-place (CPIP), Daneshgari said. JPM allows users to determine the quality of the construction outcome by measuring observed completion of the project as accepted by the customer.
"Use of this practice will reduce the need for end-of-the-job inspection by providing ongoing and periodic feedback on errors, repairs, and rework," Daneshgari said. "These issues will be resolved as they are identified with job productivity measurement as the job progresses."
Daneshgari noted that ASTM E2691 differs from existing methods of measuring productivity because while other methods focus on accounting measures, JPM presents the capability to report on ongoing events on a job site, which offers information on improving productivity as a project unfolds.
"ASTM E2691 is needed by all stakeholders throughout the construction industry to establish a uniform method for measuring productivity based on construction put in place," Daneshgari said. "The practice is simple yet gives an appropriate level of detail in the output to be used for productivity monitoring and improvement from the job level all the way through the national level."
Subcommittee E06.81 has invited participation in the ongoing development of the standard. "We are developing more guidelines for applications and data gathering at the local, regional, and national levels for task, project, and industry," Daneshgari said. Construction and installation managers as well as representatives of government agencies are invited to contribute to work on future editions of ASTM E2691.
Construction productivity, as it has been traditionally measured in the construction industry with a focus on economics, lags about 10 times behind the national average, Daneshgari said, noting that other businesses have experienced marked improvements in using the approach prescribed in the new standard because it identifies waste. "This method is not a theoretical method; it has been in use for over 15 years in at least 300 companies, and they have all benefitted from it."
Significance and Use of JPM
JPM produces two measurements: construction production rate and productivity. JPM measures the overall production rate by comparing CPIP to the time elapsed in the construction schedule. Additionally, JPM measures overall job productivity through a comparison of labor usage to a reference point.
Furthermore, JPM provides the following other functions, according to ASTM International:
- It issues early warning signals for construction.
- It identifies productivity deviations in the form of any gains or losses in productivity, and anomalies indicating a special cause, from the productivity reference point.
- It measures the productivity changes to individual building elements (according to the UNIFORMAT II format for organizing building data, in Classification E1557) with the same methodology used for overall job productivity measurement.
- It measures ongoing changes in labor usage.
- It measures productivity wherever the labor is used in construction by the following: any contractor or construction manager directly or indirectly responsible for the productivity of the labor and its usage; any contractor or construction manager conducting self performance on any portion of the construction job; and any contractor or construction manager supervising labor performance on any portion of a construction job.
Based on the UNIFORMAT II format for organizing building data, established in Classification E1557, and depending on the level where measurement is applied (industry, total job, or building element), JPM measures construction productivity at the task, project, and industry levels, ASTM stated. By comparing labor hours used against CPIP, JPM allows for unified measurement of established building elements according to the UNIFORMAT II format. This practice establishes a process for measuring construction job productivity by comparing labor usage to CPIP.
JPM measures labor productivity of the installation processes on a construction job. CPIP is measured with input from the labor performing the installation, using elements of statistical process control and industrial engineering. JPM takes into account the difficulty of installation at any given point on a job, according to ASTM. Also, JPM evaluates relative productivity changes using trend monitoring.
Referenced documents include the following ASTM standards: E1557 Classification for Building Elements and Related Sitework -- UNIFORMAT II; E1946 Practice for Measuring Cost Risk of Buildings and Building Systems; E2166 Practice for Organizing and Managing Building Data; E2587 Practice for Use of Control Charts in Statistical Process Control; E631 Terminology of Building Constructions; and E833 Terminology of Building Economics.
Daneshgari reported that there will be appendices added to the standard, such as how to use this method for billing purposes to improve cash flow. The next opportunity to vote on the proposed appendices will be in October.