February 19, 2013
Preplanning Leads to Success
“I love it when a plan comes together.” I think anyone who is a fan of 1980’s TV remembers this quote. It was usually made by the A-Team’s crew leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Hannibal Smith (played by George Pappard), at the end of each episode after they defeated the bad guys. And if you haven’t had the joy of watching Mr. T body slam some thugs, then pull up an episode on Netflix, grab some popcorn, and enjoy!
Though there wasn’t as much action and suspense on the American Orthodontics jobsite, at the end of the project, field leaders threw their tools in the van and said “I love it when a plan comes together!” But like the A-Team’s plans, the plan for the 224,000 square foot orthodontics assembly and manufacturing facility in Sheboygan, Wisconsin did not happen by accident.
A plan was well thought-out and communicated to the entire crew prior to attacking this project, and it all started during the “get-work” stage. Faith Technologies knew a variety of contractors had done work at this facility in the past, so our numbers needed to be accurate and aggressive. After a few rounds of value-engineering and cost reductions, Faith Technologies was awarded the project, but with a low bid gross margin percentage and a tight schedule that included a day crew and night crew.
The project team knew they needed to do some work to ensure the project would be a success, and this involved extensive preplanning. One of the major components to their preplanning process was in the form of detailing. Before the job began, the project manager walked the site with the field leaders to discuss how the job was going to be built. Through this process, they were able to determine what work could be done underground vs. overhead and coordinated with other trades. They also were able to find out from the owner what they really wanted and needed. This solidified the scope to eliminate rework, and through these conversations with the owner, they also identified existing light fixtures that could be reused. At the end of the process, all feeder and branch conduits were detailed so the installation crews would have clear direction.
As the detailing was being completed, our leaders continued to sink their heads into the project. They soon came to the conclusion that they could meet the project schedule working only one shift, not two, as the original bid outlined. Utilizing the detailed drawings, the team broke down the job into pieces and created two teams. They armed their crews with 11×17 printouts of the detailed drawings for each area that they were responsible for, and got to work! This team work and thorough communication created two effective and efficient teams. This detailed preplanning also spilled over into other areas of success:
- Prefabrication: Utilizing the detailed drawings, all of the branch wire was pre-spooled and all cord drops were provided.
- Transportation: There were two trucks in the bid, but since they didn’t need them they used those dollars to rent a fork-lift instead, this made moving material around much safer and easier.
- Central Purchasing: Since the project was fully-detailed, the team was able to generate an accurate bill of materials.
- Tools and Equipment: The team utilized the Mantis for wire pulls, and had bins placed around the job site to collect scrap. They used the lift cart accessory feature, and put everything on wheels.
- Materials: Used SimPull cable for easier installation.
Preplanning is a commitment that needs to be made by the entire team, starting with estimating and rolling into kick-off meetings with field leaders. As proven by the American Orthodontics project team, if you make the commitment, you will finish the job by saying, “I love it when a plan comes together!”