Posts Tagged ‘Construction Verification’

Extreme Photoshopping

November 29, 2011

Interesting coverage in today’s NY Times about legislation in Europe and proposed in the US about labeling photos that have been highly re-touched to the point where the appearance of the subject has been substantially altered.

In the case of a single photo, it’s next to impossible for the naked eye to detect a professional retouch. However, in our world of construction photography, we rarely deal with a single make-or-break photo. In cases where photographic evidence exists, there are often many photos from many different cameras that show the same subject. Anyone who is inclined to modify a photo in their favor, better plan on hunting down all of the other photos as well if they hope to succeed.

 

Yeah, Right.

February 24, 2009

Imagine that you are an assembly line worker in the days of Henry Ford. You work in an environment where throughput is king. In other words, keep the production line moving at any cost. If you cause the line to stop for any reason, you get fired.

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Fast forward to 1995. Ford, having learned a thing or two from Toyota, which ironically, had previously gotten their start by copying from Henry Ford, institutes Lean Manufacturing in order to instill a culture of continuous improvement through employee empowerment. For the first time ANYONE is empowered to stop the production line if they see something wrong.

Imagine for a moment what that was like for the newly empowered workers. Not having been there personally, I can only assume that the collective response to this new initiative can be summed up in two words “Yeah, right.”  One day, you can lose your job for gumming up the works. The next day, you’ve got full braking rights.

Construction personnel have the same quality rights as the Henry Ford-era workers.  In construction, the schedule has the same “Golden Calf” status as Ford’s assembly line. Impede it at your own peril.

One day, the age of enlightenment will reach construction. Hopefully, I’ll get a front row seat to hear the very first empowered construction workers say those historic words: “Yeah, right.”

Help Shape Construction’s First Quality System

February 16, 2009

Take the Geedra survey and tell us what’s important to you in the construction industry.

Geedra.com

February 7, 2009

We launched the new Geedra website today.  If construction touches your life in any way, please pay us a visit.

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13 “What if” questions for General Contractors to Ponder

December 15, 2008

What if?

  1. What if you were a General Contractor?
  2. What if you radically changed your approach to construction quality?
  3. What if you had a quality system that applied universally to all of your jobs instead of individually to each project?
  4. What if you could improve the performance of the “C” and the “D” project teams so that they performed more like the “B” team?
  5. What if you had the ability to monitor and investigate ongoing work for any of your jobs from any computer anywhere in the world?
  6. What if you had a library images and supporting data covering every critical installation your crews built over the years?
  7. What if you provided your clients with daily progress reports complete with easy-to-use dashboards and images from the jobsite?
  8. What if you could identify defects from you sub contractors within 24 – 48 hours from the time they occurred?
  9. What if you could immediately share defect-related information with your subs so that they could complete repairs while their crews were still on site?
  10. What if you could manage all of your defects so that you had complete traceability from detection through repair and acceptance?
  11. What if you could easily assign responsibility for trade damage with photographic evidence?
  12. What if at the end of every project you could turn over a complete database to your clients that chronicled the complete construction history of their building?
  13. What if? Such a system were available?

What if?

Can Construction Learn from MLB?

October 24, 2008

In an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times, Billy Beane (General Manager for the Oakland A’s) and Senator John Kerry (current Red Sox fan, former US Presidential candidate) argue for the use of the same type of statistical analysis currently in vogue among major league baseball teams for solving the country’s healthcare woes.

The following quotes immediately led me to ask whether or not the same argument could me made about  the construction industry.

On health care:

“Studies have shown that most health care is not based on clinical studies of what works best and what does not … Instead, most care is based on informed opinion, personal observation or tradition”

and on baseball before the advent of Sabermetrics

“For decades, executives, managers and scouts built their teams and managed games based on their personal experiences and a handful of dubious statistics.”

There are two essential elements to performing the necessary statistical analysis prescribed in the article; the data and the will to examine and use it. Construction Verification will be provide the data. Do you have the will to use it?

The Word is “Transparency” – Get Used to it

September 19, 2008

Attention General Contractors, Developers and anybody else within the sound of my blog(?) After the dust settles from our economy’s current meltdown and you are able to once again acquire the credit necessary for your next project, be ready for some serious changes when it comes to project transparency.

  • Say goodbye to your bank’s drive-by progress reports. Banks are going to go into “hyper drive” when it comes to guaranteeing that their projects are squeaky-clean and on time. Expect your reporting requirements to go way up and the bank’s leash to get real short.
  • If you didn’t like expense and hassle of 3rd-Party Peer Review for condos, you’re not going to be too happy because your insurance carrier to going to expand this requirement. Don’t be surprised if the practice makes its way to other types of construction. Yes, commercial and industrial markets, I’m talking to you.
  • Developers, if you thought HOA’s were in a bad mood before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. New condo buyers are going to be pretty sour after they are forced to downgrade from their original choices thanks to tightened mortgage credit.
  • Also Developers, expect to pay for the preparation of homeowner manuals for every unit you sell. You insurance company is finished covering for you after you’ve skimped on educating new homeowners on the care of their new high-tech habitat. Insurers have paid a lot of money over the years to cover homeowner claims for leaks, mold and structural damage that could have been avoided had their home been properly cared for.  The days of tossing them keys with a few appliance manuals on closing day are over.

In short, the days of completing projects using winks, nods and shortcuts are over. Those who buy, finance and insure your work are going to expect a transparent process with no surprises at the end. Get used to it.

3 Steps to Changing Construction

August 13, 2008

Given the right circumstances, even a behemoth supertanker filled with oil can be turned.  The same goes for any  institution  that wants to  initiate change.

  1. Have a top down plan –  If the captain doesn’t have command of the ship, then the sailors will not follow the orders.
  2. Have the means to do the job – Small rudders won’t turn big boats.
  3. Be persistent – The greater the inertia, the longer it takes to get the boat turning.

What does this mean for construction? The top down plan must originate with banks and insurers. They’re the constant backbone for all construction projects.  If they don’t insist on improved information coming from their sites, then project owners and contractors will never be motivated to push their projects to seek the means to provide that information.

We feel that Construction Verification is the means for initiating change in construction. Others may have other solutions, but that’s for those at the top to decide.  If the captains of the industry are committed to making to changes necessary to turn things around, then the right solution will eventually be found.

Finally, persistence is absolute. Whether your turning that oil supertanker or trying to improve the least productive industry in the US , you need to turn that wheel hard and hang on for a while before things will start to happen.

Building Airplanes vs. Building Buildings – Part 3 (The Missing Link)

July 3, 2008

So far in this series of posts I’ve discussed the well-orchestrated construction of airplanes as compared with the improvisational construction of buildings in Part 1. In Part 2 I explored the differences in inspection and monitoring for the two processes. In Part 3 I’ll discuss Construction Verification‘s role in providing project partners with the means to drive their defect rates down significantly, perhaps to levels that compare favorably with those of aircraft manufacturers.

When it comes to the development of process systems, the biggest advantage that Boeing or Airbus have over a general contractor are volume and duration. When you are planning on building thousands of aircraft over a period of ten or more years, you can justify a sizable effort in developing a sophisticated process instructions that describe the installation of every wire, nut and rivet. The payoff for this intensive process development comes in the form of reduced defects, lower rework costs and of course, safer aircraft.

In construction neither owners nor general contractors can benefit from high volume or long duration as aircraft manufacturers can. While construction partners can invest in their own individual management systems, there is no economic payoff for them if they invest in systems that govern the movement and monitoring of individual contributors on a construction site. Why pay to develop specialized process instructions for every construction operation on a building when you can’t apply that information to your next building? That is, of course, if there even is a next building? Expenditures in systems development, testing, training and implementation cannot generate a positive return on investment during the time line of a single project.

Construction Verification, however, can make up for lack of process control available to the building constructor. By monitoring all significant building systems with images and data, CV offers a contractor the means to evaluate critical operations in near real time. Thus, afford him the ability to make corrections early before work is covered, averting costly rework in the process. Early detection can also reduce the quantity of errors as timely process or design changes can reduce multiple instances of the same problem.

By recording the Construction Verification data in a database, the contractor has the power to investigate quality defects like never before. If the contractor suspects that any particular error might be “the tip of the iceberg,” he can confirm or refute his fears without leaving his desk by searching the data base for multiple instances of the same defect. For example, if there concerns about quality of the roofer’s work the contractor can zero in on all work performed under division code 075000 to view every significant membrane roofing operation without leaving his desk.

With this type of information at his fingertips, the contractor can take advantage of his improvisational environment to enact process revisions on the fly.  With a few barks into a radio, process corrections can be conveyed to the superintendent and on down the line within minutes. Try that in an airplane plant.

Beware the Apprentice Plumber on Level 6

April 22, 2008

It’s 7 AM. There’s a water line being installed in a wall on Level 6 of your multi-hundred million dollar condo project. Although your high-priced acoustics consultant instructed your high-priced architect to specify sound isolation pads be added to the feeder pipes that service two adjoining condo units, the responsibility for executing this expensive design detail falls on a 20-year old plumber’s apprentice who was out drinking ’til the wee hours the night before. The sound isolation pads get left in the box – whatever, dude.

A lawsuit seed has just been planted.

This scenario is played out on construction sites around the world every day.