While this paper is not aimed at analysing whether this system constitutes a credible means for measuring on-site productivity, it was felt that this system provided an effective way for managers to establish how progress was being made. Hence, this allowed project participants to get a feel of the productivity of the workers by complementing the measure of PPC with the number of man-hours expended. To show a simplistic example, using figure 1 above, let us assume that work package 1 utilises the same amount of man-hours throughout the project. Therefore, one can safely deduce that achieving 100% PPC in say week 13 and 76% PPC in week 14 would signify a dip in labour productivity. In other words, PPC can be viewed as an output in the productivity ratio and so alleviate the problems of complexities involved in construction operations and sub-contracted work packages experienced in project A above. Furthermore, such information should provide useful feedback to the workforce regarding their performance.
Implementing this system for the project participants was also met with a number of challenges. For instance, the system is largely paper based and therefore archiving such information and managing it within a database would still require the deployment of manpower. Nonetheless, as compared with the attempts in project A, this is perceived to be relatively more straightforward. It would also be tempting to proclaim that running this system commenced from the first day of the project. In fact, the project managers had attempted to implement such a system on a previous project six years ago but faced immense resistance from the project workers as it was then thought to create a blame culture so that fault could be apportioned when things went wrong. Interestingly, another project observed, which involved the construction of an office block in central
In conclusion, the paper raised the issue of the importance of, and lacklustre attitude of companies towards, measuring on-site productivity. Thereafter, a review of the limitations behind the key textbook approaches to measuring productivity was provided and these represent some of the problems, which contribute to the industry’s reluctance to measuring productivity. We have then taken the reader on a journey through two projects observed and summarised here some of the practical issues faced in the implementation of an on-site productivity measurement system. These include the time and expertise needed in handling the complexities of productivity data and resistance from the workforce. In essence, the underlying theme throughout the experience is that a productivity measurement system has to be comprehensive enough to take into account the complexities of today’s construction operations and ever increasing emphasis on sub-contract work packages as seen in project A; but simple enough to be effective as portrayed in The Last Planner system in project B. However, the reliability of using The Last Planner system to measure productivity was beyond the remit of this current study. Nonetheless, the experience of project participants in project B shows that it works in reality to help provide that informed view of on-site productivity levels needed to bring about improvements. Therefore, further work is required to establish the feasibility of using such a system in measuring productivity.
The authors would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the project participants who willingly provided access to their time and information, and which taught the researchers much of what is being summarised within this paper. The authors would also like to thank the reviewers for their constructive comments that resulted in the final version of this paper. Any errors or omissions, however, remain the responsibility of the authors.
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