Explore the construction scheduling crucial for optimizing construction timelines. Learn the top 7 techniques and how to implement them.
Proper design and execution of a construction project are strongly influenced by its scheduling and time management. How many projects are completed on time? How many are delayed or never completed?
Reflecting on these questions makes it clear that when initiating a new contract, the planning of activities is the first consideration: deciding what needs to be done, when, how and in relation to what.
To learn how to manage a project and its construction workflow, it is essential to learn to plan the activities to be performed. Various project management techniques exist for this purpose.
In this article, you will not only learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each technique. You would also explore how using suitable project management software makes construction process planning no longer a problem!
What is Construction Scheduling?
In the context of Life Cycle Management (LCM), construction scheduling represents, based on predefined goals, the process of organizing and planning activities. As well as the resources and time needed for the construction of a structure.
For the success of a project and its proper scheduling, it is important to develop a plan detailing:
- tasks to be performed, analyzing criticalities and dependencies;
- overall duration and each activity, identifying crucial sequence deadlines;
- resources and management methods;
- tasks and activities to be carried out;
- team responsibilities;
- expected outcomes.
However, the plan must be constantly updated and revised based on unforeseen issues, promptly examined and mitigated.
Importance of Planning and Time Management in Construction Projects
Planning and time management in construction projects are essential. They represent the fundamental connection between decision-making and design processes. Therefore is the necessary tool to achieve desired results.
Starting from the analysis of criticalities, scheduling becomes relevant in the construction process because it allows:
- awareness of client needs;
- assigning weight and importance to various requests;
- organizing activities to achieve goals by optimizing available resources and expected times.
Common Project Management Techniques in Construction
Common project management techniques in construction are crucial to ensure that a construction project is planned and managed effectively. These techniques help establish goals, schedule activities, allocate resources and track progress. Let’s delve into some common planning techniques in construction.
1. Gantt Chart
The Gantt chart is one of the most well-known and widely used charts for project planning because of its simplicity and graphical representation of temporal progress.
Represented by a horizontal bar chart where each bar is an activity and the length of each bar defines the time required for completion. It typically includes:
- project duration (start and end date);
- elementary activities constituting the project;
- time estimate for each activity;
- assignment of responsibilities for each activity;
- coordination and dependencies between activities.
It is used both in the design phase to define the timeline and activity dependencies. Helping break down the project into elementary activities. Provide a clear overview of work progress during the execution phase. Therefore ensuring everything is done according to plans.
2. Critical Path Method (CPM)
The CPM (Critical Path Method) or critical path method, is a deterministic tool for project planning and management. It is based on identifying the set of project activities critical to meeting the necessary completion times.
The critical path is defined as the longest period required to complete the project as a whole. Consequently, critical activities are those that must be completed first before another activity can start.
The purpose of CPM is to identify the ideal time sequence for project completion, developing and:
- identifying all activities through a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS);
- estimating activity duration;
- establishing dependencies between activities;
- defining project milestones by identifying the shortest path to achieve goals.
A crucial tool is the flowchart, where nodes represent main activities and arrows define connections and sequence between activities.
3. Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT)
The PERT diagram, an acronym for “Program Evaluation Review Technique,” is a probabilistic project management tool focused on deadlines and key project milestones.
Similar to the critical path method, in the PERT diagram, the project is mapped on a flowchart: nodes represent project milestones. These are lines from right to left representing tasks or activities to be performed. And arrows representing the sequence completion of tasks to reach the main milestones.
Traditional PERT analysis involves an average of three different time estimates for task completion:
- optimistic time: the best-case estimate, the best scenario;
- pessimistic time: the worst-case estimate, related to negative project development;
- most likely time: the most realistic estimate.
The exact formula for defining time deadlines is:
and can be measured in minutes, hours, days, and weeks.
4. Resource-Oriented Planning
Resource-oriented planning, as the name suggests, is a method of planning focused on available resources, aiming to efficiently utilize them, avoiding waste and ensuring project completion.
Depending on the contract, resources can be human, such as collaborators or employees, equipment, machinery, materials or structures.
With this planning type, it is possible to identify in advance the quantities of resources needed for project completion, pinpointing all operators and phases where they will be required. This ensures coherent assignment throughout the entire project planning and execution cycle.
5. Line of Balance (LOB) Planning Technique
The line of balance or equilibrium line planning technique is used when the project can be broken down into repetitive activities, such as the construction of a housing complex consisting of multiple buildings.
It uses a Cartesian chart where:
- on the x-axis, time is indicated;
- on the y-axis, work area is indicated.
As activities progress, time advances, but each specialized activity can only start immediately after the previous one is completed.
Due to repetition, it is possible not only to be aware of progress, organizing resources efficiently but also to predict future worker performances.
6. Q Planning
Q planning uses the bar chart as its key tool: each bar represents resource quantities and their positions indicate where and when these resources will be used.
Although it is the least used method for construction projects, it allows companies to know the quantity, type of material to be used, where it will be used and in what way.
7. Last Planner System (LPS)
The Last Planner System, whose full name is Last Planner System of Production Control, is a holistic system used to coordinate and optimize a design process.
Planning begins by establishing milestones, key project stages and continues by outlining steps backward. Aiming to create a predictable workflow between various parts to achieve reliable results. LPS allows to identify and address potential obstacles before they slow down the flow. As it shows how activities influence crucial project milestones.
Advantages of Project Management Techniques in Construction
Planning in the construction sector brings numerous benefits to workflow. Here are the main ones:
- project completion within planned times; if a detailed program is developed, considering all unforeseen events, delays are avoided, and everything is completed on time;
- greater project control, with an always-active focus on progress, allowing prompt intervention in adopting corrective measures;
- improved communication between parties, reducing conflicts and misunderstandings;
- resource, material, labor and equipment optimization where they will be invested when needed therefore avoiding unnecessary waste;
- increased productivity and profits, optimizing times and resources, improving processes and earnings;
- improved project quality, an optimized workflow allows achieving excellent results quickly, ensuring the company reaches high-quality levels and becomes a leader in the sector.
The Role of Project Management Tools for Time Management in Construction
As seen, there are different project management techniques to develop a planning process and the best choice always depends on the project type.
A method cannot be definitively better than another because each has advantages and disadvantages. The choice is based on surrounding situations or integrating multiple methods.
While the best methodology cannot be unequivocally defined regardless of choice, it is essential to accompany the methodology used with the most suitable project management tools. This, to gain that extra boost in project planning for a more solid and effective decision-making process.
From the initial uses, the automation provided by using a BIM Project Management software improves:
- information exchange between parties;
- collaborative procedures;
- control phases;
- project results;
- project and delivery times.
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