How to Use Industrial Engineering/Manufacturing Techniques for Enhancing Project Performance

RT-265 Topic Summary
RT 265


Research Team 265 (RT-265) was chartered to research the possibility of improving the cost, schedule, quality, and safety of field project operations through the application of industrial engineering (IE)/manufacturing techniques to everyday construction issues. The team isolated and adapted a number of techniques that allow construction site personnel to solve problems by identifying and deploying the appropriate IE techniques.

Although the mention of IE usually evokes images of time and motion studies, modern industrial engineering offers a broad collection of tools and techniques that can be adapted to everyday construction site situations. Industry trends for field-based projects have seen a large amount of Non-Value Adding (NVA) activities. The amount of NVA on any given project could range between 50% and 75%. This range was determined by previous CII research. Many healthcare projects and facilities have experienced great improvements in efficiencies and reductions in NVA activities.

RT-265 set three research objectives:

  • Develop an approach that will help the end user identify
 waste that can be corrected with an IE technique. Waste 
is the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end user. “End user” is defined as the superintendents, foremen, warehousemen, and others who work on a construction site, as well as those individuals responsible for planning the execution of construction projects. 

  • Construct a methodology for matching the most appropriate IE techniques to the targeted problems. 

  • Answer the question, “Which type of tool would guide the onsite application of IE techniques to problems that previous research has identified as causing poor performance?” 

RT-265 concluded that there is great potential in reducing NVA activities by implementing IE techniques on the construction jobsite.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Key Factors to NVA

Previous research isolated five significant factors contributing to non-value adding (NVA) activities. (RS265-1, p. 3)

  1. Incorrect materials
  2. Inadequate equipment
  3. Lack of appropriate tools
  4. Absence of information
  5. Insufficiently qualified personnel
Reference: (RS265-1)

2 : Potential IE Techniques to Site Related Challenges

RT-265 created a table of possible IE solutions that could resolve challenges often faced on a project site. Samples of these techniques are shown in the table below. (RS265-1, p. 8)
Reference: (RS265-1)

3 : The “Five Whys” to a Root Cause

RT-265 took advantage of the “Five Whys” process to identify root causes of common project challenges. This process was utilized to determine which of the standard IE techniques could possibly resolve the challenges. (RS265-1, p. 12)
Reference: (RS265-1)

4 : Problem Identification Flowcharts

Part of the implementation tool developed by the RT was flowcharts. These flowcharts are utilized in the quick identification of project site challenges. The charts are a visual flow based on the team’s “Five Whys” process. (RS265-1, p. 13)
Reference: (RS265-1)

5 : ROI of Implementing IE Techniques

There is a return for implementing IE techniques to eliminate NVA. However, RT-265 determined that the ROI of implementing IE techniques couldn’t be determined on a process or project wide basis. The ROI is unique to each application and its many variables and site exclusive challenges. The best approach may be for each company to create their own hypothetical example using predetermined constants. In the "big picture," RT-265 would indicate very minimal costs to implement this type of program; therefore benefits result in a priceless return.
(RS265-1, p. 29)
Reference: (RS265-1)

6 : Implementation Tool #1

RS265-1, IE Techniques for Construction Jobsites

Shows the benefits of using 22 IE techniques to improve jobsite problems. (RS265-1, Appendix, p. 31)

Reference: (RS265-1)

7 : Implementation Tool #2

RR265-11, Problem Identification Flowchart

Each flowchart is a decision tree that leads site personnel from problem identification to IE techniques that might improve the situation. There is a flowchart for each of the 5 NVA categories: (RR265-11, p. 31)

  • Equipment
  • Materials
  • Tools
  • Information
  • Personnel
Reference: (RR265-11)

8 : Implementation Tool #3

RR265-11, Planning Assistant 

This tool addresses the use of IE techniques during the planning phase that can prevent problems later. The purpose of the Planning Assistant is to provide the project team with a systematic approach (step-by-step instructions) for planning the layout of a construction site. (RR265-11, p. 55)
Reference: (RR265-11)

Key Performance Indicators

Reduced project cost, Improved project productivity, Improved project profitability

Research Publications

Industrial Engineering/Manufacturing Techniques for Enhancing Construction Project Performance - RS265-1

Publication Date: 01/2014 Type: Research Summary Pages: 35 Status: Tool

Industrial Engineering/Manufacturing Techniques for Enhancing Construction Project Performance - RR265-11

Publication Date: 12/2012 Type: Research Report Pages: 274 Status: Reference

Presentations from CII Events

Plenary Session - Industrial Engineering Techniques for Improving Field Project Operations

Publication Date: 07/2010 Presenter: Number of Slides: 19 Event Code: AC10

Implementation Session - Industrial Engineering Techniques for Improving Field Project Operations

Publication Date: 07/2010 Presenter: Number of Slides: 27 Event Code: AC10