article Fall 2020

Assessing & Ensuring Construction Readiness

The construction industry is a competitive field with constant pressure to complete projects on schedule and within budget. Due to this, projects are often launched without adequate assessment of the readiness of the project. This leads to low productivity, delays, and even projects coming to a halt while decisions and changes are made.

UW Madison’s Construction Engineering & Management (CEM) program, part of the department of civil and environmental engineering, is highly renowned and conducts research related to Integrated Project Delivery, Augmented/Virtual Reality/Disruptive Technology, and Construction Automation and Sensing, among other topics that improve and advance the construction industry.

Recently, the CEM program at UW Madison entered a research competition with the Construction Industry Institute (CII), the most prestigious research organization relating to construction. The competition encouraged research regarding the topic of construction readiness and was headed by Professor Awad S. Hanna. Readiness refers to a project’s overall ability to maintain productive momentum without having to stop or slow down work. The research team derived 228 construction readiness factors that encompass 15 categories. After collecting data from 80 different projects, each readiness factor was given a weight, with higher weights indicating a larger impact on the construction readiness.

Innovative Construction Techniques at Engineering Centers Building. Photo by Jacobo Kirsch Tornell.

The group of experts in alliance with the CII created a Construction Readiness Assessment (CRA) tool using Microsoft Excel and Visual Basic for Applications. This tool uses the weighted readiness factors to determine a Construction Readiness Score (CRS) that is represented as a percentage to assess the readiness level of a project. The tool then compares the computed CRS to three identified benchmarks: Construction-Not-Ready (0% — 75%), Borderline (75% — 85%), and Construction-Ready (85%-100%). The tool also recognizes construction readiness factor categories that can help increase or better maintain the project readiness. When the CRA tool is used repeatedly through the duration of the planning and construction phases of a project, readiness can be tracked and recorded to ensure improvement in the project readiness.

The CRA tool was used on 80 projects and statistical analysis indicated that Construction-Ready projects outperformed Not-Construction-Ready projects in several ways. Most notably, a 20% cost savings occurred on Construction-Ready projects, along with a 22% schedule time reduction, 29% productivity improvement, 7% decrease in rework, and 21% decrease in contract changes.

Photo by Jacobo Kirsch Tornell

This tool is now available to CII members and is being leveraged by construction contractors to improve their productivity. Although this tool was created for the construction industry, its applications are not limited to just construction projects. The CRA tool could be applied to any technical project with specifically designed readiness factors. For example, the tool could be used to show that a new product is ready to be manufactured, a new process is ready to be implemented, or even for personal use such as travel preparation. By incorporating this technology into the standard project preparation, projects can save money and time while improving productivity and overall performance.

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