Commentary

our observations about the economy, labor, and regulations

BY DAVID BOOTHE |

As a result of the burgeoning economy and the waning workforce, especially in the construction trades area, I think it is imperative to offer some items of advice to project coordinators and management. ARC is finding that the availability of “qualified” tradesmen is declining and with several large projects going on (and in the works) nationally, it is becoming more and more difficult to find good workmen for the projects we are contemplating and already awarded.

Additionally, since the economy is racing along at a grand prix pace, our customers are finding it difficult to find time in their production schedules to shut units down for any period, let alone a rebuild one. This has caused several schedule shifts in our work load. Some have even had multiple windows appear, just to close and push back the timing.

What I am getting at here are some points to ponder and consider when planning your next outage.

■  Do not wait until the 10th hour to determine a scope and go out for an RFQ. Short bid schedules prior to a planned outage create burdens to finding a workforce supply. If you plan an outage in 1st Quarter 2019, then you should be bidding those projects now.

■  Realizing that time is precious in both instances, do not try to shortcut the rebuild or repair schedule. If it took you 35 days the last time and the scope is the same or even larger this coming time, why plan to do it in 30 days or ask the bidders to give you their best schedule and price?

■  If you absolutely must reschedule a project work with your contractor to see what works best for both of you. But be cognizant that delayed projects more than likely will result in increased prices, due to increased scope, material, transportation and labor costs.

■  There is a worst time of year for projects to be done; Thanksgiving to Valentine’s day and the week surrounding the 4th of July are traditionally shutdown times for the most industrial complexes. So, if you absolutely don’t have to, don’t pick those times. Workforces are stretched to the breaking point, as are equipment rentals, material suppliers, etc.

■  Let me honest, folks, working 12-hour shifts or 7 days per week for an extended time is NOT cost effective and even dangerous. It is a well-known fact that productivity falls some 40% in these schedules and safety rates decline dramatically as well.

We recognize that each of you are special - well, special to us. We want your experience with ARC to be typical. That is: great workmanship, on-time schedule performance, highest safety rating you can find, and all at the best price we can offer. However, in these economic times with extreme workforce shortages - and since you all are special - please try not to make our collective jobs harder. 

■  Plan well in advance and ask for bids early.

■  Do not take an inordinate amount of time to decide who to award to. He who is first to the well, gets the best water.

■  If the project is not already funded and you are seeking help with that issue, be up front. Ask for budget numbers or work with your known contractors for assistance early in that instance. We want your project to be successful, your people happy, and our people proud of the efforts we have expended. Oh, and there’s that profit thing to consider, too.

■  Consider the consequences of delaying a project. Ask your contractor what their thoughts and labor issues are before making that decision. It can impact your costs dramatically.

I hope you find these thoughts useful. It is our intention to provide each of you with the best possible service and the most reasonable time and cost. ■  

 

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