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Execution Intelligence:
Interval Planning

 

Originally aired on 5/6/2020

21 Minutes

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Formulating a big-picture, long-term CAPEX schedule is one thing. Actually executing to that schedule is yet another challenge. Historically, short-term daily or weekly field execution planning has been a separate and very analog process from the CPM schedule against which the project was originally forecasted. 

In this webcast, InEight’s Keith Anderson discusses how superintendents and foremen are using interval planning to plan their daily crew allocation in line with the overarching project CPM schedule. You’ll learn how this new approach massively drives execution confidence and achievability of the original CPM schedule.

Transcript

 

John Klobucar:

Hello, I’m John Klobucar with InEight, and I’d like to welcome you to the latest webinar in our Path of Construction series. Today’s webinar is titled How to Ensure On-Time Execution Through Interval Planning. Our presenter is Keith Anderson, who was the director of product management for InEight. Keith is responsible for the planning, scheduling, and risk solutions at InEight’s capital project management software portfolio. He brings more than 20 years of product design and management, business development and customer success to the team. If you have any questions as you watch this webinar, please email them to webinars@ineight.com and Keith will do his best to answer them. Also, this presentation is being recorded, and we’ll be sending you a link to the video in about a week’s time. Once again, we’re glad you’ve joined us, and now let me introduce Keith Anderson.

Keith Anderson:

Hey, thanks for that introduction. Thanks everyone for joining us today. It’s great to be here. My name is Keith Anderson. I’m the product director for the planning, scheduling and risk solutions here at InEight. Today, I want to discuss how workface planners use interval planning to plan work and make sure that they really have the right crews, materials and equipment in the right place at the right time, and how this approach drives execution, excellence and achievability with the overall project plan.

Keith Anderson:

So studies have shown that on average, 35 to 50% of craft workers’ time is nonproductive, meaning that work is not getting done due to unresolved constraints such as material shortages, a hold up in another area of a project, labor shortage and many more aspects. Although this nonproductive time can never be eliminated, implementing a best practice planning methodology can greatly improve efficiency, and one of these best practices is interval planning. Interval planning is a process that addresses the dynamic nature of executing work in the field and continuously evaluating dependencies and other constraints to keep work flowing smoothly. It really requires this detailed planning to ensure that the crews have what they need when they need it, and sets forth safety, quality, productivity, cost and completion expectations before the work begins.

Keith Anderson:

Now look, today I’m going to use the term ‘interval planning.’ This practice goes by many names: SIP, SIS, look-ahead scheduling, field-execution planning, workface planning, last planner method, and so forth. They all mean the same thing. The CPM schedule is a great tool created to map out a total Path of Construction that a project will take from beginning to end and how the project will achieve and incorporate all the scope and resources to result in successful on-time completion. It serves a great purpose, breaking down the work from a high level, level one, level two, planning packages, work packages, all the way down to the activity level. But the dynamic nature of the details needed for the workface level task planning is just not a great fit for the CPM schedule.

Keith Anderson:

So CPM and SIP, working together, provide a really powerful means to improve overall efficiency. There should be no debate whether it’s SIP or CPM that’s the right planning and scheduling tool. Really, the answer is both, because in the field, the steps or tasks can oftentimes be rearranged and moved around, split up, while waiting for material or equipment. It’s a more free and dynamic environment, and a more free and dynamic means that is needed. As long as those details stay within the activity boundaries set out by the CPM plan, then all is good.

Keith Anderson:

So today, the methods shown here may be very familiar to a lot of you. When we set out to build this capability within the InEight Schedule solution, we went out to a vast number of projects across different industries – building, power plants, oil and gas facilities, infrastructure, etc. We found that Excel, whiteboards and printouts posted on the cubicle wall are how multi-million- and billion-dollar projects are being run in the day-to-day. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. The challenge with these approaches is that they’re all very disconnected. The field supers each had their own look-ahead schedule, and they were disconnected from the master schedule; they were also disconnected from each other. Each super had their own Excel file, and really there wasn’t the visibility. It’s hard to collaborate in that sort of environment, so it’s hard to visualize how the work sequencing will be performed, and really who’s responsible for each task, and very importantly, how it relates back to the master schedule.

Keith Anderson:

If the details at the workface planning level move outside of the CPM schedule, how do we know that and what our options are for recovery and re-planning of the overall master schedule? So let’s take a look at this inaction a new way – how interval planning can be done in a new, more dynamic and collaborative means. 

Okay, great. So now we’re in InEight Schedule, and as an interval planner, when I come into the solution, I’m going to go straight to the execute part. This is where I’m going to do my interval planning. It’s already pre-filtered by things that are assigned to me, by my timeframe, and we’re always looking at things in the context of today – today and forward. So, in this case, I’m looking at a 30-day window, and these are the few CPM activities. These represent the CPM activities and the duration. This area here is some non-working time – so the weekend – but you’ll see how we can plan with that.

Keith Anderson:

So as an interval planner, I’m going to simply come in and start to create some steps for my tasks. So let’s run some wire. I have some crews that I generally work with that are going to be doing this task, so let’s pick a crew. In this case, this is going to be a subcontractor crew, and we’ll say that there’s 200 feet of wire that we need to pull. And then I defined the duration for this task in this mode. So I would go forth and do this throughout this part of the project, and I would define what crews are being used to do this, 120 boxes, and this can take three days. So you’ll notice that along the way, the system’s telling me how many of these things am I going to install. So as I’m doing this, again we’re in context of our CPM schedule, but we’re not doing CPM scheduling. So these task-level items, these are things that I can very easily, fluidly move around.

Keith Anderson:

You’ll notice that each day is independent of another, so I can plan these things as I see fit as a superintendent, as the workface planner. It’s very easy to use, very dynamic, and I can start this work ahead of the CPM tasks. That’s perfectly okay. We call that a breach, so whether these tasks are starting ahead of the CPM or getting pushed beyond the CPM date, then we show that as a breach. This is a very important communication, not only to the planner – the interval planner – but to the scheduler and the broader project team to show how these, the workface plans, are being planned in relation to the overarching plan. We see that this task, for example, is marked in red, so that means it’s a critical path of activity. This rough-in and lighting is not a critical path activity, so likely there’s some float that could be played around with. Ultimately, that’ll be up to the scheduler and project manager to determine if any of these breaches impact that float.

Keith Anderson:

I’ve been looking at only things assigned to me as an interval planner. I’m going to open this up now, because I want to take a look at what are other tasks other supers on this project are performing. I can see Ben with the rough and fine grade on the grading task, and my tasks are somewhat dependent on those tasks. So I can see that it seems like there are some challenges there. They’re only performing at 71% of their expected quantity installed per day, so they’ve pushed out some of these tasks. I’m now aware of that, and that’s probably also going to impact Allen’s work.

Keith Anderson:

As Allen – if I say that I’m Allen – I’m going to do some of the curb and guttering tasks here and I pick a crew for Allen. Allen’s got a concrete crew that also has a productivity rate assigned to this, so this is a great means that can be used by the superintendent, by the workface planner, to help them. So if I say that I need to do 700 cubic yards of concrete based on my output and my crew size, the system tells me, “Hey, that’s going to take three days and I can do a total of 240 cubic yards of concrete per day.” And again, Allen would come in and say when these things are going to take place. We also are looking at – and this is very helpful here as we look out in the very short term – what’s the weather look like? This week looks pretty clear in our location, but it looks like next Monday we might get some rain, so we’ll continue to monitor this as we get closer to some of these tasks. Maybe the form work can’t be performed in the rain.

Keith Anderson:

We have some great communication mechanisms here for, not only that individual interval planner, but the whole project team. To that end, we can look at, if I come in as a project scheduler and I want to see, “Hey, what tasks have been breached?” and start to have the conversation with the superintendents and field crews on how we might be able to bring these back in, that’s very easy to do. I can also look at different metrics, so if I want to look at what are my FTEs, how many people are we going to have in each area at any given time, et cetera, I’m grouping by my WVS right now. I can also do grouping by some other location codes or whatever codes I have in my schedule. I can flatten this out and see it just by activity. One of the most powerful things is to look at this by crew and start to see, do I have any crew breaches where I have overutilized any of my crews across different of the CPM activities? I haven’t. If I did, it would show up in nice, bold red to demonstrate that.

Keith Anderson:

So we have a lot of good tools to be used to help the field and to do their planning. I can look at this in the context of 30 days. I can look at this in context of, let’s look out a little bit further, see what activities we have in our further timeframe that I should be planning, or I can look at a near-term view, or hey, let’s just look at the next three weeks. And then ultimately, having this on an electronic medium. A lot of our people that are using this already are throwing this up on a screen in the coordination meetings and it’s being used in real time interactively to move these items around and say, “Well, if we work some weekend days, we can lessen the impact and bring that work in. With the form work, we could probably start that a little bit earlier. We need to maybe split up this curving work.”

Keith Anderson:

So it’s all very easy to use interactively inside of a meeting or whenever it’s needed, but another good communication tool is the ability to take this information online and deliver it out to a subcontractor, or so that a foreman can have it in his back pocket for a cruise. So we have this very nice ability to export the information out to an Excel file, which gives you the ultimate flexibility to be able to have this information. Again, it can be sent to a subcontractor or the field can have this in their back pocket, but interactively, again, is best, and many of our customers have all their direct superintendents as well as subcontractors in here doing this all at the same time and being able to use this as a nice interactive and collaborative means to plan out their projects.

Keith Anderson:

So where are we going with all of this? We really see that this capability and the uniqueness of this solution is super powerful, and will be really helpful to project teams. So when we looked at how can we further expand and bring together some of the other parts of the InEight solution, and we look at our field execution, parts of our solution, our InEight Plan and InEight Progress solutions, really in the interval planning we’re really defining the when. When are we going to perform and do these tasks? And inside of Plan, inside of Progress, really defining the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ – so bringing these things together to be able to bring in the how and the what through the work packages and components that are defined based on the material takeoffs and drawings. Then we also wrangle in our Model solution as part of it, and so really very, very near term.

Keith Anderson:

We’re integrating these parts of our solutions together so we can get the ‘how,’ the ‘when’ and the ‘what’ all nicely tied together, so that when we’re creating these interval steps, they’re really based on that information that we already have – the component information, the takeoff information, how many pipe spools do we have to install, how many welds do we have to perform? In addition to that, we look at how are these things being progressed out in the field today using the field part of our solution in Plan and Progress. Having that field capability where the foremen are doing their daily planning, and as part of that, recording every day how much time they spend, what was the quantity that they installed and so forth, and being able to tie all that information back up into the interval plan and ultimately help to inform the CPM plan based on the progressing of all that component information.

Keith Anderson:

So exciting times with what we have today with this solution, and also where we’re heading with it tomorrow. I think that today we’ve only really touched on one part of the InEight Schedule solution. It’s only one part of the magic that InEight Schedule can bring to a project team. The full solution brings pre-planning, and planning scheduling and risk management, in addition to the interval planning. 

So as I bring this back full circle, it shouldn’t be a question of CPM or interval planning. It’s a question of these two things working in concert with each other and getting the most out of that roadmap Path of Construction-level CPM planning and scheduling. Continuously breaking down that work and seeing the full picture, and then being able to go down to that ultimate detail level where things are very fluid, move around based on availability of equipment, materials and people, as long as these things stay within the context of the CPM activity. And if they don’t, to provide visibility and a way to map out a path forward.

Keith Anderson:

So with that, I want to say a big thank you, everybody, for taking time out of your day. I hope you enjoyed this webinar, and let’s keep the conversation going. Please reach out to us. We’d love to talk to you more about interval planning and execution excellence within a schedule. Thank you again.

John Klobucar:

Thanks, Keith. Again, if you have any questions, please email them to webinars@ineight.com. To learn more about InEight, as well as our broad portfolio of construction project management solutions, visit InEight.com and click on the ‘Request a Demo’ button. If you’d like to see a schedule of upcoming webinars, visit InEight.com/webinars. Thank you for watching. This concludes our presentation.