A Study on HVAC and Electrical Installation Productivity

HVAC installations

A recently published Aalto University research report (in Finnish) looks at waste in HVAC and electrical installations. The project measured the amount of non-value-adding time, i.e., waste, investigated its root causes, and developed ways to improve productivity.

The researchers studied four Finnish construction sites. They collected data with hardhat video cameras, indoor positioning technology, interviews, and surveys.

Unnecessary hurdles

The report paints an alarming picture of construction efficiency. The HVAC and electrical installation teams face challenges that make it almost impossible to be productive.

The designs do not consider constructability, the general contractor’s plans and schedules are superficial, the necessary information and communication are lacking, etc.

No wonder HVACE workers used barely 20% of their work time for actual installations. They spent 18% of their time on entirely non-value-adding tasks. Of the remaining 62%, many of the activities resulted from poor communication, impaired logistics, and unnecessary movement.

The following graph breaks down the workers’ time for various activities during the research period.

breakdown of HVACE installation work time distribution

Tactics for a better future

The researchers suggested several tactics to improve productivity. A fundamental improvement would be to let those doing the installations participate in planning and design.

Second, a logistics service should provide workers with material kits delivered on time to the exact location of the assembly. All the materials on the site should be stored “on wheels.”

Third, the use of HVAC prefabrication should increase, as is the case in the USA, UK, and Australia. Based on research done in the USA, prefabrication could improve productivity by 25%.

The researchers also highlight the benefits of takt production. It enforces better planning and coordination of work and makes deviations visible at once.

Finally, they remind us of the value of effective communication and how digital systems and tools can help the workers plan and manage their work and collaborate better.

You can read the report in Finnish at aalto.fi.

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