What is Construction Sequencing?

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Construction sequencing (also known as construction scheduling) is the process of identifying resources and using spatial constraints to develop a plan on how a project will be implemented.

There are two ways to sequence your construction activities. You can use the critical path method or modern technology to your advantage. The critical path method helps develop a construction schedule by focusing on tasks and constraints. 

To understand this method, assume a bridge is being constructed. Contractors must identify all tasks required to build the bridge, and then identify dependencies. A reasonable timeframe must also be assigned for each job. 

The critical path method can be time-consuming and prone to human error. Therefore, the best way to carry out construction sequencing is to make use of modern technological platforms.

An excellent example of a construction sequencing platform is ALICE, which is designed for use in complex projects like rail and tunnel construction. This platform leverages optioneering to provide alternatives for optimizing resources, reducing risk to prevent future delays.

Common construction sequencing mistakes to avoid

Here are some common sequencing mistakes made by project managers.

Failure to update a project’s schedule

One of the most common construction sequencing mistakes is the failure to update a project’s schedule. Even after a construction schedule has been established, it must be constantly maintained. This is due to the fact that unforeseen circumstances and emerging threats (such as labor shortages) must sometimes be factored in.

For example, let’s assume that the schedule was created with the assumption that 200 men would work on the project. However, over time, you may find it hard to recruit that amount of workers because of several factors, such as labor shortages in your area. In cases such as this, a project manager would have to re-adjust the schedule to account for this problem. 

Inaccurate or lack of enough data

Another common construction sequencing mistake made is the use of inaccurate data. An example is when a contractor forgets about dependencies and only worries about the main job.

This lack of accurate data can be caused by several factors, one of them being the failure to involve subcontractors in the scheduling process. Subcontractors are the main people on the ground, and so, have a better understanding of the time required to complete a task. 

Failure to keep proper records

There is much more to sequencing than assigning time to tasks. Contractors must ensure that proper records are kept and that they can be easily shared with other stakeholders. Keeping proper records is especially important when disputes with contractors arise. Having documentation will help solve the dispute faster and much more neatly.

Recordkeeping also keeps decision makers updated on what’s happening with their projects. This helps avoid back and forth, which can end up being counterproductive and cause delays.

Unrealistic resource allocation

Finally, another common sequencing mistake often made is creating an unrealistic schedule based on unrealistic projections. This, like inaccurate data, can be caused by failure to engage with subcontractors. Subcontractors should advise on whether the timeframe estimated is realistic.

What are the benefits of construction sequencing?

Here are the advantages of construction sequencing.

Understanding risk

One main benefit of construction sequencing is that the project owner understands the risks involved in building the project. Additionally, owners will have fewer surprises as the construction project progresses. This is due to the fact that the schedule will factor in internal risks and externalities, such as weather and construction permits.

Helps in resource allocation

Sequencing enables contractors and project managers to efficiently allocate resources like labor, materials, and equipment. Efficient allocation of resources ensures that there are no under or over allocations. Over allocation of resources like labor can result in construction delays, as it can cause workers to be unproductive. 

Additionally, efficient allocation of resources like equipment can boost productivity. For example, construction sequencing may determine that a construction site requires two excavators instead of one. This can effectively reduce the amount of time needed to complete a job.

Enhances communication

Communication is crucial because it allows different stakeholders to collaborate and identify flaws before they negatively affect the project. For instance, an engineer may discover that a design is too complicated to implement based on sequencing. In cases such as this, the engineer would notify the architect before the construction process starts.

During sequencing, contractors need to identify suitable communication channels that contractors and subcontractors can use. That way, idle contractors who finish their job on time will also know what to do.

Allows for peer review

Sequencing encourages different stakeholders to share files and communicate. Contractors can use established communication channels to share their schedules and design with other contractors for review. Peer reviewing, in turn, enables contractors to identify errors that they may have initially missed.

By inviting independent contractors to check your schedule and blueprints, you can receive feedback based on their expertise. 

Reduces risk

It’s no secret that construction projects are rife with risk, whether legal, environmental, or financial. By sequencing the project, contractors can identify risks early on before they cause delays. For example, through sequencing, contractors will be able to know which licenses to apply for and when.

Construction sequencing is important for every project

Whether it’s for bridge or rail construction, a proper construction schedule must always be created and maintained. Without a sufficient construction schedule, it becomes difficult for employees to know what is required of them. For project owners, it becomes difficult to know whether their project is behind schedule and whether it has remained within budget.