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The Management of Construction a Project Lifecycle

The Management of Construction a Project Lifecycle

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Published by: muneeb2u on Jul 20, 2009
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In this short section we consider the last of the four Ms, the primary resources that must be
managed on the construction site. Machinery in this context means the machines that carry, hoist
or otherwise move the various materials and components to and around the site, plus other
machines that remove, process or convert materials. They are moved to the site for use during
the construction operations phase and are not incorporated into the finished project. Some
regions of the world use the term plantto refer to this machinery, while others call it equipment,
sometimes leading to confusion between these items and the permanent equipment that becomes
part of the finished project. Sometimes the term rolling equipmentis used to refer to the
equipment that travels on tyres or tracks, to distinguish these types from such fixed equipment
as concrete batching plants. Equipment plays a larger role and has a larger proportion of the
budget in a highway or heavy construction project than it does in a project to construct a
building. Hendrickson and Au (1989) provide a helpful breakdown of common types of
construction equipment.

Excavation and loading. Crawler, truck or wheel mounted cranes, shovels, draglines, tractors
with blades (bulldozers) and scrapers.

Compaction and grading. Various types of rollers, some vibratory, used to provide mechanical
means to increase soil density. Motor graders and grade trimmers to shape soil and bring it
to proper elevation.

244The Management of Construction

Drilling and blasting. Percussion, rotary and rotary-percussion drills to provide holes in rock
for the placement of explosives. Tractor-mounted rippers for penetrating and prying rock.
Automated tunnelling machines with multiple cutter heads capable of cutting full diameter
tunnels in rock.

Lifting and erecting. Derricks and tower cranes, both of which are mounted in a stationary
position, plus truck- or tractor-mounted mobile cranes. Material and personnel hoists.

Mixing and paving. Portland cement concrete mixers mounted on trucks, self-propelled
Portland cement concrete paving mixers, truck-mounted bituminous distributors and
bituminous paving machines.

Construction tools and other equipment. Air compressors, pumps and such pneumatic or
electric tools as drills, hammers, concrete vibrators and saws.

In managing the cost aspects of jobsite equipment operations, the contractor records and works
with two types of data, the timethe equipment is operated and the rateto be charged for each
hour of operation. The actual charge against the project budget depends on whether the
equipment is leased or rented for the job or is owned by the company. If it is leased for the
project duration or some part thereof, the lease cost will be directly charged to the project. Time
cards, similar to labour time cards, will be used to record the actual time spent by the equipment
and operating personnel; if the lease payments are based on a fixed monthly charge plus an
hourly rate, the recorded hours will become part of the payment basis. In the case of an hourly
rental arrangement, the actual hours will be multiplied by the hourly rate to determine the

If the jobsite equipment is owned by the company, it is common practice for the company
to establish ‘rental rates’ that are charged to its projects by the hour, day or week. Often, a
separate division of the company will oversee all equipment management and occasionally, a
legally separate company will be formed. A fair rental rate will be crucial to both the project,
so that it is not overcharged, and to the company, so that it recoups all of its costs. The
definition of ‘costs’ is a matter of company policy; surely costs include the capital recovery
cost of the purchase price (sometimes denoted by depreciation plus interest), licensing and
insurance. Other costs incurred as a consequence of ownership and operation include fuel, oil
and lubricants, routine servicing and maintenance, major overhauls and labour costs of
operating personnel. The company must decide whether to embed these costs into the rental
rates or have the projects charge actual costs against their budgets. Except for labour costs
and possibly fuel, oil and lubricants, it is probably in the best interest of company and its
equipment fleet to include the other costs in the rental rates. Otherwise, a ‘penny wise and
pound foolish’ project manager may neglect upkeep and maintenance on equipment assigned
to the project, in the interests of showing a higher job ‘profit’ than if such costs were incurred
and charged to the job.
No matter how the costs are charged, the maintenance of construction equipment is an
important jobsite function. Note that our jobsite organisation chart in Figure 5.26 provides for
a master mechanic, with shops and equipment, reporting directly to the project superintendent.
In some cases, the reality is that maintenance and repairs are performed in less than ideal
conditions, such as a broken scraper axle being welded in place adjacent to a mudhole beside
the roadway embankment where it failed, late at night in the presence of traffic, mosquitoes and
artificial light. Records of maintenance efforts and costs are essential both to make proper
charges and to help decide when equipment should be replaced.
Two equipment-related decisions usually not directly within the purview of the jobsite
manager are (1) whether to lease, rent or purchase and (2) when a piece of equipment should be

Project operations phase245

replaced rather than repaired and kept in service. For most contractors, these questions are
studied and resolved by central office staff, often with substantial amounts of forecasting and
economic analysis.

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