Lest you think I’m about to delve into rational, relevant or every day philosophy, let me dissuade you from that thought. No, we’re talking about fasteners here – the bane of estimators and project managers everywhere. Why?
No matter how many fasteners are estimated, more will be required for the job, despite any padding built in by estimators and /or project managers.
One of the first lessons most all of us heard when coming to this business was the myriad of logical reasons fasteners disappear from the job. I still remember my first boss walking me through his train of thought: the field people put a handful of assembly fasteners in their pockets or tool belts before going to the area to do the installation work. At the end of the day, the fasteners remain in that pocket. Or, they fall out of the tool belt placed in the gang box on the pickup. In all likelihood, once the fasteners get to the crewmember’s home or fall out of the tool belt into the bottom of the gang box, they’ll never see the jobsite again.
Fasteners also get dropped off stages, roll off the floor, and disappear into the ether. It’s much easier to grab another one from the box, pocket or bucket than to go chasing after one little ol’ screw. After all, how much does one screw really cost in the overall scheme of a single project?
After a while, it all adds up. The inevitable phone call is placed to the PM, to the supplier, to the source of the fasteners: “Hey, send us some more, you didn’t send us nearly enough.” I have never received a phone call where the field crew admitted losing, misplacing or otherwise can’t account for missing fasteners.
Shop crews have an easier time managing fasteners – the fasteners are usually applied in a work cell, they don’t have to wander far from the box they came in and they’re not likely to “walk away,” as opposed to what happens on the job site. Telling the field crews they have to better manage the fasteners doesn’t provide much in the way of results. The fastener cost is so small compared to the field labor/hourly rate the field guys get. How much time does a PM want the field crews to spend accounting for every #8 x ½ stainless steel Phillips undercut flat head fastener a job might require? Or any other of the 100s of screws on a job. It’s easier (cheaper? faster?) to make the call to the PM to order more, right?
Here’s a challenge: who can come up with the most intriguing story of how fasteners walk off a job? Like cops listing the reasons they’ve heard about why they shouldn’t write that ticket, I’ll bet there are some doozies out there. Any takers?
Next week: The tech side of fasteners.