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Putting projects in pole position

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Preparing for shorter and smaller jobs is easier when you ask the right questions. The Job Readiness Review tool developed by KAEFER in Australia applies LEAN principles to small projects, getting a head start in the process.

In racing, the pit crew needs to be in a constant state of readiness. This makes lightning-fast refuelling and part replacement possible with absolutely no waste – of time or materials. The Job Readiness Review process for small projects pioneered by KAEFER in Australia follows the same principle: make sure teams are ready to go, with all the resources they need in place as soon as they need them.

When around 90% of projects last no longer than one month, as they do in the Australian market, it’s often more of a challenge to fully apply LEAN, including all the necessary training and procedural steps. This is what led to the development of the Job Readiness Review, which is effectively a series of questions posed before the commencement of a project to ensure that all elements for its successful completion are in synch. The Job Readiness Review is a digital tool, where a checklist provides scores for the readiness of 6 key areas: management, labour, plants, equipment and tools, materials, systems and job set-up. Work can only go head when the combined score reaches at least 85%. It’s more than just a checklist, however. It’s a preparation system that facilitates continuous improvement by considering all the elements that contribute to project success – no matter how small it may be.

Lining up on the grid

Since many projects involve short shutdowns, getting all the resources lined up beforehand means less downtime for the client and faster, more efficient completion. “It’s a great way to ensure you have covered all areas when it comes to job set up,” says John Reynolds, Project Manager, Mid-West. “There are a lot of areas that need to be covered when setting up a project, which provides room for mistakes. Job readiness is a good way to refresh yourself before starting the hands-on work.”

When it comes to preparation, it’s a matter of finding the right balance. This applies as much to the creation of the tool itself as it does to the jobs it facilitates, as Dipesh Bhudia, Regional LEAN Leader APAC explains, “to cover all aspects of a project, without making the approach too long-winded, we needed to gain insight from experienced project teams. The core of the job readiness review is the questions, so we used dynamic review sessions to determine exactly what was important to know up front.” This process involved asking 300 - 400 questions over two months, involving the HR, safety, quality and IT departments, amongst others. A comprehensive list was then distilled into targeted, job-critical questions, which can be applied across the board on small projects. “It’s one thing to develop a tool like this, but it’s even more challenging for operations teams to learn and consistently use it on all projects. That’s why I must show my appreciation to Adam Portaro, Chief Operating Officer, and the regional managers for rolling the tool out and following up at operations meetings and onsite visits,” Bhudia adds.

On your marks, get set, go!

“With the Job Readiness Review, an Operations or Project Manager can look at potential risks across delivery and mitigate these prior to starting work,” explains Victor Bogos, Managing Director, KAEFER Integrated Services Pty Ltd., “This covers all elements including organisational charts, HSEQ, resourcing forecasts, sourcing strategies, material specifications, equipment requirements through to systems, all of which are critical to ensuring work is completed safely and efficiently. The tool is designed to prompt the project teams to understand and address the areas required to make a project ready, ultimately ensuring it is delivered successfully.” Involving project teams from the beginning made the adoption of the Job Readiness Review natural and it has been deployed extensively in the Australian market with great success. Furthermore, as the tool is browser-based, it can be used in remote locations as well.

Across the line

LEAN has traditionally been used on medium to larger-sized projects. The Job Readiness Review allows KAEFER to apply LEAN principles on smaller projects and achieve similar benefits in terms of efficiency. It’s also adaptable and scalable across KAEFER locations around the world. “Think of it like Wikipedia, or open-source software,” says Axel Schulz Head of Corporate Operations Excellence LEAN. “The information is there for all of us to use, but we can use it in the way we want to or need to. That makes the tool more agile and applicable to a wide variety of projects, geographies and markets.” If it works so well and it’s applicable in various areas, what would the next step be? “Given the success of this approach, it’s now about integrating the LEAN Maturity assessment and its coaching into small and short projects,” Schulz comments. The impetus for the Job Readiness Review may have come from Australia, but the need for greater efficiency on small projects is universal in the KAEFER world. It also goes to show the extent to which LEAN is being lived at all levels in the company and the success it can bring in terms of getting ahead and taking the lead.

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