SC&RA COMMENT: Preparing for the return
By Joel Dandrea10 June 2020
Before you re-open, be sure to re-examine.
As the country carefully attempts to re-open, it’s possible that our industry could experience what some insiders have referred to as a tsunami of construction.
Superlatives notwithstanding, the work will return. However, how we embrace that work is more a matter of good strategy and measured optimism than it is a clumsy race to grab at anything and everything without proper planning.
Fortunately for many SC&RA members, as the pandemic emerged and industries began to experience widespread disruption, we were able to quickly work with government officials to have the specialized transportation and crane/rigging sector(s) designated as essential business.
To that end, we want to emphasize that our website continues to be a comprehensive resource for any and all information specific to our industry that will help to educate and benefit our members throughout this time. Additionally, SC&RA will continue to be a very strong proponent of legislation that could put as much as two trillion dollars into rebuilding the U.S. infrastructure – favorably impacting hundreds of thousands of industry jobs and spurring sales of trucks, trailers, cranes and other construction equipment and gear.
Looking ahead, there is information suggesting a surge of new manufacturing and supply chain-related construction projects. Driven by historically low interest rates, as well as a proliferation of liquidity finding its way back into the market, there is also a strong possibility that pent-up demand from current construction shutdowns will lead to a considerable expansion into Q3 and Q4.
However it shakes out, it’s our responsibility as leaders to prepare our companies and our people for the return. Even as some SC&RA members endeavor to navigate existing challenges, it will benefit us all to start positioning ourselves for whatever opportunities lie ahead – which will require focus in some key areas.
For starters, if you’re remobilizing on pre-existing projects, careful documentation is key. Go back to the status of the work before it was shut down and analyze every detail so that it aligns perfectly with the restart, and everyone on the project is completely up to speed and ready to seamlessly transition back in. This might also include design modifications and/or reprogramming of work within certain aspects of the job.
Identifying the safety and security of existing conditions onsite is also crucial. What was safe and secure before the shutdown might be different now – across a range of risk factors. Due diligence here is extremely important.
Eyes on the prize
When considering both re-start projects or new work, keep a close eye on costs. Whether you were dealing with fixed-price contracts before or modified pricing within the aforementioned surge, proper tracking and documentation of costs as we move forward is going to likely keep any new work running as productively as possible, and any old work free of disruptive disputes.
Supply chains will undoubtedly be hit hard in a different way as work begins to come back online across industries. It goes without saying: if it’s possible, start preparing now to order and expedite critical materials – or even consider alternatives – as there will certainly be a rush on materials and the subsequent strain on supply lines, i.e. shortages.
Lastly, look downstream. What were your project schedules looking like before you had to start pushing them? Where was your critical equipment scheduled? The ripple of pushed projects will have an impact on your path forward – and it can’t be overlooked. That said, what can be overlooked within the return are inspection certificates for equipment that’s been sitting for a while. Get out in front on these details early.
The rush to return to work shouldn’t come at a cost to our businesses because we took our eye off the prize. It pays now, and especially in the near future, to hover over the details – so we don’t have a new disruption to wrestle with all the same.