Improving installation times by 40%

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Eden Lights, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    Don't worry I am not trying to sell you anything, but as we all get busier from all this great information, how will we get it all done? Anyone interested in talking about their installation procedure in detail? Yes we all use different fixtures, connectors, and etc. but the general procedure is the same. Tomorrow take time to count how many times you walk to the truck? How much time do you waste looking for something? Are there tools you need to make you more efficient, how much waste do you produce: wire, connectors, and etc. Many will call this procedure a waste of time and resources, but a 40% improvement is very common. Step one is to pull everything off the truck, ebay or trash anything that is not needed, Spread out the remaining items, make a place for everything, most used items should be the easiest to get to and be placed as close to the place needed. Inventory all consumables and establish a min/max quality on hand to prevent supply house trips. Color code, label, paint, group, and etc everything. Yes all this is common sense, but we just never follow through. Many will call this Kiazan, High Performance work team, Lean, and etc.
  2. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    I think Mike G and others have showed us that being organized will greatly increase effeciency. Having a procedure with the flexability is important.

    For jobs above 25 lights I usually take a laborer with me. On thoes jobs I instruct them to start digging where needed imediatly on arrival.

    I hang the transformer 1st usually so the laborer can dig out my base and irrigation hub at the bottom of the trans.

    I then place all lights in thier final locations (I like to assemble lights at home if possible) this allows me to pin point my hubs. I quick code wires with just a touch of tape and a note pad in my pocket.

    I then either begin digging fixture wires in (I like to leave 1-2 ft of wire at the fixture) or having my laborer do it. I also at this time execute any bores or sidewalk punches that are needed. to get my lines to my hubs.

    Any place there is multiple wires I usually bundle them.

    myself or the laborer continue to bury all the fixtures and main feeds. Once burial is complete we begin stripping wires and twisting hub connections together . Then we move on to the trans connections. I always figure up the rough voltage tap ahead of time an test it at the fixture under load. I adjust accordingly. I also test the voltage at all taps and record my findings then check them again once the trans is fully loaded

    Make all final connections at trans.. take readings.. Solder and grease tube hubs... clean up. collect a check and hit the road. We return that evening (sometimes still there) to adjust and view the job.

    We are also experimenting with above ground installs again on jobs we wouldnt normally finish in a day. We kind of make a wiring harness for the job and put everything together with (bundled wires) reg wire nuts. Get everything hooked up and adjusted then return the next day to bury the system. This has worked well for clients who doubt our design or think they know more. Just tell them you will above ground it and let them see it before you bury it.

    I definatly still need to refine this. My best yet is 30 fixtures in a day solo or 24 fixtures in 4 hours. Sandy soil... longest run was 38 ft... all lines followed same route... 4 hubs.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    Things to improve efficiency that I need to do:

    develop a tool belt system like electricians and carpenters wear- I really only use strippers, cutters, screwdriver, connectors, rubber mallet, and bulbs. instead of carrying around a tool kit, I need to wear it.

    develop a better trailer and storage inventory system. I try to stock all bulbs I need, and I grab a 60 degree 35 watter and...I'm out? when did that happen? and those can't be bought local. do I stop or compromise effect with a 38 degree and switch out later?

    clean my truck. It is a disaster in there. I was cleaning the other day and found a check. a CHECK ! 36 bucks from my insurance dividend just laying around in there. a clean workspace is a more efficient one, but I live in that thing.

    If I did those three things, I could easily improve my times by 40%.
  4. pshields

    pshields LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    As a non contractor I got fried for asking a question in this forum but improving processes is something I know about. I have lead kaizen events in our company. What we do relates to the manufacturing floor. For tools we use a shadow board. It has the outline of each tool on it or even a foam cutout so at a glance you know what tools are missing. For parts you can use a two bin system. I am not sure you would have enough room in your trucks but the concept is that there are two bins of everything. Usage and the time it takes to replace the parts determines the bin quantity. When a bin is empty you would take it back to your shop and reorder. Bins usually have enough info on it to order without looking anything up. Empty bins should stay together in the shop so you can visually see what is waiting to be filled.
    Kaizen events are great for finding waste in a process. You first map the current process. That means drawing boxes to represent each step and what happens at that step and what is needed. Everything needs to be included and has to be accurate. You then determine the value added steps. Then you brainstorm on how to eliminate everything else. You then create a new map of what the new process should be. If you have people that work for you it is very important that they are involved in the process. If they are the ones that do it every day, they will know best how to improve the process. We have had a lot of success with this process.
  5. Turf Troll

    Turf Troll LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227

    hey PShields did you finish your lighting project ?
  6. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988

    Since I'm on the opposite end of the workload spectrum from you guys, I find myself looking to add an extra 40% redundancy to my jobs so I can milk-out my on-site exposure. Maybe someone will see me working and ask for a business card.
  7. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Kingsland, Texas
    Messages: 2,214

    Why not finish as soon as possible and then go out and meet people. Don't wait for them to come to you.
  8. High Performance Lighting

    High Performance Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    from So Cal
    Messages: 326

    Because when you approach people with the intent to solicite business it creates an appearance that you are desperate , really need the work and are immediately negotiating from a position of weakness. If you "magnatize" your marketing efforts so people seek you out and contact you and already have a predisposition to buy. Then you are negotiating from a position of strength and have a much better chance of closing a project which will yield higher profit margins. I also find that these people are often much more pleasant to deal with.
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I will be in a great neighborhood next week, and I'll be stretching that one out to give myself and trailer as much exposure in the neighborhood as possible. I find that when I "push" myself at local building trade shows, or through networking events, I feel like a salesman.

    But when I get calls from referrals, or from yellow page advertising, the trailer, signs, etc, I feel like a professional.
  10. High Performance Lighting

    High Performance Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    from So Cal
    Messages: 326

    That's what I'm saying Dave and it makes a huge difference.

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