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Efficiency....what are your methods that make jobs go easier?

Kern Dog

Life is full of turns. Build your car to handle.
FBBO Gold Member
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Years back, I had a boss that tried hard to be efficient. I worked in construction where sometimes the profit margins were made or lost on how productive the employees were.
Ron made it a point to use all the materials that we could to minimize waste but that was just the tip of the iceberg for him.
One thing that he also encouraged was to not waste your steps.
Example: You are driving the forklift and going back and forth between the work site and the lumber cut and storage yard. If you needed to get another unit of plywood from the yard, look around for something that needs to go back to the yard and take that with you, then return with the plywood. His thoughts were to avoid driving the forklift unloaded unless it was the only way. This saved time and fuel.
That principle stuck with me.
I called it avoiding wasted steps. Don't walk over the same path multiple times without doing something.
At home, I always try to carry something with me to the kitchen or garage if I'm heading that way for something.
While I am up, I'll let the dogs out or do something else that might require getting up again.
With cars, that "efficiency" has led to what some call mission creep, the snowball effect, (like how a snowball increases in size when rolling down the hill) the "while I am here" syndrome....
While you have something apart, it does make sense to fix other surrounding things because it is open and right there.

What levels of efficiency do you use that save time and trouble?
 
I live 10 miles from town, I try to make 1 trip do all. I make a list....saves time and fuel. Also do the same thing when working on my car.
 
In our industry, labor is the majority of cost on every job. Therefore labor most often has the greatest potential to make or break a job financially.
I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir to most, if not all, of the building trades folks here. And likely many in other industries.

On the job:
"Whenever possible, never walk between two points empty handed. Always make the most of every trip."
This applies to tools, material, equipment, etc.

At home working in the shop or on a house project...same rule applies.
I keep a 5 gallon bucket with me nearly always as I walk back and forth from the house to the shop. There's always things I can throw in there to get more done each trip.
 
Yep, totally agree with what is now known as "multi-tasking" abilities....
Decades ago, I just knew it as good planning skills.
My gig, that involving going to multiple business locations on a daily basis,
pretty much forced one to become good at plotting out "the loop" every day
so that you only drove each road once - and of course, wound up back home
when done with them all.
That made the company more money - and got me home quicker. :)

Those who didn't have such skills - or simply refused to even try - didn't last
very long in the gig or at the least, they got paid less because they were worth
less to the company.

Of course, I haven't run the roads in almost a decade now - but the innate desire
to still be as efficient in things in life still drives me.
In fact, it even comes into play here working at home - I still "save" a few things
around the house I need to do in a given day so that when I do get up from the desk
to go to the bathroom or whatever, I then commence to knocking out those other
tasks as well....in order....so that there are no wasted steps.

Once that mindset is in you, you never forget it - and in my case, where time itself
is especially important and not something to waste - it's a way of life, too.
 
Comedian Dave Attell had a comedy bit that went something like this:

I was on the street the other day looking left, then right when a man came up to me to offer some help. Hey man, are you lost?
Now, this man hadn't bathed in quite awhile and looked terrible. He only had one tooth and he wasn't even trying to take good care of that....I figure if I'm going to ask for directions, it wasn't going to be from a guy with ONE TOOTH, it would be from the guy with ONE LEG. He knows where the short cuts are and there won't be any stairs either!
 
I’ve given up. Used to be more efficient with multi-tasking, but at my age now forget stuff more often – necessitating going back to get it or take it, usually btw my shops in the garage and basement, and lol, my new 2nd garage now. I’ll leave the tool I need in the garage, being in the basement or other tools. Or I’ll take up the duplicate tools I keep in the basement with both now in the garage focusing on whatever fix-it step I’m on. Same deal sometimes with car keys, oh, I need my sunglasses, go back in the house to get them and have left the keys on the counter, get in the car and the keys are – still on the counter. Other day looking for my phone and often pat myself to see what pocket it might be in and didn’t feel that it WAS in a pocket wearing a heavy sweatshirt. As I start mumbling bads word, I re-patted myself a little harder and found the phone…in a pocket. Age is cruel.

Good thing I’m retired and not in any hurry much anymore and consider the benefits of the extra steps and stair climbing. Has to be couple hundred plus some days.
 
When I still did primarily field work I would appear to be somewhat of a 'slow starter'. Making lists, taking copious measurements, gathering pieces and parts..but the time I saved by having a full plan and everything I needed organized and ready before I started, more than made up for it.
I would (and still preach this to the youngsters) get as many measurements as I could so that I could fabricate as many pieces of conduit at one time as I could, thus making one trip to the bending & threading station to the other guys' 3 or 4 trips.
The gung-ho boys want to jump right in and get going but by the end of the day I would accomplish twice as much due to not spending half my time walking back and forth, looking for this or that part or hardware and not having to do and redo everything until it was right...and I try to put that mindset into practice in everything I do.


This pretty much sums it up:)


 
I’ve given up. Used to be more efficient with multi-tasking, but at my age now forget stuff more often – necessitating going back to get it or take it, usually btw my shops in the garage and basement, and lol, my new 2nd garage now. I’ll leave the tool I need in the garage, being in the basement or other tools. Or I’ll take up the duplicate tools I keep in the basement with both now in the garage focusing on whatever fix-it step I’m on. Same deal sometimes with car keys, oh, I need my sunglasses, go back in the house to get them and have left the keys on the counter, get in the car and the keys are – still on the counter. Other day looking for my phone and often pat myself to see what pocket it might be in and didn’t feel that it WAS in a pocket wearing a heavy sweatshirt. As I start mumbling bads word, I re-patted myself a little harder and found the phone…in a pocket. Age is cruel.

Good thing I’m retired and not in any hurry much anymore and consider the benefits of the extra steps and stair climbing. Has to be couple hundred plus some days.
When I still did primarily field work I would appear to be somewhat of a 'slow starter'. Making lists, taking copious measurements, gathering pieces and parts..but the time I saved by having a full plan and everything I needed organized and ready before I started, more than made up for it.
I would (and still preach this to the youngsters) get as many measurements as I could so that I could fabricate as many pieces of conduit at one time as I could, thus making one trip to the bending & threading station to the other guys' 3 or 4 trips.
The gung-ho boys want to jump right in and get going but by the end of the day I would accomplish twice as much due to not spending half my time walking back and forth, looking for this or that part or hardware and not having to do and redo everything until it was right...and I try to put that mindset into practice in everything I do.


This pretty much sums it up:)



Had to write everything down and still have to but with the simple stuff like going into the house to get something and then the phone rings and now it's distraction city. I don't even worry about it anymore....but still drive my cars like the tank is almost dry and save the brakes like no tomorrow.
 
Had to write everything down and still have to but with the simple stuff like going into the house to get something and then the phone rings and now it's distraction city. I don't even worry about it anymore....but still drive my cars like the tank is almost dry and save the brakes like no tomorrow.
Wait – I need to write this down: Drive like the tank is almost…and what else did you say?
 
Now that I'm retired I can share one shortcut from powerline construction. I learned it from a production Foreman many moons ago. In Line construction, everytime you have to move a bucket truck and set it up, it's lost time. Knowing where to setup your pulling/string points is very important. We would set new poles with the crossarms and neutral attachments on the poles along with leader ropes with blocks all at once. When we reached the pulling rope machine we just had to walk the pulling ropes back to each pole, hook it to the leader ropes and pull it up through the blocks. Rinse and repeat for approximately 30-40 spans until we got to the wire machine. The rope/tensioner would then pull the wires/conductors back, then sag each conductor temporarily. Final sag would occur during "clip in" at each pole, hence one digger, one bucket setup per pole. We could normally these build this grouping in 4-10 hr. days.
Distribution only, Transmission work is a totally different animal. And this kind of results only works with really good crews and PFP (pay for performance) jobs. Hint, bonuses.
It paid to pick my crew, and they knew they would be taken care of.
We were never out of work.
Sorry for the Lineman lingo.
 
Plan, plan & more planning, I'd write it down,
so you don't skip something or forget...
Like in my racing, I always kept a detail log,
know what does & doesn't work in what conditions or locations

On the job, I had check sheets to mark stuff off or add change orders,
someone always wanted something else, or for free...
Make a plan & an outline, before starting, try to not veer from it
as humanly possible, pre-order parts/pipe fitting, lumber
deliveries if possible
so they don't waste time at a lumber yard
or I'd go & get it
or stuff like form materials, kegs of nails
or extra saws, extension cords, hoses & for compressors & nailguns
shovel brooms & even dustpans etc.
Simpson hangers/strong ties, even the sheetrock ready to go etc.
or any or the many materials etc.
Mainly so no major downtime between, long breaks & lunches,
already stretched there...
The profits were minimal/thin especially if you didn't stay on top of them...

I've never met an employee that didn't think they were worth more
or should get more $$$s & some even wanting to 'do far less work',
to earn more of it...
or
An employer that didn't want or bitch about better production,
for his labor $$$s, it's a truly viscous circle...

Mainly so expensive labor/time, both it can make or break a job
(or if it's me I don't have to keep stopping, making excuses or running around
& getting parts/materials, we had laborers for that ****, far less $$ spent on them
)
Isn't standing around with their collective thumbs up their asses
especially the hourly Union guys, I was having to deal with
showing up like maybe 5 min before work starts at 7:00am, they have
15 min breaks, every 2 hrs, were extended/streched always to
20-25 min.s by the time, that they get started to work again
then their 30 min.s lunch, was easily an hr lost, 10-15 min.s
before or after the assigned work 'really' started...
Most were gone, guys lined up, standing waiting staring
at the time clock, to punch out right at or as close to 3:30pm
as humanly possible & out of the parking area 2 min.s after 3:32pm
Except for a few 'Piece work' guys, 1 or 2 really good older
long time employees, Union guys...

So at best I was getting like maybe a good 6hrs on an 8 hr shift
if I was lucky 6hrs...
There wasn't the loyalty or work ethic, it once was, when I 1st started out...
Time working was a critical factor, for them & me to keep them employed...

I had a great group of guys that worked their asses off
& we played hard afterward...
Some/a few worked for me for like 14 years IIRC
(I signed off for them, to get their own licenses, some did very well too)

They (some of them) told me they loved my strict rules
& my organization skills...
I think I was a fair & good boss, joking with guys & traeting most well...
I always treated them to pizza & beer every Friday 'if they wanted',
some guys would just bail, do their 4 hrs (more like maybe 2) on Friday,
go home or wherever or whatever...
I always gave guys Christmas/Thanksgiving I gave out Turkeys,
Easter I gave them extra days off & bonuses, to all emplyees
if they were working during the holidays...
Sadly many of the 'clock punchers'
(sadly it was all mostly Union guys, most of them didn't last either)
Quite a bit of turnover in Union labor, get someone else to replace them
& move on, rinse & repeat...
It was good 'clean work' too, mostly remodels in dealerships
or new builds or working in showrooms, sales areas...
Had to be careful working around the customers, all kinds of safety protocols
tight margins too, can't waste too much time,
& some guys couldn't handle the stress of it, or just didn't like it...

A couple of my long-term guys would come to the drag races with me
& volunteer on my car/s... I'd pay for everything while there or when traveling...

I had a pet peeve especially when I was on the job & running crews
when I 1st started out, I was a Framing & Plumbing contractor
tight margins for sure...
Guys taking off their pouches when they were supposed to be,
head down & working or not wandering around mindlessly, smoking/drinking...

It was guys mostly 'that smoked'
(some looked like they were still lit' or still hungover from the night before or
or they just toked on a big bowl/sneaky Pete before showing up to work,
those guys, they didn't last
)
They would set their cigarettes & their mondo cup 32 oz coffee/coke
off on a shelf or window sill all the way across the room,
many times they'd take off their tool belts/pouches, drop them on the floor
to go get **** or to light a smoke up etc. more time wasted, I'm paying for...
(I had laborers that did all the material humping, sweeping, rolling up cord/hoses etc.
no need for carpenters to do it, they could stay working productively
)
They'd to go over & light up a cancer stick & leisurely stand across the room
& drink some coffee, while others worked & waited for a break...
I started to nail their pouches to the floor, if they worndered around much
or they were not on a scheduled break...
Some guys didn't last long, some got pissed, couldn't take the joke...
Some just laughed took it in stride & heeded the warnings...
New hires were warned by my long-timers too...

I really didn't get any pushback from the Hall either...
(I didn't care if they smoked or drank coffee or cokes or a snack etc., just keep it close
not walk all over & not waste a bunch of valuable time, efficiency was the name of the game
)

Not so much my piecework guys, they were very organized and usually
had their **** together, parts or materials lined up in advance...
They work through breaks or lunch even to get the job done & move on
take breaks or eat on the road to the next job...
It was not ever my rule to do that stuff, just their work ethics
& wanting to make even more good $$$
(they did it to make more $$ many made 12-15hrs of pay easily in an 8 hr day or less,
made them good money & me good $$$ too, they get to the next job & do it again
& they were well paid for what they did, while the union guys, just punched a clock
)
They all got paid very well too, by how I bid the job, not by the hr
if they did the job in 1/2 the time or less, they still got paid for the full-time of the bid...
Very good planners...
Loyal employees too...

Details prevail
Plan, plan, plan & then plan some more...

Wall of text -bob the builder-.jpg
 
Last edited:
In the shop... Our tool boxs have wheels, really cool invention.
Roll that thing to the car/truck your working on.
That used to drive me nuts ,we would get a new young guy and they would make 3 trips to get the correct size socket.
When breaking down a auto from a wreck that you have not worked on before..... grab that phone and snap some pics on the way apart.
Use air or battery powered tools when they will fit and at hand, lots of time saved from cranking a rachet.
Also separate fasteners on a new job, I would have 2 or 3 bolt trays for different areas of the car.
I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting but just be efficient.
 
Plan, plan & more planning, I'd write it down,
so you don't skip something or forget...
Like in my racing, I always kept a detail log,
know what does & doesn't work in what conditions or locations

On the job
Make a plan & an outline, before starting, try to not veer from it
pre-order parts/pipe fitting, lumber deliveries if possible
so they don't waste time at a lumber yard or I'd go & get it
or stuff like form materials, kegs of nails
or extra hoses for the compressors & nailgun etc.
Simpson hangers/strong ties, even the sheetrock etc.
or any materials etc.
Mainly so no major downtime between breaks & lunches, already stretched there
the profits were minimal/thin
if you didn't stay on top of them...

Never met an employee that didn't think they should get more $$$s
& some even wanting to 'do far less work', to earn more of it
or
An employer that didn't want better production, for his labor $$$s
viscous circles

Mainly so expensive labor, it can make or break a job
(or if it's me I don't have to keep stopping, making excuses or running around
& getting parts/materials, we had laborers for that ****, far less $$ spent on them
)
Isn't standing around with their collective thumbs up their asses
especially the hourly Union guys, I was having to deal with
showing up like maybe 5 min before work starts at 7:00am, they have
15 min breaks, every 2 hrs, were extended/streched always to
20-25 min.s by the time, that they get started to work again
then their 30 min.s lunch, was easily an hr lost, 10-15 min.s
before or after the assigned work 'really' started...
Most were gone, guys lined up, standing waiting staring
at the time clock, to punch out right at or as close to 3:30pm
as humanly possible & out of the parking area 2 min.s after 3:32pm
Except for a few 'Piece work' guys, 1 or 2 really good older
long time employees, Union guys...

So at best I was getting like maybe a good 6hrs on an 8 hr shift
if I was lucky 6hrs...
There wasn't the loyalty or work ethic, it once was, when I 1st started out...
Time working was a critical factor, for them & me to keep them employed...

I had a great group of guys that worked their asses off
& we played hard afterward...
Some/a few worked for me for like 14 years IIRC
(I signed off for them, to get their own licenses, some did very well too)

They (some of them) told me they loved my strict rules
& my organization skills...
I think I was a fair & good boss, joking with guys & traeting most well...
I always treated them to pizza & beer every Friday 'if they wanted',
some guys would just bail, do their 4 hrs (more like maybe 2) on Friday,
go home or wherever or whatever...
I always gave guys Christmas/Thanksgiving I gave out Turkeys,
Easter I gave them extra days off & bonuses, to all emplyees
if they were working during the holidays...
Sadly many of the 'clock punchers'
(sadly it was all mostly Union guys, most of them didn't last either)
Quite a bit of turnover in Union labor, get someone else to replace them
& move on, rinse & repeat...
It was good 'clean work' too, mostly remodels in dealerships
or new builds or working in showrooms, sales areas...
Had to be careful working around the customers, all kinds of safety protocols
tight margins too, can't waste too much time,
& some guys couldn't handle the stress of it, or just didn't like it...

A couple of my long-term guys would come to the drag races with me
& volunteer on my car/s... I'd pay for everything while there or when traveling...

I had a pet peeve especially when I was on the job & running crews
when I 1st started out, I was a Framing & Plumbing contractor
tight margins for sure...
Guys taking off their pouches when they were supposed to be,
head down & working or not wandering around mindlessly, smoking/drinking...

It was guys mostly 'that smoked'
(some looked like they were still lit' or still hungover from the night before or
or they just toked on a big bowl/sneaky Pete before showing up to work,
those guys, they didn't last
)
They would set their cigarettes & their mondo cup 32 oz coffee/coke
off on a shelf or window sill all the way across the room,
many times they'd take off their tool belts/pouches, drop them on the floor
to go get **** or to light a smoke up etc. more time wasted, I'm paying for...
(I had laborers that did all the material humping, sweeping, rolling up cord/hoses etc.
no need for carpenters to do it, they could stay working productively
)
They'd to go over & light up a cancer stick & leisurely stand across the room
& drink some coffee, while others worked & waited for a break...
I started to nail their pouches to the floor, if they worndered around much
or they were not on a scheduled break...
Some guys didn't last long, some got pissed, couldn't take the joke...
Some just laughed took it in stride & heeded the warnings...
New hires were warned by my long-timers too...

I really didn't get any pushback from the Hall either...
(I didn't care if they smoked or drank coffee or cokes or a snack etc., just keep it close
not walk all over & not waste a bunch of valuable time, efficiency was the name of the game
)

Not so much my piecework guys, they were very organized and usually
had their **** together, parts or materials lined up in advance...
They work through breaks or lunch even to get the job done & move on
take breaks or eat on the road to the next job...
It was not ever my rule to do that stuff, just their work ethics
& wanting to make even more good $$$
(they did it to make more $$ many made 12-15hrs of pay easily in an 8 hr day or less,
made them good money & me good $$$ too, they get to the next job & do it again
& they were well paid for what they did, while the union guys, just punched a clock
)
They all got paid very well too, by how I bid the job, not by the hr
if they did the job in 1/2 the time or less, they still got paid for the full-time of the bid...
Very good planners...
Loyal employees too...

Details prevail
Plan, plan, plan & then plan some more...

View attachment 1570463
:rofl: Yup, WALL of text. Gonna start calling you Wally! :D
 
I'm an efficiency freak, but I can't really put it into words....... all the shop functions are turn-key, and everything is on wheels

efficiency of the job at hand is all about the order of operations, and always looking several steps ahead

inefficiencies make me twitch

and I still have issues with "drawing the line" .......

......headed out to the shop for an efficient evening, enjoy
 
:rofl: Yup, WALL of text. Gonna start calling you Wally! :D
I don't start out thinking I want to post 1,000 (or even 100) words
I just keep adding details, more stuff I thought of while typing
& POW, there's a wall of text...
 
Recall when working at a small machine shop that was growing (not a long life sadly) was finally building a tool crib, I was assigned to build. How guys would waste time searching for tooling and often I’d have to hop in the company truck to rush to the tool supply houses for the same stuff we had – somewhere. Well, sometimes that was stuffed back in the lower shelves of one or another’s work bench, or toolbox. Other times finding it and it was skanked. Then the drill (pun here) was to place used tooling in the return bins, not putting them back in the ready-supply bins, so returned tooling could be checked first for wear or damage. Having 10 other jobs, I’d get to that about weekly. Yeah, damn hey, a guy says he just drilled a hole in a valve body block and the hole is too oversize for tapping. Know how to use a micrometer before drilling into a part that already has 20 hours of machining on it? Well, it was an unattended tool crib relying on people to stay tuned in, who weren’t used to being – tuned in. Later when I worked for a large machine tool company, they had a huge caged in tool room, always attended. Spotless, always pristine tooling, new or used.

Old days. Now (for years already) we have automated storage systems, some looking like vending machines (they are) to dispense tooling needed by employees with a pass-card and it gets automatically recorded to maintain inventory and who retrieved it. Restocking never touched by employees, it is by contracted suppliers.

Yeah, elementary now; but when I think back on how things used to be, find it hard to believe anymore.
 
In the shop... Our tool boxs have wheels, really cool invention.
Roll that thing to the car/truck your working on.
That used to drive me nuts ,we would get a new young guy and they would make 3 trips to get the correct size socket.
When breaking down a auto from a wreck that you have not worked on before..... grab that phone and snap some pics on the way apart.
Use air or battery powered tools when they will fit and at hand, lots of time saved from cranking a rachet.
Also separate fasteners on a new job, I would have 2 or 3 bolt trays for different areas of the car.
I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting but just be efficient.
Everything and I mean everything in my shop has wheels too.....but.....the problem is that I have to move 'this and that' out of the way to roll anything around. No matter how much I try to get rid of stuff in the way, more stuff seems to take it's place!
I'm an efficiency freak, but I can't really put it into words....... all the shop functions are turn-key, and everything is on wheels

efficiency of the job at hand is all about the order of operations, and always looking several steps ahead

inefficiencies make me twitch

and I still have issues with "drawing the line" .......

......headed out to the shop for an efficient evening, enjoy
I at least pretty much got done doing the stuff that was planned for the day including a downed limb from my neighbor's tree that wasn't planned for. One small branch hung on my line for the internet and that took 1st priority to get it off. The fence helped with that and just glad it didn't take it out.
 
Everything and I mean everything in my shop has wheels too.....but.....the problem is that I have to move 'this and that' out of the way to roll anything around. No matter how much I try to get rid of stuff in the way, more stuff seems to take it's place!

I at least pretty much got done doing the stuff that was planned for the day including a downed limb from my neighbor's tree that wasn't planned for. One small branch hung on my line for the internet and that took 1st priority to get it off. The fence helped with that and just glad it didn't take it out.
I hear you , our business / shop had plenty of room. Now I'm at home smaller shop, crap piled all over, but I'm not on the clock now. :drinks:
 
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