Equipment utilization on construction sites (case study of large and medium construction firms in Ghana)

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Construction equipment constitutes a major capital investment in both the civil engineering and building operations. It is therefore important that a high utilization of equipment is achieved on construction sites in order to obtain an adequate return on capital invested. At present, cost and time overruns and general dissatisfaction with project delivery are common in Ghanaian construction industry. Thus, the identification of equipment utilization problems, the selection techniques and the methods of acquisition of equipment and the documentation of existing equipment maintenance policy employed by firms on sites will greatly shape the success of project delivery in Ghana. Many factors have an impact upon the utilization of equipment and this research seeks to find the factors which the civil engineering firms (A1B1, A2B2) and the building firms (Dl, D2) in Ghana considered as influential when employing equipment on sites. A questionnaire survey was undertaken of construction planners working on both civil engineering and building projects. The factors identified were ranked according to their perceived importance and frequencies of occurrence. Using Kendall concordance analysis model, both construction types were able to identify ten most severe factors that affect equipment utilization on sites. From the analysis it came out that the building firms (Dl, D2) substantially agree on the ranking whereas the civil engineering firms (A1B1, A2B2) do not agree. The research also indicated that for both construction types, plant selection techniques based on capacity was identified with an industry’s average of 60%; ownership was also identified as acquisition method employed with industry’s average of 78% and the documented existing maintenance policy presented as site routine and periodic servicing with industry’s average of 64%. However, it would be desirable to use the severity indices of the equipment utilization factors ascertained as a benchmark in determining the actual cycle time and equipment productivity required for an operation on site by both construction types to reflect the actual work conditions. Human and material utilization are often regulated by the consultants with the use of specification, thus, the obvious option left for enhancing profitability on construction sites is ensuring the efficient utilization of equipment input to justify their acquisition bearing in mind that huge capital outlay is involved.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for Master of Science degree, 2002
Equipment utilization, Influencing factors, Ranking, Profitability, Cycle time, Equipment productivity