Estimating Resource Requirements for Work Activities
In addition to precedence relationships and time durations, resource requirements are usually estimated for each activity. Since the work activities defined for a project are comprehensive, the total resources required for the project are the sum of the resources required for the various activities. By making resource requirement estimates for each activity, the requirements for particular resources during the course of the project can be identified. Potential bottlenecks can thus be identified, and schedule, resource allocation or technology changes made to avoid problems.
Many formal scheduling procedures can incorporate constraints imposed by the availability of particular resources. For example, the unavailability of a specific piece of equipment or crew may prohibit activities from being undertaken at a particular time. Another type of resource is space. A planner typically will schedule only one activity in the same location at the same time. While activities requiring the same space may have no necessary technical precedence, simultaneous work might not be possible. Computational procedures for these various scheduling problems will be described in Chapter 2. In this section, we shall discuss the estimation of required resources.
The initial problem in estimating resource requirements is to decide the extent and number of resources that might be defined. At a very aggregate level, resources categories might be limited to the amount of labor (measured in man-hours or in dollars), the amount of materials required for an activity, and the total cost of the activity. At this aggregate level, the resource estimates may be useful for purposes of project monitoring and cash flow planning. For example, actual expenditures on an activity can be compared with the estimated required resources to reveal any problems that are being encountered during the course of a project. Monitoring procedures of this sort are described in Chapter 3. However, this aggregate definition of resource use would not reveal bottlenecks associated with particular types of equipment or workers.
More detailed definitions of required resources would include the number and type of both workers and equipment required by an activity as well as the amount and types of materials. Standard resource requirements for particular activities can be recorded and adjusted for the special conditions of particular projects. As a result, the resources types required for particular activities may already be defined. Reliance on historical or standard activity definitions of this type requires a standard coding system for activities.
In making adjustments for the resources required by a particular activity, most of the problems encountered in forming duration estimations described in the previous section are also present. In particular, resources such as labor requirements will vary in proportion to the work productivity, Pij,
used to estimate activity durations in Equation (9.1).
From the planning perspective, the important decisions in estimating resource requirements are to determine the type of technology and equipment to employ and the number of crews to allocate to each task. Clearly, assigning additional crews might result in faster completion of a particular activity. However, additional crews might result in congestion and coordination problems, so that work productivity might decline. Further, completing a particular activity earlier might not result in earlier completion of the entire project, as discussed in Chapter 10.
Example 1-5: Resource Requirements for Block Foundations
In placing concrete block foundation walls, a typical crew would consist of three bricklayers and two bricklayer helpers. If sufficient space was available on the site, several crews could work on the same job at the same time, thereby speeding up completion of the activity in proportion to the number of crews. In more restricted sites, multiple crews might interfere with one another. For special considerations such as complicated scaffolding or large blocks (such as twelve inch block), a bricklayer helper for each bricklayer might be required to insure smooth and productive work. In general, standard crew composition depends upon the specific construction task and the equipment or technology employed. These standard crews are then adjusted in response to special characteristics of a particular site.
Example 1-6: Pouring Concrete Slabs
For large concrete pours on horizontal slabs, it is important to plan the activity so that the slab for a full block can be completed continuously in a single day. Resources required for pouring the concrete depend upon the technology used. For example, a standard crew for pumping concrete to the slab might include a foreman, five laborers, one finisher, and one equipment operator. Related equipment would be vibrators and the concrete pump itself. For delivering concrete with a chute directly from the delivery truck, the standard crew might consist of a foreman, four laborers and a finisher. The number of crews would be chosen to insure that the desired amount of concrete could be placed in a single day. In addition to the resources involved in the actual placement, it would also be necessary to insure a sufficient number of delivery trucks and availability of the concrete itself.