A Cost-loaded Equipment Schedule Propels Superior Construction

July 5, 2018

Superior Construction of Portage, Ind., the 2018 small-fleet Fleet Masters runner-up, has implemented a cost-loaded equipment schedule that has allowed each area of the company to better forecast and track costs for their respective departments.

Here’s how the process works. Once a job is won, the project team dissects the estimate into phases and types of work. They then look at each of those areas and determine how long each phase might take to build, and what equipment is in that particular crew. Then each piece of equipment is shown on a calendar-based spreadsheet to represent the durations each piece is required, combining any concurrent and separate activities into similar pieces of equipment in order to reduce the overall number of pieces needed. 

The project team then hands the document to the equipment group to start filling in the unassigned equipment requests. As it does that, the equipment group also adds in the cost per month of that piece, whether it’s an owned asset or third-party rental.

When the equipment group is finished, there is a solid starting point for what equipment the job will require, and the project team has a forecasted budget for its cost report. The expected fuel burns and maintenance costs are also added to make the forecasted cost report even tighter. y

The project team keeps this log and updates it monthly, or as unexpected changes occur.

“As pieces are added or removed throughout the job, adjustments are made at the time it happens,” says Ernie Stephens, Superior’s corporate equipment manager. “Waiting to see how much money is left in the pot at the end is usually not going to end up good for anyone.”

Projects will send the document to the equipment department with their updates, and the equipment department will begin to source their needs.

Operations updates their cost reports monthly to remain accurate. Ownership reviews this for cash flow, profitability, bonding, and more. Estimating can take a look at the equipment schedules to compare what projects are actually using compared to what the estimate said was needed.

Finally, the equipment department uses the equipment schedules for fleet scheduling, buy/rent/lease analyses, capex budgets, fleet utilization, lifecycle management, and numerous other reasons. 

“The next steps we have in mind are to digitize the equipment schedules and make them a live document with real-time updates,” Stephens says.

“[It’s a] natural progression out of spreadsheets with the help of innovation and technology.”