As time marches on, new technologies, processes and techniques shape the way commercial flooring contractors operate. The biggest change in the commercial flooring world is the push toward lean construction. This method of construction management has been passed around since the early 1990s, but has been utilized most often in the past few years.
Lean construction is a mindset that seeks to minimize the waste of materials, time and effort. This can only be achieved through the participation of all project participants – the contractors, owner, end-user, managers, etc. These participants from various industries, under a variety of roles, work together instead of in isolated groups.
Under traditional construction management approaches, each contractor’s crew worked in isolation. In lean construction, the general contractor and subcontractors for plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc., all meet regularly to determine where everyone is on their projects, how those timelines may affect everyone else’s projects and what tasks need to be done to ensure goals are met. The projects are mapped out every morning. That way no one is butting heads. Additionally, it keeps accountability high.
Another part of lean construction is a new method for scheduling projects. Traditionally, projects were scheduled from the start date forward. Now, under what is called the Last Planner System, projects are scheduled from the end date through the start date. Scheduling a project this way allow contractors to work out issues in advance and know when things need to be done to stay on time. This is maintained through biweekly regroupings to review the schedule and stay on track.
Prefabrication of materials
An important change in the commercial flooring world is the prefabrication of flooring materials. By knowing the dimensions of the upcoming project, flooring contractors are cutting the flooring materials to fit beforehand instead of traditionally doing it on site. These prefabricated materials are then stored in the contractor’s warehouse until the project is ready to begin. By employing the prefabrication of materials method, flooring contractors are able to keep the project’s jobsite clean and free of unnecessary debris while also greatly reducing the amount of time spent on-site during the installation process.
Evolving maintenance schedules
LVT now comes in a huge range of prices due to a vast array of quality and design options. The drive for LVT demand is the desire for low-maintenance, high-durability flooring options. With LVT, there is no waxing and stripping. Instead, simple cleaning methods are all that is needed for floor maintenance.
As part of the change in the way flooring contractors operate, there is a recent push by flooring contactors to get involved in the design aspect of a project. Designers, architects and engineers have usually mapped out a project before a flooring contractor is even contacted. Often times they have chosen materials that don’t match with the design or are not suited for the application.
Relying on the expertise of a flooring contractor helps find the balance between aesthetics, functionality, durability and cost. It’s referred to as value-engineering and flooring contractors are implementing it on more and more projects. Each one of these methods, practices and materials is having a profound impact on the way flooring contractors approach and complete a project.
NOTE: This article was originally published in slightly different form on the Spectra Contract Flooring learning center. For more information, visit spectracf.com.