When working in a personal workshop, us woodworkers are significantly more efficient and organized because each tool is where it needs to be, and we are accustomed to the space. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said when working on a jobsite. Efficiency and productivity are often left behind. Deciding which tools to bring to the site, transporting tools to and from the truck, preparing and cleaning up the work area—these are all tasks that can waste time if not performed accurately.
During my 25 years as a trim carpenter, the last 10 specializing in cabinet installation, I have seen and used just about every system for site organization. Below I’ll outline how I make the most of my time with these tasks.
Evaluating Tool Usage
First on the list is to select which tools are needed. My van was filled to the brim with tools and equipment, some of which I had not used or even seen in years. Take time to identify and separate your tools into these three categories:
• Daily or weekly use – Keep these in with your site kit.
• Occasional use (monthly) – Pack these separately, but keep them in your truck.
• Rarely/never used – Put these is your shops storage.
After sorting my tools, and sending the rarely/never used tools back into the shop, I reduced my truck cargo by 30-40%. Not to mention the increased organization I have in my truck now.
Site Tool Kit
Next, I needed to find a better way to transport tools and equipment – no 5 gallon buckets or milk crates here. Originally, I built toolboxes, but they were bulky and heavy. I chose a Systainer system instead because it offers a unified approach to tool organization and transportation. You should choose a Systainer system that is the lightweight, well built for organization, and overall easy to use for getting into and out of jobsites.
Along with my 4 Systainer boxes, a worktable, compound miter saw, vacuum, and step ladder complete my site kit. Seeing as it takes me 5-6 trips between the truck and jobsite each morning, and again in the afternoon, I needed to find a way to minimize trips. I decided on a 24 x 48” lightweight work cart with 8” pneumatic wheels. The large tires help me negotiate curbs, gravel drives, cords and hoses on site – all unanticipated obstacles that make the process difficult.
Using the Systainers and work cart, I easily save 30 – 45 minutes daily. Giving me more time to work on tasks the client is actually paying me for.
Site Work Area & Clean Up
Once on site, I need to set up my work area. Just like a shop, proper layout for good workflow is important. An MFT worktable is the center point of my site shop, with the work cart and Systainers set up next to it in the same order each day. A consistent loading plan ensures proper workflow, as well as the ability to immediately notice something out of place on a crowded jobsite.
At the end of the day, most job sites are dirty and dusty environments—unhealthy for me, the tools, the finished product, and the customers’ space. To avoid the dust, I use a dust extractor with a number of my tools -- including my track saw. Reducing the mess with the use of a tool-activated vacuum not only makes my work area more enjoyable, but it reduces clean up time at the end of the day.
On average, the dust extractor saves me anywhere between 15 – 30 minutes during clean up time. That number grows substantially if you include the time saved from going in and out of the building to perform cuts or sanding outside. As an extra bonus, customers really appreciate the dust free environment when I’m on a remodeling job.
One of the most useful strategies for jobsite efficiency is pre planning. Valuable production time is lost if time is spent “catching up” upon arrival on the jobsite. In this increasingly competitive construction environment, it’s even more important to hone organizational skills that maximize jobsite efficiency and production. Using the techniques above, you can save yourself time and increase productivity, which will greatly benefit you, your work, and your business in the long run.
Total Increased Efficiency:
Evaluating Tool Usage: Reduce 30-40% of Cargo
Site Tool Kit: Save 30-45 Minutes Daily
Site Work Area & Clean Up: Save 15-30 Minutes on Clean Up Daily
Source: Festool Inc. Visit FestoolUSA.com or call (888) 337-8600
Source: (Company name). Visit website or call (xxx) xxx-xxxx.
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