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Reducing buried screws in dry walls

3 min read: A construction manager identified buried screws in dry walls as a significant snagging item. A baseline sample indicated a frequency of 10%. The timing of a behavioural science course coincided with this been raised and it was an easy decision for him to apply his learning to this problem.

One of the most important things he noted he took from learning a little bit about behavioural science was an understanding of what a behaviour is. He briefed the site supervisors, ‘ tell me exactly what the fixers are doing before,during and after the screwing process’. Harder than he initially thought but eventually they observed the process to identify the following behaviours contributing the problem:

  • Fixers were use two guns. One of them was an impact driver used for metal and the other a drywall screw gun used for boarding. Impact drivers are more powerful and will tend to bury the screws. Drywall guns have nose cones fitted that set the screw depth and if used correctly you won’t be able to bury the screw. They noticed the operatives using the impact driver for both operations.

  • They also observed that the correct screw was not always selected from the tool vault, screws come in different lengths and tips, if you don’t select the correct on more likely to bury the screw.

  • The board itself was an obstacle in that screw failures tended to be around the edges rather than the centre.

In order to make it less likely that screw heads were buried they implemented the following changes:

  • Ran a workshop with an independent consultant who showed the guys what he found and how to avoid re occurrence. During the workshop everyone had a go at using a drywall gun as opposed to the impact driver. The guys were also made aware of the sweet spots on a board, so that they understood straight away why they had more failures at the edges.

  • Separated the framing and boarding process, with teams or member of each gang identified for each, making it less likely to get crossover of the guns.

  • Identified the best person to communicate when faults were found, generally it was supervisor to operative one to one, not project manager to operative and in certain gangs we found it better to speak to gang leader not one to one.

Buried screw frequency reduced from 10% to 2%. Taking the time to break down the result into the composite behaviours meant that the team could be much more targeted in their problem solving to achieve a significant and sustainable improvement.

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