Date of Award

12-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Bell, Lansford

Committee Member

Brandenburg , Stefanie

Committee Member

Chowdhury , Ronnie

Abstract

The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) dedicates a large portion of its budget and other resources to the maintenance of the State's transportation infrastructure. In order to maximize the efficiency and productivity of the State's highway maintenance workforce, the SCDOT partnered with Clemson University to research the performance of these maintenance crews. The goal of this research is to identify optimal crew compositions, if possible, and to suggest potential crew productivity enhancement methods.
Data was collected from the SCDOT Highway Maintenance Management System (HMMS) and crew rankings were developed based on several pre-determined performance criteria. These rankings were then used to identify the top performing crews based on work type and county location. Once crew rankings were developed, the performance of the top crews was analyzed to determine which crew configurations produced or yielded optimum results. Equipment utilization was also analyzed in order to improve equipment allocation specifications. A detailed survey of the SCDOT maintenance workforce was conducted at six county maintenance offices to supplement the HMMS data and further generate descriptors and characteristics of the top performing crews. The counties examined in the survey were chosen in order to provide a sample representative of the various areas throughout the State: predominately urban counties, mixed urban and rural counties, and predominately rural counties. Both maintenance workers and maintenance engineers participated in the survey with a total of 382 surveys collected. The data collected therein included demographic information on each worker, information about crew composition, and opinion data relating to maintenance performance standards and the workers' understanding thereof.
The data analysis has produced mixed results. Performance varied from crew to crew inconsistently as different performance criteria were analyzed. Labor productivity and workforce performance are sensitive to many contributing factors making the measurement and analysis inherently difficult. The most significant performance factor was found in analyzing the cost per unit accomplished. This factor, when sorted by county and activity type allowed the generation of an Activity Composite Score (ACS) that allowed crews to be compared on a consistent basis. This analysis determined that, although there is a large degree of variation, for specific activity types there is a general crew size that tended to produce better performance scores. Using the ACS, the five top-performing crews in each county type and by each activity type were determined. A significant recommendation would be to analyze these top crews using the survey in this report and other tools to determine what characteristics of these workers and crews contribute to their higher levels of performance. An analysis of this type may generate key components and characteristics that could be replicated to possibly increase productivity and performance in maintenance crews throughout South Carolina.

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