The goal of Fort Wayne's Public Works and Utilities Department is to replace six of the city's 1000 miles of water mains each year. Before incorporating Six Sigma principles, managers thought they were writing cost-effective requests for proposals.
But after learning how contractors manage their businesses, they now:
- Let contractors suggest methodology and material, and award bids on the lowest-cost solution. This opened the door to trenchless construction techniques using bored plastic pipe—including the Midwest's first use of pre-chlorinate pipe—instead of traditional open-trench digging and ductile iron pipe.
- Write proposals based on jobs of 10,000 to 15,000 feet, not 5000 feet.
- Bid underground work first, then surface work, to avoid paying a markup on subcontracted work.
- Ask for bids during the winter, when contractors are mobilizing for the upcoming construction season, instead of throughout the year.
The result: Average cost/foot of main replacement is down from $60 to $43.
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