Truss Labor Time Standards for MiTek MVP™ and Other Programs


Ah yes, I have heard the same thing many times over and over. People want a better method of understanding truss manufacturing labor efficiencies, but they use the same flawed units of measurement they have always used.

As more than one person in our industry has said to me: “Todd, I’ve been in this industry for decades as a ‘fill in the blank,’ and we have always used board foot per man-hour.” Some people tend to get upset when this question is asked. My reply: “So how does that work out for a low-board-foot project (hip roof) with many setups compared to a high-board-foot (involving AG trusses), low-setup project?”
Sometimes the response is given in a very angry way but never is the response enlightening. BF/Man-Hour simply does not work consistently for every project. Anyone who has managed a production facility knows this and often is very frustrated by this tiresome argument.AAEAAQAAAAAAAAi8AAAAJGIzNGQ3MGE0LTNmMDAtNGFlMy04MWRlLWI1MjVmMjk5MTFkMQ

A somewhat newer trend is to use piece count, but this works only for run or assembly time, not setup time estimations. To apply an average setup time to every piece would skew the labor too high or low depending on the piece count.

Piece Count Example: Setup saw time = 1 man-minute for a crew of 2

Cut-rate time per 2x4x8 piece = 0.17 minute for a crew of 2

Quantity 2 = (1 setup minute) + (0.17 * 2) = 1.34 minutes total = 0.67 per each piece

Quantity 20 = (1 setup minute) + (0.17 * 20) = 4.4 minutes total = 0.22 per each piece

A difference of 3 times! (0.22 * 3.05 = 0.67)

Some managers feel that a more consistent method is to use some form of dollars. This dollar method can take the form of material cost, sales dollars, or margin dollars, but then this, too, is flawed.


Yes, the focus of the company should be on the total margin dollars earned each day, but that has nothing to do with actual labor effort in scheduling and the gauging of labor efficiencies. If the material cost fluctuates, or if the project has a discount, does that mean the actual labor to complete the project will coincide with these changes? Of course not. So instead of banging your head against the proverbial wall, why not try something different?

I had been told more than once that the MiTek MVP™ program is not very good at labor configuration. (estimating) To make a long story short, I had never had the opportunity to review MVP™ labor configuration until this spring when a client requested this from me. Since I have been able to review the labor configuration in MVP™, all I can say is, “WOW, MiTek, you crazy buggers, you did it and made a fantastic program that every MiTek customer should be using!” To everyone who has MVP™, your labor-tracking program is far more powerful and flexible than you may know. The labor-estimation configuration is marvelous and should be utilized for what it was designed to do. MVP™ can estimate the proper labor required to process an order by using the proper types of time units. It is quite simple, folks; it is called man-minutes.


So if you have a labor tracking program, such as MVP™, why not use time units that are more reliable than BF, piece count, or dollar units?

Using time units shown as man-minutes is a far more effective way of estimating expected labor time when they are properly set up and applied correctly. (R.E. or S.U. are also time elements) However, unless you are like most people who have never had industrial engineering training and understand how to develop and apply proper time units, you are likely quite unfamiliar with how effective they are. I do have training in proper industrial engineering practices, and for almost 15 years, I have been developing labor standards using man-minutes defined for different equipment and material types for truss labor estimation programs (not just MiTek). The MVP™ program is far more robust than MBA™ is, and most people do not realize this. By using all of the different factors within MVP™, my time standards have expanded to more than 120 different factors to select for differing conditions!


So my message is simply this to everyone who has a labor-tracking program in your manufacturing.

If you have MiTek MVP™ for truss manufacturing but have failed to create reliable labor estimation, and if you want to use it for scheduling, efficiency ratings, and an effective incentive program based on actual productivity efficiencies, allow Todd Drummond Consulting, LLC (TDC) to help you! TDC can either provide you with the proper time (labor) standards while at your location during a consultation or can simply email them to you for you to input yourself. TDC time standards have been created and refined over the past 12 years to adjust for most manufacturing equipment types and lumber material sizes. There are more than 120 factors from which to choose that can be inputted into MiTek MVP™ and MBA™ for truss labor estimations. Other truss labor-estimating programs can also use these same factors.

Click here for Truss Manufacturing Time Standards Information

To those who remember TDC’s offering a labor-tracking program, sadly, I have given that endeavor up. MiTek has done a better job of creating and marketing than TDC has. That is okay, and I am more than happy to focus on my consulting services helping companies to become more profitable.

Todd Drummond Consulting, LLC is an independent consulting service and is not affiliated with the MiTek Corporation (no referral or commission fees go to TDC). MiTek MVP and MBA are registered trademarks of the MiTek Corporation.  TDC time standards services apply only to labor estimation and not to any other aspects of the truss-estimation or labor-tracking programs.

Don’t let this build season pass you by without your knowing exactly what is being done, when it is being done, and how it is being done in your truss manufacturing. If you are a MiTek customer, and you don’t have MVP™ in your facility, tell your sales representative to install it at once! If you already do have MVP™ or another labor-tracking program capable of workstation and material labor-time estimations, give TDC a call. I will be more than happy to help you to become far more effective in using proper labor-time units.

Time Standards -Todd Drummond Consulting Services Brochure (Click to View Brochure)


Leduc Truss Inc.leduc
Co-Owner, and GM
Leduc, AB Canada

In recent years, the market for truss manufacturing in Alberta has changed considerably. Our market has become extremely competitive by the excess of manufacturing capacity in comparison to the demand. As any manufacturer would do, the constant market changes require us to evolve to stay competitive and profitable. The one area that started this process was our desire to refine our estimating techniques. Our equipment had changed dramatically over the years but our bidding time estimations had not been properly updated. Todd provided us with time standards that were specific to the equipment that we use. This information allowed us to estimate our jobs with a dramatically increased level of accuracy on each project, regardless of its level of complexity. The time standards also gave us the information to measure our production and establish target output for each workstation in our shop.

However, time standards were not the only thing he helped us improve. He opened our eyes to all areas of our operation. He offered suggestions for lean manufacturing practices for both the shop and office. We are very pleased with the road map he has provided us with to improve just about everything we do. We are certain that these improvements will result in greater profits. I recommend Todd’s consultation to any truss manufacturer looking to improve the bottom line. The time and money were well worth it for improving our profitability.

Todd Drummond Consulting LLC

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