GUEST ARTICLE: Five ways your company can boost construction productivity

  • 11 Dec 2019

There are growing concerns over how Brexit will affect the housing and construction industry. Things including the supply of labour, increasing material costs and funding cuts are all thought to have a devastating effect on the industry.

Recent reports of ‘construction slumps’ are growing and as Brexit looms, reports have shown that British construction activity shrank for the sixth month in a row in October 2019. This is one of the fastest rates since the financial crisis in 2009 when the property industry was in near collapse.

Knowing how to improve productivity is essential to prevent losses in today’s challenging environment. An easy way to do this is to make a series of small changes, which can result in an 80% increase in construction productivity which can ultimately save the business money, increase project efficiency and spur growth.

Innovative tech

In the UK alone the construction industry hires as many as 2.4 million workers. Yet, while most other sectors are increasing their reliance on app-based technology to streamline operations, the construction industry desperately needs to digitise. Over 60% of construction companies still rely on outdated admin techniques which wastes large amounts of time and resources, affecting project productivity.

A solution to address this to use some of the growing number of construction apps on the market. Construction management software allows you to completely automatize documentation and defect management. What difference does it make? Project management platforms can increase project efficiency by up to 70% and provide a ROI of 900%.

Another recent feature of these apps is the integration of Building Information Modelling (BIM) which is commonly used by developers working on high-rise offices, bridges, and other complex structures. BIM is not just a ‘fancy blueprint’ but a valuable aid in making strategic decisions. Through BIM it is possible to create digitally accurate 3D models of projects, helping contractors to understand the project before construction starts. This gives workers a clear understanding of what needs to be done, while providing greater budget and operational control and efficiency.

Reduce ‘lost in translation’ moments

Out of these 2.4 million people employed in construction, migrant workers make up 10% of the workforce. This presents a unique labour issue for the sector particularly in the form of language barriers which can increase risk and lead to inefficiency, as construction sites become a melting pot of different languages and cultures than ever before.

Technology advancements and skills training can add huge value and can reduce these risks. A survey conducted by Rosetta Stone (a language software company) on language gains showed a 64% gain in construction productivity as a result of enhanced language capabilities. While a long-term solution to this problem is though teaching, the quickest and most adaptable way is via the use of technology. When it comes to language barriers between project teams, the most important factor is to create a standardised language. A construction app can bridge this divide, with data input fields customised to each organisation’s needs.

Transit standardised information

Projects can only run smoothly when all team members know their roles and objectives. Hence, creating a department that has clear KPIs on supporting centralised documentation can offer a quick fix to an immediate challenge and greatly improve productivity. To eliminate confusion caused by personal interpretations and ensure consistent messages are relayed to the whole project team, technology is the key in standardising information and identifying actions across the project lifecycle.

Real-time content updates are also essential to avoid duplication or delays. Moreover, data that is legally filed and secured in a safe place, can prove beneficial in the form of evidence for potential legal cases.

Minimise admin, maximise value

In the construction industry, most workers spend at least a quarter of their week working on repetitive tasks. A Sage survey (2018) showed that UK small and medium-sized enterprises spend an average of £35,600 and 71 days per year on administrative tasks.

Digitising construction processes can save admin time and eliminate unnecessary paperwork with construction project management apps saving up to seven working hours per week on simple admin tasks. This equates to hundreds of hours per year.

The Talent Trajectory

By 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce. For any business owners attracting new employees, this is as vital as attracting new customers if they are looking to succeed in the future. Diversity of perspective is critical to uncovering new opportunities. To enable this, it’s important to overhaul the image of the construction industry to attract new talent. Critical factors for young talent include investing in culture, creating a creative space, establish faster career progress paths and promote a global market exposure.

In addition to this, both women and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the construction industry. More can be done to make construction a career for all. With a truly diverse workforce, flowing with a range of expertise and ideas, opportunities for improvement would be second-to-none.

As the case for productivity enhancing technology becomes more pressing, construction businesses need to get ahead of the curve and digitise to create safer projects, maximise efficiency and ultimately improve their bottom line.

Sander Van De Rijdit is co-founder of PlanRadar, the European leader in construction digitisation that offers a software-as-a-service solution for documentation and communication on site.

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