Construction has a productivity problem. Industry-wide, efficiency has decreased over the past 60 years. Few other professions have undergone this unfortunate trend.
- Of all construction projects that start, 25% become 20% less efficient before they’re done.
- 25% of project costs increase by 30% on-site.
- Rework costs the industry approximately $4.2 billion annually.
- Projects across asset classes are usually 80% over budget and take 20% longer than expected.
The industry has a $1.6 trillion gap between its current profit levels and its potential.
Fortunately, a few minor strategic decisions and planning can result in massive savings, keep your timeline on track, and boost your company’s profits.
Here are 8 tips to help you boost construction productivity.
Advance Your Tech
1. Introduce project management software.
Constructing is the second least digitized industry in the United States, just behind agriculture. That makes early adoption a radical act, and it’s one of the most high-return changes you can make in contracting.
There are plenty of technologies out there ready to use. You could:
- Use modeling technology to anticipate design problems before you break ground
- Digitize the onboarding process to get new contractors on-site faster
- Adopt a productivity software tool that empowers collaboration
- Go digital with project management and have a master plan at your fingertips
Planning is what makes or breaks a project’s efficiency. If you can access an up-to-date workflow map and check your progress at any time, you can know exactly where you are and whether you need to make changes.
2. Automatically monitor inventory and machine operations
Productivity means anticipating problems and addressing them in advance so that they don’t interrupt workflow. On average, a team wastes 70% of its on-site time. If you’re able to recoup any of that time, your productivity will go up instantly.
Tracking inventory can be one of the easiest ways to increase your on-site working time. There are software programs available that help you track inventory and make sure you can replenish your supply.
Equipment maintenance is also easier with the right tech. If you invest in advanced sensor technology and digitized monitoring, you can get alerts in time to keep your machinery in good working order.
3. Embrace prefab
What could be more efficient than working with something that already exists?
Prefabricated elements, prefab for short, can improve a project’s productivity by 6% to 8%.
- Reduce project time to completion
- Improve cost-effectiveness
- Require less labor
- Make quality more reliable
You get project elements that are the same quality or better, all in less time and for less money. That’s the definition of efficiency.
4. Invest in Training
Proactively train and manage team members
A lack of skilled labor is the other of construction’s major problems. Younger workers aren’t going into the field and older workers are failing to keep pace with contemporary practices.
Team skill development needs to be at the forefront of your management plan. That means keeping track of worker competencies and making sure they have the skills they need before they go on the job site.
Fortunately, mobile training technologies are extremely effective at bringing labor up to speed quickly. With the right training program, you can expedite skill development for professionals with limited competency and make your more experienced people competitive in today’s market.
5. Pass along your productivity expertise
It’s not enough to be focused on productivity yourself. Your supervisors play a major role in whether your team succeeds, so you have to make sure they know how to encourage productivity.
Teach your site supervisors to prioritize efficiency. Make them aware of when a project has milestones and show them how to assess progress. Supervisors direct the people who do the work, so they should know everything you know about productivity.
6. Optimize Communication
Combine data with communication
Because construction is so poorly digitized, contractors aren’t realizing the power of data. 95% of all data is being discarded or ignored across the industry.
Think about how much more productive your team could be if you were able to capture project data and use it to plan future projects. You could:
- Determine where you’re being the most efficient and where you need work
- Develop strategies for eliminating waste
- Create achievable benchmarks based on future data
- Learn from shortfalls so they don’t happen again
Make sure you choose a solution that enables collaboration. If your whole team can get in on the act, you can plan more efficiently than ever before.
7. Get regulatory approval in advance
Regulatory requirements protect everyone, but they can also cause major disruptions in the workflow if they’re not addressed in advance.
Take fire-rated construction. If you have to fill a gap and a pre-approved UL Listed system solution doesn’t exist, you can waste extensive amounts of time trying to find something that will pass the UL 1479/ASTM E 814 burn test.
You can reduce that time dramatically if you’re able to get an engineering judgment, HoldRite provides this service for free. These professionally created documents tell the Inspector that your solution meet relevant UL fire-rating requirements, reducing delays in your project.
If you can anticipate regulatory requirements and connect with the people who can help you meet them, you can eliminate a great deal of wasted time.
8. Communicate more effectively with key performance indicators (KPIs)
If you want to achieve maximum productivity, your planning phase can’t stop when construction begins. You need to keep the lines of communication open with your team and make sure they’re on track in terms of both time and budget.
The best way to do this is by monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) and checking progress against them regularly. Those numbers can tell you if something’s headed off track. If you know something is going wrong, you can fix it before it becomes a real problem.
For best results, use KPIs as well as anticipatory metrics. By looking at the present alongside the future, you can move projects forward in the right direction.
A Final Word
You win jobs by completing projects on time and within budget. The more you improve your productivity, the more you build a reputation as someone who can get the job done.
To be as productive as possible, you need to combine innovative technology with clear communications. There’s no better pathway to success.