‘Build it and they will come’ had been the mantra among builders and construction companies alike for several years.
However, with changes in labor, project complexities, and contract structures in the recent years, the easy heydays are long gone artifacts of the past. The construction industry is now forced to stay innovative, employ nimble workforce and be take advantage of technology.
In this article, we identify three main challenges facing companies and outline how they can overcome them.
Challenge 1: Sustainability
The construction industry is a top consumer of raw materials and generates between 20-40% of global carbon emissions. Targets to lessen its impact on natural resources will put pressure on countries that are building rapidly.
Smarter planning and focus on sustainable materials or processes from the design phase could go a long way in reducing the ecological footprint.
Challenge 2: Poor productivity and managing subcontractors
There is heavy competition among construction companies leading to a shrinking top-line. To compound the issue, labor productivity has generally been low. In a 2017 survey, McKinsey Global Institute found that only a small number of countries achieved healthy productivity levels.
Excluding external factors, this was attributed to poor project management, poor execution, outdated processes and a skills gap. The report also noted underinvestment in digitization by the construction industry.
Enterprising companies can fix these by three means: focusing on improving coordination among staff/subcontractors and management; reducing administrative activities that eat into value-adding work; incentivizing employees and tracking materials using RF and employing analytics for insight.
Challenge 3: Training, safety, and regulation
Ignoring best practices is a risky idea until a safety incident occurs – at which point the costs of non-compliance often far exceed those of safety precautions. This applies even to countries considered ‘safer’ to work such as Singapore: staff training and workplace inspections are given high importance.
In a churn-heavy industry such as construction, workers should be educated on every site, re-trained and assessed periodically as they transition in and out of their roles. Rigorous and automated record keeping will only make this easier.
Construction companies should embrace Digitization
Just like we have seen in the manufacturing sector, workers have access to good feature phones (completely ‘jumping the PC era’) and are tech-savvy. Construction companies should look at their processes and digitize their workplaces in order to stay ahead of the challenges that are facing them. In the current landscape, it is not a question of if or when — the changes are happening now.
KNOW is a productivity and resource management platform for the non-desk workforce. To learn more, visit www.getknowapp.com