Promoting Paperless Construction Processes

Promoting Paperless Construction Processes

24th January 2018

A recent survey has disclosed that the construction industry here in the UK is among those sectors that rely most on paper.  Research undertaken as part of WorkMobile’s “Death of the Paper Trail Report” investigated the sectors here in Britain that are still reliant on paper-based processes and the challenges that companies often face by working in this manner.  The survey discovered that the top three industries in which employees rely most on paper are as follows:

·         Education (80%)

·         Finance sector (68%)

·         Construction and utilities companies (67%).

You may be surprised to learn that the legal sector, which is often seen as traditional in its processes (and overwhelmed by mountains of paperwork) is ahead of the game here, with 80% of those surveyed claiming that their companies have introduced paperless working practices.  The finance industry, one of the worst offenders, is making strides towards achieving a paperless environment with 77% of companies implementing paper-saving processes where possible.

In recent years we’ve seen a sharp focus on becoming more environment-friendly as a society and this includes reducing waste to protect the planet.  However, despite attempts by government organisations and environmental campaigners to raise awareness on the implications for the planet of cutting down trees and using paper, some industries are not changing their processes as fast as would have been expected. 

The technological advances in recent years have taken us way beyond the realm of old-fashioned fax machines and printers churning out hundreds of documents on a daily basis, enabling businesses across the world to take advantage of the opportunity to cut down on the amount of paper used and stored.  The type of technological solutions we have today mean that there’s no need to rely so heavily on paper based processes like printing documents and posting mail but many companies in the above-mentioned sectors are not introducing even the most basic steps necessary to reduce their use of paper.

The environmental impact of paper use is significant and there is a trend towards sustainability in the pulp and paper industry as it attempts to reduce clear cutting, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel consumption.  Pulp and paper mills contribute to air, water and land pollution, while discarded paper and paperboard make up roughly 26% of solid waste in landfill sites!  In fact, the global pulp and paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy, accounting for 4% of the planet’s energy use and uses more water to produce a ton of product than any other industry.  In the past 40 years, global use of paper has increased by 400% and 35% of trees harvested are being used for paper manufacture.

Construction is changing and has been keen to adopt digital technology in recent years as technological solutions become available.  We’re seeing an increase in the adoption of app use in the building trade as software solutions have been created to address the industry’s specific requirements and more communication takes place on mobile devices.  However, there are still strides to be made and companies are being urged to introduce paper-less policies to improve internal processes and reduce their reliance on paper even further.  This is good for the environment and will be good for the construction industry in general.