What’s Stopping Increased Productivity in the Construction Industry?

What’s Stopping Increased Productivity in the Construction Industry?

18th October 2018

According to one of the construction industry’s leading management software providers, productivity in our sector has been stagnant for the past 20 years.  Hourly output remained the same in 2015 as it was in 1994, despite the industry’s increasing willingness to adopt new technologies.  One of the key obstacles identified as limiting productivity is the accuracy and speed of the information available for access by project teams. 

 In a recent survey, 42% of respondents revealed that the most significant factor to affect productivity in their business is lacking the necessary information to make informed and confident decisions.  The dearth of information available results in errors on the jobs, leading to unnecessary amounts of time being spent on rework or dealing with mistakes that have been made.  A massive 75% of construction professionals disclosed that they no longer have faith in quality management systems.

The lack of accuracy is made worse in our industry as so many clients change project requirements late in the construction process.  This means that building companies are left scrambling to update plans and drawings and then communicate the new versions to the whole team on site.  These changes to the project result in delays and, sometimes, errors when team members are working from out of date information which decreases productivity.

When working within tight deadlines on complex contracts with access to skilled labour becoming more of a challenge, accuracy is essential to maintain productivity, but too many businesses are being held back.

When it comes to errors, most are avoidable which means that the team is wasting time and, in some cases, damaging customer relationships as jobs take longer than promised.  Improving access to information in real time will help increase productivity.  By using digital tools, companies can create a database to track and identify the most common errors so that changes in processes can be made if appropriate.  When the brief is altered, being able to mark up and agree on a specific change order early in the process will help to avoid delays in completion and, subsequently, payment.

As our industry changes to meet the requirements of the 21st Century, we’re seeing an increase in the need to collaborate as different businesses work together to deliver on projects.  The relationships between different teams of contractors and subcontractors need to be properly facilitated and managed in order to avoid delays.  This type of co-ordination planning is time consuming and many industry professionals blame this as a further drain on productivity.

Furthermore, problems with communication may cause conflict and tension between collaborators as the project stakeholders will have competing objectives.  A worrying 49% of managers said that conflict resolution takes up most of the unnecessary time on projects which is of particular concern for the long-term development of the construction sector.  The UK government has advocated off site manufacture (OSM) as the preferable approach for projects and collaboration is a fundamental factor in adopting OSM techniques and methods.  The House of Lords recently reported that the uptake of the OSM model is being seriously hindered by “an industry that appears fragmented and lacking in trust”.

We’ll have more on this issue next week, with some suggestions as to how all of us in the industry can play our part in improving the outlook for the future.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss out.