Construction is one of the world’s oldest and most traditional industries, with a very rich history and background to look back to. While this is an edge compared to newer industries, this also means less innovation is associated with it, as the basic building processes never changed in the past decades.
Construction productivity has been stagnant for years, and there is no better time than now to make necessary changes for the better. Let’s look into the major dilemmas experienced while managing construction and how you and your team can move toward success.
What are the Factors Affecting Productivity in Construction?
1. Socio-Economic Factor
Most people believe that limited operating capital is one of the main reasons for the drop in construction productivity worldwide. In third-world countries where they cannot afford machinery for their operations on-site, they rely solely on labor. However, manual labor takes more time and manpower than machinery, making productivity far more difficult in third-world countries.
2. Economic Uncertainty
Economic volatility has taught the global construction industry to brace for possible economic downturns. However, this uncertainty also prevents many companies from investing in the tools and equipment that would boost their productive capacity to the maximum.
The reason for this is simple enough- employees are easy to dismiss when times are tough, but the monthly payment for tools and equipment doesn’t go away when work dries up.
3. Changing Environment
In construction where the site is the main battlefield, interior and exterior site conditions can affect overall productivity in various ways:
- Changing weather and seasons can delay operations and even put them on hold, especially during rainy and winter times.
- Unfavorable site conditions can cause delays and slow down site work.
- Shifting project locations require longer commute for workers, which can add to their stress and affect productivity.
- Inconsistent location of workstations, building materials, tools, and equipment can add to the time that can be used for real work.
These minor inconsistencies in the construction environment can lead to disrupted workflows as workers need to switch between tasks and locations while doing their best to meet the deadline.
4. Inconsistent Workforce
Every construction project usually employs dozens of general contractors, subcontractors, trades or specialty contractors, and suppliers. These teams need help maintaining a skilled workforce, which can strain construction crew management.
Upper management often assigns workers tasks at different project sites depending on their professional training and skill level. This means each team may or may not have an inconsistent number of workers daily. These inconsistencies in the job site may affect the project timeline and each team’s performance.
Inconsistent project teams working alongside different counterparts in an ever-changing construction environment make group learning and workflow improvement difficult, if not nearly impossible.
5. Material Availability
Scheduling a sequence for just-time deliveries for each trade for your construction project can be effective and a time-saver. Implementing the Lean Construction Method and adapting to Construction Scheduling Software with an inventory management feature can help boost your productivity to greater heights and combat material availability issues in the industry.
Despite knowing this, few construction companies maximize lean methodology and construction software in their projects. Therefore, supply-chain disruption, material shortages, and delivery delays continue to plague most construction projects despite best efforts.
6. Last-Minute Change Orders
If there’s one thing that’s consistent in the construction industry worldwide, it’s the constant changes that have become unpredictable.
Construction is one of the few industries that revise the project design as they are being built. Unfortunately, every change order and revision in construction projects, whether due to the design, specification, or unforeseen disruption in production, sets the entire operation back to zero.
7. Transitory Work
Every construction operation on a job site has a cycle time, and each cycle moves the worker and their workstation to a new location. This transitory work is the opposite of what we see in a usual production environment where workers and workstations are stationary and where the work comes to them, not vice versa.
Duplicate this transitory workflow across different trades and hundreds of workers, and sequencing activities and construction crew management becomes an ever-shifting challenge.
8. Traditional Methodologies for New Projects
With all the last-minute changes associated with construction projects, it’s the default scenario for outdated, inaccurate paper documents to circulate on the project site. In this case, it’s common for work crews to find inaccurate documents, leading to wrong execution on the actual project site.
Digital technology, such as construction scheduling software, makes communication, document storage, and team collaboration easier. However, relatively few companies are implementing this technology to its full potential. Federal and state governments are now funding digital technology adoption for big infrastructure projects, but industry-wide change globally still needs to catch up in the coming. Therefore, productivity continues to slow down, along with no unified plan for improvement.
How Can Digital Solutions Help Your Construction Productivity?
Regardless of the country and the size of the projects handled, construction companies rely on their schedules to stay afloat, but some firms still rely on the good old Excel spreadsheets to manage all their projects. Spreadsheets have been conventional, and they’re easy to use. However, spreadsheets can be difficult to collaborate on–especially with all the changes that have been happening on-site.
This is because after a worker updates the schedule in a spreadsheet, they have to produce a new version and send it every time to all your team members. But with all the hustle and bustle on-site, most of the time, your team has the luxury of time to pay attention to the schedule for every reason that’s constantly changing. As a result, your crew learns to ignore the schedule and do things whenever they want and on their terms. And that’s not very productive.
Technology has been introduced into the construction scene for decades. CAD, GPS, and construction subcontractor scheduling software are commonplace now. If your company is not yet implementing construction management software, now is a perfect time to adopt into one.
Some of the features of construction management software that can combat the productivity issue in your form are the following:
1. Cloud-Based Feature
Cloud-based construction scheduling platforms help you simplify your construction worker schedule, and it’s as easy to use as your spreadsheet and easier. If you’re used to scheduling manually with Excel, digital construction will be a breeze. And since the schedule is digital, it can be stored and updated in the cloud.
This translates to an always accurate and available construction schedule right at your fingertips on desktop and mobile phones. With this tool, every team member always has the most updated, accurate schedule to follow on their work day.
2. Online Document Storage
Cloud-based document storage lets you keep the latest plan sheets, change orders, and RFIs readily accessible anytime, anywhere, in the office, in the field, or on the road. This feature makes it very easy to store updated project documents in the mobile app so your team can access a single source of truth.
And having a single platform in your team’s hand to keep everyone updated in real-time–no matter where they are located and how many times the project plans change. Wouldn’t that make your crew even more productive?
Take advantage of construction technology solutions available to manage your schedule, keep your documents, and coordinate with your team in one place. Stay in touch with your crew and keep them up to date. Using technology to manage major leaps you can implement in your construction business will boost your overall productivity and make a big difference to your bottom line.
3. Real-Time Inventory Management
Getting your people the needed resources is critical to reducing cycle times and staying productive. But keeping track of all your equipment, tools, and materials across your project portfolio can be difficult.
Resource management software built for construction simplifies the search and puts all your resources at your fingertips.
That means your work crews can have what they need to be most productive.
In addition to scheduling management, document storage, and inventory tracking, construction management software such as Pro Crew Schedule is full of other productivity-boosting features that can keep you connected with your team at all times. Some of the other features that Pro Crew Schedule can offer are:
- Monitor schedule, document, and inventory in one place
- Keep synching with your crew as they update changes through their mobile app.
- Assign tasks to each team member to eliminate the guesswork that causes delays and productivity dips.
- Collaborate with everyone on your team–in the office or the field- in real time.
- Single source of truth for all your construction data.