The construction industry is one of the world’s largest sectors and contributors to the UK economy – yet its adoption of new technologies has been far slower than other industries.
A plethora of digital platforms are now available to handle complex challenges in the vast construction lifecycle, but how do they help to improve efficiency and productivity on projects?
Since March, the entire construction industry has felt the wrath of the Covid-19 pandemic, significantly impacting project timescales and profitability.
Projects have been delayed, productivity lost and, as a result of continued lockdowns and reduced staffing, the sector is facing long-term problems including disruptions to supply chains and a bottleneck of projects.
As the government advises remote working where possible and move restrictions are put into place sometimes overnight, project leaders are faced with the challenge of remaining connected with all stakeholders and staff in multiple locations, while maintaining productivity in the process.
In the wake of the global pandemic the need to digitalise the project lifecycle has evolved from a forward-thinking strategy, to a necessity for survival.
Where does all the data go?
Even before COVID-19, enterprises have been battling with collaboration drains for years.
Projects require a multitude of people to work together: architects, contractors, suppliers, project owners, developers, consultants, yet it’s common for data between stakeholders to be unstructured and unused due to outdated processes.
This causes errors, delays, poor quality work and ultimately diminishes profitability.
An FMI Whitepaper found that 96% of all data goes unused in the engineering and construction industry and 13% of E&C staff working hours are wasted on looking for data and project information.
Utilising one central, digital platform to access real-time data removes the information silos that are holding back many projects.
Consolidating and structuring data of different processes, such as cost codes, estimate, procurement structure and so on simplifies task management and supports project performance control. The connectivity and consistency between all project roles are key to addressing the misused time that the industry can no longer afford.
By having all work, data and processes connected, comprehensive reports can be compiled for each stakeholder to utilise remotely. More efficient use of real-time data lowers risks, shortens project durations and achieves unprecedented productivity.
Make better decisions, enable automation
Once you have comprehensive, real-time data to hand, it’s what you do with it that really counts.
There are many long-standing challenges when it comes to productivity and establishing a competitive advantage in the industry, and having the time and information to make smarter decisions is just one of them.
As we face more months ahead of disruption and uncertainty, it’s never been more vital to have the means to predict the impact on Cost, Time, Quality or any other issues along the project lifecycle in order to act fast.
Implementing automation with machine learning enables project managers to extract meaningful insights more efficiently and make better decisions as a result. By utilising Artificial Intelligence you can turn data into actionable insights by detecting risks or performance anomalies.
Teams can view detailed project performance insights in all areas that could otherwise take months to review, from scope and costs to schedule and safety. Under intense pressure to now maximise productivity to offset the time lost, AI can provide data-driven decisions to work smarter, more safely and more efficiently.
Visualising the site, whilst at home
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many roles to work entirely from home, which of course makes working collaboratively extremely difficult.
Where regular site visits and in-person meetings are not possible, the day-to-day tasks of each project role are under increased strain. The most difficult element is a breakdown of communication and not having sight of what’s happening onsite.
While the reality of getting people together is unlikely to return in the short to medium term, this experience has highlighted how vulnerable and inefficient the industry is without a digitalised process.
Site visits and in-person meetings are always going to be valuable, but using a central, digital platform to open transparency between roles provides a far more efficient process for collaboration.
From early feasibility stages all the way through to construction and handover, having sight of the status of each project phase helps every role in their day-to-day tasks, ultimately improving quality and productivity of work.
The changing environment has made digital technology no longer a “nice to have” for the construction industry. It is a “must have” to tackle today’s challenges and maintain competitive edge in the rising digital economy.
The industry has been catapulted into discovering the benefits of saving valuable time, money and resource as it prepares for a post-COVID future. Progressive companies, which adopt these types of platforms, will undoubtedly emerge stronger from this crisis.