Why efficiency in construction is a global issue

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Provided by
Tooey Courtemanche
Founder and CEO, Procore
Wednesday 06 October 2021 18:41 BST

Real-time access to information and collaboration capabilities could transform the entire construction industry.

All of our lives are touched by the construction industry every day – from our homes, to our schools, to our hospitals. The industry has built the world we know, and it’s building the infrastructure we need to support a rapidly growing population.

The construction sector has invested in technologies to support this growth for some time now, such as robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence. Yet construction hasn’t experienced the same productivity gains from technology as other sectors. Why?

I’ve worked in the construction industry for most of my life, and one thing has never changed: the success of every project comes down to how well everyone on the team communicates and collaborates. Most of the available technology focuses on a few pieces of the problem, without solving the key challenge: connecting all people, systems, and data to provide a single source of truth.

The need for effective connection and efficiency has grown exponentially. Today, the industry faces increasing regulatory and contractual complexity, supply chain disruptions and a dispersed, mobile workforce – all of which demand greater communication. These challenges are exacerbated by an ongoing skilled labour shortage. This puts even more pressure on an industry that is already low-margin and high-risk.

No matter the headwinds this industry faces, it will find a way to build. There will always be a need for new infrastructure, homes and hospitals to be built. Growth begins with connecting everything and everyone in one place.

Construction companies realising their full potential

Take HBS Group Southern, a large UK-based building services specialist. It has unlocked real-time insight into project performance across more than 50 projects, each of which has between 50 and 600 different plots over multiple phases and involves over 150 subcontractors, electricians, plumbers and apprentices across different locations. Think about the costs saved by being able to accurately forecast material requirements across these jobs, amid a volatile market.

Similarly, consider what it means for Swissroc to be able to use a single, centralised platform to streamline workflows and standardise processes. Swissroc regularly saves weeks in administrative work and produces higher quality builds, which has led to increased referral business and a 300 per cent increase in revenue three years in a row.

For small and large companies alike to realise these efficiency gains and scale to meet global demand, teams must be empowered with actionable data, and equipped with technology that puts their data to work. According to McKinsey, assembling and analysing data is one of the most critical ways to unlock greater productivity.

The opportunities with this data are virtually limitless, but I’m excited about a few areas in particular:

1. Preconstruction

Eliminating information silos in the preconstruction phase is essential for accuracy and visibility into project performance. Every stakeholder must have access to the same information. This enables, for example, the estimating team to efficiently develop and win competitive bids or price changes that occur, while the project team won’t be adversely impacted by outdated information or information lost during the handoff from the preconstruction team.

2. Collaborative and efficient design

Innovation in building information modeling (BIM) has allowed construction professionals to track, manage and collaborate on all 2D and 3D designs, thus eliminating confusion and rework in the field. For example, Josh Soules, a foreman at North Mechanical Contracting, said: “Having access to elevation drawings, on the fly, in Procore, is just one more tool that enables me to do my job more efficiently.”

3. Ongoing cost management

Cost management is top of mind for all construction companies as they grapple with demand and changes brought on by the pandemic. Building a bridge between incurred and reconciled costs is a responsibility shared by all, and connectivity is key as different parts of a business unite to maximise profits. Success requires all stakeholders to be united on one platform for transparency, collaboration and control.

Efficiency as a result of connectivity in construction is an immediate, global issue. When communication is seamless and decisions are based on accurate information, productivity soars. This will transform the construction industry so it can better scale for an ever-growing global population and an insatiable demand for infrastructure.

Learn more about how Procore is advancing construction by improving the lives of people working in construction, driving technology innovation, and building a global community of groundbreakers.

Originally published on Business Reporter

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