Nobody ever said the contracting business would be easy, and it never has been. But some of the age-old problems we’ve faced since forever now have new construction technology solutions that actually work. Here are five of them.
- Skilled labor shortages
- Jobsite safety
- Unrealistic owner expectations
- Tight margins
- New tech failures
Problem #1: Skilled Labor Shortages
It’s never been easy finding good people to get the job done, and it’s gotten harder since the Great Recession. With Baby Boomers exiting the workforce, it just keeps getting harder.
Believe it or not, embracing new technology can transform this pain into gain. Companies who embrace mobile technologies can both reduce their labor needs and increase their attractiveness to fresh young talent.
Cloud-based construction document management frees up your skilled workers from administrative activities and places everything needed on the job site in the palms of the right hands. Then, the smart use of drones, robotic total stations, prefabrication, and other technologies can further reduce headcount and help to build a technology-oriented brand that attracts new talent.
Problem #2: Jobsite Safety
According to OSHA, approximately 1 in 10 construction workers will experience a jobsite injury this year and almost 5,000 workers will be killed on the job. This is a problem that has been keeping GCs up at night since the beginning of time. It’s also a problem that technology is providing new solutions for.
Wearables that track and respond to slip, trip and fall incidents, virtual reality that reduces the need for boots on the ground, augmented reality that tags hazards before they become accidents, prefabrication that takes construction out of the chaos of the job site to the controlled environment of the factory, predictive analytics that identify likely hazards before they even occur–all of these are available today to help you manage and reduce risk on your job sites.
Problem #3: Unrealistic Owner Expectations
The phrase “castles in the air” must have been coined by a construction professional. Once upon a time, an owner asked that a building be constructed without a foundation and without touching the ground and for the same price as the hut down the lane, and the GC wasn’t even surprised because some owners are really that clueless.
Today’s owners usually understand that they need a foundation under their building, but nevertheless, they expect more than ever before on tighter margins than ever before. And this, too, can be solved with construction technology. Modeling software and virtual reality make it easy to demonstrate to owners exactly what is possible and reasonable. Cloud-based construction document management gives owners visibility that makes it easy for them to understand the project and for you to justify the budget. Plus, prefab, robotic total stations, and seamless communications make it possible to deliver more for less.
Problem #4: Tight Margins
Typical margins for construction companies range between 2 and 8 percent, and continue to shrink as owner expectations increase, construction companies take on rising levels of responsibility and risk, and productivity continues to decline. According to the Construction Owners Association of America (COAA), 63 percent of labor time on large construction projects is wasted on waiting (for materials, equipment, or previous trades to finish), traveling (back and forth to the job trailer, back and forth among job sites), unauthorized breaks (sigh), and standing around talking about how to do the work.
Top performing construction companies have cracked this nut by implementing cloud-based document management systems that improve workforce efficiency, better coordinate materials and prefabrication deliveries, tag issues before they become problems, and enable faster and better collaboration–all while reducing administrative burden and improving outcomes.
Problem #5: New Construction Technology Failures
Yes, we’re including “new tech failures” as an old problem, because it’s been around as long as technology has. From the first time someone tried to construct with wood instead of stone and found out it rots when in contact with soil (use case cannot be verified due to loss in the mists of time), to that time you sent an RFI by email in the 1990s and lost the bid because it hit a spam filter, new construction technology always causes its share of new problems.
The solution to this one, however, is not new. It’s all about planning and implementing properly. Some companies fall in love with the promise of a new construction technology and want to try it out without first considering how it fits into their strategy and how it will impact their process. Start with planning, and implement technology in phases, to avoid the worst problems. Additionally, we recommend implementing document management software before other new technologies, as the right document management tools will give you the visibility you need to make smart decisions about the other technologies.
Solving construction problems with technology is what we do. Contact us anytime!