A recent Construction Dive article highlighted that as a whole in the industry, construction folks are putting in more hours and hiring is lagging along. Payroll data from several thousand of construction companies showed that there may be some productivity concerns without an expanding workforce. Anyone specialized in AEC can speak to the unsettled nature of the biz, however the question remains, how do we enhance the productivity of a worldwide industry so instrumental to business’ and even our own personal well-being?
The same Construction Dive reading shared a potential idea. Author Kim Slowey mentions that, “One of the ways the industry has tried to increase productivity is through prefabrication and offsite construction. Gaston Electrical principal Bill Weber told Construction Dive earlier this year that the company reduced its labor requirements on some jobs by 50% using prefabrication MEP racks, which are 20- to 30-foot panels that are pre-fitted with ductwork, piping and raceways.” In other words, being mindful of optimization (that has potential without significant effort) can make a big difference.
Slowey also expanded the concern with a theory from a 2015 World Economic Forum study. The argument stands that if the construction industry could increase productivity and eliminate 1% of costs, it would easily wipe out $100 billion of savings in a year’s time. So what are some other paths to this optimization, you ask?
Adding onto a typical Critical Path Method (CPM), there is way to optimize resources through a software solution known as the Smart Critical Path Method System (SCPMS). This includes detailed descriptions and algorithms of each step in a project to increase efficiency in resource use, reduce total project timeline while minimizing cost, and measure and improve quality levels.
With increasing innovations in AR, VR, and AI ahead, there is also additional potential for time, cost, and quality improvements. Reflecting back on a JH Greene piece from 2017, the opportunities for intelligent machine control, project design “genies” and streamlining the administrative through technology offers some hope towards a productivity balance in the years to come.
With all kinds of technologies ready and available for immediate use, construction teams seeking to optimize their game can choose to take advantage of the productivity enhancements at their disposal.