10 Ways Technology Is Closing the Productivity Gap

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The vast majority of construction executives believe technology will improve productivity. See how tech is already helping.At Viewpoint and throughout the construction industry, productivity has been a popular topic of discussion. People are right to be concerned, since in 2017, McKinsey Global Institute found the construction industry’s labor productivity only improved 1 percent globally over the past 20 years.

Lagging productivity hurts contractors in many ways, including lost jobs, low profits, and unnecessary headaches like change orders and rework. A new survey from KPMG, though, found 92 percent of construction executives believe construction technology can help close the productivity gap.

Here are 10 ways technology and software are already working to increase productivity:

  1. Streamline Processes

Construction processes don’t have the consistency of those in manufacturing, where everything happens exactly the same way every time. In construction, jobsites and their conditions are never the same, which means processes can vary from site to site.

Leading-edge software and technology are helping contractors streamline construction processes with tools for mobile data capture, automated workflows and more. For example, drones can be used to record real-time construction data on the job site. This data can be synced into software programs to help contractors see what’s working and what isn’t and improve consistency over time.

  1. Improve Project Management

Managing projects in construction is a complex set of tasks that involves overseeing a lot of people, equipment, materials and timelines. It includes coordinating with owners, architects, suppliers, subcontractors, the back office accounting and financial staff, and, of course, managing the work being done by the crews out in the field. Modern project management software solutions are helping managers keep track of it all more efficiently, often from a single, integrated database.

  1. Improve Communication and Collaboration

Good communication throughout the construction organization can be hard to come by. From owners and key stakeholders to accounting teams to HR to operations and project management to the crews in the field, keeping everyone on the same page with real-time construction and project data is vital to successful projects. Teams unable to effectively communicate and collaborate are much more prone to mistakes, project delays, and reductions in profitability.

Software solutions that connect the office, team, and field by delivering integrated data to the entire organization are growing in popularity, making collaboration in real time much easier.

  1. Create One Source of Data

Construction ERP technology is also becoming increasingly popular among contractors because it creates one unified source of data that everyone in the company can access. This single source of data prevents errors and reduces wasted time, since people don’t have to go digging for information in multiple platforms and then wonder if the information is current.

  1. Speed Up Data Entry in the Field

Cloud-based, mobile-friendly apps make it easy for crews in the field to input data via a tablet, laptop, or smartphone. This eliminates the need for paper records that someone would have to input into an on-premise software system later on, as well as the risk of losing documents or incorrect information being recorded. These apps also enable those in the field to quickly access information from the office or project management team in order to gain valuable insight into the work they need to do.

  1. Get Faster Business Insights

Data analytics are more powerful than ever these days, and this technology is helping contractors make smarter business decisions. Using current data from active jobs and historical data from past jobs, contractors can realize true construction business intelligence. This allows them to confidently make real-time decisions about current projects and better forecast and plan for future projects.

  1. Cut Down on Labor Hours

Robotics and automation are playing a larger role in construction than they have in the past, and many impressive new technologies are coming to the industry, like a robot that ties rebar (and cuts down on labor hours) and an autonomous track loader that can excavate 24 hours a day. Big opportunities exist for productivity improvement in this area, and we’ll likely see many more contractors deploying these kinds of technology in the future.

  1. Increase Jobsite Safety

A safety incident on the jobsite not only hurts productivity, it can also seriously hurt people. Robotics technologies like the rebar-tying robot mentioned above remove people from dangerous tasks. In some cases, robotics can also prevent repetitive motion injuries, sprains, or strains that are common in traditional construction work.

Leading construction software tools, meanwhile, are streamlining tasks like compliance management, ensuring that contractors have all of their documentation like safety certificates, insurance, bonding, and more consistently up to date, and easily accessible when needed.

Jobsite tracking technology improves productivity.Drones and other technologies assist with jobsite tracking.

  1. Better Track Jobsite Activities

Often, the people making financial decisions in a contracting company aren’t the ones seeing jobsites on a daily basis. But technology like drones, LiDAR, and photogrammetry help decision-makers analyze sites to monitor progress, identify quality issues, and more. The ability to take a look at projects this way—at times from a bird’s-eye view—offers new perspectives that can lead to future productivity improvements.

  1. Aid Recruitment

Last but not least, let’s not forget that technology is pretty cool. For an industry that often struggles to attract talent, technology makes a great recruiting tool. Younger professionals may be more attracted to construction jobs if they’re recruited via modern means, like social media and mobile career applications. Plus if they see potential construction employers using cutting-edge technologies, they might be more inclined to join the organization, as they see forward-looking career paths and opportunities. So spreading the word about all these applications could be highly beneficial.

Viewpoint has been helping construction companies streamline processes and improve collaboration with construction-specific software solutions for more than 40 years. To learn more about how the right technologies can help you improve productivity at your business, visit our solutions page.