Efficiency in any business should be a priority. Although it’s not always a perfect indicator of success, increased efficiency can have tremendous impacts on your bottom line. In the construction industry, efficiency is paramount. Projects can run over budget and time very easily, leading to potential catastrophes for the construction company and their client.
While it’s common for certain projects to run over budget or deadlines, it’s very important to minimize the overrun. Where 10% to 15% of an overrun is far from ideal, some projects have been known to cost triple the intended budget. This is the result of inefficient management, planning, and execution.
Productivity and efficiency are closely related. One of the main reasons behind poor efficiency in construction is a lack of productivity. Solving an efficiency problem with a parallel goal of increasing productivity can bring about excellent results.
Poor productivity has been a characteristic of the construction industry for many years. However, with the gradual introduction of technology and analytics into building projects, productivity, and efficiency are now under the microscope more than ever. Construction companies are prioritizing efficiency and the productiveness of their employees.
The shift of emphasis is leading to projects being completed faster and at a lower cost. Contractors can now bid more competitively for jobs, resulting in better profit margins for them and their clients.
Here are eight excellent methods to improve the efficiency of your construction company.
1. Rigorous planning
The key to executing any project is to start with an excellent plan. Rigorous planning involves mapping out, accounting for, and detailing every single step of the project. Once a clear and concise plan has been made, actions should be outlined in prioritized task lists. These tasks can then be assigned to the workers who will carry out the plan. Areas that mustn’t be overlooked are design, pre-construction, and procurement.
Issues and unexpected problems are inevitable on a building site. Do not let this derail your plan or the project. Continuous planning and re-organization are part of the process. Adjustments are much easier to make and execute when everyone involved already has an in-depth knowledge of the plan.
Plans should be revised after every step. The progress needs to be evaluated, and re-planning is advised if necessary.
With management continuously planning and directing, efficiency and productivity are sure to increase.
2. Effective communication
Even the best-laid plans can fall by the wayside over ineffective communication. Instruct managers to host daily meetings with key workers and clients to keep full transparency with regard to the progress of the project. This encourages a clear flow of communication for everyone.
All members of a project should encourage open discussion and opinion. Employees shouldn’t be shunned for asking questions. If management is clear with instructions and their expectations, staff will react positively.
Don’t underestimate the opinions of your on-site workers. These are your contact point with the actual task at hand. They are often the first people to spot a problem on-site. If you have an open communication link with the workers on-site, they can provide you with priceless insight and information.
Using an interactive communication platform that connects the various people involved in a project allows for real-time project updates.
Effective communication increases efficiency and productivity by giving complete clarity to the project and quickly recognizing issues.
3. Upskilling and training
Maintaining a high level of efficiency requires your workforce to stay up to date with the latest tools, techniques, and skills utilized in construction. Upskilling and training is a great way to ensure that this takes place. It is also essential for increasing the abilities of management.
All staff needs to change and update from time-to-time. Whether your laborers are falling behind the skills curve, or your older project managers are no longer knowledgeable about relevant practices, they will need to be trained.
There are learning management systems (LMS) that can provide fully remote and automated training and certification for workers. These programs can be carried out by your staff over a set period, allowing them to upskill while continuing to work. Consider talking to LMS consultants to determine suitable LMS for your company.
Improving the ability of your staff will have a profound impact on their productivity, which in term should increase efficiency.
4. Utilize technology
Technology is perhaps the most effective tool to improve efficiency in all industries.
Software programs are now key tools when it comes to managing construction projects. From design software to management and building information programs, new technology plays a significant role. Although there may be a high initial investment, there are usually little to no maintenance costs involved, and this software can reduce significant administration and analysis costs.
The construction industry has been notably slow to transition to utilizing digital tools. However, certain areas can be vastly improved by them. Some of the areas to lean on with software are in planning, organization, and design.
Advanced materials are beginning to creep into regular construction projects. These are easier on equipment and make construction cheaper and more timely. They are also better for the environment and are more structurally sound.
Technology on and off-site has a significant impact on the efficiency of construction.
Automation involves utilizing technologies to tackle repetitive, time-consuming, or potentially dangerous tasks. Automotive systems can be used on and off-site.
On-site, robotics can be used for transportation, heavy lifting, and other strenuous activities. There are even automated versions of construction site machinery that have traditionally been operated by people, such as forklifts, diggers, and trucks.
Concrete works are now heavily influenced by automation. From mixing to removing surface water, there is minimal need for human interaction for concrete works.
Smart technologies now enable construction companies to take real-time readings of the location, temperature, and various other statistics. These readings are communicated through sensors that are either built into materials or placed on site. Some sensors can automatically trigger machines or devices to operate under particular circumstances.
Automated processes on-site lower the amount of waste and greatly reduce the risk of human error.
Off-site, software programs can be used to automate or semi-automate the creation of certain reports and documents. It can also be used to aid communication.
6. Analyze data
With the presence and utilization of technology in all sectors, there is an enormous amount of data being generated constantly. Whether a company is using advanced machinery or software programs, significant data can be gathered from a construction project.
In order to analyze the performance and efficiency of the company, you must outline performance metrics. Key performance indicators (KPI’s) are the functions of each project that you value and measure. These should provide the basis for all analyses. Managers, supervisors, and other key workers should be aware of these metrics and pay close attention to them.
KPI’s should be dedicated to measuring efficiency in all areas. You may then identify problem areas that are inhibiting efficiency and productivity. These metrics don’t have to be overly complicated. Simple things such as time-keeping and tardiness statistics can be important to efficiency.
Data analysis should be performed regularly throughout the duration of each project and should play a large role in decision making. Following each finished job, a detailed report should be created for further analysis. The findings should be learned from and used for future work.
7. Be more selective with projects
Many construction companies try to secure the contracts for every available project. This can lead to spending considerable time and effort working on difficult and tedious projects, for arduous and demanding clients. Trying and stressful environments are very difficult for your workers to perform consistently.
Nightmare jobs can be soul-destroying for your employees, having a very negative impact on their productivity.
Being more selective with what projects your company bids for can benefit in several ways. Firstly, you can concentrate more of your efforts on securing the work that’s best suited to your services. This creates a more streamlined focus and doesn’t overstretch the company.
More importantly, it allows you to choose projects that you can complete well and efficiently. You may utilize the knowledge and experience of similar jobs to produce exemplary work.
Although this approach may take some getting used to, it can be a very effective way of creating a lean and efficient team.
8. Sourcing materials
Construction materials and equipment are the most expensive part of any project. Achieving cost efficiency in this area should be prioritized. Construction companies and contractors often seek to develop business relationships with suppliers that they trust. Although this is a valuable quality, it’s more important to shop around when securing materials.
Creating a dedicated procurement team within your company can help you to broker the best value when purchasing materials and equipment. As such an important part of the process, it requires a lot of attention.
A dedicated purchasing strategy should be outlined to ensure your company secures the best value, quality, and suitable equipment.
Effective procurement not only increases cost-efficiency, but it can give you a competitive advantage in securing potential contracts.