3 times technology solved common construction problems
Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - Mark Dyer
With an increase in technology adoption to streamline business processes and improve workflows, productivity rates have increased as much as 1500% in some industries. However, according to the Office for National Statistics, since 1994, although output per hour has improved by 60% in the manufacturing industry and 30% in services, it has only achieved a 5% increase in construction.
This is in the same climate where 93% of construction industry players agree that digitisation will affect every process. With research by Tungsten Network and Forrester stating that the victors in the digital age will be the companies that best use technology to win, serve and retain customers; as information presented and managed in the correct systems and formats can streamline project processes, establishing control, quality and visibility.
However, with the construction industry reporting ongoing problems such as low project performance, skilled labour shortages and poor levels of productivity and profitability, digital projects can often be pushed to the side. Meaning many construction companies still using archaic, paper-based processes rather than embracing newer, streamlined digital systems.
Here we look at three cases where construction businesses have successfully invested in technology solutions to solve common industry problems, including visibility, consistency through growth, and real-time collaboration across construction sites.
Company: Story Homes
Problem: Limited visibility of project progress preventing business-critical decision making for growth.
Solution: A centralised application to track and manage land developments.
Story Homes is an established and award-winning independent house builder.
Historically the company, like many others in the industry, was predominantly manually driven, with a reliance on individuals managing processes with basic, out-of-the-box tools, such as Excel spreadsheets.
Managing their land development process using this method provided limited visibility of all key project activities, impacting business-critical decision making that was vital to achieving growth plans.
Story Homes decided to digitise existing processes with an integrated project management system to manage the workflow required to take each site from initial feasibility studies, through to the start of production.
The system manages all aspects of feasibility, planning and design; allowing the business to manage projects from a critical milestone perspective, as well as giving full visibility of all regional developments at any time.
Allowing for full visualisation of construction pipelines, the system provides the ability to perform real-time reporting, foresee future development opportunities and identify gaps in business plans.
The technology enables Story Homes to:
- Plan and manage sites across the UK
- Interact with the system at various levels of detail from many devices
- Manage user access levels across multiple roles and devices
- Manage dashboards & export management information
- Identify scheduling improvements
- Perform scenario/impact analysis where risks/opportunities arise necessitating reappraisal of the plans
- Meet ongoing growth plans
Company: Aptus Utilities
Problem: Process aversion, inconsistent data input and a lack of collaboration across sites.
Solution: Tablet-based working for on-site processes.
Aptus Utilities are one of the UK’s leading multi utility providers, designing, building and connecting gas, water, electricity and street lighting infrastructure for housing developers and construction clients.
With issues onsite around process aversion and inconsistent data input, as well as the inability to effectively collaborate across teams, or gain visibility across business functions, Aptus looked to automate onsite processes through introducing tablet-based working.
Moving away from paper-based processes enables Aptus Utilities to eliminate the risk of paper loss, inconsistency in data submission, unmanageable data, no clear reporting or real-time analysis and delays in requests for information.
Streamlining day to day operations, the use of tablet applications to carry out onsite processes provides Aptus with the ability to increase real-time collaboration across the business and provides real-time visibility of business-critical data.
The technology enables Aptus’ onsite workers to:
- Submit equipment and vehicle checks
- Access RAMS for work
- Submit photos to evidence work completed
- Manage personal information
- Access other key business information
- Reduce admin time on site
As well as enabling the business to:
- Significantly improve reporting
- Significantly improve visibility
- Improve real-time collaboration across teams
- Save time and mitigate risk
- Improve stock movement from store locations to and from site
Company: Renowned UK house builder
Problem: Maintaining a consistent brand image across regions through considerable growth.
Solution: Technology to centralise baseline product specifications and standard house types.
One of the biggest house builders in the UK, with a number of nationwide locations and sites, was continuing to experience consistent growth.
As with a lot of high growth companies, they had become regionalised, with a large number of regions operating independently and each creating their own disjointed build specifications for developments – a process managed on paper.
As a result of this, the business encountered barriers around limited visibility across operational regions, with a lack of consistency across the process for land acquisition, through to development.
In order to solve this, the business introduced a web portal to digitise their existing paper-based process of defining build specifications, allowing them to manage cross-regional, business-critical information in one centralised platform as a single source of truth.
By replacing their existing manual, paper-based process with a digital solution, the business has gained greater visibility across regions.
The new technology has enabled them to:
- Gain consistency across specifications and in pricing models
- Ensure correct processes are followed and deviations are documented
- Improve decision making through the ability to view historical documents and transactions
- Improve the accuracy of business-critical information
- Make improvements to processes
By implementing technology to solve consistency through growth, the business has created a centralised platform from which they are able to innovate by further improving and automating processes, such as improving customer experience through digitising product choice processes, whilst integrating other business departments into one central repository.
Construction organisations need to address their digital woes, as reports show how modern technologies can raise productivity, increase efficiency and help attract people to the sector. Without digital adoption, construction risks being marginalised and losing a generation of new talent to other sectors.
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