Reduce time and cost with these innovations that are already improving productivity in construction.
Construction has to innovate. Last year’s Farmer report warned that the industry must develop new ways of working to address a serious skills gap and avoid further decline. It followed research that showed more than a third of UK construction projects missed their budget and nearly two-thirds overran.
The good news is that there are some genuinely exciting innovations and technologies already helping to improve overall productivity in construction. Here is a selection of promising developments that we can foresee having the most impact:
1) Modular building
Modular construction is growing in adoption as it continues to deliver both time and cost savings. Moving more production off site means faster builds, less waste and lower energy consumption.
One of the largest modular buildings in the UK is being built by Essential Living in Greenwich. This 23-storey tower block will provide 249 rental homes. 60% of the work will be carried out at a factory in Shropshire using traditional construction methods. The speed at which they can build the modules – one is finished every seven days – has halved time on site to 32 weeks.
2) 3D printing
A sleek proof of concept was unveiled in Dubai last year: a 250-square-metre 3D-printed office where even the furniture and fittings were printed. It showed that as well as reducing time, cost and waste, 3D printing offers more freedom during the design process.
The world’s first 3D printed bridge has recently been installed in a park in Madrid. Using 3D printers allowed the team at the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia to experiment with complex designs that would have been difficult and expensive to produce conventionally. They hope this will open up new opportunities for 3D printing in civil engineering.
The construction sector has been quick to grasp the benefits of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or drones. According to the UK Drone Usage Report 2016, 17% of construction companies use drones to scope out work and monitor projects. Faster than human surveyors, drones can track progress in real time by generating aerial photos, maps and 3D images. One US drone company estimated that drones cut the time it takes to map a 100-acre construction site from 30 days to about nine minutes, with fewer (if any) errors.
4) 3D modelling
Even if you use CAD or Excel for projects, the output is still likely to be a paper document which is manually reviewed and therefore prone to human error. Building Information Modelling, or BIM, involves storing all project elements as digital information that can be used to create a virtual 3D building, and model different construction scenarios.
BIM offers a more efficient way of producing, managing, and sharing information, which allows for greater collaboration. The information is available to everyone involved in the build, so they can understand proposals and identify issues earlier on in the process. Information is only created once, so if it needs to be changed, it’s much easier to update it.
The National BIM Report 2016 found that 57% of construction professionals believe BIM will cut project timescales by half, while 63% believe that it will lower costs by a third.
5) Cloud based solution designed to finally address the cause of late payment
The application and valuation processes in the construction supply chain are simply broken. The issue and impact of late payments in construction has over time become a thorn in the side of the industry. Arguably, late payment is the effect of the problem and not the cause; most can be attributed to historical practices and poor/disparate processes. The industry is constantly being told to address this and implement change, but until now it has not been given the tools available to really help. Disparate and manual paper-based systems are clearly time-consuming to administer and regularly result in costly mistakes, lost tempers, and disputes.
By implementing a cloud based collaboration platform that provides an end to end solution, Contractors and Subcontractors will save significant time and cost by automating the application for payment, valuation, variation, certification and payment processes.
An online solution provides a collaborative, consistent, secure and efficient environment for the exchange of information necessary to certify and make a contract payment. A solution such as Payapps.com is designed specifically for the construction industry and is very simple to use. Allowing both applicants and respondents to accurately issue conforming applications for payment and payment notices it ensures compliance with common law contracts and the Construction Act.
Australian construction company Built reports that using an online payment platform cuts the time needed to process applications by at least 50%, reducing a manager’s workload by up to three days a month.
Which of these innovations will be most effective in improving productivity in construction?
— Payapps.com (@PayappsUK) August 14, 2017
- Construction has to innovate to reduce costs and attract new skills into the industry. Inefficient, manual and paper-based systems that contribute to late payments are no longer fit for purpose in today’s market.
- Technology has a huge role to play in improving productivity in construction. From cloud-based payment systems to 3D modelling, technology enable the efficient gathering and sharing of information that construction needs.
- Moving production off-site is reducing time onsite and the associated costs. You can expect to see more modular construction as a result.
- There are opportunities to innovate at every point in the project phase, from design through to completion, but they require a more collaborative approach where all parties work together on shared systems to reduce risk and work more effectively.