JobrrUK Blog 2: How is increasing project complexity affecting the construction industry?

Since the mid 1940s, projects have become more demanding and complex in design. With the construction industry being one of the least digitised sectors, having the equipment to keep up with the complexity of some designs is a challenge. It doesn’t leave much room for error, and as a result 30% of firms currently deliver projects on budget and only 15% on time. This is set to decrease even further as the skills shortage crisis gets worse and the demand increases (as discussed in last week’s blog).

Issues with productivity stem directly from efficiency of firms and labourers. It has been reported that 63% of labour time on major construction projects is spent planning, waiting for materials/equipment and travelling. This lack of productivity is reflected in profit margins, meaning that companies are unable to invest in critical technology to improve and expand. Although improving productivity is crucial for the construction industry, it is equally as important not to allow the quality of buildings and infrastructure to suffer as a result.

The answer, of course, lies with investing in technology that help to improve productivity, project performance and skilled labour shortages. Despite the construction industry being one of the least digitised sectors, technological advances are becoming more prominent in firms. Technology is becoming more commercially affordable, and it is being recognised that investment will save companies more money in the long run despite the initial cost. Companies that don’t keep up with this new technology will not be able to compete due to their lower productivity and smaller profit margins. Some examples of technology that is being introduced into the industry are BIM, Augmented reality and drones.

Building information modelling (BIM) has replaced traditional blueprints with 3D interactive, intelligent and fully detailed models. It can provide one collaborative place where all information relative to the project can be stored, allowing contractors and clients to work together rather than in isolation. This overcomes a communication issue that is often present in the industry, allowing the end result to be reached more efficiently.

Augmented Reality (AR) aids in visualising new projects before they are built. This helps to be aware of possible on-site construction challenges and potential hazards, and overcoming them before they become a problem. This allows planners and architects to work in tandem with clients and contractors, adapting projects in order to avoid problems before they occur. This helps projects to completed on time and within budget by identifying issues that may have been initially overlooked.

Drones are capable of collecting high-resolution aerial images and GPS data that can evaluate pre-construction sites, giving accurate and current information compared to third party maps. They help to make progress tracking more efficient, resources better managed and projects kept on schedule and under budget.

Embracing technology is an important step to ensure the construction industry escapes decline and avoids being left behind. Productivity issues have been recognised for many years, and as projects become more complex in design the industry faces further challenges. Only by investing in the technology will efficiency improve and margins increase. Despite the high initial costs, companies will see the benefits hugely in the long run. Once the industry embraces the change that this new technology brings, it can only progress further.

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