Rethinking productivity across the construction industry



Low productivity has been a constant drumbeat in the construction industry, raising costs and adding risk and waste across project life cycles. Efforts to improve efficiency, however, have proven difficult in a market too often defined by low margins, aggressive procurement, talent shortages and uncertain work pipelines.

“Productivity is a very relevant topic right now,” says Craig Halvorson, senior vice-president of operations at ARCADIS, a Netherlands-based design and construction consultancy. The productivity problem is particularly acute on large-scale construction projects, where limited availability of talent, accelerated schedules and small or crowded job sites demand increased efficiencies in order to meet ambitious delivery goals. “The increased competition for talent, coupled with ongoing pressure from clients to be more cost competitive, is making things very intense,” Mr Halvorson says.

According to Rethinking productivity across the construction industry: The challenge of change, an Economist Intelligence Unit report sponsored by Autodesk, meeting the productivity challenge continues to be an industry-wide problem. This makes it difficult for individual organisations to find solutions on their own. Improving productivity at the industry level will require changes in the

expectations and behaviours of all stakeholders, including clients, policymakers, and supply-chain partners as well as the contracting community itself.

Improving productivity demands a prescription of collaboration that supports a culture of shared risks and rewards across the value chain and a willingness to think and act beyond the context of individual projects. Breaking down the siloes that exist between stakeholder groups and building long-term relationships that allow identification of opportunities for improvement is the first step. The situation can be further enhanced by greater adoption of value-based procurement and innovative industry technologies—such as virtual design and construction (VDC—an application used to visualise, analyse and evaluate project performance) or building information modelling (BIM—3D modelling tools for project planning and design)—as well as by minimising the impact of government regulations on individual contractors.

Achieving such far-reaching, industry-wide change will take time. Yet organisations that take a leadership role in building these collaborations and harnessing technology will have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over their slower-moving peers and achieve a degree of insulation from the pressures of the market.

Read the full article here


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