In the world of construction, budgets and schedules are suggestions, not plans, or so the frustrating conventional wisdom goes. A 2018 study found that 35% of time that workers spend onsite ends up wasted on waiting for customers or managers to arrive or answer questions, hunting down misplaced materials, and other unproductive tasks, even though their labor costs still have to be paid. Depending on the size of your business, developing a more productive workforce can save thousands or millions of dollars annually. Read on to discover three smart ways you can increase productivity onsite.
Keep Better Track of Time
If workers are losing 35% of their time onsite to unproductive tasks, that’s nearly three hours per day of a typical five-day, 40-hour workweek. Where is all the time going? Answering that question is the first step in boosting your labor force’s productivity. There are numerous options for time tracking software on the market, so you’ll need to invest some of your own time into researching the best solutions for your company.
One feature to look for is mobile support, so your workforce can track their labor in real time, rather than in batches at the end of a pay period; infrequent, manual time tracking encourages busy employees to put the process off until timesheets are due, which often decreases the accuracy of their recall. This is especially true if workers often visit several sites in a single day. Time trackers should also be simple to use so you can avoid spending too much time managing employees' efforts to be more productive. You can encourage workers to get on board with tracking time by offering incentives for more productive crews and site managers.
Stop Losing Hand Tools and Consumables
Construction is not a tidy business, but dust and dirt doesn’t have to mean disorganization, too. There are several common obstacles to getting enough of the right materials to the right sites on time, ranging from problems with vendors to surprise requests for out-of-scope work. Unfortunately, not having the necessary supplies onsite when they’re needed can spark a cascade of unproductive time use as you place calls to workers who will have to log extra hours ferrying equipment from one site to another. This is a common problem with small equipment like hand tools and consumables, which are easily mislaid or forgotten.
Although good inventory management always begins with an accurate estimate, numerous companies have started supplementing that process with scannable QR codes or similar systems. Just because an item is small doesn’t mean it’s not worth monitoring; infrared cameras and imaging tools, for instance, take up more room in your budget than in your warehouse, so helping employees keep track of equipment can save both time and money.
Take Advantage of Modularity
As prefabricated manufacturing improves, it’s less important for crews to construct every piece of a building onsite. In some situations, modular construction processes can accelerate typical timelines by up to 50% while cutting costs by 20%. While many of the best-known use cases for modular construction are in areas with high demand for new residential units that are amenable to repeatability, like apartment blocks or row homes, interest in offsite construction is growing in the industrial and infrastructure markets, as installing the same prefabricated equipment in multiple production locations can offer substantial savings to businesses.
This is a cutting-edge approach, but if your company is in an urban area where population density and narrow streets crammed with tall buildings often necessitate costly approaches like construction by helicopter or crane, it’s worth your consideration as a new technology that can distinguish you from other regional businesses.
Although the construction industry has long been dogged by productivity problems that are unavoidable when managing large, spread-out teams and millions of dollars' worth of equipment, smart new technologies and management strategies can help you lead the way to a more productive, efficient workforce that creates a lasting competitive advantage for your company.