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One key to enhance construction project productivity

Frédéric Deboucheby Frédéric Debouche | In Opinion, Primaned Blog |

It is no breaking news, from what certain people (McKinsey) could observe, productivity in construction projects has been stable or even decreased in the last 30 years. I don’t want to discuss the how but since we see a big move towards digitalisation (after COVID-19 crisis started) we hope this move will be also done towards more efficient projects.

At Primaned Belgium, we see a lot of projects. Most of us originate from the construction sector and we observe all project controls technologies in the market. However, if you know us, you also know we are not dependant of one software vendor. Our main goal is to enhance the situation of our customer based on their business case. The digital product that will support this is necessary but remains secondary.

This article won’t be long, but I just wanted to point out one of the elements that is making construction lose quite some productivity and for which some of the technologies available on the market can help. For this, I simply thought of my experience in construction project management, trying to figure out where we were losing time or efficiency. Ok, I’ll not name it but I was in a very efficient company already, to be honest, they had quite some advanced systems in place (and they will recognize themselves if they read this article). But still, you could also see where the technologies were really supporting the increase in productivity and, for me, the main one is linked with controlling all the small interfaces.

It’s crazy how many of those small interfaces there are on a construction field, but also behind the scene. Just pouring a concrete slab requires you to make sure you have the right team available, to reserve the right quantity and type of concrete, that the formworks and ironing are ready for what you want to pour, that you have the right concrete pump reserved, that you made space on the field for it, etc… Of course, that you already have an order to make all those materials come. That sounds like it’s the daily job of a site superintendent, but this is one “simple” activity, there are many parallel activities like that and many very different. What is certain, they all involve multiple parties, multiple techniques and interactions between all those!

That’s it, interactions, interfaces, however you name it, that’s one of the main elements which makes it very difficult to enhance productivity on the job. And this is precisely where technology can help. I believe one of the post-COVID-19 key success factors is:

“How will you make sure the digital transformation is supporting that need of fluent interfaces/interactions?“

Here are some of the main technologies/techniques that I believe could be quick wins:

  • Using a common data environment would avoid making a mistake on the quantity and type of concrete based on that one single source of truth
  • Good network planning would make sure a purchase order is placed before you need to call for concrete
  • Digitalized and collaborative/lean planning would help to plan those multiple tasks involving the right people at the right time while still watching out for project constraints and objectives
  • Small process automations and interfaces would make sure that repetitiveness is supported in order to be enhanced

There are, of course other techniques to support those interfaces but here are some we believe in. Of course, fluidifying interactions is not the only way of improving productivity as well.

Feel free to share your thoughts or contact us if you want to discuss this! I believe, this is (still) just a start ?

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