The Productivity Problem

Attend any construction-related conference, trade show or event and you will hear the same phrase: construction has a productivity problem. A recent McKinsey study found that globally, labor productivity in construction has averaged 1% per year over the last two years compared to 3.6% in manufacturing and 2.8% for the total world economy. For those in the industry, this is not a surprise. Those outside the industry, however, are shocked to learn that most construction companies use paper and pencil to track attendance, head count and safety incidents, sending a supervisor around the jobsite at regular intervals to check off site progress.

Challenging IT Environment

Clearly, the inability of contractors to automatically identify who is on a jobsite, where they’re located and if an incident has occurred represents a substantial inefficiency. And perhaps this isn’t surprising when you consider the other pressing issues facing the industry—increasingly complex buildings, tighter budgets and timelines, 1-3% profit margins and a skilled labor shortage.

What’s more, the very nature of a construction site—heavy machinery and equipment, changing trade activities and difficult building materials—means that few technology providers have had the wherewithal to focus on construction and give it the digital attention it so critically deserves.

A New Technology Ecosystem Is Emerging

The good news is that the tide is turning. Innovative general contractors and organizations are working to move the industry forward. A new ecosystem has emerged around bidding/estimating, Building Information Modeling (BIM); project management; and increasingly, smart tools & equipment and wearable technology to streamline processes and break down information silos.

Before delving into the analytics, however, we need the data. Wearable technology like Spot-r leverages the worksite’s most valuable resource—workers—to harness previously untapped job site safety and productivity data and turn it into actionable insights. Embracing new sensor technology that captures data and facilitates the timely transfer of information is helping general contractors build smarter and safer than ever before.

Read more about the new ConstrucTech ecosystem Triax is helping to create in the New England Real Estate Journal.