Higher education construction is growing by leaps and bounds—and poised to get even busier in the next decade as the current stock of buildings requires upgrades and expansions, according to SightLines’ 2018 State of Facilities in Higher Education report.
In fact, the report says, “the largest demand for capital investment that higher education has ever seen is bearing down on us.” Already, colleges and universities are spending more. College Planning & Management’s 2019 Facilities & Construction Brief found that all education construction in 2018, including K-12 construction and other work, likely reached close to $99 billion in 2019, a 9% increase from the year before.
Nearly 80% of the higher education institutions surveyed said they planned to launch construction projects this year, the brief found. What’s more, “renovations and modernizations of existing facilities” remain a major focus.
As more scaffolding and construction fencing goes up on campuses around the country, College Planning & Management’s report listed some particular challenges that higher education organizations face as they embark on new projects.
Beyond finding the funding and sorting out which pressing needs will get addressed first, those hurdles include, according to the report:
- An aging workforce and labor shortages in skilled trades.
- Compressed schedules, which can impact the quality of the finished product.
- Scheduling work during renovations to ensure that portions of a building, which are not under construction, can remain in use.
In other words, in a world where labor is in short supply and schedules and site security is so critical, it’s vital that higher education institutions find ways to streamline these projects and turn up new ways to ensure efficiency and security.
Here’s the good news: Technology can help. More leading construction companies are turning to technology solutions to create connected jobsites, so they can address these mounting challenges.
On large jobsites such as those on college campuses, once a worker or subcontractor enters the project, it can be difficult to track them down amid the bustle and noise of construction — or even verify that they’re where they’re supposed to be.
But, today’s IoT-enabled devices allow site managers on connected jobsites to immediately locate any worker at any given time and even drill down into their profile to ensure they have the required certifications and training.
That level of detail can be especially important on New York City jobsites where contractors and builders must comply with the Department of Buildings Local Law 196.
Many jobsites still rely on simple turnstiles and paper timesheets to log the comings and goings of workers. Today’s connected jobsites, however, offer so many more advantages.
On them, site managers can monitor who enters and exits at approved points, a key feature on college campuses to ensure that workers aren’t accessing parts of a building that may be off limits to them. Additionally, by identifying specific points of interest that workers should not be accessing, like active school buildings, project teams can monitor when workers enter the vicinity of these areas that can trigger discussions about safety and procedures.
Anybody who works in higher education knows what it’s like to operate under stretched budgets and tight resources. It’s no different on campus jobsites where skilled workers are at a premium and access to capital is limited. That makes it especially important to ensure that processes and systems are in place to make work efficient.
On connected jobsites, managers can take advantage of robust reporting capabilities where they can dive deep into information such as workforce and equipment deployments and real-time manpower to understand potential implications on the project schedule. With that information, managers can identify lulls and waste to improve systems and adjust schedules for the current project and plan better for future ones.
Worker injuries. Extreme weather. Change orders. Idle workers. Jobsites come with plenty of risk that can hamper work for days or months. On connected jobsites, however, managers can gain deep visibility into what’s happening on the site. Solutions allow them to rapidly respond to injuries, track the location of equipment and monitor other events to quickly resolve problems as soon as they come up.
With our Spot-r platform on your next higher education job, these capabilities and more are possible. If you’re ready to make your next jobsite a connected one, contact us.