Modernise or die: The need for change in construction

It’s no secret that the construction industry is most of the times really resistant towards change. This element has created, of course, many issues to the industry across the years. According to the 2016 Mark Farmer review on the existing situation in UK construction, the current status of the field is more than alarming.

The title of Mark Farmer’s work (Modernise or Die) depicts on the most descriptive way possible the need for deep changes in construction. The review itself is focusing on the United Kingdom, but many of its points can be of great value for many different markets and countries.

Definition of the Problem

Before we start analyzing all the different practices that have to change, it’s essential to define the problem. In that way, we can dig in for solutions much more efficiently. In a nutshell, the main challenges for the construction sector are connected to the following points:

a) Lack of investments in innovating the whole construction and training process

What has been identified as one of the main pains in the industry is its unwillingness to guide its resources, both financial and time related, towards innovation. The need for adopting new techniques in construction is more apparent than ever. It would instantly boost the whole project management process. Moreover, it would lead to the creation of a more skillful and productive labour force.

b) Not enough well-trained workers

Based on the stats of Mark Farmer’s review, there will be a drop up to 20-25% in construction workers within the next ten years. The fact that a considerable amount of people working on site haven’t received the proper training both on the currently used techniques and on the upcoming innovative technologies make things even worse. The future of construction could be darker, if we don’t turn our attention to it.

c) Serious productivity losses

As an extension of the two priorly mentioned issues, the levels of productivity losses in construction are tremendously high. Productivity losses are the result of a number of different issues. All these problems come eventually down to the inability of a construction project team to stick to its initial plan. As a consequence, serious implications are arising and the bond between the industry and its customers is harmed.

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The Reasons Behind the Problem    

In order to come up with functional solutions, it’s crucial that you identify first the causes of the problem. If we were trying to take a step back and look into them we could end up to the following observations:

No effort to change  

Sticking to your habits can sometimes be very dangerous. This seems to have happened in construction where almost everyone appear to be stacked to the very same practices that go on and on for decades. Given this situation, it’s impossible for a new reality to emerge within the industry. On top of that, this perception that everything remains the same, no matter what, builds a bigger distance between what companies offer and what customers need/want.

Different points of interest for the industry and its customers

The construction industry seems trapped in conventional and dysfunctional structures and techniques. These eventually deteriorate its connection with the interested clients. This inability of the two sides to synchronize their wishes and visions could eventually lead to a pretty dark future for construction.

Lack of willingness to be the first one make the change

To make things even worse, it appears that this inertia will continue as long as there is no one to decide to lead towards this change. Or to provoke alteration on the existing structures. To a great extent, it should be the responsibility of the state to take things on its own hands and offer strong incentives that could at some point push construction towards a more technological oriented future. In other words, there’s a strong need for synchronized action against the traditional prevailing patterns of the industry.

What we can do about it

Modernise or die: the solution

The next day for construction doesn’t seem prominent at the moment. However, this could change if there was a unified action towards the right direction. It won’t be an easy transition, of course, but it’s something that has to be done. Below we have gathered some potential solutions to today’s dead end:

Research and Development as a priority

We already mentioned above that one of the main issues of construction today is the lack of skilled workers. To surpass this obstacle, there’s absolute need of investing as much as possible in providing proper training to all the professionals of the field. Furthermore, we need to investigate new ways in which we could increase productivity and incorporating digital solutions on site.

Embrace new technologies

Construction is a traditional field and it will always have a strong connection with manual labor. This doesn’t mean, though, that there’s no room for new technologies to become part of the project management process. The use of trustworthy construction software, for example, could provide great help in making the construction procedure more effective. Furthermore, it could build stronger communication between all the different agents of a project.

Strong guidance

For deep changes to eventually work, there’s always a strong need for someone to lead. In this case, the initiative should be taken from the state in close collaboration with the people working within the industry. The establishment of tempting incentives in order for the whole industry to become more open towards technological solutions would transform the industry dramatically in the long run. During this ground-breaking process, it’s imperative that the clients will also voice their concerns.

Successful combination of innovative and traditional techniques

The need for new practices and techniques doesn’t mean that everything traditional has to go. To the contrary, the ultimate goal should be to find a way in which we will be able to bring together the positive elements of the past and the innovative techniques of the future. By doing so, we will be in position to evolve the construction process and maximize productivity.

Conclusion

The whole industry seems to be in a dead-end at the moment. That’s why, it’s more than necessary for construction to open its gates to new technologies. The optimization of the construction project management procedure in combination with the adoption of an open-mind towards change will result in saving the industry’s future. In any other case, construction will start facing an even deeper crisis during the upcoming years.