Tech and automation can solve ‘productivity problem’

Construction has a ‘productivity problem’ that can be solved by tech and automation

Construction has a ‘productivity issue‘ and technology can provide the answer, according to a new report from HP.

Some 60% of those taking part in the first ‘State of Construction Productivity’ survey said techniques and processes have changed little in the last 20-30 years. The report surveyed workers and bosses from the US, UK, and Germany.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) believed the industry is slow in solving productivity problems. Fewer than 1% thought construction didn’t have an issue with productivity.

A huge 71% of those responding to the survey believed technology was key to boosting productivity. Yet just 3% of CIOs said productivity boosting tech had been brought onto site within the past year.

Manufacturing has experienced a labour productivity growth of 3.6% a year over the past 20 years, while construction had only seen a 1% increase over the same timeframe.

“There is a clear acceptance within the industry that a problem exists,” says Xavi Juarez, Director, HP construction services.

“For survey respondents to have seen little improvement in productivity across their careers is remarkable, considering the advances in technology during this time.

“A greater focus on harnessing tech and automating certain tasks is surely key to helping construction meaningfully improve productivity levels.”

The survey found 79% estimated that less than a fifth of the annual budget was invested in on-site tech, and 68% said their employer was open to using new tech. 57% reported the pandemic accelerated use of on-site and automation tech.

Other findings

Layout, or setting out, errors were reportedly responsible for delays of over 15 days, equating to 9.4% of the total project budget. Around 5% of these delays were as long as three months.

But the costs aren’t just financial as 70% were concerned about potential for injuries caused by manual layout techniques.

Around 88% reported difficulty staffing layout work due to a lack of skills and labour.

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  1. I’m interested in the design and engineering component of the tech integration with the contractor. The size of projects is also a question 15d delay in layout, is9.4% of the budget; small project? The small projects attract lower investment in tech, while relying on current skillsets. Throwing tech at the opportunity will not improve things! The holistic approach is People+Process+Tech. Tech is an enabler, costs money and only works with trained people. A more comparative study of large vs smaller projects of the same project type, would be more informative.

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