According to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, productivity in manufacturing nearly doubled between 1994 and 2012. For the construction industry during the same time period, productivity languished, remaining flat for decades.
Similarly, in the construction world, it’s not unusual for projects to finish late and cost more than initially planned. In fact, according to the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, three out of five construction projects are completed late; a similar percentage run over budget.
It goes without saying, then, that the construction industry has fallen into a place where inefficiencies have become commonplace. Thankfully, though, technology and other new advances are giving the industry ways to address those inefficiencies and make some serious improvements in the market.
“There are some big challenges across the construction industry,” says Sean Fennell, CEO of Initiafy, an Ireland-based software startup, “but there are also some exciting solutions that can really lead to big improvements.”
Technology is one of the major ways that the construction industry is tackling some of its efficiency challenges. Mobile devices and associated apps have allowed for improved scheduling, project management and cost monitoring. Advances in computer-aided design have also helped eliminate potential errors that can cost time and money.
Beyond design and management programs that streamline processes and enable file sharing, collaboration and other tools, new software platforms have been developed to help improve the staffing side of construction. Initiafy devised a software platform that streamlines the on-boarding process for large numbers of contractors or temporary hires.
“Staffing issues, especially in an industry that relies heavily on temporary and contract workers, can be a huge burden on projects’ timelines and costs,” Fennell says. “A platform like ours can smooth out many of those issues so that workers are trained, in compliance and ready to go the day they show up for work.”
Damien Murtagh’s hands-on reusable modeling system, Arckit, provides a fast and affordable alternative to traditional cut-and-glue architectural model making, which is significantly more time consuming and costly to build. Arckit’s freeform system consists of a series of click and connect components that enable various building possibilities and allow architects and designers to bring their ideas to life.
Arckit has become popular with not only architects and designers, but with a younger set, as well. The kits, often described as “sophisticated Legos,” have been put to use in educational environments to teach kids the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering, art and math learning.