Digitizing Projects Can Ease the Pain of Higher Material Costs | Comment

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The construction industry is facing one of its toughest times yet. It’s a testing time for builders and contractors, who must navigate the minefield of changing regulations, skills shortages and, most importantly, supply chain issues.

It’s an issue that has hampered construction production throughout the second half of 2021 and is expected to persist through 2022 and has driven up spending and production costs. In fact, a recent HBF survey showed that 78% of midsize homebuilders consider material sourcing and cost to be a major impediment to delivery.

With such a difficult landscape to manage, it’s no surprise that builders and contractors are saving money and looking for ways to recoup costs. As the saying goes “when the going gets tough, the tough go”.

Still, there are some silver linings. As the pandemic has encouraged builders and contractors to take advantage of the latest digital tools and software, using these emerging systems to help them build more accurately can also reduce waste and reduce errors. during construction and, therefore, the amount of touch-ups required.

Beyond market challenges, the industry has a problem with quality control, and it’s costing businesses millions every year to rectify mistakes.

Importantly, continued adoption of digital adoption helps builders respond quickly to market crises with less disruption to the overall workflow. From covid-related disruptions to supply shortages, we have seen the multiple benefits that can be achieved by working digitally.

Pay the price

According to the government’s Get it Right initiative, studies have shown that the direct cost of avoidable errors in the construction industry is approximately 5% of the project value. In other words, the initiative suggests it far exceeds average UK profit levels and costs around £5bn a year.

This figure does not take into account unmeasured or indirect costs which bring estimates closer to 10-25%, which equates to more than £20 billion a year in the UK sector alone. What this tells us is that beyond market challenges, the industry has a problem with quality control, and it’s costing businesses millions every year to rectify mistakes.

> Read also: Market forecast: Inflation bites

This is where digital construction can come in. Software, such as apps that help with quality assurance and compliance documentation, have now become critical to a project’s success.

Powerful data collection features allow information to be captured quickly and with greater accuracy by trained experts on site. This includes digital replicas of worksheets and key documents such as site logs or health and safety audits.

These platforms offer an efficient and automated solution to traditional manual data entry methods, which often lead to human error when transcribing handwritten notes. It’s also fast, which means reports can be easily generated without duplicating work, and watertight, tamper-proof digital audit trails are readily available.

With greater monitoring, owners have a clearer view of what is actually happening on site and where resource efficiencies can be found. And, with fewer mistakes, there’s less need for costly rework.

Time is money

We briefly touched on this, but digitizing construction projects can significantly reduce the time spent managing and administering projects. Time is money, so finding ways to maximize efficiency, especially around communication and proper documentation, can keep projects running like a well-oiled machine.

One of the biggest obstacles in communication is correspondence with companies and individuals outside of an organization.

For example, one of the biggest obstacles in communication is correspondence with companies and individuals outside of an organization, especially during the planning and design process. Now, in-app software that enables instant messaging between teams can speed up workflows.

Plans, designs and updates can easily be shared with those who may not have software license rights, streamlining communication, increasing visibility for everyone involved and potentially saving hours of calls and emails every week.

Under pressure

Although building supply shortages are easing, the effects of last year’s disruptions persist and long lead times remain the norm. This situation is further exacerbated by the likelihood of rising construction product costs.

A Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy study last October found that average material costs were 23.5% higher than in August 2020. Other global economic factors could cause a further rise in costs, due to rising energy prices and inflation rates, even reducing profits. further away. In such a scenario, reducing material waste and errors can help recover potential lost profits.

Visualization tools can help minimize waste by identifying potential impacts early in the construction journey. This means they can be processed immediately, instead of processing them after the job is done, avoiding time-consuming and costly rework.

The benefits of working with digital tools are not only in reducing errors and reducing waste, but also in improving construction quality. The fewer errors, the better the finished product. For developers and contractors, this can translate into long-term reputation management benefits.

It stands to reason that those who adopt digital solutions now will be able to realize long-term gains in an increasingly competitive market.

Ibrahim Imam is co-founder and co-CEO of PlanRadar

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