We thought we were efficient at the turn of the 20th century.
That’s when Henry Ford unleashed the assembly line, taking the time needed to produce one of his company’s autos from nearly 12 hours to just two and half.
And we haven’t stopped obsessing about efficiency ever since.
What Henry Ford was doing back in 1913 included some of the most cutting-edge technology of its time. It was new and fresh, but it was only the first step in an ongoing evolution. In every era, we’ve always thought we were on the cusp of something revolutionary, only to realize later that we were just beginning.
In the new economy, one where technology has upended just about every industry, efficiency has given us more time to do more things with less.
But construction is different.
According to McKinsey & Company, while productivity has soared in nearly every other industry in recent years, similar improvements in construction at large have moved at what the firm calls a “glacial pace.” Managing construction projects is still an extremely complicated and manual task, with big projects taking years to see through to completion. While there has been some modest investment in software and digital tools for the industry in recent years, digital transformation has yet to give it the same kind of boost seen so far in retail, media and other fields.
That’s good news, however. This represents an immense opportunity.
Using technology to get efficiency right in construction represents an opportunity to boost the overall value of the industry by an estimated $1.6 trillion, saving not only capital currently being spent on wasteful processes but also freeing up man hours to focus on higher-need projects. To do it right, technology needs to be strategically integrated into construction projects – and it has to go beyond software.
In short: To move the industry forward, there must be more on-site digital integration.
An underutilized option is to consider adding a piece of technology that is deceptively simple in theory yet could prove critical in practice to boosting construction productive and safety, as well as improving efficiency in ways you might be overlooking: worksite cameras.
Cameras that are custom-designed to solve problems facing construction project managers in today’s economy might be the answer to some of your most common woes. Here’s how.
Manage multiple worksites simultaneously
According to the National Association of Home Builders, nearly 82 percent of its members consider the availability and cost of skilled labor to be their number one problem as of 2018.
This makes site efficiency even more critical for busy project managers, who are likely juggling multiple projects at any given time in order to make up for this shortfall.
Being able to access construction site cameras from any device at any time frees up project managers from having to visit worksites as often and enables them to monitor multiples sites from anywhere that they have an internet connection.
This could reduce travel expenses and save project managers oodles of time, so they can focus on more important tasks like job progress and budget management rather than squeezing in multiple site visits.
Catch potential problems early on
The last thing you want on a construction project is to finish a task, only to have to go back and tear it down and do it again. Blowing up your budget to do rework is every project manager’s nightmare, but onsite cameras can help you to avoid this problem in the first place.
Time-lapse videos from construction cameras can give you a robust picture of job progress and help you spot potential problems early on, before they start blowing up the budget.
You’ll easily be able to tell whether progress is on schedule, where potential errors are happening, and what might need to be changed, all without ever needing to conduct an actual site visit.
Typically a project will get derailed by a number of minor issues rather than one large problem. Carefully analyzing daily progress reports, keeping an eye on the budget and schedule, and managing risks requires a high level of attention to detail.
That’s a lot of work for an industry suffering a labor shortage. Cameras can alleviate much of this, giving progress reports imagery to back them up and providing an additional tool for risk management.
If what you’re seeing on the screen and in progress reports isn’t matching up, you’ve already set into motion a time and money-saving process that could have otherwise derailed the entire project.
Give safety a boost
Efficiency doesn’t just apply to managing budgets and processes. Safety is also a critical part of every construction project, and no amount of digitization will ever change that.
But new technologies can make jobsite safety a much more cost-effective and less risky part of the business.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s estimated that employers pay as much as $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs. The construction industry accounts for more than 20 percent of all workplace fatalities in the U.S., with falls, object strikes, electrocution and being caught in between objects leading to the majority of these incidents. It’s a dangerous business, that’s all there is to it.
Anyone who has spent much time working in construction probably knows that falls are one of the most common and costly safety incidents on any site. Cameras can help to spot potential safety issues, especially where regulations or guidelines regarding falls aren’t being followed, before an incident occurs.
With 24-hour surveillance and footage stored in a cloud-bases system, management will also be able to combat fraudulent compensation claims by reviewing the proverbial tape after the fact.
The mere presence of cameras may also ensure that workers and jobsite managers better follow safety guidelines and give your managers a chance to fix potential safety issues before someone else (ahem, OSHA) spots them and slaps with a fine.
Secure the site
Site security is another issue that will never go away in construction.
Whether it’s keeping an eye on materials overnight or ensuring only approved personnel are entering the site, the right construction cameras are a no-brainer for these types of functions and have proven highly effective.
Just last year, authorities broke up a crime ring that had stolen millions of dollars’ worth of construction materials from jobsites over a 10-year period. The cameras that can be installed in construction sites today may have helped to prevent this sort of crime before it became so costly for the owner.
Selecting the right construction cameras
That said, construction technology shouldn’t be adopted just for the sake of doing it.
Ycatch-all select construction cameras that will fit your specific needs. There is no catch all solution that will solve every problem on the jobsite. Every manager, project and worksite are unique with unique needs and processes that will need to be addressed. Keep these differences in mind when choosing cameras for your sites, with a focus on flexibility and customization.
Purchasing the right camera system for construction purposes requires an upfront investment, but it’s technology that won’t call for much in the way of ongoing maintenance — unlike nearly everything else on the jobsite.
Once cameras are installed, you can begin taking advantage of improved efficiency right away and throughout the completion of a project, no matter how long that project is estimated to take, as long as you’ve chosen the right camera system.
For starters, you don’t want to keep spending money to keep the cameras running or updated. When you invest in construction cameras, you should look for energy efficient options, like solar powered options that you’ll never have to worry about burning cash just to charge up every day.
To be truly efficient, project managers should be able to access the cameras anytime, from anywhere, in order to keep track of what’s happening. Whether you’re on site and need to check up on a safety incident from the night before using a wired connection, or in the middle of travel and need to perform a real-time check on the worksite on your smartphone, being efficient in today’s construction economy means being able to access your site cameras on your schedule, not someone else’s.
Done right, construction cameras can provide a major boost to the efficiency of your construction business in myriad ways.