Construction’s Communications Conundrum

Jody Kennedy, chief technology officer at Olive Communications, explains why it is time to start thinking about supply chain communications.

The Gherkin, the Prawn, and the Cheesegrater are just a few examples. At first glance, this appears to be an odd shopping list. Add in the Shard and the ‘Walkie-scorchie,’ and it’s clear that we’re talking about the most eye-catching additions to London’s skyline in the last decade. More than 230 new towers are currently under construction or are planned to join them, according to New London Architecture.

Britain is a global leader in commercial and residential construction, and the ever-changing London skyline is just one manifestation of a thriving industry. It employs 2.9 million people and contributes £90 billion to the UK economy each year.

This is an exciting time for British construction, and things appear to be only getting better. According to the UK government’s 2013 report Construction: 2025, the global construction market is booming, with over 70% growth predicted over the next 11 years, providing plenty of opportunities for construction firms and their supply chain.

The supply chain’s missing link

The British construction industry has received some negative press as a result of overspending, missed deadlines, theft, and accidents, calling into question its financial and project efficiency, as well as risk management.

However, construction, more than many other industries, is burdened by an incredibly complex and widely dispersed supply chain of contractors and subcontractors, creating seemingly unavoidable opportunities for inefficiencies to creep in.

According to the latest Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI survey, construction output grew at the fastest rate in eight months in September. Despite these encouraging signs, growth in new orders and employment slowed to a four-month low, while subcontracted work quality deteriorated.

The need for long-term growth is obvious; the recent sharp increase in output has put a strain on the supply chain, with suppliers and workers struggling to keep up with demand. Overworked, underskilled, and unsupported tradespeople make costly mistakes for construction companies.

The construction industry requires a golden thread to connect all of its disparate parts and relieve enough pressure to allow for growth. However, for this growth to be smooth, the construction industry must overcome its most significant challenge.

A new foundation on which to build

Individuals readily embrace technology to help them streamline their personal lives: online banking, productivity apps, instant messaging services, and social media. This approach is quickly permeating our work as well. However, construction has not been at the forefront of this movement among all industries in the UK. It’s time for a new approach to construction communications.

With innovations ranging from intuitive document management to powerful and long-lasting smartphones, it is time for construction companies to reconsider the role of technology in their operations.

The modern tradesman is equally at ease interacting with touch-screen technology as they are with more traditional tools of the trade. To not take advantage of this is to pass up a huge opportunity. There are now automated systems that can track health and safety compliance on-site in real time, coordinate contractors, track deliveries in real time, communicate issues instantly to a large network, and share best practises at the touch of a button.

Integrating a more sophisticated approach to communications technology into the construction industry will make it much easier to consolidate the currently dispersed workforce; closely monitoring and addressing issues as they arise; and allowing for greater managerial control and assessment.

The industry is expanding, and it must keep up with the rate of change or risk becoming bogged down.

Last Updated on December 28, 2021


Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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