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How Can Construction Companies Increase Operational Efficiency?

By Mike Henstridge

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Operational efficiency describes a company’s ability to deliver products or services in the most cost-effective way possible while maintaining quality. Operational efficiency is accomplished by making sure that its production resources minimize waste, including excess materials, defects, and overproduction. Reducing idle times for its employees can also help to increase efficiency. This article outlines the strategies that can be used in job sites, as well as within construction businesses that boost productivity and create a better operational system. The ultimate goal of operational efficiency is to lower costs, without compromising productivity and profit.

How Can Construction Businesses Increase Operational Efficiency on the Construction Site?

  • Ensuring efficient and effective communication between all levels of the construction business is essential in ensuring operational efficiency. Firstly, constant communication between each level of the construction company ensures that all members understand what their role is. This minimizes the chances of misunderstandings and avoidable operational errors. Enforcing a system of a constant flow of communication applies to all levels of an organization. This includes architects, engineers, contractors, project managers and construction workers themselves. Communicating also ensures that idle wait times are avoided, and more productive work can be done.
  • Within a construction site, the same logic can be applied. Communicating with workers regarding the most optimal start times, locations and the order of tasks can help develop a more robust and efficient system. This approach also entails reducing the amount of unproductive work, like travel times during rush hours and lengthy pre-shift meetings. Ensuring materials are at the necessary locations at the appropriate time also helps to eliminate idle time that many job sites’ experience.
  • Although scheduling is an important process, project managers can take an extra step by recording productivity levels and time tracking. Breaking down the larger construction process into individual parts can provide insight into how productive a given worker or team may be. Analyzing and studying elements of the entire project enables construction companies to figure out what changes need to be done. Time tracking provides a clearer picture in terms of how workers are managing their time, creating opportunities for boosting operational efficiency.
  • Regular check-ins with workers is useful for keeping everyone on a construction site up-to-speed and provides a time where instructions can be given. Rather than a lengthy meeting before a day starts, quick check-ins allow managers to assess the productivity of workers on a regular basis and can give instructions on how to best proceed. This also makes sure that all workers are kept on their toes, and avoids a decline of productivity throughout the day.
  • Another mode of encouragement that companies can apply is gamification. This strategy applies elements of competition to the work environment by providing goals, scores, and prizes for employees. These are often friendly in nature but have the ability to provide some workers an extra push or motivation to get work done. Gamification also helps in efficiency, productivity, team building, and increases morale among a group of employees. Games and competitions can also be tracked through apps on smartphones.
  • Another way to increase operational efficiency would be adopting mobile technology. Communication through mobile devices ensures that all members of a construction project can connect with each other, both on and off-site. Instant messaging apps and various other communication tools can be beneficial for construction companies, saving time and eliminating the need for face-to-face interaction which is often time-consuming. Mobile phones can also provide instructions to workers, as well as adjustments to the project throughout the day. If an effective mobile app or software is implemented, operational efficiency is boosted and reduces unnecessary delays and interruptions.
  • Similarly, many cloud or mobile construction software provides a myriad of functionalities that can also boost operational efficiency. Many of these programs eliminate time-consuming duties that are needed for workers and provides a fully-integrated system for everything from purchase orders to billings and document management. Targeted at general contractors and land developers, cloud construction software allows general contractors and project managers to auto-complete tedious and time-consuming tasks, and better keep track of the overall productivity of a given job site. By being more in tune with the details of a specific project, opportunities for adjustment and modification may present itself, which may stand to increase operational efficiency in all areas.

Further Considerations

It is important for construction businesses to have a commitment to maximizing their operational efficiency if they want to keep productivity levels high. Because the conditions of construction sites are unpredictable and in constant flux, measures must be put in place to maximize operational efficiency. All involved must also be flexible when employing new policies, and open to change as workers may respond negatively to any given proposal. Many of the strategies discussed aim to make incremental progress to the overall productivity of a project. When these steps are put in action by a dedicated team, they are given the ability to accelerate any given project and lead to far more effective results that save both time and money.