In the past year, I have had my own experiences with builders and trades, but it is always interesting to hear what is happening on other jobsites around the world—both large and small, commercial, and residential. That is why my interest was piqued when I saw a new report that digs into what is actually transpiring on construction jobsites.
The report from Tel Aviv and London-based Buildots—The Numbers Behind Inefficient Construction Practices: A Data-Driven Report—uncovers the true inefficiencies that exist in the multi-trillion-dollar global construction industry.
Uncovering the Data
This report is unique in that the information was not gathered from what workers thought was happening on the project. Rather, the anonymized data was gathered from the platform that was in use on 64 global construction projects between 2018 and 2022.
Combined, the projects equaled more than 82 years of construction time and 14 million-sq.ft. of built space. The projects ranged from multiple regions and project types in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Japan, Israel, and other countries. Slightly more than half were residential, while the rest were office fit-outs, hospitals, schools, and industrial projects.
Diggin’ into the Data
Here is what the data found. On average, only 46% of areas are used on a project during a given week and nearly 11% of subcontractor visits end with work being left incomplete. Subcontractor output fluctuates greatly from week to week, which is a significant cause of project delays, according to the research. Yikes, but honestly it doesn’t surprise me.
For projects that span more than 1,000,000-sq.ft., average area utilization is just 10%, whereas smaller projects generally use 50% or more. Interestingly, commercial projects have 57% more subcontractors return visits than residential projects.
Perhaps one of the more interesting stats is that roughly 10% of activities at a given construction site are performed out of sequence. That is inefficient to say the least.
Interestingly, we have been experiencing the same delays with the construction of our home as we have mentioned before. But here is another example: while the city inspector was kind enough to show up the very next day when we requested an inspection, we have also since received approval in our final inspection. On the other hand, the city utilities—which seemingly contracts the services to subcontractors—make homeowners wait and wait and wait.
As of this writing, we have been waiting 12 days, for our service to be turned on. It took 12 days for the electric to be turned on. And as of this writing, a crew came out and dug the trenches, but we are still waiting for someone to hook up the gas lines. Yep. Still no meter. It’s crazy. They don’t even return calls or let you know when they are coming. Fairfield is the coop that contracts the service for Dominion. I think the city can do better. Or someone should. I think this supports the above report that subcontractor project fluctuation is creating a lot of havoc. This is clearly unacceptable. These delays once again have been costly, as I imagine others are experiencing the same unnecessary delays.
Digesting the Data
Naturally the solution to most of this inefficiency is AI (artificial intelligence) and the IoT (Internet of Things). Data can be gathered on projects, analyzed using the AI, and then project teams can leverage the insights to make decisions about the project’s designs and schedule.
Certainly, other technologies could come in handy here as well, such as digital twins, sensors, PM (project management) platforms, and more.
What are your thoughts? Are AI and the IoT the solution to the inefficiency that still exists on construction projects? Are there other challenges and hurdles we still need to face? What else can be done to help in this multi-trillion-dollar global construction industry?
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