It’s been a wild ride for the construction industry. First we have the pluses: a surge in construction spending due to pent up demand post-lockdown, $550 billion in federal funding which will spur large infrastructure projects, and a (temporarily) red-hot housing market leading to new residential housing starts increase of 15.6% in 2021.
Then we have the headwinds: a 7.5% inflation rate and upcoming increase in interest rates that will make borrowing more expensive; steadily growing fuel rates (just for gasoline, more than $1/gal increase from 2021 to 2022) making everything more expensive; a persistent, pervasive worker shortage; and finally, a construction materials shortage including a staggering tripling of lumber prices just in the last four months of 2021.
It's a lot to unpack.
Virtually none of these problems have to do with technology, yet most of them can be helped, at least in part, by tech solutions. A field inspection management platform can work to alleviate some of the stressors of the issues above by:
- Quicker worker onboarding. With construction worker turnover rates hovering around 21%, it’s highly likely that you will have a steady influx of new faces on the job site during the course of any project. Digital field inspection management can help those new faces be productive on Day One with mobile checklists to outline tasks and processes, reference photos and videos to give examples, maps with geo-reference points to make sure workers are in the right spot, and finally easy back-and-forth communication with supervisors and stakeholders, even if they’re miles away from the job site.
- Keeping track of resources. With the increase in material and equipment costs comes a predictable increase in material theft, with the risk made worse by sites sitting idle due to permit backlogs and material shortages. Using a digital field inspection management platform helps to catalog expensive equipment and materials on-site to quickly discover discrepancies, and hopefully avoid costly repurchase of stolen items and work stoppages while missing items are recovered or replaced. A field inspection management platform can also be used to inspect site security measures, such as fencing and other means of securing the worksite. (It can help to make sure your permit applications are efficient and well-documented, too.)
- Reducing risk of rework. Construction rework is expensive, with rework projects reducing mean yearly profit of construction firms by 28%. With ongoing quality inspections throughout the course of projects, the likelihood of quality issues requiring rework is greatly reduced. In addition, should a quality issue arise, frequent inspections means that problems will be uncovered early when they’re more easily (and cheaply) remediated.
- Easily scaling up (or down) as needed. The construction industry is volatile. While many areas of the country are in a construction boom, there are some indications that construction industry growth will be slowing. In addition, vagaries in weather, projects coming to an end, not to mention current labor and material shortages that can delay projects, may mean that projects go in fits and starts, with delays and then rapid ramp-ups. With a digital field inspection management platform, you’re able to scale up or down as needed to keep your project running smoothly.
As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” We agree with the sentiment – our Magic 8 ball too often says, “Reply hazy. Try again later.” One thing is certain, however: the construction industry is likely to remain unpredictable, and the smart play is to mitigate risk when it’s unavoidable. A digital field inspection management platform is a powerful tool to keep your projects – and your company – going strong, no matter what the future might hold.
Join the over 2,500 Fulcrum customers who have improved field inspection processes and streamlined reporting with real-time, scalable data sharing. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today!