It’s no secret that a variety of factors negatively impact construction productivity. One of the biggest killers of productivity on the jobsite was wasted time. According to an analysis by AEC Business, new research from the Finnish Aalto University shows that an average worker spends as much as 70 percent of their time on tasks that don’t add value.
The good news is that the study is shining a light on how improved situational awareness can help workers be more productive and companies more profitable.
Jobsite Productivity Under the Microscope
The team of researchers deployed sensors, surveys, and worker-mounted cameras to help pinpoint inefficiencies on a construction site. A portion of their on-site research involved helmet-worn cameras to have a firsthand view of a worker installing drywall. The research showed that a lot of excess movement and time was spent on retrieving missing materials or information, slowing progress considerably. When the researchers arranged for the delivery of the precise amount of materials each room required, they noted a 20 percent movement reduction and a 10 percent increase in team productivity overall.
This shows the importance of detailed project planning. Time spent at a project’s outset will result in time savings at the back-end.
What is Situational Awareness?
At any given time, a worker’s focus is limited to what is right in front of them. Situational awareness is all about looking at each project as a continuum, considering the past and the future as well as the present. Letting workers see the whole picture results in better decision-making.
Data Tells the Whole Story
Construction has always been a data-heavy industry. The advent of data-gathering technologies like drones and the Internet of Things has only increased the amount of available project data. Taken together, it can tell the whole story of any construction project. But the fragmented nature of how it is collected and used limits its effectiveness.
“In the end, large quantities of data exist, but the challenge is to combine that data and make it meaningful. Some companies have started to combine the data in “data warehouses” and various project dashboards, which eventually enables data analytics,” the report reads.
Collecting all of that project data is one thing, but putting it together so that you get actionable insights is another challenge. Fortunately, robust project management solutions now exist, offering companies a range of options when it comes to wrangling their data more productively and improving the flow of information. From labor tracking to data analytics solutions, there are more ways than ever to ensure workers can see the full picture.
The Way Forward
Construction projects can be looked at as a system, and like any system, it functions optimally when each component part is in sync with all the others. Core to situational awareness is leveraging data more effectively, but providing the means to communicate the resulting insights to workers is just as essential.
The lack of situational awareness can be compared to trying to find your way through a maze with only a small section of a map. By offering a broader picture of the entire project timeline, workers can spend more of their time on activities that make money for the company.