September 14, 2020
According to an April 10 national survey from the Associated General Contractors, 53% of firms reported that they were directed to cancel projects or those scheduled to start within 30 days. As a result, nearly 40% of firms were forced to lay off employees, and 74% said they would seek Paycheck Protection Program loans. But thanks to some states lifting shutdown orders, construction projects are getting back on track. Now, almost four months later, a rebound is in sight. In a June 17 version of the same survey, only 15% of firms reported they were directed to cancel projects that were scheduled to start in June and only 25% of firms were forced to furlough or lay off employees.
As crews return to construction sites, safety protocols are more important than they ever were before. But there are challenges with putting new social distancing protocols in place — challenges that can lead to project delays and missed deadlines. But software tools can fill the compliance and safety void.
Keeping job sites safe and projects on schedule are fundamentals to construction management, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made these basics extra challenging. Most sites have enacted strict safety protocols and processes, including health screenings for every employee before entering the job site, mandated mask wearing at all times, reducing capacity in congested work areas, and hand sanitizer at designated checkpoints. Even more challenging, many non-essential team members are working remotely. This lack of person-to-person interaction means open collaboration is more key than it ever has been before. Finally, inspectors’ time is spread razor thin as they struggle to keep up with the COVID-19-induced backlogs of inspections. Projects inevitably get delayed and deadlines get pushed, disrupting an entire project.
In a moment when it seems every conversation about remote work focuses on video conferencing software like Zoom or Google Meet, industries that rely on physical work to get the job done feel left out of an important conversation. But optimizing remote work can also include onsite work. There is a way to ensure construction projects are accomplished on time and meet all compliance requirements, while implementing some remote processes. Crews can do that with site visit optimization — making sure the minimum number of crew members are on a site at any given time and ensuring that they’re not in the same spot at the same time.
Here are three key ways this software can solve some of the construction industry’s biggest challenges brought on by COVID-19:
Location-tracking to avoid overcrowded sites
Scheduling subcontractors and trades in a complicated project has always been a challenge. But COVID-19 social distancing and related safety protocols have added an increased degree of difficulty to get it right. Software solutions make it easier to track production with clear color-coded status updates. Trades can get notified when a status “turns green,” signaling it’s all clear for them to come in and start on their work. This also helps the site office manage subcontractor schedules, keeping people who don’t need to be on a jobsite off it.
Controlled documentation to streamline inspections
Delays and regulatory shutdowns due to the pandemic have stretched inspectors’ time even more as they try to catch up to the backlog. Maximizing time on site is even more critical as many inspectors are moving aspects of their work virtually. In this new COVID-world, where people are forced to trust remote records, controlled documentation is even more important. Construction management software tracks all areas of production, giving you more integrity in your documentation process so you can really trust your remote record keeping. This proves the work history of what an inspector may see in a photo from a jobsite.
Visual evidence of location-specific work
High resolution photos and videos of location-specific work in place means inspectors tell the story of a particular location over time, verifying compliance and signing off on work virtually, which keeps timelines on track. Inspectors require a high degree of certainty that photos and videos are actually what they are, so using those assets in a software solution can also help design teams do site visits remotely to sign off on completed work or provide feedback in the moment — without any face-to-face interaction. The goal? Keep projects moving while staying compliant and keeping fewer people off a jobsite.
3D cameras, AI and machine learning, IoT sensors — the most talked about technology advances in the “new normal” sound exciting and powerful. But in reality, the most important thing is to understand how you can manage this tech to improve your worksite operations and ability to manage construction successfully. Location-driven construction management software provides a meaningful way to capture and use your vital project data and context to ensure your team and jobsite are safe and compliant.
Learn more about our location-driven construction management software, or request a product demo today to see the location-centric approach.
About the Author
Matthew Hudelson is the Founder and CEO of Inertia Systems. Since 2010, Matthew has worked alongside builders, owners, inspectors, architects and project teams to learn and solve the challenges they face on complex construction projects with technology. Today, the Inertia Platform is used by leading general contractors, owners and jurisdictions.
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