When you look at construction differently than the traditional industry, a variety of challenges emerge. When you think about making a change, it involves different opinions, economies and levels of experience in the field. How do you reconcile them when it’s time to make a change? First and foremost, prepare to embrace a new mindset.
Check out episode 95 of Bridging the Gap podcast with Simon Waldren, to hear his take on industrialized construction.
Industrialized construction (IC) is one of the changes that companies can look to so they can remain innovative and meet demand.
There are different forms of IC:
- Modular processes
- Design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA)
- Lean construction
As companies in the industry scramble to adapt to construction scenarios looming on the horizon, one thing that can get them there is a shift in mindset to embrace new ways of building structures.
There is tremendous pressure – both self-imposed and from external sources – on construction companies to make a profit on every project. And yet, margins on most projects remain thin. The old model isn’t enabling most companies to profitably keep up with demand, yet expectations for performance are harsh. Having a mindset focused on the return on investment (ROI) of IC is premature thinking.
Companies transitioning to IC need to be prepared for up-front investment and being patient. Savings in materials, labor and money, plus increases in productivity and safety, become evident after processes are honed over a number of projects. The ROI shows up in the big picture. ROI needs to be considered as a cumulative number, and it may not show up for several years.
If you’ve always done things a certain way, that financial mindset may need to change. Economics and contracting will be affected by IC. Warranties will need to be different. New processes and workflows will affect the “human resource” side of IC.
IC methods result in offsite processes that are vastly different – some would say safer and more predictable – from constructing a building on the jobsite. They also radically change standardization. Both will need to be refined and have more effort put behind them.
IC innovation is being fed by technology coming to the forefront of the industry, particularly virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), or computation by parameters. Technology can bridge the gap between what is being accomplished today and what could be accomplished in the future.
Companies that embrace and transition to IC learn their lessons along the way. They make adjustments and readjustments. They develop a new mindset that it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from those mistakes. They adapt. They stand upon the experience of the people who have already made the journey before them, knowing it will result in fewer surprises and blind curves.
Not only do all forms of IC require a shift of mindset for leadership, they function best when that mindset is embraced throughout the entire company.
Forward thinking companies are always changing and innovating to some degree. To stay on the edge of innovation, it’s helpful to learn from other industries. That synergy among industries – manufacturing + construction for IC – serves innovative companies well.
In episode 91 of Bridging the Gap Podcast, Clay Freeman discusses common misconceptions around IC, the future of the assembly line, getting the best ROI from production, keeping realistic expectations, data flow, and more.