Improve Productivity to Combat the Construction Labor Shortage

Skeleton crews? Turning away work? You’re not alone.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reported in August last year that more than 60 percent of construction firms are having trouble filling hourly craft labor positions. In fact, many companies are turning away new projects, because they can’t find people to do the work.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the downturn in the housing market after 2006 drove an estimated 30% of construction workers into new fields, and since then, homebuilders have been struggling to find skilled labor. Approximately 200,000 construction jobs are currently unfilled in the U.S.—that’s 81% higher than the last two years. And the Associated General Contractors of America reports that across the U.S., there are 17% fewer people working in construction than at the market peak.

What does it mean for construction firms? Higher costs and worker’s wages, and slower construction cycles. U.S. residential construction spending in August 2015 topped $36 billion, the highest monthly total since October 2007. Firms are having to offer higher pay to compete for available workers. Not only are worker’s wages higher, labor shortages cause trade contractors to sub-out portions of their work and bring in labor from other areas, which is expensive. Attempting to operate with smaller crews makes project efficiency a must – otherwise budgets are strained and schedules slip.

Technology Helps Firms Do More with Less

Technology is one way firms are increasing efficiency and lowering costs to combat the labor shortage. For example, drones can be used to complete inspections remotely, and send data back to intelligent systems in real time for use in simulated construction scenarios. Solutions that aid with project tracking and management help save time and money by streamlining manual tasks and improving collaboration between crews, foremen, project managers and other stakeholders. Construction cameras fall into this category, as they can be used to help keep crews productive and enable project managers to quickly address issues that could cause delays.

Here are a few ways construction cameras can help firms reduce inefficiencies, maximize on-the-jobsite productivity and cut costs:

Monitor crew’s progress: Keeping an eye on labor productivity is essential, especially when labor is scarce and you may have skeleton crews. But constant vigilance is challenging, especially on large jobsites. Construction cameras can be placed at multiple vantage points around the jobsite, enabling PMs to track progress throughout the day. TrueLook, for example offers a mobile app that provides a quick, convenient way for project managers and foremen to access the construction camera’s interface, either remotely or while walking the jobsite, to see the crew’s progress from various angles. And because workers know cameras are recording their progress, they’re motivated to be as efficient as possible.

Improve team collaboration: Cameras that offer live jobsite viewing and streaming video provide teams a great way to collaborate with all stakeholders—investors, subcontractors and clients. This capability saves firms money by reducing travel expenses, because it eliminates the need for stakeholders who aren’t local to travel to the jobsite for updates. Additionally, fast access to project status information speeds decision-making, helping to speed project completion.

Mitigate project delays: Time-lapse photography and streaming video can help project managers uncover and address issues that could cause project delays. For example, the bird’s eye view may reveal equipment management and use, issues with materials delivery and storage, and other potential problems that could affect scheduling. PMs can quickly take action to mitigate delays and keep things running smoothly.

Reduce security risk: Security violations on the jobsite are costlier than ever, with the maximum OSHA penalty for a willful or repeat violation at $124,709. Security cameras can help firms avoid risk by uncovering potential problems early so they can prevent violations. After hours, security cameras deter equipment theft and provide evidence for the courts should an incident occur.

Although construction firms don’t have much control over the labor shortage, better project management and jobsite efficiencies can help eliminate unnecessary costs so they can afford skilled labor, while keeping crews working as productively as possible. Learn more about how TrueLook construction cameras can help you optimize jobsite productivity to keep costs.

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