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HP releases construction productivity report

HP’s State of Construction Productivity survey highlights a slow take-up of technology is hampering productivity

Technology company HP Inc. has released its first State of Construction Productivity survey, which it says shows there has been a lack of progress in improving productivity in construction.

The HP survey – which canvased the opinions of 903 construction workers and decision makers from the US, UK and Germany – found that 60 per cent of respondents agreed techniques and processes have changed little in the last 20–30 years.

“There is a clear acceptance within the industry that a problem exists, with less than one per cent of workers believing the sector has no issue with productivity,” HP director construction services comments Xavi Juarez.

“For survey respondents to have seen little improvement in productivity across their careers is remarkable, considering the advances in technology during this time. A greater focus on harnessing tech and automating certain tasks is surely key to helping construction meaningfully improve productivity levels.”

Investment in technology

Respondents believe raising productivity levels can help the industry overcome various key issues, including improve housing shortages; alleviating project delays; helping attract the next generation of talent; and reducing criticism of projects in the public eye.

Respondents say that technology has an integral role to play in achieving this, with 71 per cent seeing it as being able to solve the productivity puzzle.

However, only three per cent of chief information officers said that productivity-boosting technology had been introduced on-site in the last 12 months and 75 per cent of all respondents have seen no such technology deployed on-site over the past year.

79 per cent of respondents estimated that less than a fifth of their annual budget is invested in on-site tech and 25 per cent said their employer is not open to new technology.

Unproductive layout techniques

On average, impacted construction employees saw delays of over 15 days caused by layout (or setting-out) errors, with five per cent enduring interruptions as long as three months. The cost of these reworks amount to 9.4 per cent of the total project budget on average and 19 per cent of the project’s profit margin.

The majority of those surveyed have had challenges staffing layout tasks – a combination of both a lack of skills and a shortage of labour. Meanwhile, 70 per cent are concerned about the potential for injury caused by manual layout techniques.

This is a key area where technology can boost productivity, with 67 per cent saying layout methods should have evolved further (as high as 74 per cent in Germany), and 66 per cent wanting layout tasks automated (rising to 78 per cent amongst US respondents).

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