The construction industry: Time for a digital make-over

When we’re working with firms in the construction industry, we see they face many of the same challenges. The good news is that for many of these situations, TimeSeries can deliver solutions exceptionally quickly and cost effectively. Certainly we’d say we’re a skilled bunch, but there’s also something more. We have the right tools. In fact, we have the very latest tools to help us deliver smart, efficient and effective solutions for construction companies.

First, the issues

Generally, the construction industry is facing these top three challenges:

  1. Safety
  2. Labor Shortages
  3. Stagnant Productivity Levels

Safety is number one on this list, and not by mistake. According to OSHA about 20% of work related fatalities in the United States happen in construction, making it one of the most dangerous fields to work in. When working with Clark Construction Group (and as explained in our Clark case story), we found that safety was of the highest priority. Together with TimeSeries, Clark built a whole suite of software applications which they named the Safety Suite. It comprises everything around safety on project sites: from an emergency action plan and registering incidents to a health program integrating with the health app of iOS devices. Previously, incident reporting was done on a project-by-project basis and sometimes by small regions. Now a company-wide application is being used to give Clark’s Board of Directors insight into safety on all of their project sites.

Not only is safety important as a duty of care. Losing a member of your crew hurt on the job means labor and skills shortages on what’s likely an already stretched team. The labor shortage seen in the construction industry isn’t a new problem. Recently however, we are seeing the baby boomer generation aging out or retiring from these roles with no skilled labor to replace them. With not enough workers, jobs are taking longer to complete and costing more overall. The key is to look after the workers you do have, and to look elsewhere too, for factors impacting output. Which brings me to our next point; stagnant productivity levels.

Productivity in the construction industry obviously takes a hit when there are labor shortages. This is compounded by inefficiencies in other areas; poor communication, planning, and waiting on materials to arrive. To increase efficiency, consider automating time consuming processes such as planning employee shifts. In construction you may have to consider different skills or certifications that will be needed on a job, the availability of each worker, any government labor laws, and more. Our Employee Shift Rostering template is based on our automated planning engine, which combines the low-code platform Mendix with Artificial Intelligence to automatically create rosters for employees using all the necessary variables. For Van Dorp, a facilities management provider,  implementation of this system resulted in better workforce planning, allowing workers to be 30% more productive.

Like many in the field, you’re also trying to manage a workplace during a pandemic. Unfortunately, every industry has been affected by COVID-19. With this comes even more regulations and guidelines in order to reduce exposure and keep everyone safe. Our Workplace Management smart-app template allows you to map your workplace and set “zones” where your employees will work throughout the day. This ensures that the team knows where to be on site to be compliant with state regulations, and thus keeps you on the job.

Next, the (smart) solution(s)

A moment ago, I mentioned that TimeSeries’ construction industry folks are not just really clever developers, but also have the best and latest tools to enable a rapid and cost-effective result.  One of our secrets is the software development environment we use; a ‘low-code’ platform called Mendix.  It’s expected that by 2024, 65% of all new software apps will be built using a ‘low-code’ tool, because it’s so much faster and accessible this way, than traditional hand-coding. There’s more good news too. Now that low-code has been around for more than a decade, there are all sorts of pre-built components available to help save you re-inventing the wheel; making app development still faster and smarter. 

At TimeSeries, we’ve gone the extra mile. We’ve created our own library of smart-app templates developed on (and for) the Mendix platform. These templates are tried and true across multiple industries and provide the foundation for building apps to digitally transform common processes. You just need to customize them to fit your needs. 

Here are some examples of our smart-app templates:

  • Employee Shift Rostering – As discussed previously, this automates the task of scheduling shifts in accordance with any needed variables using our automated planning engine
  • Workplace Management –  as described above, allows any site to comply with COVID-19 state mandated guidelines. At any construction site safety is a top priority. In our world today this often includes creating a little space as we work. 
  • Predictive Maintenance – this template can help you keep any machinery you use across job sites in good working condition; increasing efficiency, ensuring safety and maximizing the time of your crew. A great example of predictive maintenance is our case story from Mitsubishi Elevator Europe (MEE) where they tracked elevator maintenance by usage rather than just calendar dates.

Now, implementing the solution

TimeSeries in partnership with Siemens and Mendix has worked with some of the most experienced and respected building and civil construction firms. The Mendix platform is ultimately the low-code platform that won BAM, the largest construction company in the Netherlands, a bid to install 1.2 million smart-meters after the Dutch government mandated smart meters for every household by 2020. How did BAM get this contract? By utilizing the Mendix platform and adopting a low-code solution. 

There is no question that the Mendix platform can support the needs of the construction industry. TimeSeries can leverage any one of our numerous smart-app templates to give you a custom-made solution, in record time, with a team of people who are unmatched.

Your decision – Is a Smart-App right for you? If you need to increase safety, productivity, and use the workers you have to the highest degree of efficiency, it might be time to explore your smart-app options. If you’re interested in discovering more with TimeSeries, please drop me a line, or sign up for our 30-minute webinar where we will dive into the details of low-code smart apps for the construction industry. 

March 2, 2021
Maggie Burnham