And How Construction Teams Can Continue to Deliver Amazing Infrastructure Projects
Ever feel like a crane is looming above you along every street? Like there’s a new bridge going up on this corner, and the next turn? Perhaps on all the corners? Today, it can feel like there’s a fresh turnpike emerging practically every other minute.
Well, those feelings aren’t unfounded. Populations are growing around the world. Urban areas are booming along with them, and our work needs more infrastructure to support them. As people want better access to transportation and their greater surroundings, civil construction teams will be under increased pressure to deliver well-planned and executed infrastructure projects.
Curious to learn more about the next world-altering infrastructure builds? Flip through our latest SlideShare, below, to see 10 of the largest projects that will change infrastructure around the world for the better:
It will take time to see how these projects shake out and the positive effects they have on the areas they serve. In the meantime, how can we give infrastructure projects of all stripes the best possible chance of success?
Amazing Infrastructure Requires Extraordinary Planning, Teams and Coordination
Infrastructure projects hold many crucial possibilities, says Norwich University: “The most important aspects that can be addressed by improving infrastructure include solving issues regarding the transportation of vital resources, like water, as well as easing transportation concerns by building safe bridges, highways, and railways.”
For example, changes such as vehicle electrification, ride-sharing, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things, alternate transportation and more will drastically change the face of transportation–and by extension, infrastructure projects as a whole.
While the outcomes of infrastructure megaprojects often prove amazing, we usually don’t see such positive results without planning and coordination from incredible teams. Without such topnotch coordination, these projects are likely to take many years and go over budget and schedule in the process. Some of the most common causes of delays and overruns include:
- Rework caused by errors, necessitating longer timelines and more money
- Poor communication, which in turn increases rework, leads to friction, increases lawsuits and damages reputations
- Poor site management, which stalls projects and fractures processes
- Ineffective construction methods, which speak for themselves, and not in a good way
- Improper scheduling, which disrupts the flow of productivity and makes workers unhappy
- Shortage of workers, caused by a stagnant industry that seemingly refuses to enter the 21st century, pushing bright and capable people into more compelling fields
- Reliance on fallible paper-based technologies, which in one way or another contributes to all of the above
It hardly bears saying that none of these causes or delays and overruns is a good thing when it comes to heavy civil construction projects. Luckily, there’s something we can do about it. Here are a few ways construction companies and governments can work together to improve the execution of infrastructure projects.
3 Ways to Improve Infrastructure Projects
How do teams improve infrastructure projects around the world to meet the needs of our world’s increasing population? While there exists almost endless possibility for improving projects themselves, as well as their execution and the teams that work on them, three needs rise directly to the top.
1. Bring Innovation on Faster
There’s no better way to keep plans updated and teams coordinated than with the right technology. It’s important to weave this technology into infrastructure projects both public and private. Currently, a lack of technology means that many public works have a lack of revenue stream, says Brookings. So do private projects, and mixed. Their suggestion? That the construction industry fixes the problem by bringing in “new technologies for metering and billing that can improve services.”
We also need to prioritize smart technology investments to reduce errors and rework, and we need to avoid paper based-systems and outdated processes such as Excel and email. Transitioning to intelligent in-the-field technology reduces or obviates the need to trek to a central office or share information on paper–both of which can lead to misunderstanding and rework.
2. Standardize Processes and Innovation
It’s important to note that technology can only serve a project well if it’s standardized across project teams. Therefore, infrastructure delivery teams should focus on standardizing processes, devices and software for fewer variants in quality and better site control.
Teams should first focus on defining the processes they use in planning and executing infrastructure projects. They then need to measure the processes and set preliminary standards for teams and stakeholders to meet. As they adhere to those processes over time, they can continue to measure and refine those processes to meet ever-more-exacting standards. Setting standards is one of the best ways to ensure operational excellence in construction.
3. Become Data Centric
Infrastructure projects rely heavily on mass coordination, communication and adherence to plans. It’s hard to tell how well a team is doing or how to optimize processes, however, without good data. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, as such, the only way to improve construction delivery is through data collection and analysis.
Today’s jobsites remain disconnected due to lack of data and measurement. Unfortunately, this is not a small problem. New research indicates that poor leveraging of technology is taking a toll in the hundreds of billions–$177 billion, to be exact.
Because infrastructure projects typically take many years, these problems tend to pile up over time. With each missed detail or absent data point, there’s a ripple effect that can affect nearly every aspect of that giant, years-long project.
Luckily, there are ways to reduce mistakes and improve data collection overall. It starts by creating a data-centric culture from the ground up to capture data at nearly every point. In turn, this allows teams to predictively anticipate delays and issues before they severely impact a project. By maximizing your ability to capture and make use of data, you can not only avoid giant issues that stall out projects or kill budgets, but you can also ensure the highest possible level of productivity.
Create and Execute On-Time, On-Budget Infrastructure Projects
No one is claiming that the struggling behemoth that is construction will solve its problems overnight. That said, there are steps we can take immediately–and they mostly hinge on good systems, processes and data. If your company can increase innovation, standardize technology and track/leverage accurate data, you’ll immediately move closer to your goals. If you’re looking for an in-depth guide to help you improve productivity on your heavy civil project, download our ebook, “Connected, Anywhere. Heavy Civil Guide to Productivity.“
In fact, you might even merit a feature on next year’s Top 10 World-Changing Infrastructure Projects list. After all, why not dream?