Updated: Feb 17, 2021
2020 has been an interesting year for the construction industry. The pandemic, and various restrictions resulting from it, has pushed the industry to move away from its traditional modus operandi and adopt more modern methods of construction and digitalisation in both onsite and offsite construction. While many projects have been delayed or put on hold owing to various restrictions imposed by the pandemic, companies have also managed to find a way around such restrictions and have managed to increase productivity. Below are some key takeaways on the impact of Covid on the industry and how companies can be more successful in 2021.
Increasing Productivity and Reducing Costs Through the Pandemic
While the pandemic has undoubtedly caused many delays in a host of ongoing projects, it has also pushed the industry to innovate and increase productivity through uncertain times. Moving to a smart working format and conducting meetings virtually helped the industry greatly increase productivity while reducing costs. The industry leaders feel that this has helped reduce their travel time, and they felt able to utilise the additional time to get more work done. Using virtual tools has also helped the industry become leaner and more focused in their approach, and these tools will only get better in the upcoming years.
Digitalising the Industry
Even though the construction industry is the second-largest contributor to the GDP in the UK, it is also a sector that, up to now, has employed a traditional approach. But with the pandemic and the government's efforts to digitalise the industry, the future of the industry is undoubtedly digital. Using software like BIM can help in creating virtual design models of the building beforehand and assist in reducing errors and costs. Additionally, such software can help create and maintain a database of information that can then be accessed by all related parties throughout the lifecycle of the building.
Another example of software that’s crucial in the current environment is CABS, a software package that enables architects and designers to devise balconies for buildings. Such software allows designers to create a realistic model of a balcony that’s fully compliant with the current regulations once the details are entered into the system. This helps reduce the risk of errors and also saves time and money.
Similar technologies, such as drone technology and 3D printing, are being utilised efficiently in the industry to reduce on-site workforces and help speed up the construction process.
Moving Towards Modern Methods of Construction
Modern methods of construction (MMC) are the future of the industry as they can help companies reduce costs through standardisation, increase safety and increase the overall quality of the construction industry. MMC allow for the shifting of construction off-site, which can be extremely beneficial in increasing productivity even during situations like the pandemic lockdown. MMC include technologies like 3D printing, mass-engineered timber, volumetric modular innovations and various other innovations that are taking the industry further.
Fire Safety and the Golden Thread of Information
The draft of the Building Safety Bill was published earlier in 2020, which introduced the ‘Golden Thread of Information’ in construction. This signifies a database of an accurate and up-to-date version of the building data that’s stored digitally and can be accessed by various stakeholders at any point in time. The Golden Thread needs to be initiated right from the planning and development stage and passed on to various partners as the work progresses. The aim is to bring about more transparency and accountability in the industry.
Laminate Glass on Balconies
A year ago, the fire safety regulations around external walls changed and the use of laminate glass on balustrades was banned, but the industry feels that the benefits of using laminate glass on infill balconies mean it’s one of the safest options. Using laminate glass reduces the cost and adds safety to the balcony. Industry leaders are hoping that this ban is lifted as laminate glass is currently being used by various other industries that understand that the benefits of laminate glass outweigh the risks.
Want to learn more about the impact of Covid on the industry and what companies need to do to make 2021 a success? Take a look at our discussions with industry leaders and learn from the best in the industry.