A Deep Dive into the Rewarding World of Construction Trades

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 Homebuilder construction site being worked on by building trades

The construction sector, with approximately $10 trillion spent on construction-related goods and services annually, employs dedicated quality control teams, implements a robust quality control process, and utilizes effective quality control methods.

However, McKinsey's Reinventing Construction Report states that the construction industry’s productivity has failed to keep up with other that of other sectors for decades, and there is a $1.6 trillion opportunity to close the gap.

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This research by McKinsey’s shows that productivity on your construction projects can be improved by 50-60% with a focus on several areas. These are: reshape regulation; rewire the contractual framework to reshape industry dynamics; rethink design and engineering processes; improve procurement and supply-chain management; improve on-site execution; infuse digital technology, new materials, and advanced automation; and reskill the workforce.

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Improve on-site execution

The construction industry faces a significant quality problem, and it is imperative that we address this issue. To combat the challenges, we need to implement statistical quality control techniques, employ qualified quality control inspectors, and establish a robust quality control procedure. Currently, our industry is hindered by low expectations of first-time quality and outdated QA/QC methods, resulting in a constant flow of quality issues. It is crucial to modernize our system and align with other industries to enhance productivity and improve overall quality.

 

 

Infuse Digital Technology

Furthermore, the construction industry remains one of the least digitized sectors in the world behind agriculture. This is in stark contrast to the retail and manufacturing sectors, for example, that have been digitized extensively.

With the introduction of power tools that serve the sole purpose of streamlining the construction process for houses, commercial buildings or even electrical systems, adopting the digital way should be a no brainer.

New investors in factory construction think they have the answer in the form of prefab panels, pre-assembled walls, 3D printing, or volumetric modules – all meant to guarantee quality assurance and save time. But they all have one thing in common – they replace skilled building trades craftsmen with unskilled factory workers. 

Interestingly enough, unskilled factory workers and construction equipment operators use mostly the same building technologies. All factory-built assemblies have similar building components as site-built buildings.

The biggest difference is in the work environment of the building and construction trades industry and how it is managed. Even the automation is limited to the nailing of panels and other very routine unskilled work. The overall skilled work content is more or less equivalent. 

The big difference is that factories take unskilled people, train them, and then expect nothing less than first-time quality – performing quality control checks after every stage of production to make sure of it. Oil and gas workers are among the ones that have fully adopted this new way of working.

What's needed is a productivity and quality revolution – complete paradigm shift in building and construction trades and construction industries.

Site builders need to adopt new operational strategies from factory builders to improve quality and productivity.

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Request a Demo of FTQ360 Quality Management Software

The following lessons can be identified

Lesson One: Training

The benefits of properly training craftsmen is that you can expect first time quality from craftsmen in either residential or commercial construction projects. They are fully capable of carrying out their trade work. It is well worth the time and effort.

Proper training improves work quality, reduces injuries, and minimizes turnover. Below are some useful training tips that you can implement to make your job site training as effective as possible:

  • Start with your expectations for quality work. Make sure you clearly define the quality results you expect.  Pictures of good work paired with descriptions of key features does a good job of calibrating everyone to the same goals.  Back this up with work procedures with tools and techniques that should be used. Here again, pictures can tell the story of how to do the job. Now you have something to train to.
  • Provide the best trainers: Make sure your trainers are respected senior personnel   that not only know their trade but are also good with people and excited about your company. 
  • Everyone gets trained: Even when you hire experienced people, you need to confirm that they know how to do the job the way you want it done. 
  • Use hands-on training: Keep in mind that construction trades are hands-on people that learn best through doing and can see the results of their work. This is particularly important for personnel where English is not the first language. 
  • Tackle one task at a time: New employees in building and construction trades can easily get overwhelmed. Break the job into a series of tasks. Cover each training area from start to finish before moving on. 
  • Start safety training right away: It's important to show not just how to do the job but how to do it safely. Demonstrating accident prevention to new craftsmen will go a long way in reducing injuries and help build a culture of safety. 
  • Embed your key expectations in checklists. Checklists provide the canvas for communicating what you expect and acts a reminder every time the checklist is used.  Used in this way, checklists extend and reinforce your training on the jobsite.  
  • Use your inspection process to build confidence: Tell trainees when they are doing a good job. When they make a mistake, share one of the mistakes you made when you were first learning on the job.  Your goal is to use these opportunities as a continuation of the training process.

Training is essential for unskilled building trades craftsmen – and ongoing training of skilled craftsmen is something every company in the building and construction trades should be doing. It's an investment that pays dividends for your company. 

Lesson Two: Expect First-Time Quality (FTQ)

We may do our jobs and try our best, but still, if we don't achieve First-Time Quality, we lose precious time, our reputation, raw materials, and financial resources.

FTQ, which stands for "First-Time Quality," is a culture of excellence that encompasses a mindset, a way of acting, and a practical toolbox. It fosters an environment where teams and individuals strive to achieve accuracy from the outset, supported by technical training and the implementation of quality control measures. This approach acts as a safety net to ensure that quality control requirements are met and effectively addresses potential quality control issues.

But, how do you achieve FTQ for the building and construction trades? What will make it happen? FTQ is achieved if all staff and management take personal responsibility to focus on each and every task, follow procedures, report faults, and raise red flags on time. It is achieved when teams proactively detect faults, help each other to fix them before moving on to the next stage, continuously learn from mistakes and share the lessons with others. You will also achieve FTQ if you take preventive rather than corrective actions and strive to meet the highest quality standards along with ambitious project delivery schedules. 

Lesson Three: Site Quality Inspections

Site quality inspections are important for several reasons:

  • Hold everyone accountable: The first is to hold everyone accountable for quality. Not just to verify proper completion of work, but also as a feedback loop for craftsmen and management to fine-tune attention to details, enhance training, and streamline construction processes.
  • Monitor progress: Inspections determine the speed and accuracy of the project based on the scope of the work contract.
  • Facilitate communication: Personal communication during a joint site inspection with all stakeholders is more interactive than mediated communication (phone, email, etc.).
  • Ensure safety: This includes usage of equipment, storage of materials, the path of moving from one floor to another, and the like.
  • Delegate tasks: Inspection establishes transparency in the responsibilities of each construction worker.

FTQ360 provides a cloud platform for quality control and safety inspections. Whether your work focuses on reforming existing buildings or new buildings, we've got you covered. Customers have high expectations and meeting these expectations is a tall order. With FTQ360, you can develop predictable, consistent build processes that are focused on first-time quality and safety. With this tool, you can hold multiple teams and subcontractors accountable for their part every single day and satisfy customers, regulators, and litigants. 

The tool comes with over 500 pre-loaded field-proven checklists that are ready to use from day one and customizable to your own needs. You can also import your own checklists, and it comes packed with a host of powerful features. 

To learn how you can use FTQ360 to close the productivity gap and improve quality, request a free demo today.

Request a Demo of FTQ360 Quality Management Software

 

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