Manufacturing Has Some Lessons To Teach Construction Sector


The search is on for more efficient, better-value building methods, and eyes have cast for an answer that may reach further than the construction industry.

Australian contractor Woollam Constructions, for example, has turned to the manufacturing sector for inspiration.

Woollam Aged Care Development Manager Danny Hammon is a part of a team on the hunt for greater efficiency across the company's projects, under the belief that construction, as a sector, is a long way behind other industries.

“Inefficiency comes in many forms – wasted materials, wasted time, unnecessary costs — and all of it can be addressed with better processes," he said.

“The best manufacturers have their processes honed with laser precision – it’s a level of rigour that we have started bringing to all our recent projects.

“For example, instead of building dozens and dozens of identical bathrooms onsite, we have started mass producing them as modules and then installing when they are complete.

“We’ve found that this alone can save up to seven weeks off the program for a large build," he said.

Mr Hammon said as a result of thinking outside the box, Woollam has been championing a new concept contracting arrangement — early contractor involvement (ECI).

“With a traditional hard-dollar contract the client engages architects, designers, quantity surveyors and other consultants to define their project,” he said.

“Once all that work is complete it’s handed over to a contractor to build it.

“The problem with this approach is that inefficiencies are frequently unintentionally designed and it can be difficult to correct them once construction has begun," he said.

Under an ECI contract, Mr Hammon said a constructor works collaboratively with the designers from the beginning, allowing for issues to be identified at the design stage, saving money and time.

Mr Hammon said that more and more clients were embracing the ECI model.

“All the experts are working together as a team bringing their skills and experience together collaboratively to come up with the best possible outcome.

“It’s always cheaper to fix a problem when it’s just lines on a piece of paper, but ECI also provides amazing scope to identify opportunities."

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