2nd September Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The cyclical nature of our industry makes it difficult for firms to improve their efficiency and productivity. As with anything, trying to make one single, big thing happen proves a challenge.

In everyday life, the world survives this difficulty through millions of people making lots of little gains in different places all the time, so why can’t our industry work the same way?

To increase productivity, it’s been proposed that the whole supply chain should be involved in swarm activity – where a massive number of micro improvements are made at a faster rate than natural progression. The important thing is that everyone joins in, so that everyone benefits from the results, and in less time.

There are many bigger ideas in the industry that still have an important part to play and, often, they act as a catalyst for the team to identify all of the small opportunities not previously thought about. Workshops organised for the whole supply chain where discussions are had about the bigger ideas, including mapping out the processes involved often helps to identify small improvement opportunities that can be made along the way.

John Hall, Regional Director for Constructing Excellence in the East of England suggests five well-established concepts that can help to achieve increased productivity:

  • Supply chain management
  • Collaborative workshops
  • All the industry big ideas
  • Process mapping
  • Marginal gains

The whole supply chain should take part in regular workshops with a number of organisations participating in each. These workshops should explain the concept behind the workshops and obtain commitment to the need to improve. They should discuss a big idea and identify small improvements along the way. The idea is that each small improvement leads to a substantial benefit to everyone, meaning that everyone involved will be willing to do the work. The final part of the workshop should require everyone to sign off on their individual plans, so everybody knows exactly what they’re doing and are happy with their jobs.

Some of the bigger ideas that could benefit from this process, could be anything from BIM implementation and cost efficient low carbon solutions, to offsite manufacturing and new methods and technology – things that are currently very substantial within the industry.

I have every faith that businesses can pull together and boost the industry’s productivity, it might sound like a tough challenge, but to me it sounds like something that could actually work, and let’s face it, over the years we’ve certainly overcome much more.