Asked about declining construction productivity at a time when manufacturing productivity is skyrocketing, Dan Johnson, president of Mortenson Construction says adoption of technology will help constructors catch up.
“If you look at manufacturing productivity through that time era (since the 1950s), through lean techniques, robotics, prefabrication, supply chain solutions, speed to market, one-off manufacturing — it has all led to astounding innovations that really provide a road map for our industry to follow,” Johnson told ConstructionDive.com.
Johnson says industry fragmentation, with the overwhelming majority of construction being done by small contractors, has inhibited adoption of new processes. But he sees contractor innovation beginning to accelerate, particularly in the large commercial projects, renewable-energy construction and sports arena jobs Mortenson bids.
“Because of the size of our industry, there is a momentum and a demand from our customers to innovate and provide more value, more cost-effective solutions, reduced timeframes, higher quality,” says Johnson. “Probably what's enabling that more than anything right now is technology. Technology is quickly changing our industry in ways we haven't seen before.
“’Right now, the one that's having the most impact for us is building information modeling; virtual design and construction. When you combine that with the collaborative tools that are now available in the advent of mobile devices, we are literally collaborating real-time, anywhere, out on the job site with all the stakeholders. That's accelerating a lot of the innovation,” says Johnson. “That technology is also making it possible to do offsite assemblies; prefabrication. The future's probably a lot more about assembling components that have been prefabricated in other locations, assembled in other locations, and delivered to the job site. And that's already happening rapidly as the industry's changing.”