WHY IS THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY SLOW TO INNOVATE?
Why is the Construction Industry Slow to Innovate?
Innovation — the implementation of an invention — can come in two forms. The first being a tweak to or combination of existing technologies. The second being the game changing, jaw dropping, paradigm shifting kind. Think Apple’s iPod. Apple tweaked the MP3 player; then changed the game with the invention and implementation of iTunes.
Many inventions and ideas exist but are seldom developed to the point where benefits of the invention can be realized. Examples of shortfalls commonly observed in the construction industry are:
- contracts that do not properly allocate risk
- underutilized BIM technology
- inadequate understandings of how to incorporate new building materials
All of these are due to a lack of fully integrated companies with well developed feedback loops.
How does this apply to the business of design and construction? Many inventions have failed to progress beyond an idea due to the inability to figure out how to implement them. As a fully integrated design build company, FINFROCK takes inventions, its own and those of others, and uses them to enhance design capabilities, augment our manufacturing process, or integrate them into our building system.
Just like the early bird catches the worm, the companies that dominate the building construction industry of the future will be those who are able to use innovation to bring owners value.
The very nature of the construction industry impedes the fostering of innovation. With each building being brought to life usually by a brand new team of architects, engineers, subconsultants, general contractors, and subcontractors, the environment for innovation simply does not exist. It is difficult for a new team to function optimally since they lack the feedback loop of a shared experience, which is the impetus to drive innovation. Additionally, each service or system provider in the chain may answer to a different client. Some may not even know in what way their product will ultimately be used. For most in the construction industry, particularly those favoring design-bid-build, incentives that are necessary to encourage innovation are lacking.
the Full Benefit.
Wouldn’t it make sense to explore how buildings can be produced as customizable products rather than singular creations? We believe the first step in that direction would be to bring a manufacturing mentality to the table.
The very nature of manufacturing encourages increases in quality and productivity while decreasing waste. This way we gain the ability to utilize the maximum efficiencies obtainable in a manufactured product yet customize that product for unique needs and functions without jeopardizing the economic efficiency.
Our experience has shown that waste, inefficiency, and errors typically occur between the services and trades, not within each service or trade. By assembling a large knowledge base at the onset of a project, consisting of team members experienced in working together, the stage is set to promote innovation. They know what works, and more importantly, they’ve seen what doesn’t.
When approached in this fashion, obstacles between the disciplines are worked out in the planning rather than the execution. They are able to contribute their knowledge to a unified effort to produce an entire building, eliminating gaps in knowledge that frequently lead to cost overruns.
While this may necessitate greater upfront costs for subtrades and suppliers, most agree the decreases in potential adversarial situations, and cost savings in the implementation of the work are well worth the investment. Details to assure better coordination is ensured on construction plans, nearly eliminating requests for information and change orders.
The early input of knowledge a repeat team with experience working together brings sets the stage to blend functionality with practicality to assure stakeholders that their needs are met while keeping budgets and schedules on track.
Making a Difference.
As the provider of precast/prestressed concrete structural systems for buildings, FINFROCK learned early on that our knowledge of the structural system gave us the ability to save owners hundreds of thousands and sometimes into the millions of dollars on projects. Rather than simply providing parts and pieces with no input as to how they would be used – efficiently or inefficiently – we began including design services to optimize the product we sold. Because of our product knowledge, we are able to design more efficiently and cost effectively.
Once we looked at the building structure as a product, we realized that a finished building as a product - as opposed to a series of services - was achievable. Thus, we began the process for developing the DualDeck Building System. To bring the DualDeck to market we:
- invented our own 3D modeling and product tracking software
- implemented laser technology for greater dimensional accuracy and
- extremely improved productivity
- obtained the knowledge to integrate additional trades into the structural component
- achieved a 2-hour fire rating on the DualDeck
- developed a design-build team to integrate the system into finished buildings
Benefits of this new building system:
- extremely compressed construction schedules due to the exceptional speed in assembling the building
- long span capabilities resulting in minimum structural supporting components, providing maximum functional layout flexibility
- lower costs and higher quality, since many subsystems are installed off-site in a highly accurate and productive manufacturing process
- interstitial space for easy future access to subsystems for maintenance and future fractional modifications
Working for You.
For projects that have complications — such as those brought by mixing uses, height restrictions, or tight sites — and need an innovative approach, FINFROCK’s team has in-depth experience using our building system to make those projects a reality.