With new regulatory changes on the horizon, such as the Building Safety Bill, contractors will be expected to meet new levels of compliance in line with government legislation. But how can digital adoption help contractors achieve this goal and what methods are currently available? The experts at PlanRadar discuss how the digitisation of the construction industry can pay dividends for contractors
How can contractors’ harness ‘digital adoption’ to ensure compliance at every stage of the construction journey? The start of 2021 has already seen some major changes to the construction industry, most notably the announcement of a new product regulator.
Created in response to the Building Safety Bill, which followed the recommendations of the landmark Hackitt Review and Report, it will monitor the safety of construction products to make sure they’re fit for purpose.
Although this marks a turning point for manufacturers, it also represents a wider theme now at the heart of the construction industry: end-user safety as the top priority. No doubt this will soon usher in a new era of legislation to ensure compliance.
For contractors, this change in perspective is having huge implications. For site managers, the responsibility will fall to them to ensure products are properly installed, to the highest of standards. After all, they represent the final piece of the puzzle, ensuring each build has followed the proper procedures and testing to guarantee occupant safety.
Essentially, the onus is on workers and site management to collaborate in order to ensure all stages of compliance are met and accounted for whilst on site.
The rise of digital
In response to these challenges, the construction industry has developed new ways of working, with digital adoption spearheading the progress of more robust safety standards.
This represents a new age in building for construction professionals, allowing them to harness the power of digital, lowering risk and driving-up quality. This is a topic that has been discussed in great detail by Dame Judith Hackitt in her independent review of building regulations and fire safety.
As part of her findings, Hackitt spoke of the sector’s need to achieve a ‘Golden Thread of information’, an accurate and real-time record of a building. It provides a timeline of what has gone into the structure, from design to occupation, and aims to achieve complete transparency, improving safety standards through a traceable and trackable record of activity.
Digitisation holds the master key to making this ideal a reality, creating virtual blueprints that provide contractors with complete peace of mind, knowing procedures have been properly followed and the highest levels of compliance have been adhered to.
New platforms for a new era
Whilst the ‘Golden Thread’ may appear as blue-sky thinking to some, the reality is that cutting-edge SaaS platforms are now helping to bridge the gap between industry aspirations and practical, real-life deliverables.
Currently, one of the most time-consuming challenges contractors face is completing the myriad of checklists and worksheets that make up a significant part of their working week. However, through tech such as specially designed apps, this can all be instantly accessed at a click of a button, giving them digital replicas that can be shared easily amongst teams and used while on the site.
Whether site inspections or quality control, this technology is giving essential confidence that there is an accurate and consistent digital record available at each stage of the construction journey. It greatly diminishes the chances of issues being overlooked or falling by the wayside.
Digital: Faster and more efficient
Tech innovations are also increasing the speed and efficiency at which tasks are completed. Improvements in communication tools are helping teams to connect and converse like never before.
For time-strapped contractors, having access to instant communication tools provides a huge advantage. Previously, teams of site workers, who would need to meet face-to-face to discuss plans of action or distribute workloads, can now have instructions issued instantly through a mobile device or tablet.
In-built ticketing systems also allow jobs to be assigned to specific users. Further, the ability to send photo documentation, whether of a completed installation or an issue for resolution, and updated reports in real-time can help side-step unnecessary meetings, negating the need for superfluous journeys.
Utilising this technology also has added benefits during a pandemic. In a climate where site staff are being kept to a bare minimum, SaaS platforms allow communication to flow freely, removing the need for non-essential workers to be physically present on site. This provides yet another service, giving contractors greater oversight and control throughout all areas of the building process.
By industry professionals, for industry professionals
One the main reasons digital adoption is becoming increasingly commonplace among contractors, and the wider construction industry, is that often, the tech has been designed by industry professionals for industry professionals.
This crucial insight forms the foundation of its design, allowing it to be easily adopted into users’ daily routines. Some of the most successful SaaS platforms are those that can be used intuitively with very little ‘tech know-how’, training or guidance. The beauty of apps is that they can be easily downloaded onto existing phones, or tablets, so there’s no need for expensive investments in new hardware.
With so many benefits to be gained by introducing the power of digital, it’s obvious that UK construction should now be taking proactive steps to ensure this becomes industry norm.
Digital also has the capabilities to change and adapt quickly. In a climate where legislation continually evolves, this can pay dividends for companies trying to keep up with the ever-moving goalposts of compliance and safety. With the seismic shift to digital showing little sign of slowing, now is the time for contractors to get on board and realise its full potential. Without it, they could find themselves one-step behind.