Monday, May 2, 2011

Why do we treat AEC as the ‘slow kid’ amongst industries?

Can you recall this feeling?
You are a child. Your mother is trying to motivate you, to do better.
She is using various examples of kids from the neighbourhood (class, family) that achieve so much more then you...

Our dear AEC is a bit like that. Hardly any report, investigation or study is created without the starting point of, how well others have done.
Others being manufacture, media, transportation, F&B...
Productivity gains over the last 2 decades as well as use of digital tools are the two easy ones that make it to most researchers, conference speakers and government advisors.
Our little “Johnny” isn’t doing too good... everyone’s doing better.

I’d like to question this assumption.
I agree that some quantifiable data can be found to support some of the claims, but only if you look at them in a fragmented way.  The reality is, that the areas the ‘other’ industries have made significant headway are the relatively easy ones and where they could piggyback on each other. Social media has done well for social media but has not jumped over to serious ‘businesses’, really.
And how much of manufacturing productivity gain is simply due to outsourcing into areas with cheap labour?

Sure, AEC could do better, but so could the others.
Shouldn’t get handicapped from the outset by accepting to be the ‘slow kid’!

1 comment:

  1. Zolna,

    Here are a few points to consider with regard to the construction industry compared to others.

    Average number of employees: 6:1 in favor of manufacturing

    Average depreciable assets: 27:1 in favor of manufacturing

    Average annual R&D expenditures: 350:1 in favor of manufacturing

    These are but a few of the myriad reasons why construction should, indeed, be considered the "slow kid". In fact, we are not only slow, but downright bad, in terms of wasteful practices, energy consumption, resource management, and economic responsibility. Insufficient committment of resources to new technologies, onerous regulations, traditional bidding practices, organized labor, and excessive liability are a few factors that inhibit our ability to improve. Little wonder that the construction industry career image ranks near the botttom, along with migrant farm workers and commercial fishermen.

    It's time to start over. One group of radical thinkers and a committed owner with some clout - like a sovereign wealth or public pension fund - could turn the whole process around. BIM implementation would play a key role in this new capital asset delivery process.